Eastern Mediteranean on Celebrity Reflection - August 2015
Different from what we expected, amazing nonetheless
A great ship, beautiful destinations, outstanding service and incredibly nice people – in short, a perfect cruise at the end of which we had the sad feeling of having to leave friends and family behind.
On our Holy Land Cruise last year we were so enthusiastic about the Celebrity Silhouette and the cruise itself that one day at sea Birgit said “I could easily do this again”. To me, such a statement is nothing to go unheeded, and since I always have plenty of time on a sea day, I went directly to the Future Cruise Sales Office, and after a quick shortlist of route contestants, we booked this cruise directly on board. Besides the class of ship, one decisive factor was the route with an overnight in Istanbul – a city both of us really wanted to see. But only a few days prior to departure we got the news which we had come to expect in light of recent developments: For security reasons, Istanbul was cancelled.
Of course, this was a disappointement at first – especially when we saw that they had replaced the overnight in Istanbul with an overnight in Piraeus/Athens. Athens had already been part of our Holy Land cruise. Interesting, for sure, but nothing we would have chosen for an overnight stop. A consolation was the fact that they had added two additional ports: Rhodes, which we already liked a lot the year before, and Chania/Crete, which at least I didn’t know.
The heading says it already – the disappointment was short-lived and we thoroughly enjoyed the journey to the fullest. But first things first ...
Part 1 – Getting there
We already left for Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon, browsed the shops and went for a cosy dinner in the evening before heading for the NH Hotel at the airport. We had booked the Sleep & Fly Special again, which for only a few Euros more saved us a trip to the airport in the early morning hours. After a pleasant night, and invigorated by a croissant and a cup of coffee, we used the free hotel shuttle for the short ride to the terminal. Only a few minutes later we were already at the gate waiting to board our flight to Rome.
After a two-hour flight we were in Bella Italia, and no later than when the plane touched the runway could we feel an irrepressible joy of vacation come up.
Since we weren’t pushed for time, we had planned on taking the train to Civitavecchia. So after retrieving our luggage from the luggage belt, we headed for the airport train station, which seemed to be at the other end of Italy. Accompanied by a hubbub of different languages which probably only exists at airports, we walked along seemingly endless corridors before we reached the ticket machines in front of the train station, where thankfully only a few people were waiting in line.
At only EUR 11.00 per person, the trip was very affordable and went, with one change in Trastevere, directly to Civitavecchia. The only problem on the train was finding space for our luggage. Luckily, at that time of day the train wasn’t full, so we could just pile it on the seats next to us.
About one hour and 45 minutes later we got off at the final destination, which welcomed us with a lot of sunshine and summerly temperatures. Our hotel San Giorgio was located directly at the end of the parking lot of the train station, and we reached it after not even a 5-minute walk.
The hotel felt very inviting, and after a friendly welcome we were already able to go to our room despite our relatively early arrival. In addition, we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a deluxe room spanning over two levels.
After a little rest in our room, we went for a walk in the afternoon sun of a seemingly dead Civitavecchia. During our walk we noticed a colossal saucepan on the large square near the promenade, indicating a fun fair on the square. But at that time, the stage and the restaurant tents were still empty.
We wandered on and looked at the cruise ships in port with the comforting knowledge that we would also set sail the next day. Next we looked into Civitavecchia’s nearby cathedral, richly decorated in gold, then walked along the almost empty main street whose shops were closed on a Sunday, and finally sat down in the evening sun on Piazza della Vita near the little bay.
We could hear pleasant Italian music coming from the stage on the square, where some artists were already rehearsing for their performance later in the evening. Accompanied by those sweet sounds of Italian Dolce Vita we enjoyed watching the solitary fishermen and some “oldies” swimming their laps in the bay in the last beams of the sinking sun.
Illuminated by the setting sun we finally returned to the promenade. We went past Civitavecchia’s senior citizens who had met on the benches of the little boulevard to trade the latest news of the day with the inimitable support of wild gestures, and reached Pizzeria da Baffone, where we had already spent a nice evening the year before.
Again, the service was very accommodating and the enormous pizza delicious.
Well fed and fully satisfied we walked the few steps back to our hotel, where our bed was waiting for us and where we quickly fell asleep dreaming of our imminent cruise.
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