One of the most spectacular on-board views during our 12 day Mediterranean cruise on the Norwegian Spirit was the sunrise over the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. Steep mountainsides meet the Adriatic Sea to create fjord-like structures that become even more magnificent when greeted by the rising sun. I rolled myself out of bed at 4:30am still suffering from jet-lag and fueled solely on caffeine and adrenaline, and made my way to the upper-most forward deck. There were a handful of other passengers that were also awaiting the highly touted view. When the sun started to rise, you could see more prominent details such as the jutting structures of the limestone cliffs or the juxtapose of modern and medieval buildings. The word breathtaking is often unjustifiably used to describe people, places or things, but it’s the only adjective that adequately describes this natural wonder. Once you check out the sunrise go grab some breakfast and enjoy ride into Kotor before you dock or tender.
Jeremy has a “thing” for Tzatziki, if he goes into a Greek restaurant he will order it. While he was in college, he toured with a brass band. They visited Greece, and I think he got his first taste of Tzatziki there. I’ve made it a few times, but before now I couldn’t nail the recipe. On our honeymoon we had port stops in Mykonos and Athens, and we ate Tzatziki during both stops. I feel like this Tzatziki recipe is comparable to what we ate while we were in Greece. I like it because it’s versatile. You can use it as a dressing, dipping sauce, or marinade. My favorite way to eat it is with warm, soft pita bread. I’ve included some photos from our time in Greece in this post along with my Tzatziki recipe.
When a cruise ship docks in the port of Livorno, Italy you have a few options for shore excursion itineraries. I really wanted to visit Cinque Terra, Tuscany, Florence, and Pisa but if you only have a few hours in port, you can’t do it all. We ultimately decided that we had to prioritize Florence and Pisa on this trip, and hope that we could eventually make it back for the other two, #SoManyPlacesSoLittleTime. Viator is a great resource for finding shore excursions at any port, and they had several options for private and semi-private shore excursions from the port of Livorno. Our tour was a semi-private tour booked through Viator for the highlights of Florence and Pisa. Here’s some advice for planning a shore excursion in Livorno, and a photo journal of our afternoon in Florence with a few tips for making the most of our visit. Please note that this post has a lot of images and a gallery, so it might take a moment to fully load.
The very last stop on our 12 day Grand Mediterranean Cruise was the port in Toulon, France. We docked on a Sunday, which left me with a bitter taste in my mouth; the French bakery that I had planned on getting macarons in was closed. There is a law in France that requires businesses to close on Sundays unless they’re in certain cities during specified times of the year and directly related to tourism; sadly, macarons are not considered essential. While planning our shore excursions, I met a couple over on the Cruise Critic website that wanted to share a Toulon shore excursion through Provence Connection tours. The price was reasonable and the itinerary was good, and we ended up with two terrific travel companions for the day and a wonderful driver with a tour of Cap Canaille, Cassis, and a winery in Bandol.
Jeremy and I had the most memorable honeymoon (for good reasons) on a 12 Day Norwegian Cruise Lines Grand Mediterranean Cruise on board the NCL Spirit. Jeremy and I both love to eat, and we didn’t have a bad meal on our ship or in port. Jeremy ate so much on our trip that he turned down cupcakes today, and he never turns down sweets. While we were in port in Athens, we had our first of many Greek style salads. Every restaurant that we ate at had their own variation of a Greek style salad, and we arrived home I decided to make my own. The key to this salad is a good quality extra virgin olive oil, bad olive oil will completely ruin it. I hope you’ll check out my take on a traditional Greek style salad with this Tomato Cucumber Salad Recipe. This delicious and quick salad is my first recipe from my new series #WhatIAteOnVacation.
If you’re a regular reader, you might have noticed my blog was unusually quiet for the last few weeks; Jeremy and I finally went on our honeymoon. We got married in early May, but we hadn’t been able to make time in our busy schedules to go anywhere. He ultimately booked a 12 day Grand Mediterranean Cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, the Spirit. We had the trip of a lifetime. The cruise itinerary was amazing, and we managed to visit 6 countries and 21 cities in just 12 days. I plan on sharing a more in-depth reviews of the cruise, ship, ports, and itinerary, but I thought it would be fun to first share 12 photos from 12 days on the NCL Spirit and the ports we visited. I don’t consider all of these photos my best, I chose them because I feel that they sum up our trip. I hope you enjoy the photos and if you have any questions about our trip, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.
Despite living most of my life in Kentucky, I had no idea that The Great American Brass Band Festival existed. It was founded 27 years ago, because Danville didn’t have a yearly festival (which I found surprising). It typically runs Thursday through Sunday the first weekend of June. The Great American Balloon Race is a small part of the festival that draws a large crowd to the local airport on Friday night of the festival. I think hot air balloons look magical in the sky, and it was the one event associated with the festival that I didn’t want to miss.