Exploring Croatia's Coast Aboard the Norwegian Jade

"It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better."

Sir Francis Drake, Sea Captain George

I do love cruises!  I really like seeing the coast line when I arrive at different destinations.  I also like exploring different areas that I'm unsure if I would like to visit for a week or two versus just a day trip.  During my seven day Mediterranean cruise we visited two cities in Croatia including Dubrovnik and Split.

I had thought that immediately going on a cruise after a 12 1/2 hour overnight flight from Florida to Italy would be a good idea.  I was really jet lagged during the majority of my seven-day Mediterranean cruise.  One would think that with how much I travel that I am good at dealing with jet lag.  That is not the case!  I know that it is not a good idea to take a nap immediately after arriving in Europe where the time is six hours ahead but I just can't seem to stop myself.

I learned that going on a cruise immediately after arriving in Europe after a long overnight flight is not the best idea - at least for me.  There are too many opportunities to nap and eat too much which makes me want to sleep even more.  Upon reflection, I would spend a couple of days near the port before boarding the ship and do my best to acclimate to the new time zone.

Here are a few snaps I took of Dubrovnik Croatia from the balcony of my cruise ship.  Thank goodness I splurged on a balcony which really wasn't that much more sailing with Norwegian.  I flew into Venice and went directly to the port to board my ship.  Luckily I was escorted to my room soon after arriving at the port and was able to take a nap - I am a BIG baby when it comes to long flights and dealing with jet lag!




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"Venice Never Quite Seems Real, but Rather an Ornate Film Set Suspended On the Water." ~ Frida Giannin


 I was fortunate enough to visit Venice for the second time in two years  during July 2016 and this time it didn't rain the entire time!  I was there for five days following a Mediterranean cruise that left from Venice and visited Greece as well as Croatia.  I've never been really excited about the thought of visiting Venice and wasn't overly impressed with this incredible city after my first visit but definitely fell in love with this area that is like no other during my second visit!

Here is one of my very edited HDR images that I took two years ago when there was a slight break from the rain that happened most of the time I spent there:


Going on a Mediterranean cruise was at the top of my bucket list at the beginning of the summer.  When I started to do research into this trip I realized that leaving from Rome, Athens or Venice were some of my options.  I chose to leave from Venice for two reasons.  I thought it would be easier to get to the cruise ship and I plan to spend some time at whichever port I chose to leave from.  I was most drawn toward Venice as Rome and Athens seem like a really large cities to me.  I was traveling solo and felt more comfortable in a smaller city like Venice versus Rome. 

For those of you who are interested in a Mediterranean cruise leaving from Venice it costs 45 euros to get from the Venice airport to the port.  I gave the driver a €5 tip which I could tell he was quite shocked!  I was unpleasantly surprised when I exited the ship one week later and learned that a water taxi was my only option to get to my hotel.  The water taxi cost me €80.  I didn't let it bother me too much as there was no choice at that point. 

I stayed at a wonderful hotel right on the Grand Canal that had a balcony and an amazing view.  The view was so incredible I had to drag myself out of the room to go do things as opposed to just watching the action on the Grand Canal.  The sunrises and sunsets were not a disappointment either!  The name of the hotel I stayed at is called Hotel NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci.  This hotel is in the San Marco area of Venice.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to stay on the Grand Canal.  The location was great as I could walk everywhere I wanted to go, the breakfast was good, the Wi-Fi was reliable and the beds were comfortable.  The staff was also very friendly and accommodating!



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My Visit To Xcaret - Part 2

 Here is a view of the rivers that everyone can snorkel around the park in.  This was my second trip to Xcaret.  The first time it was in July and it was very hot.  Being able to explore the area in the water was very welcome.Wandering and searching island girl

 I am really not one too visit theme parks especially two days in a row, but Xcaret in Cancun Mexico is an exception.  As I discussed in my previous post HERE, this is not an inexpensive theme park but it offers so much.  I really do think that there is something for everyone at Xcaret.  Cancun has grown into a very large tourist destination and I really felt like I was getting away from all the people while getting to spend time out in nature with animals of all types.  The scenery was absolutely beautiful, the buffet lunch was excellent, and there are plenty of places to sit down and relax. 

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A Historic Cinematic Trip Across Europe

  Watch any movie set in Europe and it feels like a beautiful old building that is always just a stone’s throw away.  Perhaps it’s kismet, then, that cinemas happen to be some of the most beautiful old buildings in Europe. Here are a few of our favorites.

 Cinéma du Panthéon: Paris is home to an entire host of beautiful old theaters, but the Cinéma du Panthéon is just a bit more special than most.  For over 100 years, the screen in the Panthéon has been operating daily without any interruptions, making it the oldest functioning movie theater in Paris.

  The Panthéon is also inextricably linked to the Nouvelle Vague, or French New Wave, movement. One of its former owners, Pierre Braunberger, had “discovered” Nouvelle Vague icons like Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Melville and heavily promoted the movement. Today, the Panthéon regularly screens independent films.

 Granada Cinema, Tooting / Gala Bingo Club, Tooting - The Granada Cinema is a luxurious art deco masterpiece built in 1931 in Tooting in London. In 1991, it was renamed the Gala Bingo Club, Tooting, and became the very first cinema to be preserved and given a Grade I listing in 2000.


The building’s current owners, Gala Bingo, have been ramping up  their online bingo offerings in recent years, but they don’t seem to have any plans to let go of one of the most luxurious bingo halls in the UK anytime soon -- especially since it was officially recognized as an asset of community value last year.

  Spazio Oberdan - Built towards the tail-end of the 18th century, the Spazio Oberdan in Milan’s Piazzo Oberdan lay in a dilapidated state for a number of years until it was renovated and reborn as a cultural center in 1999.

  Nowadays it’s more than just a movie theater.  Aside from showing art-house movies and film festivals, it also regularly features modern art and photo exhibits.  The Spazio Oberdan also houses the offices of Milan’s provincial administration.

  These are just a handful of the many breathtaking cinemas found all over Europe. Be sure to stop by when you’re visiting; it’ll be an experience you won’t forget.

The Magnificent Villa Cortine Hotel in Sirmione, Italy

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I have stayed at every star level hotel there is.  I even stayed at some guest houses and  hostels when I visited Tanzania in Africa.  This was my second trip to Italy and my first time visiting Lake Garda, Italy.  I have always been very impressed by the hospitality at the hotels I have stayed at in this country.  The Villa Cortine Palace is definitely in the top few hotels I have ever stayed anywhere. 

The photos I post and what I write can not do this little piece of heaven justice.  I truly felt like I was in paradise while I stayed there. They definitely provided the best service that I have ever encountered and the grounds are some of the nicest I have encountered.   The view is incredible as the hotel is set high up above the town of Sirmione.

Being a frequent traveler I have realized that I am pickier about my accommodations then I wanted to believe as I can usually find several things wrong even at the four and five star hotels I've been a guest at.  I cannot think of a single complaint regarding this hotel.  The food was amazing, the staff was extremely friendly, and the view was incredible throughout the hotel.  My bed was very comfortable and the property is very secure.  When you come through the gate you must be buzzed in either through the front or back of the property so one should feel very safe at this hotel. 

The location is also very central and just a few minutes from Scaliger Castle.  The price is quite reasonable for what you receive and if you book through the hotel's website they often have good prices available.  I stayed there in September and the rates were quite a bit less and if I had stayed there between June and August.  If you are someone who enjoys the finer things in life, this hotel could be the right one for you!  I really felt like I was in a museum when strolling through the hotel and around the beautiful and expansive grounds.

The following four photos were taken from the balcony in my room:
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Below is the lovely breakfast room:


Untitled (1 of 1)-97I am not a breakfast eater unless I'm in Italy.  Omelets were prepared fresh.  One can order fresh coffee or cappuccino.
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This beautiful structure and garden were on the grounds of the hotel:
Untitled (1 of 1)-6Here are a few other photos I took on the hotel grounds:


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I found this beautiful garden on the walkway down to the hotel's private beach:
Untitled (1 of 1)-6The pool has a beautiful view of Lake Garda
Untitled (1 of 1)-6Guests can eat breakfast or dinner in this area:
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The two photos below were taken in the hotel bar/lounge where you can have dinner and snacks throughout the day.
Lake-garda-941859I am practicing using a tripod and timer to take photos.  I decided to take photos of myself in some of the beautiful rooms around the hotel which is full of gorgeous antiques.
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I was hesitant to post a photo of my nice big room as it was a little messy, but I loved the chandelier over the bed!

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The following two photos are of the hotel's private beach and restaurant:
I will leave you with just one of the lovely sunrises I saw:

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Thank you for much for visiting my blog!  Have you stayed at any hotels that you absolutely loved?  I really appreciate comments and treasure every one I receive.  I hope you are having a fantastic week.