Friday, August 26, 2016

Salerno, Italy - August 26, 2016

We had a day at sea where Bonnie had scheduled her video workshops from Craft University.  Unfortunately we slept in and miss the whole morning segment. I think we needed the sleep more but missed being with our group.

I did manage to get a selfie with Bonnie in front of her Spanish Rose quilt (cruise project) and her unfinished Hexie project.

On some evenings, the group would gather (without Bonnie) and sew together on the cruise projects.  We met some great ladies from all corners of the USA and one from Norway and our other Canadian.

Sydney from Alabama showing me her technique for hexies to avoid seeing stitches from the front.

Where quilters gather, there is talk, laughter and friendship.

We woke up on the Amalfi coast and a lot of our group went on various tours/excursions to Pompeii, Sorrento, the Island of Capri, and Positano.  We once again decided to do a walkabout on our own in the little town of Salero.  Each excursion is upwards of $90.00 so we chose carefully and decided that when we could wander on our own and find local tours, etc. that we would do that.  What we wanted to avoid is taking an excursion hours away from port and being left behind by the ship due to snafus with the local providers.  Royal Caribbean will wait if one of their approved providers has a problem getting back on time, but if you happen to be late because you were on your own, you better have your VISA card ready to book a flight to the next port!  This caused me a lot of anxiety so we chose to do Rome and Venice and Florence excursions and the rest on our own.  And I'm so glad we did.

Here are a few pictures of Salerno.

Next stop is Rome (port is Civitavecchia), and 1.5 hour bus ride from port (hence using the approved transport).


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Half day in Split, Croatia

We once again had the privilege of sailing into port in the daylight as we arrived in Split at noon on August 24th. We had just a half a day in Split so once again, we decided to just wander on our own to see what we could find.

But first we decided to have breakfast in the diningroom when we heard they serve Eggs Benny!

Unremarkable but I loved the grilled tomatoes every morning!

I had heard that Split was quite beautiful and while I agree that there was some natural beauty, in my opinion. Montenegro was much more beautiful.

Covered market

Bougainvillea - my favourite Mediterranean flower

Intrigued by their long, flat brickwork

Scored my son a shirt from the Game of Thrones shop

Promenade back to the ship

Tired roommate.  It was over 30 C

and this guy greeted us on our return.

Now we have another full day at sea ahead of us as we head south towards Naples, Italy.

Back to Italy we go!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Overnight sail into Venice, Italy

We left Montenegro at 5:00 p.m. and woke up at sea.  We had the morning to ourselves to sew, explore the ship (Brilliance of the Seas), read, or just relax and breathe in the Mediterranean air. I decided to sew on my hexie project from home.

Sewing at Sea

We arrived in Venice at 3:00 p.m. and we made sure to be up on the deck to watch the view of the City while we made our way to port.  It was surreal.

View coming in to port from inside the Solarium

We had to take a shuttle boat from the ship to the cityfront.  This whole waterfront of Venice is dotted with water taxis, shuttle boats and yes gondolas.  The one question I am asked by everyone who knows I went to Venice is, "did you take a gondola ride".  The short answer is 'no'.  It wasn't particularly appealing to me and at 100 Euros, the temptation to say "oh what the heck, let's do it!" wasn't there. I'd rather save my money for leather in Florence!

We booked an extensive walking tour with the lovely Monica for our second day in port.  Monica had a lovely Italian lilt to her voice and an equally excellent command of English.  We followed her through the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark) neighbourhood featuring Doge's Palace which was magnificent, over many bridges,  St. Mark's Cathedral, also magnificent, and finally the Murano Glass Showroom.

Doge's Palace

The Marzipan was incredible but we were forbidden from bringing food on the ship. :(

Small shops abound.  Waiting for Florence for leather shopping!

Bridge of Sighs is the solid higher bridge

After the walking tour, we had time on our own to wander and explore and eat before we had to take the shuttle boat back to the ship.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (quintessential Italian food).  Just had to!

New friend Suzy from Florida

Best creme brulee I've ever had! Period!
And that was Venice!  Unfortunately, we were so exhausted that we were in our cabin resting when we sailed out in the evening so we missed the city at night, fully lighted.  From our friends' photos, we realized we were sorry to miss this.

Next stop is Split, Croatia!

Until then,


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Inspiration from Kotor, Montenegro

We had two days at sea and finally arrived at Kotor, Montenegro, our first port.  This morning we were up early for our first excursion off the ship.

We chose not to purchase one of the excursions but to walk around and explore on our own.  Kotor is located where the Balkan Mountains meet the Adriatic Sea.  The city sits on a deep majestic bay surrounded by steep cliffs. There is almost a 360 degree view of the city as it spreads around the base of the mountains and up the hills.

We had to be transported by small boat in groups of 40 (tethered is the correct term) to the Kotor dock where we were met by a multitude of small tour operators ready to relieve us of our Euros to show us the sites. We had already decided to explore on our own so we just started walking. The heat was extreme and we were thankful that we got an early start before the midday sun appeared. We meandered through the old city and captured some great photos of the cobblestone streets, doorways and shuttered windows.  This window box added a bright bit of colour to the street.

When we found a coffee shop with free wifi I took the opportunity to reconnect with family and to check my email. An Americano is 1.60€ here which wasn't bad at all. I've heard that in Italy a good coffee can cost 5€.  I was happy to get the free wifi and sit for a bit. 

We then decided to try the hop on hop off bus. They have generally been good in my experience and not badly priced. This one cost 20€ and was about an hour round trip. We ambled along the shore until our ship was out of sight, meandering our way past ancient buildings and hotels, apartments, churches and houses and more modern buildings.  At the far end of the city there was a 15 minute stop at the Roman tiles site and this was worth the stop. 

These small tiles are about 1/2" each and the designs are not unlike quilt designs. I took plenty of photos and plan on designing some quilts based on the colours and shapes I've seen in Kotor and in general from this trip.   

Kotor had a severe earthquake in 1979 and this city is now a world Unesco site. It looks to be a very poor region and from what we heard on the audio tour, fishing and tourism are their main industries. 

They have beautiful scenery in this seaside city and I was glad that Kotor was one of our ports of call on this trip.  

When we return to the ship our next scheduled class with Bonnie Hunter is Razzle Dazzle cutting techniques. This was supposed to be our project for the at sea days but due to lack of a machine supplier Bonnie had to come up with an entirely new project for us. We still get the cutting instruction and got to see her Razzle Dazzle finished quilt. 

It was a great day on land and back at sea. Tomorrow morning we have video instruction in the morning and then we arrive in Florence at 3:00 and will be in that port overnight. A group of us will be exploring together and we will stop for dinner in Venice before making our way back to the ship. The captain said tonight that a storm is on the horizon and should start sometime after 10 pm. As I write this post it is nearly 2:00 a.m. and I don't sense any rough waters from the centre of the third deck.  Those on the outside decks may have a different report in the morning. 

Until then it is time for this girl to try and get some more winks. Sleep has been a big struggle. Jet lag is real my friends.  


Friday, August 19, 2016

Days at Sea

We set sail without the fanfare that I've seen on TV programs. In our state room you'd never know you were sailing except for the gentle rumble of the engines.  Not so much as a ripple in the seas and smooth sailing all the way. Look at the gorgeous teal water colour!!

Our first workshop with Bonnie was the Little Bit Hexie quilt block. The hexie bug had already bitten me so I've brought my La Passion hexagon quilt with me on the trip for hand sewing time. Up until now I've  used glue to fold down my hexies. I will stock pile about twenty or so, then sew them on to the "mother ship". Bonnie doesn't use glue and the method she taught is better than glue and doesn't leave you with sticky fingers.  You baste one in the corners and then with the same continuous thread attach that one. She told the story of a lady who had basted 900 hexies and was systematically adding them on to her quilt when one day the whole stockpile was lost she had to start over. Besides the price of glue this was a great reason for using Bonnie's method. I will try that on my 1/2" hexies. This may mean I can't use my accuquilt die for cutting  the hexies though as there isn't much seam allowance on those precut shapes. Bonnie's method uses squares with ample seam allowance and also leaves the basting thread in which keeps the wrong side flat. The glue method means when you lift the back sides of the hexie to remove the paper they no longer stay flat and will require pressing. If you saw the size of my hexies you'd understand that pressing wouldn't be fun. 

Anyway, here is a photo of my little hexie flower, all finished including the appliqué to the block background. 

The second day was the Spanish Rose quilt which was a class in back basted appliqué. Bonnie supplied all the fabric, needles and even the thread. Our homework from the first class was to find a window and trace the appliqué pattern on the wrong side of the square.

Here are Jan and I preparing for class:

This is a few hours into class. Bonnie is very patient and gives excellent instruction. She is giving our new friend Nancy some one on one help with her project.

I finally got my rhythm and did okay on my leaves but the flower bumps were not easy. I'm quite sleep deprived so the brain isn't firing on all cylinders.  With a lot of practice I expect my technique would improve but I'm not sure this is worth the time investment for me.  The jury is still out on that verdict.  Piecing is more my thing.  I've also dabbled in various forms of machine appliqué, so I'm still deciding. It was great to learn this back basting technique though and have it in my toolkit. As for hand work, I know I love hexies. I'm not sure I love appliqué.  Here's my effort so far:

Tomorrow we will wake up in Kotor, Montenegro and explore dry land. We'll see if I can upload the blog posts. I chose not to get wifi on the ship as it is slow at best and very expensive. 

Off I go for now!  There's a cool lemonade with my name on it!

Until next time!