The time has come to leave our ship and return to our home. All things, good and bad, must come to an end eventually. It’s the curse and blessing of life.
This trip was one of the good things.
We’ve had so much fun, made new friends, and learned about our ourselves and our world. We are terribly sad to be leaving the Encore and her crew, the Mediterranean: Spain, Portugal, France, Morocco, Italy, Monaco, and Malta. This is a wonderful part of the world.
But we’re also glad to be coming back to Petaluma. We miss you all and the comforts of home. And we’re coming home with each other and our memories.
Thanks for putting up with these postcards. If for some reason you want even more pictures and stories check Lisa’s blog: LifeOfLisa.com or Leo’s blog, Leolaporte.com. We’ve got lots of great pictures to post, but give us some time to unpack and decompress
The last day of the cruise and we had to make it the most challenging: a 13 mile bike ride up to the medieval Spanish town of Pals. Yes another medieval town, but quite a lovely one.
The last time we went on a bike excursion on a cruise was five years ago in Greece. The guide kept asking Léo if he was ok because he was panting so hard. This time was a lot easier because they were electric bikes, and whenever we came to a big hill the electric engine helped us zip up with without any heavy breathing. (Lisa didn’t even break a sweat but she wasn’t so happy about the “snazzy” helmet she had to wear.) Great fun! Léo has already ordered one for home! A bike not the helmet.
Tonight we’ll eat our last supper in the Thomas Keller Grill with our favorite wait staff: Miguel, Natalia, Christiana, and Jennifer. We don’t have a reservation but they like us so much they’re insisting we come anyway. Truthfully we like the staff on the ship more than the passengers. They’re from all over the world and have a lively spirit. They work really hard but seem to also be having a great time.
Last night our waiter, Troy from Trinidad, said to watch for dolphins out the window next to our table. He said he’d called them and they should be here any minute. When they didn’t show, he said they’d called and were delayed by bad traffic. I guess you had to be there. We had fun anyway.
Tomorrow it’s back to the real world, but meanwhile the caviar is here one last time…
Bonjour from Monaco! So ends the first half of our cruise.
We tried very hard not to gloat as most of the ship’s cohort headed home today heaving heavy sighs. We debarked with them for a day of sightseeing in Monte Carlo, happy knowing that we’d soon be back on board for another 11 blissful days. This is the longest either of us has ever been away from home, but so far we’re handling it gracefully.
We were in Monaco for several days last year so we chose the lazy tour and rode the top deck of the Hop On Hop Off bus around town hunting Pokémon and shooting pictures.
Now we’re back aboard sipping drinks poolside and waiting for another gorgeous sail-away sunset. We don’t even care that we’ll be missing an Apple event in a few hours.
Lisa’s picture of the port of Monte Carlo featuring our ship is on the flip side. The Mediterranean really is that blue.
Tomorrow we head to Italy; Elba, Amalfi, Positano, and Pompeii await.
Love to you all – wish you could be sailing with us!
Yesterday was a sea day so we did nothing but lounge about. It was a perfect (non) Labor Day.
Today we traveled into Seville, about an hour and a half from the port of Cadiz, and saw the amazing Plaza de España and the Real Alcázar, the palace of the king of Spain (when he’s in town). The Alcázar dates back to the 13th century and combines Moorish and Gothic architecture with beautiful gardens and fountains and the most lovely detailed plaster work we’ve ever seen.
On the flipside Just a bit of the Seville Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the the world and truly awe inspiring. Tomorrow on to Portugal! Love to you all,
Just a quick note because the ship is about to sail and we’ll be out of cellular range until Tuesday.
Valencia is amazing – an undiscovered gem on the Mediterranean. This is where paella was invented but they make it with chicken not seafood.
Also home to an amazing group of buildings by Santiago Calatrava, the designer of the whale next to the 9-11 Memorial in New York. On the flip side is one the group. It looks like a giant eye in the sun.
We’re having a blast. Just had caviar service before dinner at the Thomas Keller restaurant on board. Next stop Cadiz!
We spent the day wandering the Gothic Quarter and the old market, La Bouqueria, with our guide, Lidia, ate lots of jamon Iberico, and ended with a visit to the Picasso Museum. Picasso gave the museum hundreds of paintings from his workshop and it was fascinating to see his development from a precocious 15-year-old to the genius we know today.
We ate dinner at a cafe on Plaza Reial just off La Rambla – more ham, late summer tomatoes, and Spanish cheese topped off with a perfect apple tart and coffee. Then we hunted Pokémon all the way back to our hotel in the old Jewish Quarter.
Tomorrow we board our ship and sail for Valencia, Spain.
My habit, after a vacation, is to put away the pictures (well, stuff them in a folder on a big hard drive, anyway) and never look at them again. The thought of going through thousands of pictures to find the gems is just too daunting.
This time I did better. My friend, photographer Chris Marquardt, has written a useful little pamphlet called “1 Hour, 1000 Pics” that he gives away for free at 1hour1000pics.com. It describes a method for quick triage of your pictures. I tried to apply this every night on our recent trip to Machu Picchu and the Galápagos. And it worked! I used it to whittle 4000 images down to 30 that I’m pretty proud of. I’ve posted them on my SmugMug page and below. You can download full-size images from SmugMug and even buy prints there at cost. I love SmugMug!
You can also look at the Sway presentation I made for a more informal travelogue, and eventually Lisa and I will publish our joint Google Photos album with many more images (hers are better than mine and you can see them at Life of Lisa.com). But I consider these my best. And now I’m done. In a few months I’ll delete the rejects, saving space and photo guilt. What a relief.
All the photos with one exception were made with my Canon 5D Mark IV. The exception is a sunrise shot of Machu Picchu I took with my Google Pixel XL camera phone. Naturally it’s my best image of Machu Picchu. Go figure.
I organize and perform basic editing with Adobe Lightroom. Some of the images were imported into Topaz Studio for additional processing. And the HDRs were created with Photomatix Pro. Lightroom is a little slow with the 30MP images that come out of the Canon, so in future I’m planning to use Photo Mechanic for the initial triage then import the three star images into Lightroom for processing. Chris’s methodology works perfectly with Photo Mechanic and it’s much faster. Thank you, Chris!
The Galápagos is a treasure and a reminder of what the planet looked like before humans. We feel very blessed to have seen it. I hope you enjoy the pictures I brought back.
We’re practicing for our vacation. Lisa by climbing trees. I’m practicing taking pictures of her climbing trees.
At the advice of Thomas Hawk I’m thinking of biting the bullet and bringing the big and heavy Canon 5D Mark IV and an assortment of lenses (70-200, 16-35, and a fast 50). That’s about 15 pounds of gear. I was planning on taking the lighter Sony A7 but when you add the Sony lenses it’s only a pound or two lighter. Thomas says I’ll be glad I brought the Canon. Both these shots are from today using the Canon with a 16-35 f2.8 lens.