Cruising the Mediterranean

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By Sunny Lockwood and Al Lockwood

Guest Post

For those of us who love to travel, there’s rarely a question of why?

We know why: we want to see new places, learn about new cultures, try new foods, and simply have fun in a city or countryside where we’ve never been before.

The questions we ask are: Where do we want to go next? How can we get there? When can we leave?

My husband and I have had the travel bug since we were young. Now, well into retirement, our wanderlust is strong as ever. And the rewards are equally great.

Studies show that travel is good for the body, the brain and the spirit. And even though our older bodies lack the endurance they once had, we find that travel enlarges our concept of “home” and enriches our experience of wonder.

Imagine being awakened by the deep, resonant melody of church bells, bells that have rung each morning for centuries. That was our experience in Florence.

Or being enveloped in the fragrance of incense from a fortuneteller’s shop. We experienced that each afternoon in Barcelona. Our Airbnb apartment was right above her shop.

Imagine the flavor of dark chocolate gelato setting your taste buds dancing. That was our daily experience in Venice. That and the scene of shiny black gondolas sliding calmly through narrow canals.

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Our stunning world is immense. But our individual lives are brief. So if there’s something you dream of doing, our advice is do it now. While you can.

Sweetheart Al and I choose ocean cruising as our preferred method of long-range travel. There are many reasons for this, including our modest travel budget and our declining mobility. We can no longer hike like there’s no tomorrow, jump into sleeping bags, or pedal bicycles for miles.

But on a cruise we can see the world at our own pace and in our own way while sleeping in the same comfortable bed each night.

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And we’ve chosen to share our adventures through travel memoirs.

Our newest book, Cruising the Mediterranean, brings readers along on our 12-day cruise to Venice, Athens, Istanbul, Ephesus and three Greek islands.

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Even before we left California, we started our trip by adjusting our internal clock so that we’d be on European time when we arrived in Amsterdam. We added four days in Amsterdam just because Al wanted me to see that historic city, before boarding our cruise ship.

In Amsterdam, we used Airbnb. A first for us, and we loved the experience. We stayed in the heart of historic Amsterdam. Actually, our room was in the Red Light District, so our “window shopping” introduced us to the latest in sex toys, edible underwear and items we couldn’t even identify.

We cruised on Holland America. We’ve cruised on other lines, but this 12-day trip fit our pocketbook and visited places we really wanted to see.

At every stop, we experienced something wonderful, from standing on the Acropolis as the morning sun gilded its marble monuments, to watching a rug weaving demonstration in Istanbul.

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We discovered delectable Turkish Delight during a dinner cruise along the Bosphorous Strait. And enjoyed the largest piece of Baklava we’d ever seen in a family-owned restaurant on the island of Santorini.

We’ve done our best to capture in words (and a few photographs) the wonder of our trip. Our goal in writing travel memoirs? To share our fun and fabulous experience. And to encourage others to make their own travel dreams come true.

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*Sunny Lockwood is a retired newspaper reporter, columnist and editor. Her freelance stories and articles have been published in MS magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and other national and regional publications. Al Lockwood is a retired Silicon Valley engineer. He’s a fine art photographer whose work has been published in magazines and newspapers.

*All the images courtesy of Sunny Lockwood and Al Lockwood

 

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The Lost Art of Lending Books and Sending Postcards

reward by NVS

By Nora Vasconcelos

Last weekend I was all happy and excited because I had just bought a new book. Then, just a few seconds later, a somber thought crossed my mind, I wouldn’t be able to lend that book to a friend who, I was sure, would love to read it.

It was then when I thought of how much we’ve lost in terms of human touch due to the our fast paced lives, which have to adjust everyday to a world in constant change, as well as to all these new and admirable technologies such as electronic books and internet.

The advantages of ebooks are usually many, such as ‘packing’ onto your e-reader, tablet or smart phone as many books as you wish to read at any given time. These same gadgets allow us to take almost an innumerable amount of digital photos of our trips and daily adventures and encounters in our hometowns.

However, I get a certain feeling of nostalgia when I remember how much I’ve enjoyed lending a book to a good friend just because I wanted to share with them all the emotions, images, experiences and, many times, relief that a particular work of fiction, memoir or a non-fiction piece brought to me.

With e-books the experience it different. We can talk for hours with our friends about a title or titles we’ve read, but somehow, the sharing experience is different, mainly because there is an essential component missing, the physical book.

The same thing happens with the digital photos. We can share them by email, or upload them on social media. But unless you carry all of them on your phone or tablet and they’re well-organized, showing them to your friend during a gathering or while having a nice cup of coffee, the experience of sharing your travel adventures gets a little (usually, a lot) missed in the whole conversation.

Sometimes we can’t really take the time to look with all the detail those photos, because watching pics on a gadget usually comes with the urgency that we’re use to while dealing with anything that’s on our phone or tablet, our fingers automatically start passing all the images very fast which give us just a hint of what travellers have seen while visiting a place.

On the other hand, taking photos with a film and developing was a bit complicated, and totally limiting to 24, 32 or 48 pics. Many rolls have remained inside a box, but many other have become wonderful photo albums, which are always very nice to see and enjoy while bringing back wonderful memories of past trips.

The same happens with postcards, it used to be such a nice mission finding postcards to email them home, thinking how happy family and friends would be when they received that little piece of paper full of images of faraway lands, making them feel that even in the distance, they were in our minds.

May be more than the physical objects, what we’ve missed is part of the emotions and the feelings that are attached to sharing special intangible mementos which make us linger in time while holding a book or a postcard, and the solution to this particular nostalgia might be easily brought back just by taking the time to really be there when we talk about a particular book or when we see some digital photos, leaving behind the excruciating hurries that come with this contemporary life.

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