Today I photographed a home office that Ed Butterbaugh had remodeled. If you are interested in his work he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (708) 494-1548
June 6th – We were able to watch while our ship cruised up the Canale della Giudecca on its way to its docking site at the Porto Basilica. Our tour left at 8:30 for a water taxi ride including part of the Grand Canal and some of the surrounding area. We got off the water taxi at the Rialto Bridge and had some free time for some quick shopping. We rejoined our guide for a walk through some of the less known walkways to Piazza San Marco. We had another 45 minutes to wander around and returned with our guide on a chartered boat. We had lunch on the ship. At 6:00 we went on another tour for a gondola ride. We rode a boat to one of the San Marco gondola boarding sites. We were fortunate enough to be seated in a gondola with another couple from Ecuador and two musicians. We rode through some of the small canals while being serenaded by a classical guitarist and a vocalist. It was charming.
June 5th Our ship did not reach the port of Koper until noon and we departed on our tour at 12:45. We took a bus to the resort city of Piran where we walked around the town and toured several of their Catholic churches. It also had the remains of a 15th century wall that could be seen up in the hills. Some of the buildings dated back to the 16th century. The town is only about an hours drive from Trieste in Italy and also close to the Croatian border. After a few hours in Piran (or Pirano as it is known in Italian) we went to a local winery, Santomas. We toured the winery and were offered samples of four different kinds of wine. From there we returned to the ship in the town of Koper.
June 4th – We took a tour up the coast to Cavtat (Tsav-tat) to a seaside resort. It was impressive to see a water polo arena set up in a protected area of the bay. Our guide confirmed that water polo was a popular sport in Croatia. From there we went to an old water mill where they had a working stone mill. We observed the water turning the huge stones and watched the corn meal feed out from between the grinding stones. We had a chance to sample some local foods including candied orange peel, candied nuts, dried figs, and plum brandy. They also served small cheese or ham sandwiches. We then went on to the old walled city of Dubrovnik. Parts of the original town were built in the 12th century, but as it was made of wood nothing remains. The limestone walls and buildings were built starting in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 1800’s an earthquake damaged much of the area and also the Serbs did damage during the siege of Dubrovnik in the early 1990’s. Most of the area has been restored. We were able to see one building that still had some small pockmarks from the shelling in the early 90’s. The wall around the old town is 1.2 miles and quite spectacular. There are over 30 churches inside the walls. It was fun to walk through the main streets and small passageways.
June 3rd - This morning our ship worked its way up the Gulf of Kotor, one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea. It is sometimes called the most southern-most fjord in Europe but it’s really a submerged river canyon. The high mountains on either side of the ship were spectacular. We took an excursion to Budva a seaside resort further over the hills that have a walled old city. From there we came back to Kotor and had time to wander through the walled city of Kotor, which was right by where the ship was docked. The whole area was quite beautiful.
Fri. June 13th, I assisted Michael Bathan photograph Peter and Amanda’s wedding. The images below are a sample of my contribution. Some are candids others are back up images or coverage from a different angel.
Today our tour in Albania left from the port of Durres. Our bus first took us to the picturesque village of Kruja in the hills about 30 minutes from the port. Kruja had been designated as a traditional Albanian town. We visited a castle that had a modern museum dedicated to Skanderbeg, an Albania hero responsible for liberating parts of Albania in the 1500’s. Next to this castle was a late 1800’s home of a town dignitary that had been turned into an Ethnographic Museum. We got a picture of what life was like for a well to do family at that time. It was fascinating with the period costumes, furniture, tools, etc. After the museum visits we walked through narrow cobblestone walkways through a bazaar area that more than a hundred years old. Stores and vendors had interesting items for sale. We ended up at a nice hotel for lunch complete with a five piece local band and folk dancers that entertained us while we ate.
After lunch we left Kruja and headed to Tirana, the capital of Albania. Going by the main roads through town it appeared to be modern and up and coming. Sheep and cows grazing on the roadside just outside of town reminded you that it was not a typical US city. We drove through Tirana to a hillside cemetery for fallen heroes and dignitaries that had a lovely view of the large city of Tirana (pop. 475,000). We passed by the Mother Theresa airport. Apparently Mother Theresa was born in Skopje, Macedonia, but because her parents were ethnic Albanians, Albania claim her as a Albanian. Albania has a large population of ethnic Albanians that live outside the country.
May 31st - We visited Forza d’Agro, an old city in the hills outside the port. There were visited two old churches, walked the narrow streets and walkways and ended up at a tavern where we enjoyed a refreshing lemon granita. Forza d’Agro was the location for several scenes from the Godfather 1 and Godfather 3 movies. From Forza d’Agro we wound back down the road with multiple switchbacks down to sea level and back up another set of switchbacks to reach the town of Taormina. Taormina was made popular in the late 1800’s by writings of people such as Goethe who said what a lovely town it was. It became a resort for the wealthy of Europe with its mild winter weather. We had time to walk the streets, which had many designer type stores. On the way we saw two wedding parties who were being photographed there.
May 30th We docked at Sorrento around 9 then we took a tender to the pier where we boarded a hydrofoil for the lovely Isle of Capri. Upon arrival at Capri we took a bus to Annacapri, a smaller town up in the hills. We visited a jewelry store we had been to on our previous trip to Italy. Next we rode a chair lift to the highest point on the island. The chair lift runs continuously so you have to be prepared for the chair to just scoop you up. Then you ride up the hill for 12 minutes to the top. There was a gorgeous view from the top and another great view on the way down the chair lift. Back in Annacapri we took a small bus back to the town of Capri, the main town about 50 yards above the water level. There we had lunch of pasta and Margarita pizza with some delicious carbonated lemon drink. We had some time to wander around before boarding the funicular for the ride down the hill and heading back to the ship. It was a lovely day.