Monday, October 24, 2011

All Aboard!

It all started back in May, when I received an e-mail from Costa Cruise Lines offering an incredible fare on Eastern Mediterranean Cruises during the month of October. I already knew that my parents were coming to visit during the month of October, and we had been talking about traveling to Greece together while they were here. When I looked at the cruise deal—October being “off-season” and all—it turned out to be the most economical way to go. So we booked it, paid for it, and practically forgot about it. But God must have known how much we would all need a vacation right about now. We are so very, very grateful.

We began our journey with a two-day road trip to Venice, which was our departure port. We had less than 24 hours to enjoy Venice, but we made the most of it.

Venice is AMAZING. David snapped this shot of me as I got my first glimpse of the city. I don’t think my expression changed the entire time we were there.

Our one evening in Venice also happened to be my Dad’s 77th Birthday. 

The day of our departure we had time to wander to the Ponte di Rialto…

…and to explore the banks of the Grand Canal.

It was sunny and about 65° Fahrenheit when we boarded the ship. We sailed at sunset; how romantic is that?


We anchored off the coast of the Greek Island of Santorini. As we took in our surroundings, we felt completely spoiled.

We recently heard of something called “the m&m phenomenon.” It is a phrase used to refer to things that only two categories of people get to experience: Millionaires and Missionaries. We fall into the latter category, obviously. Living in Europe, it feels like so much of the world is within reach, and the delights of such an existence are not lost on us. That doesn’t mean that our life is a bed of roses. We have had a very difficult year in so many ways. But the challenges in one arena do not prevent us from appreciating the joys in another arena. Right now we are drowning in appreciation.

As you look at this picture of Santorini, you see that the village is situated on the top of the island.

Here you can see the winding path that leads from the docks up to the village. We opted to make the journey on donkeys.

Or perhaps I should say, “Donkey.” Singular. While every person ahead of us and behind us was given their OWN donkey, for some reason Chandler and I were required to SHARE a donkey. We felt like the Three Two Amigos. I am not sure the donkey was all that happy about it either. The saddle—which was meant for one person—was horribly uncomfortable for two. And of course that meant that we had only one set of stirrups. I got the stirrups, Chandler got the handlebars reins.

Both of us felt rather wobbly, and the donkey didn’t seem all that stable either. We were on a steep path with no guardrails!

It would have been terrifying if we had not been laughing our heads off the whole way up. If I never ride another donkey as long as I live that will be okay with me.

Oh but it was worth the trip!


It is a strange feeling to walk on an island that is referred to in the Bible. Rhodes is mentioned in the book of Acts when Paul is being transported as a prisoner of Greece. For many years Rhodes was ruled by Turks (you can see the coast of Turkey from Rhodes) and all the churches on the island were either destroyed or turned into mosques. It was also a headquarters of sorts for the Knights Templar. Rhodes is famous for the giant Colossus that once towered over its port.

Here are the remains of Aphrodite’s Temple:

A couple of us took a dip in the Mediterranean; at least until we saw this sign. In an effort to avoid an International Incident, we decided to limit our swimming to the pools on deck of the ship.

The shopping was good in Rhodes. I picked up a few keepsakes like a small pottery bowl, a linen table runner, and our traditional deck of playing cards. Our family buys a deck of cards in every new place that we visit. We are getting quite a fun collection, and every time that we play a game that requires multiple decks we feel as though we have the world at our fingertips.
In the midst of all the wonderful ports, we had plenty of time to relax. I read 3 books, we saw 3 shows, and I probably gained 30 pounds. It was a wonderful vacation.


  1. Oh, looks like tons of fun, Aunt Jenn! Glad you all are having some relaxing moments!

  2. How fun! There are so many great last minute cruise deals in Europe but we never took one. There's lots of cheap airlines too. We love Venice! And Santorini, too. Greece is amazing. Did they serve local food on the ship--from the ports of call? How did you like that cruise line? If I remember correctly it didn't seem as kid friendly as some. Was it good for the kids?-- Tracy

  3. Looks like so much fun, Jenn! Haven't heard from mom and dad since then.....did you get them off the boat?