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About Joanandjoe

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  1. Todah rabah (thank you very much). The candles have been litt, the potato pancakes are cooking. Have a happy Chanukah, everyone. J & J
  2. This is a review of the four day pre-cruise trip we took threee weeks ago before boarding the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. We hope to write a cruise review as well. Cappadocia review We'll write more when we get over the terrible colds (actually, bronchitis for Joe) which we got from the miserable weather on the trip. It rained all or part of the day the first 9 of our 13 days (we never did see the sun in a week in Turkey), with an all day rain three of the days (a downpour with wind at Ephesus). Despite the awful weather, it was a great trip. Cappadocia is beautiful beyond belief! An uncomfortable Transatlantic trip, with jet lag and cramped conditions, improves when we see a charming girl holding a sign with our names on it. Seamless connections to the hotel. We find a delightful restaurant on the Taksim Square, and enjoy our meal fully. We were part of a group of 8, with the two of us (ages 64 and 62) the babies of the group. Three or four of the others were over 80, and maybe 5 of the 8 had mobility problems. So there was no hotel switch. We met our guide, Sayat Turabik, in the lobby of the hotel. Nobody gave us a name or meeting time, but we were ready early in spite of our jet lag, and eventually connected with Sayat in Istanbul. For what we paid, we should have had that information. Sayat handed us a printed schedule of our Cappadocia adventure. We spent the morning visiting Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Sayat's advice about shopping the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar was accurate and helpful. Lunch at Hamdi was superb. We had a view of two continents, appetizers and pizza, and a mixed entree. I bought 1/2 c. saffron for $2.00, and Rahat Locum (known simply as Lokum in Turkey). Back to the hotel by 3:30, we walk around and find a modest restaurant. We're drinking bottled water, on Sayat's advice. Superb buffet breakfast in the hotel, a delightful meal. Turkish airlines gets us to Cappadocia in the rain. They serve a meal on the short flight: yogurt, water, cheese sandwich. A bit of sunshine for about two minutes, a waiting bus, and our tour begins. We hike up and down the justifiably famous Goreme Open Air Museum. We visit Avanos, walk into a cave and see a potter making a dish. I don't buy, although the place is obviously a shop. More sight-seeing of the remarkable Cavusin and Pigeon Valley, more caves. Wonderful lunch in a restaurant where they bake your stew in a clay pot and break the pot to serve you. The local wines are quite good, as my fellow-travelers sip a glass or two at their own expense. We are greeted with juice or wine on arrival. Unpacking, refreshing baths, and a buffet dinner fill our evening. Everyone's happy with an early bedtime. Buffet breakfast the next day is excellent, bountiful and varied. Joe and I acquire a taste for their cherry juice. Joe is now insisting that PANORAMA is the Turkish word for Gift Shop, half-jokingly. The Turkish Lira is worth less than the dollar, so shopping is a pleasure. The Lykia Lodge, is, I'll admit, a bit dreary; but we weren't there for much else other than eating and sleeping. They greeted us with complimentary beverages (hard or soft). We got two good nights of sleep, so the small rooms didn't bother us. The food at the Lodge was terrific: great buffets at breakfast and dinner. We almost became addicted to sour cherry juice! The other meals on the trip were excellent, with one exception: a perfectly awful lunch at the Topkapi Palace just before we boarded the ship. The guide, Sayat, was a very flexible guy. Seeing the age of the group, he switched our whiling Dervish reservations from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30--and we had front row seats. When it became obvious that the group (other than me) had knees too tricky for the underground city (the vote was 7 to 1 against going, with Joe the one Yes), we went instead to the Keslik 4th century cave monastery. The frescoes are far more expressive than anything in Europe at this time, and the keeper is happy to see us. We are the sole tour group there. Sayat finds us a Roman excavation so recent, we can't photograph it because it has not been fully recorded yet. Fascinating. We even went to a winery. The fairy chimneys are wonderful beyond description. We do not have a chance to ride a donkey, but we have a wonderful visit. Sayat jokes the donkey ride is $1- to get a ride and $10.00 to get off....Plane back to Istanbul the next day is a nightmare of people trying to get 10 bags each into the overhead compartment, a lobby without bathrooms or water, and the seats in the far back of the plane. It's a holiday weekend, and Topkapi Palace is so crowded we can't get close to the exhibits, and the lunch here is only so-so. (Joe's view--bloody awful!) The wind and rain make the Navigator especially welcome. Joan
  3. HI! We had a wonderful time when formal night fell on October 31. The Captain wore his kilt and full formal clan attire, Jay and Carol Peterson came as a muscular Anthony and lovely Cleopatra, and Joe and I wore long, flowing caftan and djabellah with funny matching Turkish hats. I gave out 70+ genuine Turkish bookmarks, and the Social Director took wonderful pictures of us with the Captain. That formal night was one of the high points of the cruise, not merely because we tried to work in a Halloween theme, but because the staff and fellow passengers also joined in the laughs. Joe does not own a tux. He will buy one for our son's wedding, but our son is 34 and "why buy the cow when the milk is free?" is our son's motto. Formal night is always an extra effort....but some of the couples look so fine in their glad rags, it's often worth the effort. The real problem is tighter baggage allowances. As long as airlines punish you for checking suitcases, there will be a push by cruise passengers to save weight by eliminating formal nights. I might add that sentiment on the "critical board" for Regent is very mixed on this subject.
  4. We're leaving for our land trip to Turkey, followed by a cruise from Istanbul to Rome, tomorrow afternoon, and have plans for most of the day before then. Therefore, I dicided to say "so long for now" today. We'll write again when we're back on 11/10. J & J
  5. We've just picked up the docs for our 10/30 cruise from Istanbul to Rome on the Regent 7 Seas Navigator, with a four day pre-cruise trip to Istanbul and Cappadocia. (Yes, we have a scheduled Whirling Dervish performance). We fly to Turkey on the 25th. We did a doc dance when we got home - I even imitated some of the Whirling Dervish head spins. We're really excited! I even celebrating the doc pickup by eating lunch at a Turkish restaurant. The Adana Kabob, rice, shepherd's salad, and Turkish tea were great. 17 days to go!
  6. Where in Crete? We'll be at Iraklio (Heraklion) in early November.
  7. Our experience in Barcelona in November, 2004 was very different from Debbie & Jerry's in Miami. We were given our new cruise cards very early, and were able to leave the ship before most PAX debarked. We strolled the Ramblas, then took the subway to the Gaudi Church. We also managed to see a museum, go to a market, and stop to see the Ramblas entertainers, and still got back on the ship for a late lunch before most new PAX embarked. Coming back to the ship (the Windstar Wind Surf) was like returning to an old friend. Since we were in the EU, if there were any customs formalities, they we so minimal that we don't remember them. If you're doing a turnaround in a US port, things might be more complicated.
  8. Just so you know. I just read your review from 2 years ago on your river cruise with Avalon. Great job. We're taking our 1st river cruise 8/22/10 and even though it's with Viking River Cruises, your review was still very interesting for us. Thanks.

  9. Our first cruise was our 30th anniversary cruise, Vancouver to Seward, in the HAL Noordam in 1998. The first port was Ketchikan, where we walked around the city on our own. No excursions.
  10. Based on research on Insuremytrip dot com, there are at least 2 companies that allow you to purchase insurance withing 24 hours of final payment. We use one of them, CSA. We're not familiar with the other one. There are two caveats to this. First, the insurance is more expensive than if bought within X days of the deposit. Second, our TA's parent company believes that there have been some problems with clains, and no longer sells it (so we had to purchase it on our own). Our only claim, for a trip cancelled due to illness, was with another company, so I have no vews on whether there is a problem with claims.
  11. I used Cruise TT a few times late last year and early this year. Then it had two major flaws: you had to page through each port month by month until you reached the month of your cruise (and I was looking a a cruise a year away); and it didn't list either cruise ships catering to non-Americans or most lines with small ships. I'm glad to see that the first problem has been cured. The secon one has not been cured, and my favorite line, Regent, is still not listed. I don't think lines such as Aida, Hapag-Lloyd, Seabourn, Silversea, or Sea Dream are listed either.
  12. Good one. We've forwarded it to a few people.
  13. I have a new job, and had to get a special dispensation from the territory manager in order to take this year's cruise. No way I can plan for next year yet: we're nopt even supposed to take vacation until we hit the one year mark next June.
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