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Cruise: Egypt

First stop: EGYPT!

Going to Egypt was pretty much the primary reason the 4 of us picked this particular cruise…and we almost didn’t get to go! Because of all the uprisings and political riots going on in the country, the same cruise the week before us didn’t get to stop in Egypt! Luckily everything calmed down just enough for us to be allowed off the ship. A bit of a miracle!

Cruising to Egypt was initially Kolie’s idea. She thought it would be a great way to see a fairly intimidating place like Egypt from the safety and security of a cruise ship and tour guides. I would definitely have to agree. As adventurous and daring as I like to think we are, stepping fresh off the plane and trying to figure out how to get to a hotel with all the signs in Arabic and few people speaking English would have been flat out terrifying! The wisdom of this idea was solidified when we got on our excursion bus to head from the boat in Alexandria to Giza and armed guards with automatic rifles got on the bus with us. So if you feel intimidated by a particular location, but really want to travel there, I definitely think cruising is the way to go!

The port of Alexandria

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Chris and I walked away from this experience with a love/hate relationship with Egypt. On one hand, we got to see the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, some amazing architecture, the Sakara Cemetery, plow through the dessert in jeeps, and ride some camels as well as experience yummy new foods and a brand new culture:

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On the other hand though, we discovered that while all this was the picturesque, magical side of Egypt that everyone expects:

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THIS is the actual reality of Egypt (viewed from the opposite side of the previous picture):

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Egypt underneath the breathtaking tourist layer was incredibly filthy. Steaming trash piled up everywhere you turned, freaky mangy dogs roaming the streets, and canals that looked like they were breeding the catalyst for the next major plague. It was quite a bit of a culture shock (especially since this was my first experience in a third world country. Definitely an eye-opener!). The worst part for us though were the peddlers. We thought we had done enough research and heard enough warnings to be prepared for it, but we weren’t. They would get up in our faces, touching our clothes and our hair, jumping in front of our cameras while we tried to take photos, following right behind us until we stopped walking for even a brief second, and shoving their goods into our hands as we walked by all to get us to buy something or tip them for some un-asked-for service. And when we didn’t, they would give us the nastiest, crustiest, hateful looks a human face can muster. And no matter where we went we were targets because we looked obviously and undeniably like the tourists we were.

 

Not cool Egyptians, not cool.

 

While I fully recognize that our touristy experience was not representative of the entire country and culture and that most non-peddling Egyptians are very likely incredibly nice and interesting… it made for a rough two days. Although, looking back on it, I’m glad we got to experience what we did. I feel like even though we were in Egypt for only 2 days, we were able to get a decently well-rounded look at what the country is like. We discovered there is a beauty even in the trash piles if you look with open minds and open hearts.

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Photo by Kolie Sheehan

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Next stop: Israel!

Finally! Some photos from our cruise!

Phew! I can’t believe it’s already December and we’ve been back from our cruise for almost 2 months! Time has seriously whizzed by. Slow down please! We just flew into cold and snowy Utah last night to spend Christmas with Chris’ family, so I finally have time to sit down and plow through some posts. So get ready for a bit of a deluge!

So, without further ado, we begin the many-post documentation of our Eastern Mediterranean adventure!

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A little background:

We went with our good friends, TCSE (AKA Josh and Kolie: The Coolest Sheehans Ever)

We sailed with Royal Caribbean on the Mariner of the Seas. I know. Royal Caribbean also sails to the Mediterranean. We were surprised too.

The cruise was 12 nights.

The itinerary was as follows:

  • Fly into Rome, take the train to Civitavecchia and stay the night.
  • Board the ship in Civitavecchia and sail away.
  • Day at Sea
  • Day at Sea
  • Alexandria/Cairo, Egypt (2 days)
  • Ashdod/Jerusalem, Israel (2 days)
  • Day at Sea
  • Kusadasi, Turkey (1 day)
  • Athens, Greece (1 day)
  • Day at Sea
  • Naples, Italy (1 day)
  • Arrive back in Civitavecchia and fly home.
Seriously…it was an amazing 12 days! I don’t have any other cruises in my experience to compare it to, but I would venture to say that 12 nights is the PERFECT length for a cruise. A nice balance of sea days to enjoy the ship versus port days to explore the..well…ports.

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Waiting to catch the train in Rome to Civitavecchia.

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Beautiful Kolie in our hotel room in Civitavecchia.

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Da boat. Er… ship.

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Oh hey! I turned the big 2-5 on the second day of the cruise! I woke up that morning to an awesome surprise on my door from Josh and Kolie and a waterproof iPad case from Chris (dream come true!). I’m not gonna lie… it was a really rad birthday!

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Yay birthday and cruise and Mediterranean and warmth and sun and life!

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 TCSE

 

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One of the birthday activities included a napkin folding class. We’re high class here.

 

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This photo is entirely representative of 80% of our time on the boat. Chris finished two books in A Song of Ice and Fire series as well as Vince Flynn’s American AssassinI plowed through the end of The Count of Monte Cristo, World War Z, The Princess Bride, and Ender’s Game.

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And what would a post about cruising be without a photo of the yummy food?

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The Mariner of the Seas had an ice skating rink on board. The wonders of our world these days never ceases to amaze me. 

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More stories of our port adventures to come!

A German Funny

In honor of Chris only having 5 more days left in Germany, we present to you this funny:


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We hope you have a fabulous day today!

Category: Travel  Tags: ,  One Comment
The Cure for Anything

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

– Isak Dinesen

The other day Anna and I found the cure for the stress of running our own respective businesses* in the sea.

And in Norwegian fish soup.

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*Anna runs her own online digital vintage pattern shop, Mrs. Depew Vintage. She’s amazingly talented. Also check her out on her blog for all things vintage and lacy!

Life Lately – November Edition

I read a great analogy a while ago:

Instagram is to a photographer as a sketchpad is to a painter.

I knew there was a reason I loved Instagram! Instagram basically takes away all of the artistic decisions a photographer must make and the only real choice left to you is composition. It’s great practice and I love it!

So without further ado, here are some of the latest snapshots of our life:

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1 – 2: TCSE (The Coolest Sheehans Ever) hosted a Murder Mystery dinner party a little while ago. This one was set in Ancient Rome. Chris was Bogus Fortunatus: Entrail-reading seer-turned-pop sensation and I was Cleptopatra: Thieving queen of the Nile.

3. Bruleeing the heck out of the creme brulee!

4. Taco pizzas

5-6: Early Christmas present from our fellow Walking Dead-lovers Josh and Kolie!

7. Donated cupcakes for Prosjekt Pupp (translated: “Project Boob”) – a local breast cancer awareness fundraiser

8. Norwegian-style hot dogs (wrapped in bacon complete with sour cream/mayo sauce and fried onions!)

9-12: It snowed BIG time this past week. You’d be surprised, considering this is Norway an’ all, but it doesn’t really snow a ton in Stavanger. I’m pretty sure we got more snow this past weekend than we did all of last winter. And it has been FREEZING! Our floor heating in our house hasn’t been able to keep up with the cold and it’s been rather nippy. I had to put an electric hot pad on top of Skittle’s cage to keep the poor little thing from getting icy feet. She won’t stay on my shoulder more than 10 minutes before asking to go back to her cage to snuggle up on her hot pad. On the worst day, we both took a nap in the bathroom because for some reason it stays toasty warm in there. Also, this morning we were out of milk and I didn’t have the courage to bundle up to go outside, so I ate my cereal with half & half. It’s been a little pathetic :) I miss Chris and his warmness to hug and snuggle up to at night, even though he may or may not have forgotten to put our winter tires on before he left for Germany (thank goodness for home teachers!)

But gosh, Stavanger sure is beautiful in the snow!