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Andy’s Excellent Mediterranean Adventure

Grand Canal from the Ferrovia Station; Venice Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Grand Canal from the Ferrovia Station; Venice
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Normally, this week of the year, I am “neck-deep” into Fall Foliage photography. I just returned on Friday, from a 17 day trip to Italy and the Mediterranean. It does not look like I will have the “bandwidth” to do any serious foliage shooting this year, and will have to live vicariously through my many friends who I know are shooting foliage somewhere.

I have been foreshadowing here, that I would be reporting on the trip. I brought back many, many images, and am now in the process of “curating” them (as my friend, and mentor, Ray Laskowitz has pointed out, is the current terminology for sorting, selecting, and processing images). They will be the fodder for a number of upcoming posts.

The Grand Canal is the "Main Attraction" in Venice Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The Grand Canal is the “Main Attraction” in Venice
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The trip was, to say the least, an adventure. The plan was to spend 4 days in Venice prior to boarding the newest and greatest marvel of technology offered by Princess Cruises—The Flagship, Royal Princess—in the Port of Venice for their “Grand Mediterranean Cruise.” The cruise itinerary included stops in Ephesus and Istanbul, Turkey; Athens and Mykonos, Greece; and Naples, Rome, Florence, and Pisa, Italy, and Provence, France. The termination point was to be Barcelona, Spain (though we did not plan time there this trip). We had arranged private tours in all but 2 of the stops.

The Venice Streets are a maze, and all of them have twists and turns; often unexpected Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The Venice Streets are a maze, and all of them have twists and turns; often unexpected
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

All went well, and according to plan for our time in Venice, and for the first 1/2 of the cruise. After a nice, relaxing day in Mykonos, we set sail for Naples, a day away. We almost didn’t make it. Midway through the scheduled day “at sea,” the ship lost all power, and we floated, adrift in the Mediterranean for about 6 hours. Anyone who has watched any national news during the last year has to have a feel for the thoughts of what could have been. Fortunately for us, we didn’t live the “nightmare” that the prior “Carnival” cruisers did on a couple of ships during the past year. Eventually, power was restored to the ships “services,” but power to the propulsion system continued to be problematic. We were able to get under way with enough power to push the boat along at about 1/3 its normal cruising speed, and limped into Naples a day late. The balance of the cruise was cancelled (interestingly, this news is already on Wikipedia), and passengers left the ship (eventually) in Naples, to be flown home.

The quintessential symbol of Venice is, of course, the Gondola Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The quintessential symbol of Venice is, of course, the Gondola
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

We think we “made Limoncello out of Lemons”

I give substantial credit to the Captain of the Royal Princess and the company for its response to this incident. It is disappointing (for some, crushingly) to have half of a cruise cancelled, particularly when many of the passengers had come from far away parts of the world. In my case, if I had been given a choice, I would rather have cancelled the Greece/Turkey part of the voyage and done Italy and southern France. But of course, we don’t control nature and often “things mechanical.” This is a 141,000 ton ship with 3,600 passengers and an additional crew. As I get older, I become more philosophical about these things; especially when the person who is (technically) at fault steps up and responds in a reasonable fashion. They needed to consider the safety and comfort of the passengers and getting safely into port, and cancelling the remainder of the cruise so they could make proper repairs seems imminently reasonable. And, in the same breath of their announcement of cancellation, they also committed to a 100% refund of the cruise fees, and a substantial discount on a future cruise. They also committed to the economics and logistics of transportation and lodging to get all passengers home. That works for me. They perhaps didn’t carry off the last part as gracefully as possible, or to the satisfaction of many passengers. But in their defense, they were in a small airport city (Naples), and faced with the task of getting nearly 4,000 passengers home. Where the strategy partly fell apart was for those passengers who had booked and committed to lodging and other events in Barcelona, the cruise termination point. Yet the passengers we spoke to about it seemed to be able to make alternative arrangements.

There seem to be wine bars, pastry shops, trattoria and gelato shops on nearly every street and every corner Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

There seem to be wine bars, pastry shops, trattoria and gelato shops on nearly every street and every corner
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Not only were we able to do 1/2 the cruise and 4 days in Venice (with a full cruise fee refund), but we were able to make the best of the situation. The logistics of moving that many people off the ship and out of the country meant some of us (and we considered ourselves fortunate) weren’t out the first day. So we were free to explore Naples, knowing we could come back on the ship for another night. We were able to secure a taxi and do the Amalfi Coast trip I had hoped to do on the cruise. We then arranged for transportation to Rome (where we were scheduled to fly out of) and had 1/2 a day to explore parts of the Roma City Center. We arrived home less than a day before our original schedule. All in all, we felt that we had experienced a positive trip. One of the things we looked forward to in Naples was the chance to try the native (Sorrento) Limoncello, a liquor made from lemons, grown locally. We did get some and brought it home with us. There is a saying about making Lemonade out of Lemons. We think it’s even better than that. We like to think we made “Limoncello out of Lemons.”

We started in Venice and I have to say that it is a photographer’s paradise. While I bring a couple handicaps to the table here (not much ability to be in place for the best light of early morning and late afternoon because of a busy schedule, very few real opportunities to set up and shoot from a tripod, and not having my FF Nikon D800 and pro lenses), I am very pleased with the resulting images, for the most part. The Sony seems to have acquitted itself well.   The opening image here is what you seen when you exit the Ferrovia Station (Train Station) on the Island of Venice, toward the Grand Canal.  The big show, of course, is the Grand Canal.  But the true “magic” to be found for photographers in Venice, is on unexpected secondary canals and back streets.

There are hundreds of scenes like this in Venice on the many secondary canals Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

There are hundreds of scenes like this in Venice on the many secondary canals
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

In the weeks to come, I will summarize some of the positive experiences of the trip, illustrated, of course, with my images. It is good to be home, but I look forward to the next adventure, including, hopefully, a return to the Mediterranean in the not too distant future.

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4 Responses

  1. Don’t be putting the “curating” thing on me, friend. 🙂 It may be the current term for picture editing, but I think it is pretentious and precious. Precious, being used in the British way, which is not in a good way. BTW, the gondol picture is wonderful. My kind of color.

    • LOL, Ray. I was being tongue in cheek about it, as I believe you were when you mentioned it in one of your pieces a couple months back. I agree with the characterization as pretentious :-). I think I’ll just keep on plain old “sorting, selecting, and post-processing.

      Thanks for your compliment on the gondola image. I am always pleased when you like one of my images! Best regards, my friend.

      • I kind of knew that. If you follow baseball at all, you know that Mariano Rivera retired a couple of days ago. When asked about how he approached the game, the greatest reliever of all time said, “I get the ball, I throw the ball, I take a shower.” Simplicity is best.

  2. […] destination was a 2 week Mediterranean Cruise. As noted in the first post in this series, “Andy’s Excellent Mediterranean Adventure,” all did not go as planned, but on balance, we saw a lot of the Mediterranean, including two […]

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