This past summer, we ventured on our biennial cruise with my husband’s side of the family. As I mentioned in a previous post, my in-laws are huge cruisers and very loyal to their cruise line – Princess Cruises. We have cruised to both the western and eastern Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, and most recently to Italy and the Greek Isles. This was a huge trip for us because we were celebrating my in-laws’ 50th anniversary, my father-in-law’s 75th birthday, my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday, my brother-in-law’s 50th birthday, my brother- and sister- in law’s 20th anniversary, and my nephew’s 15th birthday. I have to admit, the idea of going on a cruise this far away was something I was a bit apprehensive about, considering our last cruise to Scandinavia was quite an adventure, to say the least. Not only was it difficult to travel with a 3-year old and 6-year on a 16-hour plane ride to the other side of the world, my luggage got lost leaving me with only the yoga pants and t-shirt I was wearing and my formal floor-length gown (note to self — spread out different types of clothing among baggage on future trips). To top it off, that trip was the one where we just happened to find out that my older son gets motion sickness (not good when you travel from bus to plane to another plane to bus to boat…non-stop — poor kid).
So although in my younger years, I had always dreamt of going to Italy (particularly Venice) and the Greek Isles (especially Santorini), I don’t ever remembering toting along two little boys in these far-fetched dreams. However, this was definitely a once in a lifetime trip and a great chance to spend time with family who we don’t see as often as we’d hope. I am eternally grateful to my in-laws for providing a trip like this for us, but considering what happened last time, I simply had no idea what to expect.
So, to calm my uneasiness, I decided to look at this as a photography trip as well — where I could document all these beautiful cities I had only read and heard about. I bought a wide-angle lens specifically for this cruise, so that I could grab the wide vistas and cityscapes, as well as the insides of museums and cathedrals. I also brought along my 50mm for low-light situations and my 28-105mm for walk-around outdoor use. I think I imagined we’d leisurely walk from place to place, soak in the atmosphere, drink coffee at outdoor cafes and capture photos of locals passing by. Instead, my focus was on making sure my children did not get kidnapped, clutching my bag for dear life for fear of being robbed as we were pushed from place to place like herded cows. It was also a scorching 95 degrees out, and our kids’ little feet could barely make it back to the boat each day. We definitely had our share of mishaps — my sister-in-law got pick-pocketed by gypsies, my niece fainted from the heat, I got lost in Pompei, and I distinctly remember my other sister-in-laws (my husband has 3 sisters) screaming and running down the platform as our train to Florence was seconds from leaving without them. There was no time to change lenses let alone compose shots and find good lighting for fear of being left behind! Everywhere we went, the bright mid-day sun followed us, so it was hard to avoid harsh shadows…and to avoid people! People were everywhere! But, in spite of these things, it was truly a trip of a lifetime, and truly a great one!
I ended up taking around 3500 pictures over the course of 16 days and 10 ports. I still haven’t finished going through all of them, but I did get the chance to find some to post on this blog, make a photo book and print a canvas before the rest of the shots inevitably get lost on my hard drive forever. Because we visited so many cities, I will be posting a different city on my blog for each post over the next few weeks. Check back soon to see the rest of our adventures!