MM 4.5 — Day 10: All Good Things Come to an End

It feels good to not have any events or appointments scheduled during the day today (with the exception of tonight’s Farewell Party, of course!). As a not-so-welcome side effect, the realization that this fabulous cruise is now almost over seeped into my consciousness. Let me share some more pleasant random thoughts that came to mind during this slow-paced final day on the Noordam, then.

  • I woke up very early this morning and had a chance to see us sail into the harbor. I wish I had witnessed this maneuver more often.
  • It’s amazing how quickly you can make new friends if the people in the group share a common passion — like everything Mac or photography. Quite possibly, the fact that these two specific topics have a lot to do with creativity, may have helped also. I mean, being on a cruise with a group of accountants or lawyers probably wouldn’t be quite the same…
  • Oh, the food…! I’m deeply grateful to Jack Davis for pointing out to me that, since you could order as many dishes from the menu as you’d like, you could also have a full meal of, say, three starters and two soups. This helps a lot if there are any entrees on the menu that you don’t fancy much. Then again, it helps just as much if there are just too many dishes on the menu you do fancy. Do remember, though, that dessert is presented on a separate menu, so leave some room for that, too!
  • Joining organized excursions will prevent you from truly immersing yourself in the atmosphere of the countries you’re visiting, dampening the feeling of being in a foreign country quite a lot. While being in a closed group led by an experienced guide may serve as a sort of comforting protection for some, do consider exploring on your own, as well. It’s just so much more rewarding to look beyond what industrialized tourism has to offer you!
  • With so many ports-of-call on a cruise — seven in ten days –, this is an extremely intense and fast-paced way of traveling, and you cannot possibly remember everything that you saw or experienced. Therefore, take lots of pictures — I took comparatively few: about 750 — and share them among your fellow-cruisers so you can fully re-live and re-experience the cruise later when you’re back home.
  • If Sal Soghoian offers another 2-on-1 AppleScript session because he didn’t cover all the topics he wanted to cover in the first one, go for it!
  • Don’t trust others’ judgement when it comes to deciding what to see and what to skip; instead, trust your own instincts. It may do wonders to your perception. See below.
  • Did I mention sharing your photos? There’s nothing quite like a chimping session during and after an excursion. Never heard of “chimping”? OK, have you ever seen people looking at, and admiring, each other’s photographs on those little displays on the back of a camera, and going “ooo!”, “oo!aaaa!”, “ooo-aaaa-ooohh”? That’s chimping. (Thanks, Bill!)
  • Were you happy with the cleanliness of your room? Never had to worry about someone sneaking into your cabin? Enjoyed the turn-down service at night? That’s all thanks to the fabulous stateroom stewards on-board the ship. Don’t forget to tip them generously. These guys work a crazy schedule: seven days a week, morning-noon-night, for about a year. It’s a strenuous job, and if they perform it flawlessly, they deserve not only a few nice words, but a few hard-earned bucks, too!
  • Be prepared for a dose of melancholy when the cruise is over. After spending so much quality time with your fellow cruisers, some may have gotten rather close to you even though you’ve just met them a few days ago, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the good-byes are quite emotional. But, hey, isn’t that a good thing? It simply means that you’ve met the right folks on your geek cruise, and meeting like-minded, talented, and plain nice people is what this event is all about.

What pops up in front of your inner eye when you hear the name Naples? Dirty, narrow streets? Poverty? Muggings? La Mafia?

It’s a sad fact that you can see and feel the Italian divide between the rich North and the poor South which lies somewhere between Rome and Naples, and that, therefore, you will also find sobering poverty in Naples. However, once you’ve wandered the streets of Naples yourself, you’ll also find an amazingly beautiful city behind the bias and preconceptions.

Vesuvio

Naples’s squares, churches, and palaces are as beautiful as any we’ve seen in other ports of call, but it’s the narrow streets with their little pizza restaurants, grocery shops, and tiny balconies that give this place a special charm. And the views of the golf of Naples are fantastic.

In a way, instead of being dangerous and scary, Naples is the perfect example of the positive images that hearing the word “Italy” brings up. If there’d be one destination from the cruise that I could choose to go back to, this would definitely be it. And that’s not just because I didn’t have enough time to taste an original pizza napolitana, either!

Alley in Naples

What?! Is it time to pack my suitcases already? Oh boy! I would so want to time-travel back to July 20th…

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