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Tuesday Travel Diaries: The Mediterranean

20 March 2012

Hello! My name is Amy and I blog over at You Will Rejoice. Although my blog features a lot of DIY tutorials, style, and design, one thing I don't write about much is travel! My husband and I love to travel, and we were traveling together years before we were married or even dating. We've traveled to many places, but our favorite, by far, was our mediterranean honeymoon.
*unfortunately all of our pictures have the date in the corner :/
Last July we went on a 12 day Holland American mediterranean cruise. We booked and planned the trip about 6 months in advance, so we had plenty of time to save/pay for the trip. We used a family friend, Susan Rottschafer, of Dolphin Travel, to book our trip and she was incredibly helpful and kind. We looked at a variety of cruise lines--Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian, etc--but ultimately decided to go with Holland America because of their options and amenities. Holland America was a pricier option, but we couldn't have been happier with our choice.

We chose a 12 day mediterranean island cruise that departed from Venice, Italy. We spent about 15 days traveling, total. Our plane tickets to Italy were (graciously) covered by my in-law's accumulated credit card points, but would have cost us approximately $2000 per ticket. Our cruising, which included all meals and 3 different excursisions, ended up costing us about $10,000. In the end, with taxes, souvenir expenses (we tried to purchase one piece of art at every stop), our hotel stay in Venice, and tips, we ended up spending about $12, 000. Again, Yes, this is a lot of money, but we had been talking about traveling to Greece for quite some time, and given our planning time frame (6 months) we managed to pull everything together by saving and being wise with our spending.

We left from Detroit, MI and had a 10 hour flight, with one short layover in Amsterdam, to Venice, Italy.

We arrived 2 full days early so we could explore Venice, but also so we could have a buffer day if anything went wrong with our flights. Sue booked us the cutest, most luxurious hotel, right on the Canal!

We spent our first day exploring! We went to the Rialto Bridge, St. Marks' Square, the Doge's palace, and  walked around, and ate Italian food and gelato.

Later that evening, we boarded the ship, the Ms Nieuw Amsterdam!

Our first day on board was a day at sea, but our second day was our first stop--Split, Croatia.

It was beautiful and we had a wonderful time just wandering the streets, looking around, and walking through parts of the old underground palace.

The next day the boat stopped in Athens, Greece. We took a guided tour of the Parthenon (since it was about 30 minutes away from our port, we wanted to have a guaranteed and trusted route to the Acropolis, the rock the Parthenon stands on.) This was one of our favorite stops, it was very cool to see!

The next two days of the cruise were in Istanbul, Turkey. Our ship docked at 5pm and we had a full evening and day here. The first night we walked to the Grand Bazaar, a huge indoor bazaar, and had a great time looking at all the artesian's wears. It was a maze of vendors!

The next day we explored old Istanbul. We went to the Sultan's palace, the spice market, the Haggia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome.

Our cruise featured three formal nights, and we loved getting all dressed up!

Next we stopped on the island of Mykonos, Greece. This was by far our most favorite place. The island was incredibly beautiful, clean, relaxing, and serene. We loved Mykonos so much that we're currently planning our next vacation back there right now!

Ephesus, Turkey was our next stop. Again, we opted for a guided tour because the city was about 40 miles away from our cruise ship port, something we didn't want to risk navigating ourselves. We toured the old city ruins of Ephesus and learned a lot about Turkish culture and history.

Santorini, Greece was up next and we decided to spend the day on one of the black volcanic beaches! It was warm, sunny, and wonderful :)

Olympia, Greece was our last stop. This was also our last guided tour; we went to the ruins of Olympia paired with a vineyard visit and wine tasting! We went the the original olympic stadium.

And we spent a few hours at the loveliest vineyard eating fresh olives, bread, cheese and drinking various wines.

This was by far the best trip we've taken so far, and it was worth every penny! We did save money by not drinking (much) alcohol on the ship, but usually getting drinks on land. We also tried to utilize the fact that we had essentially pre-paid for every meal, and only ate on the ship--except for one gyro on Mykonos! We also used public transit, buses and subways, which are way more affordable (usually about 50 cents/person) than taxis. We came with euros and were able to use those almost everywhere, and where we weren't able to, we exchanged for currency at the ship's concierge desk. 

One of the reasons we opted to cruise was because we got to see so many places, including 2 wonders of the world, something we would never have been able to do, for this price, on our own. We loved the freedom of just getting off the ship and doing whatever we wanted. It was truly a fabulous experience and we cannot wait to go back!
How freakin' cute are Amy and her hubby?!?!  Not only is Amy from my home state of Michigan, she is a seriously talented woman.  The DIY's that she posts on her blog are incredible!  They are very detailed, and simple enough for the average person to follow.  She's a sweet, genuine blogger and I urge y'all to go check her out at You Will Rejoice!

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  1. that sounds incredible! Definitely something I would love to that blue striped top!

  2. That made me want to call a travel agent. What a wonderful trip

  3. This is hands down my dream trip! I've been itching to go to Greece for years, but throw in Instanbul, Turkey and Croatia and I might die of jealously!

  4. Thanks! It was an amazing trip, again, I'd highly recommend it. And, the blue striped top is from H&M, it's one of my favorite stores!

  5. What a great trip! Dying to see Greece, even more so now because of all those fun photos... they also got me super excited for my upcoming trip to Italy! Also, I am new around here and just discovered Tuesday Travel Diaries - what a cool idea!

  6. That looks like so much fun! I'm envious, because Mr. TBS and I never got a honeymoon. One day!

  7. People aren’t just paying more to fill their gas tanks or when they pay for their heating bills for their home; they are paying more at the grocery store, on air travel and for many other daily expenses.
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