We are really excited to have a guest post today from Liz Laurie Bogie. Liz has been a friend for many years now. I think I was initially drawn to her as a friend for her adventurous spirit. Liz is a Southern girl residing in our nation’s capital. When she is not running public relations for several Washington D.C. restaurants she is spending time with her husband Justin and their two adorable dogs Scout and Maggie. You can follow Liz’s cooking adventures and gift for humor on social media @cookinwithbreeza. She and her husband spent last Fall living between New York and D.C. and were always exploring a new area of Manhattan or trying a new restaurant. They are foodies and overall great people. Liz began documenting their Whole 30 experience on her social media accounts @cookinwithbreeza. Her videos would have my husband and me in fits of laughter. Breeza (Liz) and Monk (Justin) are a dynamic duo in the kitchen. Breeza brings fun and laughter to the kitchen, while Monk brings the can do spirit and knife skills. Follow along with their journey to eating healthy, traveling, perfect meal executions and a couple mishaps, and maybe a few “breeza don’t do’s” from Monk. With all of that said we are turning the blog over to Liz as she takes us Breezin’ around Greece.
It can be a daunting task to find time to take a vacation. On top of that, the time, effort, and expense of planning said vacation is a full-time job in itself! Thankfully, whether you’re traveling with the kids or if you’re looking for some one-on-one time with your significant other, there are some affordable, easy options to take the trip of a lifetime.
Living and working in the cutthroat city of Washington, DC like us can be exhausting. I am the communications director for a restaurant group in the city, while my husband Justin works for a think tank, analyzing federal policies pertaining to the budget. While we aren’t parents yet (unless you count our two dogs as children), we still look forward to our time together, exploring the world and strengthening our marriage as we cut off our work emails and focus on each other.
It was the Saturday evening before the Super Bowl, and we were dreaming of warm weather and going somewhere new. Justin started Googling different vacation options, and we stumbled upon a Royal Caribbean cruise around the Greek Isles which set sail from Venice on Memorial Day Weekend. I had never been to Europe and have always loved the idea of visiting Greece. We had taken a Hawaiian cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line during the summer of 2016, and we loved the convenience of exploring different cities and islands without having to unpack, repack, get on a bus/boat/plane, then unpacking in a new hotel each day. Instead, our hotel room moved with us, allowing us to enjoy stress-free travel in new locations each day.
The cruise line was offering a special that weekend: when you bought one traveler’s cruise ticket, the second traveler’s ticket was 60 percent off. On top of that, flights from Dulles to Venice were only $500 round-trip per person. The vacation seemed too good to pass up, so we booked our tickets that night. For the next three months, we tirelessly researched each port of call, learning about each city we’d be visiting and booking excursions through the cruise line. Before we knew it, our anxiously-awaited getaway was upon us.
May 25-27: VENICE
We flew from Washington-Dulles to Frankfurt, Germany, then from Frankfurt on to Venice, Italy. We spent two days in Venice before the cruise and rented an Airbnb near the Ca D’Oro water bus stop near the center of the historic city. We walked over the Rialto bridge and watched people taking romantic gondola rides down the canal. We visited St. Mark’s Square, seeing the clock tower and visiting the gorgeous St. Mark’s Basilica. The Doge’s Palace was located nearby, so we toured it as well. One of my favorite things we did in Venice was visiting the island of Murano, a haven for world-renowned glass blowers who will gladly demonstrate how glass is made (for a few Euro). On Saturday morning, we checked out of our Airbnb and made our way to the cruise terminal where we boarded our ship, The Rhapsody of the Seas, and set sail that evening. The views of the city from the ship were awe-inspiring, and it was a wonderful scene that set the tone for the rest of our trip.
While the history, art, and charm of Venice was truly magical, there are a few things to know before you go. I had no idea how difficult it is to navigate throughout the city. There are no cars or roads in the city, and to get around you either have to walk (and get lost a few times, which is half the fun), or you have to figure out the city’s water bus system. You can always take a water taxi, but they are very pricy- to get from the Venice airport to the main island, a water taxi will run you over 100 Euro! The canal weaves in and around the city, so there are foot bridges with stairs everywhere. To get to and from our Airbnb rental, we had to go over several foot bridges with our carry-ons and 50-lb suitcases in tow, which was tiring and annoying for a dumb American like me. In addition to the navigation difficulties, Venice is FILLED with tourists from all over the world. If you want to see the true city, it’s important to get up and out early in the day, before the streets and squares get too packed. We found that some of the most beautiful and charming parts of the city were off the beaten path, that we simply stumbled upon as we aimlessly wandered around town. So make time to get lost, find your favorite cafe’, and get to know the welcoming locals. You’ll be so glad you did. One final note- we bought the Venice CityPass. This was a mistake and a rip-off so do not buy it.
May 27: First Night on the Rhapsody of the Seas
Our cruise was aboard Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, a medium-sized ship with endless options for food, drink, relaxation, and fun. Passengers were all ages from all over the world, from families with small children to retirees enjoying their golden years. Our room was an oceanview room with one king bed that can be converted into two twin beds if needed, along with a couch, vanity, closet, and restroom. Additionally, many rooms include bunk-type beds that fold down over the bed(s) on the ground. This would make for a cozy, affordable space for a family of four. We ate dinner at Giovanni’s Table, one of the ship’s specialty restaurants that you can enjoy for a small additional fee. The food was amazing and the service was impeccable. If you’re bringing the kids, you and your significant other can enjoy a fine dining experience while sending the kids to the nightly kids’ camps, where kids can enjoy games, arts and crafts, and more with kids their age under full supervision from cruise staff. After dinner, you can enjoy drinks at any of the numerous bars on the ship, try your luck in the casino, head to the nightly shows in the Broadway Theatre, or walk out on one of the decks to enjoy the ocean breeze.
May 28: Kotor, Montenegro
Our first port of call was Kotor, Montenegro. We were blown away by the beauty of the mountains and the quiet, relaxing beach we visited. This was Justin’s birthday, so we went on the Blue Cave Speed Boat Adventure that took us on an hour-long boat ride to the incredible Blue Cave. The views of the Montenegran mountainside were breathtaking, with the shoreline peppered with everything from quaint vacation homes to expansive resorts. Similar to the Blue Grotto in Capri, the Blue Cave has the clearest, bluest water you’ve ever seen. The speed boat pulled into the Blue Cave where we proceeded to jump straight into the sapphire-blue and ICE-COLD water. It was one of the most invigorating experiences I’ve ever had. The boat then took us to a beach outside Montenegro, where we sunbathed and relaxed for a few hours before heading back to the ship. While we’re accustomed to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico that have smooth, white sand, this beach was made of large pebbles. It was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Be sure to wear Chacos or other durable sandals if you visit a beach like this- walking on the rocks in bare feet can hurt! After relaxing for a while, the speed boat returned us to the ship where we boarded and set sail towards Corfu, Greece.
Come back Thursday as Breeza arrives in Greece!!!