Thursday, 30 June 2016

Stampin' Up! Mediterranean Cruise Highlights Blog Hop



Hello and welcome to my contribution to the Mediterranean Achievers Blog Hop for the month. It is all about the highlights of the trip for each demonstrator and I'm sure there will be some similar themes running through these posts, but you will also see all the fun we had, how we were showered with gifts and treated so very well.

I was particularly thrilled to achieve this vacation as I have studied Art History and indeed had a career in art education before retiring and becoming a Stampin' Up! demonstrator. Italy, France and Spain are rich in art and rich in history as well as gorgeous scenery so I was thrilled to be able to share this with my husband (who really did not want to go - I dragged him along and he actually had a great time!!) When I heard that the next Grand Vacation was going to be the Mediterranean, I decided I really wanted to go, so I set myself some goals and worked hard with my team members to earn the necessary flex points. It was just a matter of trying to keep to my target each month and I made it!

We were lucky to get an upgrade with Qantas and flew to London via Dubai and although the stop was just a couple of hours at the airport it has enticed me to make a visit there at another time. Look at this gorgeous airport.



So the highlights for me:

Beautiful Barcelona - gorgeous architecture, great food and wonderful weather. Pictures tell the story better than I can so here are a few. The Gaudi architecture is inspiring in its creativity, but learning his story made things really come to life.


It was so exciting to see so many demonstrators from around the world and to be a part of this fabulous vacation.  We had organised a few tours with 2 other lovely Aussies: - Leonie and Narelle, and it was great getting to know them. Can't wait for On Stage in November when we will meet up again.
Our first full day on the ship was a day at sea. We met up with long time friends from the USA (almost family as I lived with Joyce in 1968 - 69)  on the first night and there were lots of hugs and smiles. We spent as much time as we could the following day including lunch, and imagine my delight when Jeff tells us he has invited a couple more to have lunch with us.

Look who it was!
 Needless to say I was delighted and felt so lucky to be able to spend a little time with my family and Shelli and Stirling.


I have been to Italy before and was very keen to see some sights that I had not yet seen so I chose the Amalfi Coast excursion - what beautiful rugged  coastline it is. The bus could hardly fit on the road in some cases, but I would happily peer out the window and enjoy all the sights.


We lucked in with our Rome day as I had booked a driver and a car for my sister and husband and I,  so we weren't affected by the train driver strike. Our driver was hilarious but really great at getting us around all the traffic problems and protest marches that were happening that day. We saw a lot of the sights and of course had to revisit the Trevi Fountain and toss a coin in. (Just so we are sure to return to this lovely city) The history is mind blowing and the beauty of the sculptures and architecture is stunning. We enjoyed a lovely home made pasta lunch with some Italian wine and when we asked Carlo the very best place to get gelato, he took us to his favourite place in Civitavecchia. Yum!


Florence is a beautiful city but I decided to make another visit to the heritage listed Cinque Terre - a set of 5 coastal villages. We were joined by Narelle and Leonie, Joyce and Jeff, and  my sister Linda and the 7 of us, along with our driver, had a very strenuous day climbing up and down the steep roads of some of the villages. They are so picturesque and the weather was kind so we were able to see them by sea and land. I love the narrow streets, the funky decoration on the outsides of the buildings the flower pots and the beautiful Mediterranean colours of the ocean, the boats and the homes.


We enjoyed some "relax" time in France with just a quick trip into Cannes for lunch by the harbour, and in Marseilles we took a tour across to Cassis, a quaint fishing village that had the best croissants!


As the cruise came to an end, many of us were wondering just how we would fit in all the wonderful pillow gifts we received. It was pretty exciting coming back to the cabin each evening  to find a beautifully presented box on the bed - some really great gifts, ranging from dinner and a Cirque Show to T-shirts, bags and SU product. Stampin' Up!® spoil achievers so much. And we had the added joy of a dedicated Hospitality Room on the ship. We were able to pop down there any time for a spin of the wheel to win more products and it was a great place to chat to other demonstrators and to meet up with members of the corporate team and of course the lovely and very hard working SU staff.

We spent another 3 days in Barcelona and took one more excursion to some medieval villages outside of Barcelona. Coming from Australia, the age of these buildings is amazing. There were so many beautiful scenes that will make excellent water colour paintings one day.


Our final day was spent in London - it was cold compared to Spain, but we decided to do a Thames River hop on hop off tour to see some of the main sights. Our hotel was at the airport so we took the express train into Westminster station and hopped straight onto the boat. Again it was the architecture that stood out for me, this time ranging from Gothic Revival to very modern. And I was thrilled to see some Christopher Wren buildings. The views of different tourist attractions from the river were good, but it was so cold on the top deck that we opted for the warmth and a hot chocolate on the lower deck for the return trip.


What a great holiday this was. I am now working hard to achieve the next vacation - Thailand 2017. Only a little way to go for us in the Southern hemisphere and only a few more flex points needed by me.
Thanks so much to Stampin' Up!® for these wonderful opportunities and rewards. This has to be the best company to work for in my chosen field of craft. I love what I do and love sharing that with you.




4 comments:

  1. Fabulous highlights Ann! thanks for sharing :)x

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  2. I can't believe it took us so long to finally meet on board ship. And then it was fleeting at best Ann. Shall we shoot for Thailand? Thanks for sharing your highlights from the trip. Have a wonderful weekend and God Bless, ~Cynthia <><

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  3. What a great trip! So much fun!!! Here's to many happy memories!!!

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