10/13 Roamin’ the Mediterranean Day Nine: Ionian Sea

Today was another sea day as we headed from Greece back to Italy for three more stops. Though we weren’t docking anywhere, this day would turn out to be an unexpected highlight of the trip. I felt like I was getting over my little cold I developed, but I still wasn’t 100%.

After eating lunch I headed over to watch the final day of the art auction that had been going on. There were some very interesting paintings going up for sale, though I couldn’t remotely afford any of them, but it was fun to look at the different paintings and watch the auction.

The were a few Picassos in there, one of them worth a million dollars, but no one felt froggy enough to jump at that. There were several paintings that went pretty high though. I think the highest I saw someone go on a painting was about 35 thousand dollars, though I am not sure what happened the previous days of the auction, as there were several in the hundred-thousand dollar range. There were some people in there that had some serious money, as there were several that bought multiple paintings well over a thousand dollars in range. Though I didn’t bid on anything I got a free print for attending, but got there too late for the free champagne.

I sat out on deck for a while taking in the sun and eavesdropping on random conversations going on around me. One thing that I heard, that I have heard a few times since we left Turkey, is how much the experience there has changed people’s opinions of the Turkish people and Muslim people in general. I guess many of these people thought we were going to get suicide bombed or something and were surprised that it was a normal everyday society of civil people. I think much of that is the fault of the media, as the extremists have become the face of Middle Eastern culture. I think visiting Turkey is an educational experience into learning about Middle Eastern culture (though it has much more Western influence than most Middle Eastern countries) that will open a lot of people’s eyes.

That evening on the ship was the second of two formal nights. Though I dressed up for the first one, I decided to skip the one tonight. Instead of going to the formal dinner I hit up the buffet with my brothers and my brother Josh’s girlfriend. Lets just say we had a very “informal” dinner and had some fun. I’m sure we were entertaining for the tables around us, and I’m sure we probably pissed off some snobs, which made it even better.

The cruise director announced over the intercom that we were about to pass one of the Mediterranean’s most active volcanoes called Stromboli, so we wanted to go outside and check it out. I had forgot to bring my camera so I went back to the room to look for it, and couldn’t find it. After a bout of panic, some déjà vu of losing my computer in England a few months before, I finally found it on the windowsill behind a curtain in my stateroom. I hadn’t uploaded the pictures off my memory card to my laptop since after Rhodes, so I was very relieved.

As I made it to the deck at the front of the ship, my brother’s girlfriend, now fiancé, Nikki, showed me her ring. My brother proposed on the deck in front of the volcano. Congrats to them, I haven’t ever had a sister before so it’s going to be neat to have a sister-in-law now. I like Nikki and I think my brother Josh and her will be happy together. My other brother Jason almost spoiled it a few nights before by accidently almost giving it away, then almost spoiled it again by walking up right in the middle of the proposal. It became a good laugh that I’m sure they will all remember.

I then went out onto the deck while they went to go share the news with everyone else. The fog was thick, and it was nighttime, so you couldn’t make out the volcano very well. One thing that I could easily make out was an orange glow from the top of it. The glow would be very intense at times and then fade. I’ve heard that on a clear night you can see sparks from the top of the crater. Stromboli is one of four active volcanoes in Europe. One I had already seen in Sicily, Mt. Etna, and another I would see the following day in Naples, which is well known throughout history for its destruction of the massive Roman city of Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius.

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