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  • Early evening view of Sarande as Serenisimma departed.



    A good opportunity to have chosen to take dinner outside on the aft deck.

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    • Moodful pictures. A rather exclusive cruise including the cultural program which is so different form the usual Med - Cruises of Aida, Costa, MSC and similar. It is sometimes hard to explain to friends, why i am not going on the big ships unless being so fascinated by ship travels. They like the "normal" cruises, but they don't know anything about such alternatives. I really do hope, that this niche market will be more and more recognized and will develop, not die.
      Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

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      • Day 8 - 14th September 2015 – Monopoli, Italy.



        We are now in Italy, but possibly not as you know i!. This is the region of Apulia (Puglia in Italian) - the 'heel' of Italy's 'boot'. Its capital is Bari, and if you have visited the region in recent years that is probably where you arrived, as it is becoming increasingly popular as a cruise port with the big cruise lines. But Serenissima is heading for the small town and port of Monopoli, which is also more convenient for a morning excursion to Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage town with extraordinary 'beehive' shaped houses. I have to admit I had never heard of either Monopoli or Alberobello before I went there on this cruise. Altogether a surprise and delight of a day.



        Approaching Monopoli in glorious early morning sunlight




        Views of the old town as the ship approaches the harbour

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        • Serenissima was moored alongside the harbour wall, and as it would be some distance through the port area and around to the old fishing and small boat harbour and picturesque Old Town, a bus pick up was arranged. The morning excursion transport would drop off those like myself who had decided not to take lunch on the ship. I found a pleasant lunch place with tables outside in an irregularly-shaped square, and later explored the narrow streets and alleyways and visited the cathedral. Plus, of course, walking along the walls with Serenissima photo opportunities!

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          • The lighthouse at the harbour in the Old Town



            The lighthouse can be seen again on this photo - the view of the Old Town from the ship.
            Then it was time for a pre-dinner lecture "The Balkans in War and Peace", and after dinner the Ukranian pianist, Vasily Golub (who usually played background music in the lounge), treated us to a classical piano recital, including passionate performances of Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky.

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            • So you have not been to Alberobello?
              Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

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              • Seagull
                Seagull commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes I did Ralf! Sorry my explanations were not very clear. I went on the excursion to Alberobello in the morning which set off at 08:30 and returned to Monopoli shortly after 13:00. One could then either get off the excursion bus at the old town and have lunch independently there as I did, or stay on the bus to get to the ship for lunch.
                I returned to the ship by the shuttle bus later in the afternoon.
                I did of course take photos in Alberobello, and what an amazing place it is. But here in Serenissima's thread I am only posting photos of the ship.
                ,

              • Ralf__
                Ralf__ commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you for this explanation. I was not sure and it would have been strange, since you described the place so expectantly. Never mind, i looked at some pictures at the internet. For me also the first time i took notice of that wonderful village.

            • Day 9 - 15th September 2015 – Kotor, Montenegro.

              Another new country and port for me, yet a port which felt so very familiar. Both that déjà vu feeling, and the reason that I was looking forward to this day so much, were entirely due to having seen Jan-Olav’s marvellous photos taken on the 'maiden voyage' of the ship as Serenissima.
              So even before the briefing the previous evening I knew it was important to be up early for the two hour scenic 'fjord cruiss' between picking up the pilot and arriving at the quay in Kotor.




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              • Serenissima was in her element and seemed her most hurtigrute-like in these surroundings. Lots of people were out on deck, and there were even announcements on the PA system pointing out particular places of interest.

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                • The fjord-like coastline is actually a ria - formed by the inundation of former river valleys by the sea. Verige Strait is the narrowest part, forming the entrance to the inner bay, the Bay of Kotor (though confusingly the whole area of winding bays and connecting channels is called that in English).



                  Rather than heading directly to the port, the ship took us close to two picturesque small islands. There is a Benedictine monastery on the Island of St.George, and an old graveyard amid cyprus trees. On the other island, Our Lady of the Rocks, there is a church of the same name and a museum.


                  Beautiful moody light as the ship slowly turns before heading to Kotor

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                  • Arriving at Kotor, we dock on the right side of the triangular-shaped quay, opposite Athena.


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                    • The view from my cabin porthole…


                      …and the view of my cabin porthole, ideal for my travel mascot Sea-Troll to keep an eye on quayside activity!


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                      • Following a two hour guided walking tour of the town (which included visits to the cathedral and the maritime museum), the rest of the day was free for independent explorations. I was in no doubt what I would do:- follow in the steps of our Captain to to the fortress of San Giovanni. Jan-Olav has described this zig-zag path and steps as a "steep hillside climb" and as "strenuous" and "a hot walk", and I can certainly agree with him! You can get an impression of the route in his photo, and that small chapel with a tower in the centre of the photo can be seen in relation to sea level in mine (#1120/2) above.


                        A view of Serenissima from the path...



                        ...and from higher up...


                        ...and finally the proof to show Jan-Olav that I made it to the top - a carefully choosen viewpoint that includes the ship, the flagpole, and a stunning view - like Norway but warmer!

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                        • In the evening there was a Barbeque Dinner for everyone out on deck (with tables set out up in the covered area on deck 5 as well as on deck 4).




                          It was a convivial evening in a truly idyllic setting.
                          At 23:30 Serenissima set sail for Dubrovnik.

                          Jan-Olav’s images of his visit to Kotor can be found in his thread “The maiden voyage of the SERENISSIMA Split – Venice” from about #28
                          and here in this thread from #442

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                          • Beautiful pictures of the ship with gorgeous scenery around and perfect evening to eat out on the deck when it's so beautiful with comfortable temperature.
                            Best wishes from
                            Bengt Domben

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                            • I can see you are feeling almost as if you were actually on the cruise Grindøya, and it's also good to see in an earlier comment that Clipper is also 'aboard'

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