Thursday, June 1, 2023

Tales of the Traveling Tote 35 - Mediterranean Cruise Plus a Giveaway

Welcome to our June 2023 
Tales of the Traveling Totes.
Miss Madi K and I went all 
the way to the Mediterranean 
on a 12 day cruise.

This was our first trip back to 
Europe since Covid hit and we 
had a marvelous time.

We started with a three day 
pre-cruise trip in Rome 
where we stayed in the 
Hotel Twenty-One.  It was 
so centrally located so we 
could walk everywhere.  We 
lucked out and got a junior suite, 
which had a luxurious round 
bed and a soaking tub up 
behind the bed.  The flowers 
in the lobby were the most 
exquisite color of peonies.  I 
had to touch them, and sure 
enough, they were real. 

The first day we walked to the 
Spanish Steps and they had the 
most beautiful display of flowers 
going down the full length of the 
steps.  Alas, when we came back 
at the end of the cruise, they had 
all been removed.  It had been such 
a glorious sight.  We had been here 
in 2019, also in May and I knew 
they hadn't had flowers then either. 

We did a tour of the Colosseum 
during the day, but we got an 
Uber and went back again at 
night as our friends had never 
seen it at night. 

We were also able to visit St. 
Peter's Basilica, which had 
been closed in 2019, and 
the Vatican Museums and 
the Sistine Chapel.  We hadn't 
been there since the late 90's, 
so that was amazing.

We also got to visit the 
Rome Temple of 
The Church of Jesus Christ 
of Latter-Day Saints, the 
church we belong to.  Our 
tour group was mostly 
members of our church. 

We had been here in 2019 
with our kids, so I told our 
friends to get off the bus and 
quickly get pictures before 
9 other buses arrived!!! 

We sailed on the Odyssey 
of the Seas, a 
Royal Caribbean Ship.  
You can see my hat box and 
I watched videos before I 
left that suggested magnetic 
hooks for your wall, so my 
hats were displayed on the wall.

Our big motivation for taking 
this trip was being on the cruise 
with one of our favorite singing 
groups, Gentri - the 
Gentlemen Trio.  They are 
local guys that met while 
singing in Les Miserables and 
formed this amazing group.  
You can find their music on 
ITunes.  We especially love 
their Christmas albums.  

The first day at sea we had a 
private meet and greet with 
them and a mini concert.  

When I say private, there were 
400 in our tour group!  They 
ended up doing two private 
performances and two public 
performances, to a packed theater. 

The second night we had our 
first formal night.  We all loved 
dressing up for the formal nights.  
This wasn't a carry-on bag only 
trip for us!

Miss Madi K's first outing was 
in Cyprus, where we had booked 
a catamaran tour.  

After that we headed to Israel.  
Unfortunately, there was bombing 
taking place down by the Gaza Strip.  
The ship bypassed Ashdod and went 
up to Haifa because of the 
bombings.  We got off and went 
through immigration, took this 
photo which says "Israel
Vacation" and then were to 
stay on the ship until everyone 
had finished immigrations.  They 
stopped part way through the 
process and announced that we 
wouldn't be going to Israel!  

Now hubby and I have been 
multiple times to Israel, but 
our friends had never been, and 
along with Gentri, that had been 
their big motivation.  They had 
tried twice during Covid and 
hadn't been able to go, so that 
was a huge disappointment.  

Our tour had scheduled a 
private moment in the 
Garden Tomb and Gentri 
were going to sing there.  

So sad!!!  

But the cruise line changed our 
itinerary to now include Santorini!!
We had never been to Santorini.  We 
booked a professional photo shoot 
there, and that was a lot of fun.

Hubby carried Miss Madi K along 
so that we could have a change of 

We all agreed that 
Santorini was a nice 
consolation prize!

Our other consolation prize 
was Crete.  We had amazing food 
there.  I had the best gyro 
sandwich I have ever had.  It 
was chicken and the pita was 
so amazing.  I wanted to stop 
everyone and tell them to eat 

Next we went to Ephesus.  
We said we didn't get to 
walk where Jesus walked, 
except for on and off the 
boat, but we did get to 
walk where Paul walked.  
Ephesus is truly amazing.

Then we were off to Athens.  
Where we got to visit Mar's 
Hill and the Parthenon - 
again - we got to walk where 
Paul walked and talked.

My pictures in Ephesus and 
Athens don't show the hoards 
of crowds that were there.  
If you were patient, you could 
get a decent picture that looked 
like you had it to yourselves!  
In Santorini they said we were 
the only cruise ship there, as 
their season didn't start until 
the next week, so the crowds 
were very light. 

From our trip in 2019 I fell in 
love with Passion Fruit Gelato, 
so I was on a search for it.  We 
finally found it in Athens and we 
had it with a dark chocolate 
orange gelato.  
I have made both twice since 
we got home.  

The poppies were in glorious 
bloom in Pompeii.  Our guide 
told us before we got back on 
the ship we had to have pizza 
in Naples and especially we 
had to try their fried pizza.  

The fried pizza was like a 
fried calzone and it was 
amazing.  I don't think we 
would have tried it without 
her suggestion.  The pizza 
in Naples was by far our 
favorite pizza.  

We had been told there would
be three formal nights, but 
we only had two. 

So when we went to their 
specialty restaurant 
Wonderland, we 
used our third set of 
dressy clothes.  It is a 
take on Alice in 
Wonderland and 
was a pure delight. 

We loved it so much 
we went there twice. 

We also tried their 
Teppanyaki specialty 
restaurant and had a 
lot of fun there.  We 
had a singing chef and 
he asked if anyone was 
celebrating and we told 
him it was our 44th 
anniversary the next night, 
so we presented us with 
this rice "cake" with an 
electric candle and he 
pretended to blow it out.

Our final night of the cruise 
happened to be our 44th 
anniversary, and we ate at 
Wonderland again and 
Gentri gave their concert 
to the whole ship.  We got 
seats on the third row - our 
friend skipped dessert to 
secure those seats.  What an 

This is what he missed - 
a Chocolate Globe that 
they pour hot caramel over.  
Hubby wanted his own after 
we had it the first time.  the 
bottom left is another dessert 
and the bottom right is a 
vegetable garden.  This was 
an experience!

After the concert we saw 
another show with drones, 
went out on the deck for 
blue hour and of course 
had to stop for pizza! 
(It was our last night!")

We decided to leave our 
tip for our cabin steward in 
our own towel sculpture!

Even though we ate at 
specialty restaurants three 
out of twelve nights, the food 
in the main dining room on 
Royal Caribbean was outstanding!

I am so glad you were able 
to vicariously travel with 
us!  There was some 
disappointment, but we 
had a marvelous time.  

Now for the giveaway!

Visit lovely Sarah at 
and leave a comment to enter.

Visit all of the other ladies 
and their totes and see  
where they have been off to!

  Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths 

Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch

 Patti with Miss Kenzie @ Pandora's Box  

Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron

Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda

Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 

Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul

Jackie and Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home

Ricki Jill and Countess De Monet @ The Sketchy Reader



Chocolat - French for Chocolate. I adored chocolate from a young age when I had to sneak in the cupboard to find where my mother had hidden the Nestle's Chocolate Chips. Having read about the famous chocolat shoppes in Paris, when I finally got there I was determined to try a chocolate from every Paris shoppe. I invite you to share my adventures in creating, in travel, and in life.


  1. I'm blown away by your trip. I haven't been to Rome in so long! I know you were disappointed about Israel, but you couldn't have been that disappointed because you went to so many lovely places in Greece. One of the sweet families in our neighborhood moved to Cypress, and I would love to visit them. Your photos are so much fun, and I like seeing how y'all dress for formal occasions. Thanks for taking the time to put together this post for us. I have had fun reading about your cruise and other adventures while in Italy and on the Mediterranean.

  2. OHHH, what a fabulous trip! Our med Cruise was also on RC and I want to go back. Sorry that one of your stops was canceled, but it looks like you made the best of it. Your photos are fabulous and dreamy! Cruising is my favorite way to travel and I am heading back to see all of your photos again - I am so happy you had such a fabulous trip! Happy Travels and enjoy your summer!

  3. Jackie, your re-entry travel trip was Amazing!!! How fun to travel with this special group of friends. Makes me want to pack my bags and book a trip. Love seeing all your beautiful travel clothes. I'm never that fashionable! You always look adorable. Thanks for taking us along.

  4. Wow Jackie!!! This was such an amazing trip to enjoy with your special friends. You really packed a lot into this trip. I love Rome and we hope to travel back. I know you were disappointed about one of your stops but certainly didn't lack for beautiful destinations to enjoy. We've never been to Greece so I enjoyed all of your photos. Y'all certainly know how to travel! Loved every single photo!!! Happy summer travels Jackie..........

  5. What a fabulous trip! Happy Anniversary! However will you ever top that next year! I travel virtually through my friends these days, so I really enjoyed every place you went. You look so stylish in all your hats, and beautiful in all your clothes~ I love that you and your husband's outfits matched, I'm sure packing was a challenge! The cruise ship was incredible and the restaurants top notch. You are the Queen of luxury travel Jacqueline, I look forward to your next adventure!

  6. Okay, as if this cruise wasn't fabulous enough (Santorini, and visiting your temple in Rome especially!), can we just talk about the clothes for a minute?!! You and hubby looked fabulous, and my favorite, I think, was the white in Santorini and the pink in front of the temple. I love chic casual wear, and you really brought it all. It's so good to see you doing so well after the Covid years, and also your hip replacement. Fabulous journey. I've not been to any of those places, but thoroughly enjoyed the virtual trip. Thank you! Happy 44th anniversary!

  7. A big wow Jackie, your trip is fabulous! How fun to travel for your 44th wedding anniversary. Your outfits are color coordinated and look amazing. The food looks so delicious. Sorry you could not visit Israel, but your trip to Santorini makes up for it. So many wonderful places to visit and experience. I have never been. Love the hats! You really know how to travel. A pleasure seeing your travels.

  8. Happy 44th anniversary guys!! It's nice to do professional photos, and I'm sure you will do a photo album! What a fabulous journey even though going to Israel was a disappointment. Looking forward to your next adventure. We leave for Switzerland and Italy on Monday for two weeks. I'd love to go to Greece soon.

  9. Oh wow; that all sounds and looks so incredible! Sorry you didn't get to go to Israel, but Santorini looked beautiful.


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