#49 Reminiscing PB88: Barcelona (Port 14)

What is Peace Boat?

¡Hola! (Hello in Spanish)

  • Date: 2015/10/9
  • Port Name: Barcelona
  • Country: Spain
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Free day again. We are the luckiest! So we hung out in the city for a day, visited the free part of Guell Park (I’m not sure if it was Guell Park actually, but there’s a little hill with a view of the city, and the colorful Gaudi benches where Romain Duris almost had an affair with the married woman in Spanish Apartment). Then we visited Sagrada Familia of course!

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“Unfinished, of all the words you can use to describe the Sagrada Familia — Brown, pointy, weird, the one that really seems to stick is unfinished. Why? Because on June 7th 1926, the architect, Antonio Gaudi, whose beard was also brown, pointy, weird and unfinished was run over by a bus. And so, his greatest masterpiece would remain forever, unfinished. Gaudi, to his credit, never gave up on his dream, but that’s not usually how it goes. Usually its not a speeding bus that keeps the brown, pointy, weird church from getting built. Most of the time it’s just too difficult, too expensive, too scary. It’s only once you’ve stopped that you realise how hard it is to start again. So you force yourself not to want it. But it’s always there and until finished it it’ll always be…”

Yes, I’m quoting Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother. You know, before you visit somewhere for real in person, you always have these few words that you associate with one place, or no words at all. “Sagrada Familia” was the word that stuck with me for Spain since my days living in Japan. I learnt it through Japanese TV and through Japanese friends or friends of friends who’ve visited Barcelona / Spain, who are always saying “Sagrada Familia”. In the back of my mind I’d always thought it was a normal building or a little house or something, swarmed with Japanese tourists, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Sorry #katak di bawah tempurung (Malay proverb meaning ignorant).

This was easily the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. I’m glad I took the audio guide, because they explained the intentions of Gaudi and his successors in how they designed the building, an organic theme to reflect the work of God and nature, and the placement of the windows according to the position of the sun during the times of the day, etc. I uploaded a pic of the interior here, but I doubt it’ll be that much of a travel spot spoiler because it’s still being constructed, and each time you go there might be a new addition. According to Wikipedia, construction started in 1882 (!) and it will be ongoing for at least another 50 years. The exterior was also extremely impressive, with the religious carvings and sculptures decorating the entrances and walls.

Here’s a shaky picture of Sagrada Familia in LEGO! At the Lego UNESCO World Heritage Site exhibition in Singapore (taken 29th July, 2017)

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After that we had coffee in front of the building and some tapas with friends. Here’s an email I wrote to le bf:

“So Barcelona was a REALLY NICE and elegant city, I think it may have been one of the best ports so far. Marseille is the best of course for obvious reasons! But I really enjoyed seeing the people, the cleanliness of the city, just the right amount of color and noise and interesting architecture in Barcelona! I had tapas and got a bit tipsy after ONE single glass of sangria and climbed on one of those lion statues below the Christopher Columbus statue lol. See pic shared on fb”

I still got the pic with me, it’s definitely not public blog sharing material 😛

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Next Port: Gibraltar!

#48 Reminiscing PB88: Marseilles (Port 13)

What is Peace Boat?

Bonjour! (Hello in French)

  • Date: 2015/10/8
  • Port Name: Marseilles
  • Country: France
  • First time there?: Surprisingly, no! I was there with Jas back in 2012 to catch a bus to Cassis!
  • What did I do?: FINALLY GET TO SEE LE BF FOR 6 HOURS

The day I get to see someone I was really looking forward to see had to be the shortest port day out of all port days. But it was still super worth it! We just spent the day having lunch and walking around at the Old Port, followed by a visit of the boat! It was a timely and much-needed emotional battery charging session for the remaining half of the trip.

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Next port: Barcelona!

#47 Reminiscing PB88: Palermo (Port 12)

 

What is Peace Boat?

Buon giorno! (Hello in Italian)

  • Date: 2015/10/6
  • Port Name: Palermo
  • Country: Italy
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: One free day for the CCs hoorah!

Here we are in the mafia capital of Italy! It’s a port city on the Island of Sicily and home to many architectural landmarks like the Palermo Cathedral on my featured image. Unfortunately, when we’re not forced to work as interpreters during port days, we have less inclination to read up on the city. Therefore I have nothing super interesting to share with regards to its history and economy.

Here’s an excerpt from an email I sent, talking about my general first impressions of the city:

“Palermo is very different from Venice, it’s much noisier and a lot more cars. I really don’t like many cars… They are so noisy. The buildings here look really old too and it’s less touristy here. I havent seen a mafia yet. But my two guy friends decided to dress up in suits haha”

The buildings look really old, some even crumbling. The narrow alleys which is characteristic of Italian cities made it rather hard to fully capture the grandness of the facades in photos.

Here’s an excerpt from a postcard I sent about what I did:

“Bongiorno! I went to visit the Fountain of Shame, it’s a fountain surrounded by naked statues and it’s right outside a church!! I think they sculpted the women’s bodies based on male models because they are so muscular. Then I went to visit the catacombs and now I’m not sure if I have an appetite for lunch :(“

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I guess I did have an appetite to eat after all! Here they put a generous amount of chocolate spread in your croissants!

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Postcard for the family: Coming soon

Next port: Marseilles, France!

#46 Reminiscing PB88: Kotor (Port 11)

STILL POWERING THROUGH MY PB DOCUMENTATION AFTER ALMOST 2 YEARS!

What is Peace Boat?

Zdravo! (Hello in Montenegrin)

  • Date: 2015/10/4
  • Port Name: Kotor
  • Country: Montenegro
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Had a half day tour at the and spent the remaining few hours with Akari-chan in the Old Town enjoying milk shakes and Wifi time!

If you were Malaysian like me, the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the name of this city would invariably be “KOTOR? HAHA”. Because Kotor in Malay actually means dirty. It’s always fun discovering funny names like these across cultures, e.g. like when I was discussing the name “Corps” for a legit city in France with my friends the other day. Corps may sound cool for a non-francophone, especially with the silent P and S (Why, French, Why?!) but if you take a step back, it actually literally means “BODY” in French. I mean can you imagine calling a city BADAN (Malay)? Or 体 (Japanese) or 身体 (Chinese?) Haha.

Ok returning from digression.

Anyway, I remember the tour that day brought us to a city about an hours’ drive away. It was a medieval town registered as a UNESCO site and I remember the buildings constructed using really really black rocks and really really closed shops, because unfortunately it was a frigging Sunday and everybody knows Sundays in Europe are boring. I don’t remember the name of the city but after some intense googling, I finally found it, it was BUDVA!! And a bit more random googling later, it’s apparently 2500 years old and one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Coast.

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I’m a bit sad because all I remember is that it was a tiny medieval town with some churches and mass going on so we couldn’t go in, it had a beach at one of its exits, and that there was a little St Mary statue at the top of the entrance into the city.

Here’s a picture taken sneakily while waiting for the tour group to reassemble after free time. It’s so easy to identify older Japanese tourists, the light colored clothes, the fishermen hats, their reserved dispositions (which turn into totally diva attitudes when confronting Japanese service providers), etc. Haaa, memories

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This was an island we passed by on the way to Budva for a photostop. It’s an island called Sveti Stefan. The only thing I remember explaining about this island is that it’s super luxurious and served as the venue of a very famous tennis player whose name I don’t remember anymore… Lol soray it was 2 years ago.

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After the tour we had half a day left, so we explored the old Venetian-style town of Kotor for milkshakes and postcard writing with Akari-chan! I remember we tried to tapau cakes back to the ship but in the end we got so lost looking for the boulangerie we gave up haha, aka, medieval towns so mysterious and fun in their layouts, but stressful when two girls bad at orientation are just rushing to get some desserts to compensate for the limited choice of sweets available in the boat.

Btw I miss my outfit in this photo. I dropped the scarf at Machu Picchu (Port 22, the post WILL COME one day in the near future!!), pants & knit sweater have been thrown away because they have served their time, shoes are in the back of a shoe closet back in KL, and my sister stole my muji top. The only thing I have with me now is my bag!

Postcard for the family:

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Postcard for le bf:

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Finally, here’s a video of us CCs chilling as the boat leaves one of the most magnificently beautiful ports I’ve ever seen. Look at my hair lol.

Next port: Palermo, Italy!

#39 Reminiscing PB88: Dubrovnik (Port 10)

 

What is Peace Boat?

Dobar Dan! (Hello in Croatian)

  • Date: 2015/10/3
  • Port Name: Dubrovnik
  • Country: Croatia
  • First time there?: Second time in Croatia but first time in Dubrovnik!
  • What did I do?: Interpreted for a half day tour in the morning and got to spend the afternoon with some colleagues exploring the beautiful and ancient city walls! Although the morning tour was short, I remember it was one of the most stressful tours for me to interpret because there was an intimidating lady (whom I admire a lot) in my group and she would correct me every time I used “katakana” Japanese. For example, when I said “piru” or katakana for pill, she would tell me the correct Japanese word, 錠剤 (jyouzai), in front of everyone. In hindsight it was a good lesson for me and I learned not to be so sketchy in my interpreting. I will also forever remember words like 錠剤 (pills)、遺骨 (remains) or 遺物 (relics) などなど。

Post-stress Sheng on the city fortification. I think you had to pay to go up the wall but totally worth it! You can spend around 1 to 2 hours up here circling the old city and just taking in the view of the city and the awesome, awesome, Mediterranean Sea.

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When I visited Croatia for the first time (Split and Hvar back in 2012) , to me, it was an exotic country with impressive European architecture and stone buildings plus a really breathtaking Lake Plitvice. But I learned on this trip with Peace Boat that Croatia is actually one of the seven countries of the Ex-Yugoslavia and that Croatia fought a war of independence in the early 90s. In fact, although the old town of Dubrovnik was a UNESCO world heritage site at that time, it was the target of a siege by the Yugoslavian government and more than half of the city was destroyed by bombs. A part of the city that we see today is actually careful and loyal reconstructions done using materials as close as possible to the original materials used.

Another trivia, Dubrovnik is one of the cities that inspired the fictional city of the Ghibli Studios animated movie “Kiki’s Delivery Service”. We were playing the soundtrack of the movie while walking along the walls when we saw JIJI!! Can you see the black spot in the picture? (For those who don’t know, Jiji is the talking black pet cat of Kiki, the lead character in the movie. And please watch it if you haven’t seen it yet! Highly recommended.)

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I enjoyed this city so much I decided to recreate it for my sketch homework for school:

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Postcard for the family:

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Postcard for le bf:

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Next port: Kotor, Montenegro!

#38 Reminiscing PB88: Venice (Port 9)

Only at Port 9!! Sheet sheet sheet

What is Peace Boat?

Buon giorno! (Hello in Italian)

  • Date: 2015/10/1
  • Port Name: Venice
  • Country: Italy
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Free day for all the CCs!! I guess the reason is because Venice is such a popular holiday destination, they would have plenty of Japanese speaking tour guides. So we just spent a really long day from morning till evening walking around the city as real tourists!

Customary canal pic ❤

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Pizza lunch of course

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Then of course after getting pleasantly lost in the maze of the city we came out to St. Mark’s Square! Too bad St. Mark’s Basilica was under some kinda of maintenance work. But it’s ok, maintenance of heritage sites like these are important. We weren’t on a CC tour so I’m not sure of the history behind this magnificent building, lol. What, it was a break we deserved! So we just enjoyed the Italo-Byzantine and Gothic (<- from Wikipedia) architecture and took pictures. When at a tourist site, we do as tourists do.

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Up the bell tower for more views! Look at how beautiful this is. How do people live here? Do people even live here? The swarms of tourists every single day must be quite annoying.

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And here’s the basilica from up top.

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Gondolas by the jetty. Obachan finger spotted. The gondola drivers were funny. We saw some of them taking their lunch break and when my friend who was wearing a striped shirt similar to theirs asked for a photo, they very curtly said NO. Lol sorry not sorry.

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Espresso and tiramisu break and postcard-writing.

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Postcard for the family:

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Postcard for le bf:

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Next port: Dubrovnik!

#37 Reminiscing PB88: Piraeus (Port 8)

What is Peace Boat?

(Oh gosh I have more or less 3 weeks to finish the rest of the ports before I embark on my second voyage, the 93rd! This time I’ll be doing mostly Chinese-Japanese interpreting)

Yassou! (Hello in Greek)

  • Date: 2015/9/28
  • Port Name: Piraeus
  • Country: Greece
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Interpreted for a tour to sanctuary for alternative, communal living with practices like cooking and eating natural foods, thai massage, yoga, and meditation. I CHOSE IT AS MY FIRST PREFERENCE for this port and my boss gave it to me as a ‘belated birthday present’ :DDDD Love you Matt ❤

The place we went to is called Sunshine House and it was about 1 hour away by bus from the port, so on the way to the house our guide for the day shared her life story and how she ended up working in this retreat house that promotes an alternative lifestyle centred around yoga, thai massage, local food, holistic well being, etc. You can pay for courses but I also remember meeting some international volunteers who were there for different periods of time, probably working in exchange for accommodation.

I had to interpret for a cooking session, then later a session making infusion oil. We had this feast of wholesome Greek food↓. Too bad we didn’t get the written recipes but I remember everything was doused with olive oil then put in the oven. I had to repeat that over and over for almost all the savoury dishes haha.

Greek salad!!

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Greek dip

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Greek yogurt for dessert!

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This was what it looked like after everything came out from the oven.

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This was what I had. Roasted pumpkin, roasted brinjal, some rice, roasted fish, Greek salad, Greek dip. OMG YUM. I miss it. And we even got to bring the clay bowl home.

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This is what the compound looked like. My photography skills suck but you can see hammocks and a huge trampoline on the right. There was also an area for growing herbs, lemon trees and orange trees. In another building, they were having a yoga session and I was supposed to switch with my colleague after interpreting for one cooking session but as my Japanese was better I was told to literally “stay in the kitchen” to continue interpreting lol. Argh.

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Postcard back home:
I chose these because although I was near Athens, I couldn’t go see the Acropolis so I thought I didn’t deserve to send a more typical postcard with pictures of the Parthenon.

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Postcard for le bf:

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Next port: Venice!