Saturday, January 19, 2008

Post from the Red Sea

Now done Civitevecchia (Rome), Piraeus (Athens), Port Said (Cairo/Giza) and Sharm El Sheikh. I escorted tours for the first three going to the Colosseum (outside only), wallked through the Roman Forum and down the Spanish Steps in Rome. Took a tour out of the environs of Athens to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon. And in Port Said to Cairo and the Giza Plateau to see the pyramids and the Sphinx.

In Rome I joined three other pax (passengers) in a taxi to see the Spanish Steps - after we did the whirlwind tour of the Colosseum and Forum. Unfortunately no time to really look around the places and was very disappointed not to be able to go in the Colosseum. At the Spanish Steps we met a lovely old Italian guy who got into conversation with us. I suspected there would be a catch but he just obviously loved to chat to tourists. The trip to the Temple of Poseidon was along the coastline. The road hugging the shore line all the way twisting round bays, coves and inlets. It was cloudy all the way until we reached the Temple and the sun came out and stayed with us til we were homeward bound back to the ship. Poseidon wanted us to see his temple in true splendour! Found where Byron carved his name on one of the stones supporting a column. Vandal!

Really wanted to see the pyramids. If I had put myself forward as escort I might not get my first choice and if I only put the one tour I might not get it. And you don't find out if you're escorting or not until the evening before. So to make sure I didn't miss out on them I asked to pay and muck in with the pax on that one. Found out the evening before that they had put me as escort on that I could go free. Which was really helpful of them. However now wish they hadn't been so nice. We were at the pyramids for about an hour and my escort duties meant I only got 5-10 mins to hurridly get some vid and photo's. Very Frustrating! Would rather have paid the £82 and been just like the other pax.

Didn't see much of the Suez this time either as I now have two classes a day. Managed to get out on deck for about our last half hour of the transit before we moved out into the bay.
In Sharm we were at anchor so to get ashore they were using the Tenders (lifeboats). With the crew office shut I wasn't able to get my passport, SD book, crew landing form and customs declaration form (for my vid) that I would need to go ashore and I wasn't given a tour to escort. So I stayed on ship and painted the mountains across the bay from the top deck. It was sunny and fairly warm but still a very chilly wind. In Cairo our guide had said 'Welcome to Alaska!' I enjoyed my day off... the first to myself since I got on the ship 12 days previous.
Classes are going well and as I mentioned before I'm now doing two. I suggested the second after so many came to the first and a lot of them just wanted to paint and not necessarily have tuition as they were more advanced. So I arranged a more relaxed art club session where they can come along and paint/draw whatever they fancy and take as long as they like. I'd be on hand to offer help and guidance should they want it.

In the structured classes we've now moved onto painting. I was getting a mixed reaction to using gouache. They were curious but not necessarly keen to try it. Yesterdays class was me showing them how to use the paint and the techniques I use to paint things like trees, rocks, foliage and fur. Everybody who saw the demo were suddenly enthused and now the onboard shop is fast running out of their stock of gouache!

Weather-wise it has at last warmed up and the chilly breeze has been replaced by a warm one. We are steaming at 22 knots down throught the Red Sea, extra security personel walking the decks and watching for any ships or boats attempting to come up too close. I think we are more to the southern end of the Red Sea now as its now rougher outside -Force 8; whereas after leaving Sharm it was very calm.

Next stop is Oman... Salalah and Muscat.

Signing off

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