Most recent John Allan Travel Blog

I can’t see a thing – Venice / Trieste

Sun 22 Dec – day 8 I slept only in short spells as the pain in the big toe on my left foot was excruciating, so having showered I made my way down to deck 4 to be at the Medical Centre as soon as it opened.  After a quick check of my vitals by the nurse, temperature, heart rate and blood pressure all OK, Dr Revel gave me an examination and then prescribed some tablets to help clear the infection as well as easing the pain; however it will take 24 hours before they fully come into effect.

The ship is currently in a fog bank and if this persists then it’s highly likely that we will be unable to dock in Marghera as the channel through the lagoon was quite narrow and I am sure that the Captain would not prepared to take any chances in case the ship runs aground.

Having had a couple to bacon rolls and a glass of orange juice to complement the first of the tablets, I returned to my cabin which Sailesh has already cleaned and went back to bed in order to try and catch up on my sleep.  I awoke when the Captain announces that because the Pilots are unable to reach the ship due to the thick fog, he had decided to head for Trieste and see if a berth can be obtained there.  Well that puts paid to the thoughts I had of spending the evening ashore in Venice dining in a family run restaurant alongside one of the small canals; there are lots of these establishments located all around the city and if you can find one that is frequented by the locals, it is likely to have a convivial atmosphere and serve good food.

Trieste should have been the starting point for my Christmas & New Year cruise in 2011 / 12 on-board Adonia, but the day before I left the UK to travel out by train, first class all the way (cheap when booked well in advance) as I was not prepared to fly in a charter aircraft, I got a phone call from Anne at John Allan Travel saying that P&O have informed her that the embarkation port had been changed to Venice.  This was because the ship needed to be alongside a deep water berth for a few nights in order for the Dutch salvage engineers to complete emergency repairs to the ships port propeller and shaft after the anchor chain from a stray buoy got entangled around them during the previous cruise.  So having planned to spend three nights in Trieste before getting on the ship, Anne changed the arrangements so that I stayed in the Hotel Principe which was just a short walk from Santa Lucia, the main railway station, and located right on the Grand Canal.  That was a great way to start my holiday, but I will now be able to visit Trieste and see all the things that I missed two years ago.

Natalie, the Cruise Director, quickly arranged a programme of entertainment for the afternoon so that people have something to do because the ship was still sailing through thick fog and so no one wanted to be on the open decks.

I had another snooze.

We finally docked at 16:45 hours on a berth adjacent to the city centre and if the ship was any further forward its bow would be over hanging the main street.  The berth was actually shorter than the length of Oriana, so the mooring lines have been secured wherever they can best hold the ship in place.  It was still a little misty and a fine rain had started to fall, so not a night for being outside unless you were well wrapped up.

As my big toe was still aching I decided to stay on-board this evening and I hope that I will feel better in the morning and be able to have a stroll around the city.

I decided to have dinner in the Conservatory as there is little on the restaurant menu that I fancy and then had an early night.


Mon 23 Dec ‘13 – day 9  Trieste

Having positioned my foot so that I felt no pain, I finally dropped off and had five hours undisturbed sleep.  When I awoke I was feeling a little better, but I still could not put all my weight on my left foot and so had to take small steps and used the lift when I went to the Conservatory for breakfast.  There were a few people around this early in the morning and the weather was cool with the views pretty limited as the top of the hills behind the port were still shrouded in mist and low cloud.

Having dressed for the conditions I went ashore, through the terminal, where the security staff had an unscheduled day’s work, and then out on to the promenade.  Oriana towers over her surrounds and as she is much larger than cruise ships that normally call here and was an object of some curiosity; lots of people had come down to the harbour to take photographs of her and show her to their children, or in many cases grandchildren, as they had now finished school and were on holiday.

What looks like one of the best hotels in town was directly across the road, but I turned left and headed for the station as this was the place where I was mostly likely to be able to buy an English newspaper.

The walk along the waterfront would be a very pleasant one if the sun was out and the temperature a little higher, but today it was a case of keeping moving in order to stay warm.  It was just a 15 minute stroll to the station and not only was I able to buy yesterday’s newspaper, but also some postcards and stamps, so I had everything I need.

I then wandered through the city taking photos of things that caught my eye, including the Christmas Market.  This had a German feel to it, but you have to remember that Trieste used to be the principal port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was linked to Vienna by that marvel of railway engineering, the Semmering Railway Pass constructed in 1854, and over which I travelled in September last year when I did a trip by train out from the UK to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.



Because of the inclement weather the cafes were doing a roaring trade as people got out of the damp air and had a warming drink before continuing their Christmas shopping.  All the supermarkets looked full as people stocked up with food and goodies and the stalls in the market place had an excellent selection of fruit & vegetables and because this is a seaport, a wide variety of fresh fish.

I returned to the ship and sat in Tiffany’s having a cappuccino while I wrote the postcards; unlike the UK where there is just the Queens head on the normal stamps, on the continent the picture regularly change and the ones I bought today featured Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the founders of the modern state of Italy.

My regular afternoon snooze went on long longer than I had expected and so I was awaken by the Captains announcement that the ship was about to sail.  I didn’t bother going up on to upper deck, or as it is from my cabin, a right turn and then a few steps before going through the door out on to the rear deck, as the mist was still present and so the visibility was poor.  The Captain advised that around midnight or maybe a little later, the ship should leave the fog bank and then sail under clear skies all the way to Dubrovnik.  He said that while we were in the mist the ‘whistle’ may have to be sounded to warn other vessels in the vicinity, as there are a number of yachts and fishing boats at sea; the ‘whistle’ is in fact the ships foghorn on top of the funnel which emits a deep bass note every time that it was sounded and this could be heard some considerable distance away.

Although it was a ‘Casual Night’ as far as the dress code goes I am wearing my ‘Snowman’ tie this evening and had a small but pleasant dinner in the Oriental Restaurant before going to the Pacific Lounge where I watched ‘Give Us A Clue’.  The competition was hosted by Natalie and featured two teams, one led by the Captain, David Pembridge, and the other by the Executive Purser, Helen Skoins.  It was hilarious as the teams acted out the titles of books, songs & films and although Natalie said otherwise, it was obvious that each clue had been selected for the individual who had to act it out and most were ‘close to the knuckle’ to say the least, so something that could only have be done on-board a child free ship.  The audience were in stiches at some of the miming.

I had a night cap while watching the show and when it was finished retired for the night.