Visiting Santorini by cruise ship
Visiting Santorini by cruise ship was one of the highlights of our trip around Greece on P&O Oceana in September 2018. This was our second port day and you can read about our sea days here and stop at Pireaus in Greece here.
It’s fair to say it was the destination I was most looking forward to visiting. I am a traveller who tends to research and plan for hours before travelling but this was the one time that I could have enjoyed a better stop if I’d paid more attention.
I hope by reading this I can help you enjoy a day when visiting Santorini by cruise ship.
Holidays in Santorini is the dream of a lifetime for many people. As this is the top tourist destination in Greece, the island is famous for the impressive caldera, the volcano and the romantic sunset. In fact, it is frequently included among the best destinations in the world. Over the last years, tourist season has extended in Santorini, from early April until early November due to the many cruise ships that dock there. Source: www.greeka.com
When you arrive by sea, there is no confusing the island of Santorini. Dazzling white houses cling to the edge of vertical, rocky cliffs against azure blue waters. The most southern of the Cyclades islands, it is surrounded by Thirasia and Aspronisi, which were once part of a large volcanic island. Considered by many to be the site of the “Lost City of Atlantis”, this magical little island glimmers from the fading sun as many watch its decent from the numerous bars and cafés at the water’s edge.
Arriving on Santorini from a cruise ship
Our cruise ship P&O Oceana docked in the sea offshore from the old port of Fira and we were transferred to the Island by tender. As we had a balcony cabin we could see the tenders being loaded and passengers being ferried across. We found this beneficial as we could see when the initial hustle and bustle had ended and we could enjoy a less crowded boat and a relaxed trip across. This short boat trip itself was a real treat.
When you arrive at the Old Port of Fira there are 3 ways to get up to the cliff tops so that you can explore the town and travel further afield on the Island.
The 3 choices to get into Fira town are Cable car, walk up the 600 steps into the town or ride a donkey to take you up the steps.
At this point I would state that I do not in anyway endorse anyone riding the donkeys. There is mounting objections, quite rightly too to these poor creatures being used for tourists. Heavy overweight tourists are being carried and causing injury. There are even gathering campaigns for cruise ships to boycott Santorini until the donkey transfer is discontinued. Therefore I will not discuss this option
If you choose to walk I would suggest that you would have to be super fit to manage this climb! I only climbed a few whilst at the top and they nearly killed me. Also by walking you will have to look at the poor donkeys of Santorini and walk through piles of donkey droppings!
Santorini Cable Car
Having said what I have done so far you can guess that we used the cable car. During my pre cruise research I had read of there being long queues to actually get on the car. It was a blisteringly hot day in the high 30 degrees and thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long. I also have to give a big shout out to P&O who provide shade and cold water, either plain or infused with fruits to provide refreshments in the heat. The cable car looks modern and in great working order. The fee was around 6 Euro’s each if I remember correctly. Now at this stage I have to confess that one of my fears and phobias is heights. We shared our carriage with 2 older ladies who teased me all the way up after I sat there with my eyes closed gripping my husbands knee! I have been on other cable cars that I have tolerated better. It’s quite jerky as it passes over the upright towers. If you wish to see what it is like there are several videos on Youtube showing the journey.
As you may have read in my other posts about this cruise, we chose not to participate in any of the bookable excursions. Mr Fitz and I like to just stroll and explore ourselves, we viewed each Port as a taster of the destination. We had no desire to be off the ship for long periods, especially as it was so hot. Once we arrived at Fira we initially found ourselves on the main street. It was a typical small town with cafe’s, restaurants and gift shops, added to this the roadway was busy with cars and kamikaze scooters! We just ambled about and initially found ourselves ambling around and found ourselves following more dusty roads dodging psycho scooter riders! We don’t tend to use maps we like to just drift and see what we see. After a change of direction we found ourselves heading back towards the cliffs. I have to confess here that my research and homework fell short and I had missed something vital which I will expand on later in this post!
Again I cannot reiterate for a fair skinned celtic skinned woman like myself the heat was becoming unbearable! Even my sun loving husband was finding it hard going. Once we were back near the cliffs we found a network of small pathways between houses and hotels. I’ve taken a little bit of video footage to provide a taste of how lovely it is.
We found a little hotel with a cafe which seemed to provide art classes to tourists. There were several people sat around the edge of the terrace drawing and painting. This lovely quaint hotel was painted in the colours of blue and white, that are synonymous with the Island. It provided much needed refreshment and shade. I tried a traditional Greek coffee which was very strong and enjoyable.
We then decided to make our way back to the cable car and return to the beautiful Oceana. We continued in the warren of small alleyways and found ourselves on the steps that climb up to the top. Boy they are challenging in the heat! It wasn’t just me that was struggling, even though it was September the temperatures were higher than the seasonal norm. We saw a few people struggling and overcome. We had carried water in our rucksack and I think that is an absolute must when on a Port Day. I packed 2 budget lightweight plastic water bottles and filled them up each day. You cannot always rely on having water to hand if you feel a little light headed in the heat.
There are some fabulous gift shops selling jewellery and gifts. I treated myself to a small necklace as a souvenir, another confession here – another of my addictions is to jewellery and accessories! Besides the normal tourist souvenirs, Santorini is full of one-of-a-kind boutiques and galleries and interesting shops that sell local arts and crafts and things that you wont find in Athens. There are over 40 jewelry stores, most of them on the main street in Fira which is how it got the name ‘Gold Street’ – Ypapantis Street is it’s real name. This street is considered to be one the biggest Gold markets in Greece.
Following the descent by cable car P&O staff were there again with shade and cool courtesy refreshments whilst we waited to board a tender back to the ship. Again I am going to say that the trip across by the tender is really relaxing and part of the whole experience of visiting Santorini by cruise ship.
Do your research
If you are planning to visit Santorini by cruise ship then do your research and don’t make the mistake that we did. Whilst we were walking around Fira we were looking for the viewpoint that is symbolic with Santorini – the white buildings with blue domed roofs on the cliff edge. We found similar but not that one! It wasn’t helped that in Fira we couldn’t find many signs to help guide our way.
After returning back to our cruise ship I decided to read a little more about the destination – that was when I had my light bulb moment, (my menopausal brain fog provides many of these, when I remember what I’d read or learned previously!) The iconic view is not in Fira but Oia. On reflection if we had taken an alternate route we could have improved our experience. This is the information I am offering to you to hopefully help you.
A fun way is after arrival by tender is to book a 20 minute boat transfer from the old port to Ammoudi Port in Oia for around 8 Euro’s. This includes a bus trip to Oia Town where you can spend a few hours, then take a half hour bus trip back to Fira. There is no return boat transfer from Ammoudi to Fira by boat.
By doing this you can maximise your visit to Santorini in the time you have available ashore.
Of course you can always participate in one of your Ferry companies planned excursions when visiting Santorini by cruise ship if you like to be looked after and are nervous doing your own thing. That’s the beauty of a cruise holiday – it caters for all tastes!
If you’ve visited Santorini or taken a cruise holiday I’d love to hear your highlights.
Thank you for reading today, if you like my blog please subscribe to see more of my ramblings
Motown the Musical is much more than a showcase for its music it’s also a lesson in American musical history.
I saw this production at Manchester Opera house during the recent UK tour. It has enjoyed a successful spell in London.
I was fortunate to win these tickets and wasn’t sure whether I really fancied the show. Don’t get me wrong I love a trip to the theatre and Motown music formed the backdrop to my teenage and school years. I usually research shows I go to see but in this case I hadn’t.
Motown the Musical
With just $800 borrowed from his family, Berry Gordy founded Motown records and launched the careers of Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and many more. Motown the Musical brings this story to life and follows the record label through the decades up to the point of the 25th Anniversary celebration.
The show starts at the end e.g. the day of the 25th Anniversary party where Berry Gordy feels disillusioned and rejected by many of his artists. The initial dialogue is with him and his life long friend and brother in law Smokey Robinson. From this scene the show follows the story back in time from the start of Gordy’s story.
The initial music depicts The Temptations and The Four Tops tip toeing around each other in competition singing their collective songs. The vocals and choreographed moves that were the ‘norm’ of the time are on display. So slick and suave with sharp shiny suits. The original boybands! I love watching these old acts on Youtube and I felt really nostalgic seeing them portrayed on the stage.
I was hooked from this first scene – singing along, proud that I remembered all the words! The show continues at a fast pace with so many memorable songs Featuring over 50 classic hits including My Girl, What’s Going On, Dancing in the Street, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
The show continues to flow through the years, Smokey Robinson an ever present. It portrays the relationship between the iconic songwriting team of Holland Dozier and Holland responsible for so many hits.
There is a portrayal of so many stars we have known and love from The Supremes featuring Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson Five.
I’ve read many stories of Diana Ross being a Diva and this is how she is portrayed throughout the show. She had a long standing relationship with Gordy but ultimately leaves him and his label after being offered more money by RCA records. In this production Miss Ross was played by Karis Anderson of the band Stooshe. She plays her well although I thought her voice mimicked Ross’s best at the lowest softest notes. The wardrobe worn by her and the Supremes was amazing – oh to be 20 years younger and 6 sizes smaller!
I have to give a special mention to the young actor who played Michael Jackson in his early days. Yami is a local Manchester lad who got the role after attending open auditions – he was so like the real thing! His vocals and movements were great to see.
What I really liked about the show was that the History of black people and civil rights ran as a backdrop throughout the story. Events portrayed included the assassinations of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King through to the Black Power movement, strongly supported by Marvin Gaye.
I attended a Monday night show and I don’t think it was the liveliest of audience. The cast encourages the audience to join in with songs and the final seat has the audience on its feet. I suspect on a livelier night the audience could be dancing in the aisles.
The music of Motown has now been around for 60 years and is definitely here to stay!
Motown the Musical tells the thrilling tale of the man who broke barriers, fought against the odds to create something more than a record label. Discover the story behind Motown, the personal relationships, the professional struggles, and – of course – the music that made history, defined the sound of a generation and got the whole world moving to the same beat.
Motown the Musical continues to tour around the UK after leaving Manchester and I highly recommend it if you are a music fan.
Any trip to the theatre is turned into a special occasion with a pre show dinner. The Ivy Manchester is virtually next door to The Opera House, a fabulous venue that I reviewed in February.
Thanks for reading
Piraeus for Athens was the first port day on our first ever cruise holiday in September 2018. We sailed aboard P&O Oceana – you can read about Day 1 – Embarkation at Malta here and my review of our sea days too.
Port of Piraeus
The Port of Piraeus has a big modern cruise terminal. We awoke on Day 3 to find we were docked right next to the Terminal building. Chatting to some of the crew we discovered that this is one of their favourite stops. The terminal includes telephones, a bar and cafeteria, an air-conditioned lounge and free WiFi. The crew all try and hop off and take advantage of these.
Also after a short walk through the terminal you can find regular Hop on Hop off buses that take you into Athens for the Parthenon and The Acropolis.
Mr Fitz and I did not book any of the organised shore excursions. We were happy just to find our own way around and experience a taster of the ports we were visiting.
I mentioned the daily cruise bulletin Horizon. In here it informed us that tickets for the buses could be bought in The Atrium of Oceana on the day of the visit. This is what we did and used this method of travel to take us around.
The bus ride into Athens is quite scenic. We were given new sealed headphones to listen to a guided tour of the route. The dialogue pointed out many interesting landmarks which we would not have spotted or recognised. For a football fan like myself it passed the home Stadium of Olympiakos, one of Greece’s largest teams. I love a good football stadium!
The Acropolis and Parthenon
When the bus arrived at the Acropolis is was around 11 AM, however it was already busy and extremely hot. The Parthenon stands proudly atop the Acropolis with a steady stream of visitors snaking their way up. As it was very high and extremely hot – well over 30 degrees even at that time of the day we decided not to climb up. Mr Fitz could manage it easily but I’m not sure I could anyway! We enjoyed a nice stroll round the perimeter of the base and admired the views down in to the City of Athens. One highlight was enjoying a pleasant sit in the shade listening to a gentleman in Greek attire singing and playing an accordion.
After a short stay of around an hour we hopped back on the bus and returned to the port of Piraeus and our wonderful cruise ship. The image of her as you approach never failed to impress us.
There were quite a few other passengers doing the same.
On our return we enjoyed more time on deck with a lunchtime snack from the Horizon Grill. It really is wall to wall food and all great quality.
Then I was able to watch my football team Manchester City play their game screened live on the TV in the sports bar – Winners Bar. This was an unexpected surprise for us.
In the evening we discovered that there was a Tropical themed evening. All other passengers seemed to know this before boarding. We didn’t however, really unsure why. Luckily though we did have suitable clothing. Mr Fitz had a linen shirt with a subtle flamingo print that I had purchased for him and I had a dress with a large floral tropical print.
For our evening meal we had made a booking at The Beach House which has a slight cover charge. The food again was lovely. From the menu Ichose Coconut Crumb Tiger Prawns followed by a Tex Mex Ribs platter. Mr Fitz had a crispy bacon caesar salad and a hanging kebab. It was all delicious.
After dinner we enjoyed a balmy evening on deck with entertainment and music. The Entertainment team had a dance off, making the passengers sat on Port and Starboard compete against each other. All quite cheesy but surprisingly entertaining. The sight of passengers who work in Executive roles by day marching around to Tony Christie’s Amarillo, would bring a smile to anyone’s face.
A thoroughly enjoyable day. Our destination for Day 4 was Santorini. Please come back to read my review of our visit in a future blog post. I would love you to subscribe to my blog do that you don’t miss it.
Thanks for dropping in to read today – I really appreciate it.
Vintage Hollywood Movies are my absolute favourite genre of movies. If you have read my post outlining 10 random facts about me – you will see this is high on the list. I’m sure the fact that I’m 58 has got something to do with it. However the main driving force behind this is the many happy hours spent alongside my late mother watching these films. I did not have the best relationship with my mum at all but watching her favourite films with her brought some of our happiest times. It has also provided me with this passion for Vintage Hollywood movies. My mother was quite starstruck and had a stack of photographs of Hollywood stars from her era. Publicity photographs were what the studio’s gave out to fans. Well before the poster era of my generation. This was the ‘thing’ in her younger days. I remember she had beautiful images of classic stars such as Janette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, George Raft, Robert Taylor and James Cagney. They were all sepia and the stars looked so glamorous. Obviously they weren’t vintage to her but of her era. She was born in 1926.
We used to spend many afternoons watching old classics, drama’s and showstopping Busby Berkeley musicals with huge dance ensembles.
I will watch Vintage Hollywood Movies over and over again, and will always choose a Black and White Classic over a new release, however that does not mean I don’t watch new releases.
In recent years there has been a resurgence in this type of genre in a modern day form, Films like La La Land. The Greatest Showman and A Star is Born, which incidentally was first made in 1937. These have proved to be very popular, suggesting to me that there are many modern day film-goers out there who would appreciate an original classic.
With this in mind I thought I would share with you 5 of my absolute favourites. There is sex, violence and intrigue in them all without the need to be explicit and graphic. I think they are all fabulous stories and tissues are needed for all of them.
Here they are then- my top 5 vintage Hollywood movies
This stars my favourite actress of all times – the late, great Bette Davies. The storyline in it’s simplest is “A frumpy spinster blossoms under therapy and becomes an elegant, independent woman” It is way more than that. The synopsis according to IMDb reads:
Overweight Boston spinster Charlotte is a repressed, self-esteemless woman completely dominated by her wealthy mother, Mrs. Henry Vale. When her sister-in-law Lisa Vale brings her friend Dr. Jaquith, a renowned psychiatrist, to visit Charlotte, he invites her to spend some time in his sanitarium. Soon Charlotte transforms into a sophisticated, confident woman and takes a cruise to South America. She meets married architect Jerry Durrance and they have a love affair in Rio de Janeiro. Six months later she returns home and confronts her mother with her independence. One day they have an argument and her mother has a heart attack and dies. Charlotte inherits the Vale fortune but feels guilty for her mother’s death. She decides to return to Dr. Jaquith’s sanitarium, where she befriends Jerry’s 12-year-old daughter Tina, who has been rejected by her mother. Charlotte takes Tina home to Boston with her and one day Jerry brings Dr. Jaquith to visit them there.
It is a fabulous story of one woman’s battle to overcome mental health issues and dominance to become a happier person. She does not get the complete outcome she would like but is happy to settle for a compromise helping another similar girl with similar fragile nerves and low esteem in Tina.
My favourite line in any film is from this when she shares a cigarette with Henreid, Oh Jerry don’t lets ask for the moon, we have the stars!
(Note – You have to remember this was made in the days when cigarette smoking was deemed to be very glamorous! Before the dangers to health were discovered)
This heart wrenching film stars 2 of Hollywood’s most beautiful stars, Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh. Leigh is world famous for portraying Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.
The film is set in London and the famous Waterloo Bridge is featured prominently, hence the title. They speak in the fabulous clipped English accents that have been lost over the years.
The outline of the plot is that During World War I, believing her fiance to be dead, a young ballerina loses her job and is forced to turn to prostitution. From there, things only get worse for her in this tragic, heart-wrenching, love story.
This fabulous film was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and starred Essex born Greer Garson, a major star at MGM. Her co- star and love is Ronald Coleman another English born actor who went on to conquer Hollywood.
An amnesiac World War I veteran falls in love with a music hall star, only to suffer an accident which restores his original memories but erases his post-war life.
This has the most fabulous melodramatic storyline set in London and Liverpool and the ending is just sublime. In my opinion Random Harvest is a must see weepy.
Thanks to the beauty that is YouTube I can share a trailer with you.
Imitation of Life
This is a 1959 romantic drama dealing with the subjects of race, class and gender. Lana Turner is the female lead in this movie – to me she is one of the most beautiful actresses to grace the Hollywood screens.
Storyline: Aspiring actress Lora Meredith meets Annie Johnson, a homeless black woman at Coney Island and soon they share a tiny apartment. Each woman has an intolerable daughter, though, Annie’s little girl Sarah Jane, is by far the worse. Neurotic and obnoxious, Sarah Jane doesn’t like being black; since she’s light-skinned (her father was practically white), she spends the rest of the film passing as white, much to her mother’s heartache and shame. Lora, meanwhile, virtually ignores her own daughter in a single-minded quest for stardom.
This has a compelling plot involving the 2 mothers and their daughters, leading to a most dramatic ending. As I stated earlier just because a film is vintage does not mean it does not tackle issues that are still relevant today. You would have to be made of stone not to be moved by the ending. Can I tempt you with a clip of the official trailer?
Angels with Dirty Faces
This film is different from the other 4 vintage hollywood movies I have discussed. This is a crime drama with the fabulous James Cagney and Pat O’Brien in the lead roles.
Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) and Jerry Connolly (Pat O’Brien) were brought up in one of New York’s toughest neighborhoods, Hell’s Kitchen. While his buddy Rocky gets caught up in racketeering in reform school, Jerry decides to become a priest. Years later, Rocky is released from prison and returns to Hell’s Kitchen, where Jerry works with at-risk children. Rocky wants a temporary safe haven with his old friend before resuming his life of crime, but Jerry hesitates, testing their relationship.
The movie follows the relationship between these 2 men, seemingly poles apart but with a life long bond. James Cagney is famous for many roles in Gangster films as well as being a sublime song and dance man. I could recommend a couple more of his films but I’ve chosen this as my favourite. Again courtesy of youtube I can introduce you to this movie via the trailer.
So I hope you find at least one of these vintage hollywood movies to your taste and I can tempt you to watch. They are all available on various platforms such as Youtube, Google Play and are available to buy from Amazon.
If you have a favourite old classic let me know I’m sure there are many more I have yet to watch in my retirement!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and we received this lamp for free to review. This does not prejudice or affect my review. All opinions are honest and our own.
I was approached by Serious Readers to trial one of their products. You may have read some of my earlier posts including ways to keep healthy over 50 and that I am always looking at ways to combat changes in normal function as my body increase in years and find ways to minimise the impact.
One change that I have noticed is in my eyesight. I have always worn contact lenses for astigmatism but in recent years I have noticed changes in my ability to see in poor quality light. This has caused me to be unable to wear them in low light and have been wearing varifocal glasses, which provide a much sharper image. However, I still note there is a difference in subdued lighting, and I love to have table lamps on in the evening instead of the full room light. I love the cosy ambiance these provide.
When reading or trying to complete a crossword I already struggle and either have to put the large room ceiling light on (The big light as Peter Kay calls it!) or use supplementary light from the torch on my mobile phone.
People don’t always realise that as they age, less and less light gets through to
the retina making it harder to see detail and read in comfort. This is why the people at Serious Readers, created a range of high performance reading lights using bespoke Daylight Wavelength Technology™ to allow people to see with amazing clarity and true
colour. They claim “We bring the natural light close to the daylight our eyes are built to use”
In my career as a neonatal nurse I have used similar lights to enable me to perform intricate procedures, such as venous cannulation on neonates, and I found them to be invaluable.
When I was approached by Serious Readers to trial one of their Alex lights I was more than happy to do so.
About Serious Readers
The company’s literature states that recent research shows that poor quality light not only causes eyestrain but can also damage eyes and interfere with your sleep. Too much short wave-length blue light poses a risk to the highly sensitive retina.
The absence of a harmful blue light spike in their technology eradicates the risk of damage to the retina and minimises disturbance to our body clocks. The Serious design, with a stay put flexible arm and rotating swivel joints mean the light can be set up just in the right position for you, so it takes the strain not you. Our sight dominates our sensory perception and we can’t help ourselves but subconsciously adjust our posture and strain to try and see clearly.
The Alex light is suitable for:
- Reading books
- Reading larger publications, (magazines, newspapers)
- Hobbies involving colour (artwork, needlework)
Our opinion on the Serious Reader Alex Light
I say ‘our’ opinion because although the product was sent to me to review, my husband uses it the most and absolutely loves it! He’s hogging it daily for reading his newspaper, he has been constantly complaining that news print is getting smaller!
The Serious Reader Alex Light comes as either a floor lamp or a table lamp, their is also a choice of colours. We chose a floor standing model in white. It looks neat and sleek, taking up little floor space.
The lamp arrived in a very large cardboard box, almost as tall as me! Once the box was opened I was delighted to find that it did not require any assembly – always a huge bonus.
A feature I liked was a cord holder – a rubber case where excess flex can be wrapped round and secured to reduce any trip hazard and unsightly wires.
The head of the lamp is very small but hugely powerful. Our living room has 2 sofa’s and myself and Mr Fitz sit on one each most of the time. The lamp is so powerful that we can change the angle to suit whichever one of us wishes to use it without moving the lamp.
I have been able to complete crosswords easily without resorting to the torch from my mobile and Mr Fitz has been able to read comfortably without squinting and bringing the newspaper up to his face. I was going to relocate the lamp after this trial up to my home office but it is staying put in the living room as John is such a fan of it too.
At around £299 the floor lamp appears expensive but if like us you are suffering with reduced vision in poor quality lighting, it is worth the price in our opinion. There was nothing we didn’t like about it. If you have an elderly relative who has given up hobbies due to the inability to see what they are doing, this would make an ideal gift, it could restore their enjoyment in leisure activities they once loved. In fact any family or friend over 60 who complains of “newsprint shrinking” or “lightbulbs not being what they were” please tell them about this fabulous product.
If you wish to see the light in action please check out my video review on YouTube
Earlier this week I attended my first Blogger meet up hosted by North West Bloggers. The venue was Ordsall Hall Salford. This is an impressive Historic House in the middle of a built up urban area.
The Hall has a meeting room that can be used and is a fabulous venue.
From the front it looks majestic with sympathetic grounds and a car parking area. Walk around the rear to gain entrance and Wow! it truly has the X Factor. As a proud Mancunian I love to promote the best there is to be found here, reviewing restuarants is my favourite activity.
It was first mentioned in records as early as 1177. Possibly just an area of land, the first house was probably built around 1251. That fact alone is amazing – that it has stood the test of time. Ownership passed through several families and the building and land was expanded and the grounds developed.
If you are a lover of the history of this area there is a virtual who’s who of the well known and written about landowners of Manchester and Cheshire in the history of Ordsall Hall. An extract from the Hall’s website states “The Radclyffe family had been connected with the Hall for over 300 years and their family history tells of inter-marriages and feuds with other local families such as the Booths, Leghs and de Traffords. Some sat in Parliament as Knights of the Shire, and Sir Alexander (d. 1549) was High Sheriff of Lancashire on five occasions. Most were knighted for services in battle and took part in Court life: for instance, Margaret Radclyffe (d. 1599) became the favourite lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth and was seen at Court in a white dress as a gift from her twin brother Alexander as a symbol of the Queen’s purity. It was said to have cost £180 (which is equal to £31,000 in today’s money!)”
The Hall and grounds has been the site for many things from being a home to the affluent of the area, to Working Men’s Club to a Clergy Training Centre.
Ordsall Hall was purchased by Salford Corporation from the Executors of the Baron Egerton of Tatton in 1959 and, following major restoration work, was finally opened to the public in April 1972 as a period house and local history museum.
An expensive restoration project from 2009 – 2011 has made it into the magnificent period house and museum that it is today to be enjoyed by future generations.
Things to do at Ordsall Hall
There are so many activities that take place at the hall – from an informal knit and natter weekly group for locals, to Educational visits for schools, guided tours and craft sessions.
It is also a Wedding Venue, and if I was in the market for a wedding I could not think of a better location.
There are so many interactive props and items on display to enable visitors to really get a feel of what life was like for its residents and visitors of past era’s.
I have driven past Ordsall Hall so many times in my life without ever thinking of paying a visit. This week I only went in as I mentioned earlier in the post because it was the venue for a local Bloggers meet up. However, now I have had a taste of what is inside this fabulous House I will be back again and again to learn more and I intend to take one of the guided tours. I feel ashamed that as someone who has worked for many years in Salford and born to a Salford woman I should have taken more notice of this venue – described on a display banner as The Pride of Salford.
The meeting room was fabulous – bright with lots of natural light. Tea, coffee and water was on offer, there is plenty of power points and a large desk for everyone to sit round and enable work and sharing of ideas. There was even a vase of cheery daffodils on the table! A lovely little touch. For food there is a lovely little cafe to purchase food from. I can recommend a slice of The Persian Love cake – fabulously soft sponge with a hint of cardamon.
It is off the beaten track but it is very close to many other attractions and easily accessible by tram. Other popular attractions that it is close to are:
Media City – home of TV studios and the famous Blue Peter garden – 7 minutes by car, 26 minutes on foot.
Old Trafford – Home of Manchester United – 6 mins by car, 30 minutes on foot.
Lancashire Cricket Club – 5 minutes by car, 26 minutes on foot.
Salford Quays – the dock area and Lowry Outlet Shopping Centre. – 4 minutes by car 22 minutes on foot.
If you are planning to visit one of these more well known tourist areas in the future I highly recommend that you also take a short detour to Ordsall Hall – you will be more than pleasantly surprised at the fabulous work done here by Salford leisure.
Thanks for reading – if you’ve visited the Hall what did you do there? What would you recommend to do?
P&O Cruses was our choice of Cruise line for our first ever cruise holiday. You can read about Day 1 here if you haven’t already. Sea Days on board Oceana are as much a part of a cruise holiday as Port days visiting new destinations. These days are still packed with things to do.
As I have many fabulous aspects of the holiday to review I decided to break down the whole review into days of the cruise and Ports visited.
Day 2 – sea day
Waking up on Day 2 we were refreshed after our early start and travel the day before. As we had a balcony cabin I was able to open the curtains and look straight out at the view of the sea. I also enjoyed my morning cups of tea on our own personal piece of deck. I say cups of tea as I am a huge tea drinker and need about 3 cups in the morning before I can face the world. A big shout out to P&O for providing proper sized mugs in cabins for a decent drink!
Having the balcony door open and feeling the warm sea breeze around the cabin whilst we got ready was lovely. Once ready we went for breakfast in the Ligurian restaurant which was designated for our flexible dining options. There is no dress code during the daytime, and we enjoyed a full English Breakfast with silver service in our shorts. The food and service was impeccable. Staff are friendly and attentive without being cloying and formal.
For the rest of the morning and afternoon we strolled around the ship discovering more of the fabulous activities and facilities to enjoy during Sea Days aboard Oceana. There is an exercise deck which fellow guests can walk around at a brisk pace. A marker on the wall telling you that 3.2 times around the deck equals 1 mile.
Mr Fitz and I enjoyed the walk daily and loved stopping at the stern to watch the wake flowing behind us. There is also a gym on board and we both used that regularly to counteract the excess calories consumed. I discussed this in an earlier post about how to avoid piling on excess pounds whilst cruising. Of course we took time to sunbathe on deck with another cocktail of course! The weather was stunning. Dare I say it was actually too hot at times for me – there are plenty of areas in the shade to sit and stay comfortable on deck during Sea Days aboard Oceana
The evening of the sea days (Day 2 and 6) is Black Tie dress code. Day 2 is The Captains dinner. Prior to cruising Mr Fitz was initially reluctant to participate in this. I think it’s a grumpy old man thing as it’s something he has done in the past. To ease us into this type of holiday we bought dinner suit trousers and our friend loaned him the use of his Dinner Jacket, luckily they are the same size. Mr Fitz didn’t want to commit to the full expense of the whole suit in case he didn’t enjoy this first P&O cruise holiday and wasn’t something he wanted to do again. For more on this please come back for our final evaluation to come in a future post. I on the other hand had plenty of suitable clothes in my wardrobe!
Mr Fitz scrubbed up very well and looked very handsome – well in my opinion anyway! I chose a knee length royal blue dress with silver accessories. Many ladies wear cocktail dresses, it is not obligatory to wear a long gown.
Prior to dining everyone participating in the Black Tie dinner gathered in the Atrium for complimentary fizz and the opportunity to have a photograph taken by a member of the ships Photography team. These are available to purchase during your cruise if you like them.
The Captain arrives to applause and addresses the gathered diners, there is then an opportunity to have a photograph taken with him too.
On the flexible dining option we had hoped to have a table for 2 for dinner but again we were given a shared table. Again an enjoyable experience. As the cruise progressed we realised that you could request a table for 2 but there could be a delay until one was available.
Again food and service was delicious. Reviews always extol the virtues of the food on cruise ships. P&O proudly advertise this. You may have read in earlier posts that we are both foodies and the food promised was a big feature of choosing a cruise holiday with P&O. We were not disappointed at all.
After dinner we had seen that there was a comedian performing in The Starlight Theatre that night so still in our finery that was our next stop.
We both spent a really enjoyable evening. The interior of this theatre is very like a cabaret club. Comfortable seating with tables for your drinks. There is water service throughout the show. To top it off the Comedian Jeff Stevenson was fabulous – a good old traditional comic.
A big thumbs up from us. We were really enjoying our first P&O Cruise aboard Oceana.
Sea Days aboard Oceana
I cannot review not just the sea days but all of this cruise without mentioning the fabulous timetable of activities. There is a vast array of sessions from learning to dance, yoga, talks about Gemstones from the on-board jewellers, to literary sessions. There are many fun things too. Each night when you return to your cabin a copy of The Horizon the onboard newspaper is laid on your bed as part of the turn down service. This lists all the activities for the next day, details about going ashore and food options. It is a fabulous thing to receive and invaluable.
Day 3 was our first Port Day and we were sailing to Piraeus in Greece ideal for a trip to Athens, The Parthenon and the Acropolis. If you liked this post and my review of Day 1 please come back to read my review of Day 3 in a future post. All follows and comments are always welcome I love to hear from you. Tell me if you’ve ever had a cruise holiday, what did you like or dislike, are you planning one?
Cruise cabin door decorations are a fabulous way of identifying your cabin when you first board a cruise ship. Initially it can be daunting when faced with a multitude of doors all looking the same to find yours. In fact the corridors and the doors look the same too.
On our first Cruise holiday we got lost a couple of times identifying our cabin. In my review of Day 1 I mentioned that we had found a tip that helped us.
This tip is the simplest trick around. I packed a colourful postcard with blu tack and attached it to the front of our cabin door.
This was a simple, effective and easy way of creating cruise cabin door decorations – as we walked along the corridor we could locate our door easily. Yes, I know the doors have numbers but this bright card made it all so simple.
If you are part of a group, decorated doors can also make it easier to find other members of your party, even on different decks and in different types of cabins, without remembering multiple numbers. Even making identifying your cabin fun! You could create a group theme of Cruise cabin door decorations
For young cruisers or elderly passengers who may have more difficulty remembering cabin numbers, door decor can relieve stress and help everyone feel comfortable with finding their cabin on board the ship.
In the US decorations are used to make it easier to communicate with different family members or other passengers when you leave notes or messages for one another on a small whiteboard or notepad.
I foolishly failed to take a photo of my postcard in place to show you. But can show similar ones!
Hopefully no-one decides to play games and switch it to another door!
I mentioned EECC Travels – in the USA passengers make elaborate door signs. I do not think this is the norm on British Cruise lines, in fact ours was the only door with a decoration on, but we did hear passengers comment that it was a great idea.
Here is my Pinterest board showing examples I have found some elaborate and some simple. Items to use can even be purchased on Amazon and Etsy. Plus I’ve found a fabulous website, Zazzle, that sells customised door signs!
A word of caution though, if you wish to do this please check any rules and guidelines regarding what you can and cannot use with your Cruise line.
How about you do you have a hint or tip to find your cabin when on a cruise holiday? Let me know.
Oceana was the ship we chose for our first cruise in September 2018 to celebrate Mr Fitz’s 60th birthday. I had wanted to take a cruise holiday for a few years but Mr Fitz needed some persuading.
He’s not one for material gifts therefore I offered to pay for a holiday for his milestone 60th Birthday. He finally opted for a Cruise having heard nothing but positive reviews from friends. The recent TV show Jane McDonald Cruising also helped!
As we were celebrating a special occasion we opted for a balcony cabin, it added probably around £700 to the cost of our trip but we wanted that luxury. I know many friends who are happy to have an inside cabin – their viewpoint being that your cabin was just somewhere to sleep.
When booking we received £170 in onboard credit. P&O are not an all inclusive line and drinks consumed on board need to be paid for. Prior to sailing I did plenty of research watching Youtube – there are many vloggers who cover this topic, providing valuable hints and tips to help me prepare. One of my favourites are the lovely couple Elyssia and Jason over at EECC Travel. They are American and sail on Cruise lines that depart from their but I love their fun videos and great packing tips.
Oceana 13th – 20th September 2018
We flew from Manchester Airport to Valletta in Malta. The check in and flight was very slick. Everyone on the plane is a passenger on the cruise. On arrival in Malta there were plenty of P&O Representatives to greet you and guide you to your awaiting coaches for transfer. It was very warm and there was a slight delay on the coaches, apparently the reps and drivers have to wait for permission from the Quayside that they can arrive.
On first arrival at the Quayside there appeared to be a long queue inside the arrivals tent. At this stage you have not yet see Oceana. However check in was really swift. Again there are plenty of staff on arrival to guide passengers and keep things running smoothly. Check in was swift. You confirm your identity, provide a credit or debit card for onboard purchases. Your photograph is taken and you are then issued with your on board cruise card. This does everything! Opens your cabin, pays for drinks and extra’s and confirms your identity whilst disembarking and re embarking on shore days.
Once through check in you get your first view of Oceana – and what a magnificent site as you walk towards her. She looked big and majestic in the hot sunshine with the P&O Livery on the bow. Sent a tingle down both our spines.
We were on B Deck Cabin 619. Our luggage had already arrived, sometimes there is a delay in arrival. We were fortunate to be able to unpack immediately. We could also admire the view from our balcony, again compact but adequate, equipped with a small table and 2 comfortable chairs.
There is adequate storage space, drawers and wardrobe. A few more hangers were supplied on request. The bathroom although compact was again adequate with enough storage space. We had a suitcase each and they both fit easily under the bed. Our cabin Steward introduced herself and said she was there to assist and help us get the most out of our holiday.
Our next step was to go and explore the ship. There is adequate time on Embarkation day to get off again and explore Valletta, however as we had visited and holidayed there before we decided to stay on board.
The ship was vast and I have to admit we lost our cabin on a couple of occasions on the first day. We were helped by a little tip we got from you tube videos. I will reveal this on my next #TravelTipThursday Post.
We were really thrilled by our first tour of the ship. I enjoyed my 1st cocktail – a Pina Colada the perfect holiday drink on the Pool Deck in the sunshine.
On each deck by the lifts there is a guide to each level to help you find your way around.
On the first evening it is Mandatory to attend The Muster – a relatively new term to us. This is your lifeboat drill. You cannot avoid this as you have to scan your card, therefore they can track attendance. If you fail to attend you are traceable and have to have an individual session, that is my understanding anyway.
On this occasion Muster was not until 8.15pm, from other more experienced passengers we understood this to be later than usual. You have to attend your Muster Point, our was the Starlights Theatre, with your life jacket. During the Muster The Captain addresses everyone from the Bridge with instructions for the event of an emergency. You also try on your life jacket to ensure you know how to fit it.
Because Muster was later, the seating for Dinner was a little rushed. We were on Flexible dining, however this night everyone was just ushered to tables for speed. We prefer a table for two but were seated with 4 other couples. This was however a new enjoyable experience. Food was delicious with ample choice. During dinner we could sea out the windows that the ship was sailing away from port. We were off on our first cruise adventure.
Following Dinner we enjoyed a few drinks on board. There are several places to eat and drink on board. Each has it’s own unique vibe.
When we finally retired to bed we found the bed to be extremely comfortable and the gentle, barely felt movement of the ship, provided us with the best nights sleep we’d both experienced in ages.
Day 2 was spent at sea and I will describe that in my next post about our experience on board Oceana.
Thank you for popping by. I appreciate you following and all comments are always appreciated