Friday, 17 September 2004 – at sea

My watch alarm chimed at 7:30. Chris had planned to get a quick breakfast, and then attend a Pilates class at 8:30. She decided she could just have a piece of fruit from the room and get breakfast afterward. That gave us time to laze in the bed for a little longer. This was our day at sea, and we were going to really take it easy. When we finally got up and dressed, I used the GPS to check our position. We were halfway across the Golfo di Taranto, the gulf formed by the "high heel" of Italyís boot-shaped peninsula.

Chris headed off to her class. I uploaded pictures from the cameras and started a backup CD burning, and then I headed to breakfast. I was still feeling full from the night before, so I just had a bowl of cereal, a glass of orange juice, and cup of coffee.

My Nikon D100 camera had gotten dust on its image sensor. I had tried blowing it off with a bulb blower I carried with me, but I couldnít budge it. On the way back to the room, I stopped by the photo shop to see if the attendant had any supplies for cleaning my camera. All he had was compressed air, but he said he would be happy to try that.

I retrieved my camera from our stateroom and the photo guy tried blowing it out. Unfortunately, the dust was stuck to the sensor, and it wouldnít move. I would just have to clean up the pictures in the computer.

Chris returned from her class about that time. She headed off to breakfast, and I headed out to find a cool, quiet spot to work on this journal. I finally found one in the video library room and worked there until 11:00. Being in the enclosed room with the ship moving had made me a teensy bit queasy, so I put the computer back in the stateroom and headed for deck 10, where I walked around for a while.

While I was on deck, I checked to see if I could get a phone signal. I could, and I found that I had a message waiting in voice mail. Theresa had called about 11:00 the night before (Italy time), which was 5:00 in the afternoon for her. I found a quiet spot on the deck and called her back. We chatted briefly about Sorrento and Naxos. She had worked only a day and a half since returning from her vacation, so she was still pretty relaxed.

After the phone call I decided to find Chris, so I headed back down toward our stateroom. On the way, I met up with Sandy, and I asked her if she had seen Chris. She looked sheepish, then confided that Chris was in the boutique, buying something. I caught up with Chris there. She had bought a pendant necklace that matches a bracelet she already owns.

While she was in the store, Chris had struck up a conversation with the Russian couple we had been bumping into throughout the cruise. Their names were Vlad and Elena, and their room was only two doors aft of ours. By the time I got to them and Chris, they had already planned that we would eat dinner together that evening.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty calm. We had lunch at the buffet, and then Chris read and sketched the scenery on deck while I found a nice spot to keep working on the journal. This time, I chose a quiet spot where I could still see outside. It was on deck 11, just outside the shipís spa where card tables were set up. The area was called "The Atrium". It didnít get much traffic from other passengers, so it was nice and quiet. I focused on this journal for about three hours, but was still several days behind.

Just before 5:00, Chris showed up. She was on her way to her massage in the spa. She would get a massage from 5:00 to 6:00, then a facial from 6:00 to 7:00. I was scheduled for a massage from 6:00 to 7:00. I wrapped up the journaling for the afternoon and went back to our stateroom for a shower.

Clean and pretty relaxed, I went back up to the spa for a luxurious fifty-minute Swedish massage. The spa director had warned us early in the week that we should expect difference in technique from other places we had had massages. She said the masseuses would "get right up on the table" in order to get their weight into the massage. She was right. During parts of the massage, the petite lady doing the work used her knees as well as her hands, wrists, and elbows to knead my muscles into relaxation. It was very effective. When she eventually said, "Youíre done." I was completely relaxed and nearly in a trance.

Chrisís massage had also been very effective. She had opted for a reflexology treatment that concentrated on her wrists, neck, and legs. Once she was tuned up from that, the facial had been a blissful combination of skin treatment and head massage. She was done shortly before me and was already in the room, dressing for dinner, when I got there.

I showered off the massage oil and put on my suit again for dinner. Before we left to meet Vlad and Elena, we filled out our breakfast order for room service the next day.

We knocked on Vlad and Elenaís door right at 7:15 and the four of us headed up to deck 8 for dinner. The maitre dí sat us at table 66 yet again, where we joined two older women who were traveling together. We started the conversation off with the usual "Where is everybody from?" It turned out that we were all from California! Vlad and Elena live in San Diego and the two women were from near Monterey.

Once again, we had an excellent dinner, and we thoroughly enjoyed talking with Vlad and Elena. It turns out that, like me, Vlad is a software engineer. They both have a wonderful sense of humor and were very easy to talk to. After dinner, we were all full, so Chris and I joined Vlad and Elena for a wall around the deck. We had talked the night away, and it was 11:00 before we got back to our stateroom. Once there, we went straight to bed and were quickly asleep.

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