Guest Bloggers Adam McCulloch and Emma Sloley are married travel writers based in New York. Originally from Australia, they moved to the U.S. in 2004. They have traveled to over 60 countries and written for a wide range of publications, including Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, New York magazine, Gotham, Gourmet Traveller, Coastal Living, Reader’s Digest and Outside. Adam and Emma are sending us stories and pictures daily from their 14-day voyage aboard Seabourn Odyssey between Rome and Venice. Come by and read their blogs often.
Day 13 – May 10, Rab Island, Croatia: The Day the Ship Stood Still
After 12 days on Seabourn Odyssey and 2,132 nautical miles sailed, rhythms, routines and rituals become woven into the fabric of onboard life.
This is our day: we collect take-out lattes from the coffee bar in Seabourn Square, sit in the same seats at breakfast, have lunch at the Colonnade, ignore the gym (and feel guilty about it), miss the lecture (and feel guilty about it, too), have champagne and caviar in the Observation Bar before heading to dinner and a show, then retiring to bed and trying yet again to watch The Hobbit.
We have found great comfort in these rhythms and the fact that our drinks will be waiting for us, just as we like them, when we reach the bar. So much so that they have anchored our days cruising the Mediterranean. And we know other guests have these same rituals, or ones of their own.
One couple stake out the same lounge chairs on the same side of the pool deck (a reality show called Deck Chair Wars is surely overdue), while another pair are rigid in their 7 p.m. dirty martini ritual. There’s a man we see often leaning on the railing at dusk, gazing out to sea like Gatsby looking for that green light. Another couple from Toronto told us they had gotten in the habit of having champagne sent to their room each evening so they could raise a toast from their balcony to one adventure slipping away on another on the horizon. (Two guests we overheard had devised a novel solution: just never leave. Yes, they were approaching their 140th day of cruising the world. Now that’s one hell of a routine.)
We might wake up every morning to a different panorama outside our stateroom window, but inside things stay deeply, hypnotically, the same. Routines anchor us, in the nicest way.
The Family Jewels:
King Edward VIII did more than reject wearing the crown: he sometimes eschewed clothing altogether. When he and his wife, Wallis Simpson, went skinny-dipping in the waters off Rab Island in the 1930s, they couldn’t have known that they were to start a trend that endures to this day. And while today’s weather wasn’t quite swimming weather, alas, we hear that the stunning emerald coves of Rab Island have become famous for clothing optional swimming. Well, it’s one way to sell a lot of sunscreen.
Emma and Adam enjoy the Croatian island of Rab:
Day 14, May 11 – Piran, Slovenia
Lamborghinis. Lear jets. Acres of bling. That’s not just our Christmas wish list, by the way. All those things happen to be sought-after status symbols in today’s marketplace of aspiration. But signifiers of wealth and power don’t stay static. One era’s meh can be the next era’s must-have; one moment a certain look, foodstuff or possession might be de rigueur, the next it’s shoved aside for something ever more fabulous.
Take the lobster, for example. Our beloved clawed delicacies were once used as field fertilizer by 18th century farmers, as our menu at the restaurant the other night helpfully informed us. There were even laws forbidding “wanton mistreatment” of servants by feeding them lobster more than twice a week. Similarly caviar. While in Baku recently, an Azeri acquaintance mentioned that when he was growing up, his mother fed him and his siblings with caviar spread inches thick on white bread.
On the other end of the scale, salt, a seasoning so common we don’t even notice it sitting on the table at every meal, was once a prized commodity, especially in the town we landed today, Piran, where salt flats were a huge driver of the local economy during the Venetian Empire. (Salt was so important, soldiers were paid their wages in the white stuff, hence the expression, “not worth his salt.”) Today our guide explained that young Slovenians men prize German luxury cars so much that they will save every cent they have to buy one, then spend the next ten years eating potatoes and living in their parents’ basement. Hey, no one said keeping up with the Krajncs was going to be easy.
Status symbols aren’t always material things, either. Tattoos can signify qualities like power, high rank and bravery, while in some societies, beauty and rank can be gleaned from the amount of neck rings or intricate scars one sports. Eras in which working outside and being underfed were the sole domain of the lower classes, pale and portly were considered the height of status.
Still, some status symbols do endure. Magnificent horseflesh is just as prized today as it was back in the days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Just as today’s billionaires like to show off their thoroughbred racehorses, so too the Hapsburgs were mightily proud of their Lipizzaners, the beautiful white Andalusian dressage horses that have been bred in Lipica, Solvenia, since the 1500s. We witnessed these gracious and lovely creatures today at the Lipica Stud Farm: suited to both battle and ballet, there’s something mesmerizing about these prancing, neighing status symbols. Lamborghini or Lipizzaner? It’s a tough choice.