Gina Baksa Boards the Largest Yacht in the World for a Rome to Venice Cruise with Windstar
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Day 3 – Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Waking up to see that the Wind Surf anchored in the bay of Taormina at Giardini Naxos was thrilling. I’d been to this part of the island before, stayed at a hotel perched on a cliff in Taormina. Seeing the island from the sea is so romantic.

At time of arrival, the town of Taormina (adjacent to Giardini Naxos) was being prepared for the arrival of heads of state for the May G7 summit. As a result, the area was crawling with military and police – and plenty of undercover agents too, eager to sweep before Trump and Melania made their first appearance. I love Taormina. Built on the cliff top terraces, the amphitheatre is a must-see with superb views over the bay where we watched with pride the Wind Surf, sails out and looking very impressive.

Each cruise has a private event – ours was a drive up the slopes of Mount Etna to visit to the superb Gambini Vineyards at Linguaglossa. The wine tasting (I loved the reds) comes with local food (olives, cold cuts, dried tomatoes, locally made sausages, pecorino cheeses Superb antipasti, cold cuts and cheeses and bread. Each dish was carefully explained and we had the chance to buy wine afterwards. Fog and mist unfortunately meant we could see neither Etna nor the coast from our lunch table, but did ensure that our focus was on the delicious food and wine.

Day 4 – Kotor Montenegro

After a day at sea we arrived at dawn at the entrance to the channel that leads to Kotor. One of Montenegro’s most beautiful bays, the fjord-like channels are beautiful, especially in the early morning light.

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I explored the old town on foot – you don’t really need a guide here – and loved the narrow streets, the churches and the friendliness of the local people. Even a cute dog followed me for a while before I sat down for lunch at Konoba Scala Santa. Trip Advisor reviews are mixed for this place, but I loved my fish soup and they were very welcoming. In fact, everyone I met in Kotor was friendly and prices weren’t the tourist rip-off. A special highlight was a 1-hour climb to the ruined castle of San Giovanni that majestically overlooks the old town. It’s a tough ascent on cobbles so you’ll need good walking shoes and water, but the views at the top are worth the workout.

Day 5 Dubrovnik

Wind Surf anchored directly outside Dubrovnik – giving us all incredible views of this unique walled city – already familiar to fans of Game of Thrones. It was my first visit to the city and I loved it. I joined a Dubrovnik City Sights and Cable Car Tour with a young and informative guide who shared his knowledge of the history of the area, mixed with wry observations of current politics. Our energetic walk along the ramparts gave us outstanding views of the azure water below. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, we entered the stair at Pile Gate and had a wonderful walk along the southern part of the wall, passing the Mineta Fortress, St John’s Fortress, Bokar Fortress and the Maritime Museum. Just a four-minute walk from the ramparts takes you to a 4-minute cable car ride ascending 778 meters to the top of Mt Srdj with its superb Old City and ocean views and a terraced restaurant.

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Day 6 – Split, Croatia

We docked about 15 minutes walk from the main town and I joined our talented Executive Chef Eddie for a morning market tour. Cue much game playing at the fish market between himself and an austere stallholder who initially was having none of his bargaining. (she later reduced her price). How can you tell if a fish is fresh – smell aside? The eyes “should be clear and the gills and mouth a pink hue”. And when you’re buying mussels they need to feel heavy.

The standout attraction in old Split is the Diocletian Palace. Split Old Town is built on and around this amazing Roman Palace that dates from the 4th century. A veritable maze of shops, restaurants and even a fashion shoot – the model was wearing the most beautiful lace dress I have ever seen. Other day trip options from the boat included Krka National Park highlights and rafting on the Cetina River.

Editorial Team

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