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Cruising on the Crystal 

I write you now from Istanbul, Turkey, where we are sailing on the good ship Crystal Symphony. It's totally luxurious and wonderful, the virtual Ritz Carleton of the sea. If you ever want to be treated like a queen, book a trip on a Crystal ship. They're amazing.

Enjoyed Istanbul quite a lot. I visited my first mosque, which was so cool. One interesting factoid is that boys don't get circumcised here until they're seven. The idea is that they should be able to understand that this is a step toward manhood. Yesterday, at the Blue Mosque (the most famous Mosque of all and if I'm spelling Mosque wrong, please forgive me), we saw a little seven-year-old in his white satin and jeweled hat and his special ceremonial robe entering the building with great excitement about his impending circumcision (to take place at the Mosque). Obviously his parents didn't tell him what he was in for. I wanted to tell him, "RUN! Escape while you can." But of course, I didn't. Perhaps it would have been seen as religiously incorrect and threatening. But that poor child!

We went to an apparently world famous night club last night called Raina. Three thousand hot, sweaty (but nicely dressed) singles out for some dancing and hook ups. This is truly not my scene and I told Mark, "this sucks, get me the #*#@ out of here." But we were with the headwaiter from the ship and he was in a funk over the demise of his marriage, so we stayed. Luckily we found a table above the noise and body odor where we could talk and drink and enjoy the amazing view. It was so weird looking down on those 3,000 tanned, toned bodies as they pulsated to current disco tunes. Most people were wearing white.

What else? We spent a few days in Athens before boarding the ship. That was fun. It was so hot there. Mark made me climb up to the Acropolis even though I'd seen it a few years ago and had no desire to climb that mountain again, especially in hundred degree weather. But I joined him because I thought it would be good exercise to counterbalance the thousands of calories I'm downing every day. When you sail the Mediteranean, every port always has some fort or castle or ancient ruins high on a mountain. Why? I don't know. But Mark always insists on climbing the mountain and seeing the ruins first hand. I usually go alone with him because, what else do we have to do? The views are quite spectacular.

Quick disturbing report about Air France. We flew Air France to Paris and then took a different flight to Athens. We were sitting in the front two seats right behind the cockpit and were dismayed to note that there was nothing barring the cockpit door. Further, the stewardesses constantly left their little prep area empty as they went about their work and passengers would come up, knock on the cockpit door, and enter to chat up the pilots. We must have seen ten passengers go up for a little visit during the flight. Coming from New York, this totally freaked us out. If we'd had the desire and skills to hijack that plane, it would have been so easy. At least getting into the cockpit would have been. Needless to say, we won't be flying Air France again. This is sad because their food was very good.

Well, I'm off. It's almost dinnertime and I must dress. Did I mention we are sitting at the Captain's table? We are. How we got assigned there, I'll never know. Perhaps they heard what a charming couple Mark and I are so they put us there to keep the Captain entertained. I do think I put my foot in my mouth the first night when I mentioned to Cap'n (that's what I call him) that if I were going to murder someone, I'd do it on a cruise ship. I've been thinking about that because I thought it might make a fun plot in a book. Cap'n looked askance at me when I mentioned how I'd pull off the perfect murder on his ship. He told me all the obstacles that would stop me which was helpful (security cameras are everywhere!). Anyway, I explained that I was a writer and my interest was purely for entertainment purposes, but Cap'n seems to think I'm weird as opposed to charming. Oh well.

Bon Apetite!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

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