Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Today we were in Athens, wow, Athens, the birthplace of democracy, it was fantastic.  We took a tour to the Parthenon on the Acropolis.  It was almost surreal being there.  There were the statues of the Greek Gods, Zeus and Athena,
the huge Ionic Columns that made up the temple walls and the marble steps that led up the hill.  
As you passed through a magnificent monstrous marble gate the vista of the iconic Parthenon was right there in front of you.  
The marble is mined 12 miles away and was transported by wagon and sometimes rolled all the way to the site and then up a 600 foot hill.  The temples that they built at the top of the hill have been under reconstruction for 15 years and they expect it to take another 10 years before they will be done. 
It was interesting to see where they have put the new marble in to repair old sections, the new stuff was really wide and the older marble was discoloured to a kind of yellowy colour.
You could see the city of 4 million people laid out in front of you.  There were tall pointy hills right in the middle of the city with buildings going as high as was practical.  

Afterwards we were taken the stadium where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896.  Apparently the track is too narrow for any events nowadays but the stadium is still used for political events.  
We saw some of the venues for the Games that took place in 2004, the volleyball and soccer stadiums and I think they held the archery competition in 1896 athletics stadium.  Unfortunately we were did not visit the main stadium from the 2004 games.  Fortunately the guides have lots to talk about so there are frequent stops when we are climbing up lots of stairs.  Mom made it to the top with few extra stops today 
We are on our way to Turkey at the moment and we have a tour of Ephesus tomorrow.   

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


We are on our second day in Greece.  Yesterday we went to visit the rules where the original Olympic Games started. It was quite a thrill to run down the track, it was just a long straight stretch about 190 meters long.  When they wanted to have a longer race they just ran back and forth.  
We had an excellent guide and she had all sorts of interesting anecdotes about the area, the ancient games and the construction in the area.   The columns were Doric and they were smooth on the inside where athletes and trainers would lean against them but they had vertical ridges on the outside, neat!
The Olympic site is situated in a lovely spot and the purple flowering Judas trees were in full bloom, just beautiful.  
We went through a museum and saw statues of the winged goddess Nike and the also the likeness of the perfect human body, Hermes, notice the detail of his right calf, wonderful. 

I really thought the bronze of the griffon suckling her baby was particularly well done.
Today we saw one of the most perfect and best preserved examples of a Greek theatres in Epidaurus.   It would seat over 13,000 people and the acoustics were astounding.  A priest stood in the middle and sang a prayer and I could hear him up at the top of the theatre.

Then we were off to Mycenae to see the ruins of a Royal Palace that was built on top of a hill.  It was some kind of an apolis, rather like Minneapolis, Indianapolis or even Annapolis !  There were huge crowds of people there but at one time there were 250,000 people that lived n the area.  The spring flowers were in bloom and were a wonderful contrast to the dour rocks. 
There were outstanding views from the top though, it was well worth the climb. Those are olive orchards in the background. We also saw winter oranges and lemons on the trees and the apricot trees are setting their fruit. it was a very enjoyable +20 day, great stuff, on to Athens tomorrow. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015


We are off to Greece.  Mom and I spent the morning visiting Venice. We headed to San Marco square and visited the Doge's Palace. It was unbelievably ornate and beautiful.  I marvelled at the painted ceilings picturing the artist lying on their backs painting the masterpieces.  

The detail in the wood was outstanding. 
The amount of time that went into building and decorating the place is mind boggling.  

Looking out from the Bridge of Sighs. 

We took the public water transportation to and from our hotel to the square. On our way back to the hotel we took a wonderful gondola ride through the tiny side canals. 

 We saw two homes of famous Venitians, Marco Polo's and Valentino's! The ride was very relaxing and the gondoliers were so talented in their handling of their long ungainly crafts.  When we got to a blind corner he would sing out to make sure he wasn't going to run into anyone as he manoeuvred around the corner.  There are no vehicles in the inner city of Vencie so we booked a private water taxi to take us to the port, where we will board the ship.  It was expensive, but beat the idea of walking further pulling our luggage over the rough stone streets , then having to take a public water transport and transfer to a train and then walk goodness knows how far.  

The water taxi dropped us the correct spot and we boarded the ship without problems within 15 minutes of my planned time.  Now we can relax and enjoy!! We went right past the main part of Venice on our way out and it was quite the view.  Those pictures are on the camera and I will have to see about getting them on the IPad, we have misplaced the device we were using to do that. I went out to the observation deck and sipped on a margarita while snapping photos.  Life is good!!

I am having trouble uploading this on the ship so I have taken out most of the photos.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Off we go into the wild blue yonder....

Mom and I set off for our Mediterranean cruise today.  Our first stop was Frankfurt where we went through passport control and entered the European Union.  

My Mom has difficulty walking any distance without resting so luckily we had remembered to ask for wheelchair assistance in the airports. We were whizzed around the Frankfurt airport for about 10 minutes going through passport control and changing motorized carts three times before we reached the Luftansa airline which we had to change to after flying Air Canada across the Atlantic.

Went went over the Alps and ended up in Venice. This is our first view out of the window just before landing. 
We took a metro water taxi to the city centre and then walked over two bridges and down a few lanes before we found our hotel.  

This is us resting as we crossed the second bridge, the suitcases did not go up the stairs very well !!    We just got back to the hotel and it is about 5:00 a.m. In Canada but 1300 hours here so we just had a small lunch in a plaza in the open air and we window shopped at a few "glass" stores before heading back to the hotel for a much needed nap.  We will have the morning to do some sight seeing before we board the Holland America cruise ship for an 11 day cruise of the Greek Islands ending in Rome.