Saturday, May 09, 2015


My last tour was a place just outside of Naples at the city of Pompei which was covered by ash and mud from when the nearby mountain of Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. Mom did not come as it said there was extensive walking on very uneven surfaces.  The city was buried under 18 feet of mud and the mud acted as a great preservative so the site is in pretty good shape.  There were still some frescoes on the walls and original mosaic tiles on the floors.  Lots of the statues and bigger frescoes were plundered and removed from the sites when it was first discovered. 
Definite chariot tracks

The streets were made of big flat stones.  You could see where the chariots had worn groves in the stones, in my minds eye they were rolling down the roads.  At one point you could see small bits of white marble in the streets, the guide explained that the moonlight would light the way home when it glistened off the marble bits in the dark. At the crosswalks there were three or four large raised stepping stones so your feet wouldn't get wet in the sewage that was flushed down the streets.  
The ruins were very extensive and you could spend days exploring them.  

We were shown the highlights, a nobleman's home with two entrances, servants quarters on the upper floors and an inner courtyard, an restaurant or wine bar, where there were holes to accommodate the large amphora that held the wine, and the plaster casts of people's bodies that had been encased in mud or overcome with fumes. 

We also got to see a coliseum where slaves were made to fight.  The doors into their cells were very short.  It was all very fascinating.  
We were also given a tour of a place where cameo's were made.  It was very hard to resist but as usual I was attracted to a very expensive piece and cooler heads prevailed.  After the tour was over I took a port shuttle over to where the main tourist attractions in the city were aesible by foot.  I wandered around with no agenda and no map and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  
My lunch spot. 

I stopped at a little outdoor restaurant and had a pizza, a glass of red wine and some pistachio gelato!! The strait narrow alleys which serve as side streets were amazing, notice all the laundry hanging from the balconies. There were a lot of scooters around and if the weather was good it seems as if that would a very good method of motorized transportation. 
Imagine driving a scooter or a chariot down these extremely narrow streets. 
I returned to the ship and an hour later Mom came back from her motorized bus tour.  She was pretty tuckered out.  We left for Rome at supper time and we had booked ship transportation to the airport, so the leave taking of the ship was easy and seamless.  We got on the plane in Rome and it was a nonstop flight to Toronto.  Mom's luggage did not show up there so it was a bit of a hassle dealing with that but she was heading home and has lots of clean clothes to change into. 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Greek Islands of Rhodes and Santorini

Rhodes was very interesting as soon as we docked we could see the ancient walled city that the Knights of St. John occupied.
We took a tour to see the remains of the 4th century BC at the Acropolis of Lindos which was an hours bus ride from the town of Rhodes. It was at the top of a fairly large hill and there was an opptunity to ride a donkey up.
  I tried to convince Mom that was the way to go but she figured riding the donkey might hurt her more than walking up the hill.  We started up near the front of our group and as Mom had to stop and rest the group passed us, then another group went by but out guide was just beginning out spiel as we arrived so Mom did wonderfully.  This path had small rounded pebbles cemented together so we were very thankful that it was not and had not rained in the last few days, it would have been very slippery.  
The fortifications at the top were the most impressive we have seen yet.  The ruins of the temples are in various stages of restoration.  
I think Mom felt a real sense of accomplishment when she was walking around the top and one gentleman told her that she was an inspiration to the rest of the group!! It was an absolutely lovely setting and I could see in my mind's eye Cat's - Paw IV anchored were that sailboat is in the picture

We walked back down and through the village, after that you had to walk back up the other side of the hill to get to the highway, fortunately there were taxis and we opted for that choice.  
Today we visited the volcanic island of Santorini, what a gorgeous spot.  We anchored in the middle of the caldera and were surrounded by the remains of the mountain that blew it's top in the 4th century BC.mmmost of the towns and villages are purchased on the rim of the main island.  When you look across the bay you think could be snow since all the buildings are white.  
When the volcano blew it's top it covered up the town of Lindos, the ruins are being in the process of being uncovered.  The whole site is under a roof so it comfortable to view out of the sun and wind.

We then went to the museum to see replicas of some Frecos that were recovered almost intact because a river of mud had encased them for centuries. 

The tour was finished at this point but a couple from California asked me if I wanted to share a ride over to the other side of the island to see another town, and I figured why not.  Mom had opted to stay aboard today to rest a little.  

I chose to walk back down the hill rather than take the cable car down.  There were certainly a lot less tourists on this particular path than there had been in the towns!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Turkey and back to Greece

Yesterday we went to Kasadasi, Turkey to see what was. Il led as one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world.  It certainly lived up to it's billing it was huge and quite marvellous.  Unfortunately, I forgot the IPad so I used Mom's camera and at the moment I am unable to transfer the pictures, so I can not offer any photographic proof.  Our guide was great and we managed to be the first group through the ruins in the morning so there was no one in front of us so the picture taking was ideal.  There were terraced houses, temples, a library and baths as well as aqueducts and stone arches that were built into the hillside to prevent erosion.  The best part was that we started at the top and the bus met us at the bottom so there was no up hill walking for Mom. 
We returned to the city of Kasadasi and we were taken to a carpet demonstration, it was definitely a learning experience and there was no hard sell. That was not the case once we were on our own, the vendors were annoyingly persistent. Mom wandered into a leather shop and came out with a beautiful red leather jacket that fits her like a glove and is even reversible.  It looks great on her, the fellow was not satisfied with that good sale but tried to pressure me into buying one,  I tried a few on just for forms sake but managed to resist all temptations. My resistance weakened as we walked past a shoe shop and I realized that the white shoes I had bought in Mexico 8 years ago were in need of replacement. I came out with a very snazzy new pair whIch I managed to get reduced from the most ridiculous price of 120 to an acceptable 40 Euros.  We had a very nice Turkish lunch and then Mom returned to the ship.  I had some post cards to mail and went on a mission to find the post office, a dozen enquiries later I found it and the confused postal clerk took my cards that had Italian stamps on them with some reluctance. 
 It will be interesting to here if they ever get to their destination.  I wandered down to the marina and got some information about dockage fees and a list of marinas in Turkey, nothing like a little advance planning. 

 We are just skimming the surface of these places and they are well worth further extensive explorations. 

Today we had a tour of the Greek island of Mykanos.  It is a tourist Mecca and at one time was the playground of the Onassi clan and it became a stop for the internationall jet set.  I must admit I felt a little like a cow today being herded here and there.  Get on the bus, a five minute stop here, take pictures, back on the bus, on to the next place, a restroom stop, pictures, back on the bus to the next spot not something I truly enjoyed, although I did dip my feet into the Agean Sea!!!  We did stop at a Greek Orthodox Church that was so ornate inside  it was hard to believe that the small island could afford to pay for all the finery.

Once we returned to the main town I wondered around, found the windmills and managed to resist all the gorgeous hats that were on sale. 
 It was fun winding in and out the narrow alleys and looking at the gorgeous and pricey linen and cotton clothing.  

We have been enjoying the food and the entertainment on board.  Each night we sit with a different group of people, there are lots of Australians onboard and they generally seemed to have booked a 22 day cruise, Canadians and Americans make up the majority of the rest of the ship's complement.  We have met some real characters and have had some very lively conversations, there has been only one fellow I would not care to share a table with again. Mom has been enjoying the cold soups which are quite lovely and I find the variety of dinner choices to be excellent. We are off to the island of Rhodes tomorrow.