Greece and Turkey with Ian
Added 7/13/2011: Here's a
map of stopping points on
Several years ago we told Ian that when he was 13 we would take him on a trip.
Guess what? He's 13. After considering Egypt, but fortunately deciding against
that a year or so ago, we all decided on Greece. We found a tour
(Grand European Tours) of Athens and
(some of) the Greek Islands, Istanbul, and Ephesus. Amelia and I flew to
Baltimore on April 21 for a few days with Evan, Laura, Ian, and Fiona.
Day 1-2: Dulles to Athens
On April 26 we found ourselves
at Dulles airport,
checking in for our British Air flight to Athens, by way of London Heathrow.
Checking in was easy enough, and here's the
747, but we had to wait
awhile. In due course
we were off, changed planes at Heathrow (through the new terminal - unfortunately
if you change planes, even within terminal 5, you still have to go through
security; but it wasn't too onerous). We arrived in Athens, more or less on
time and were met by a representation from Grand European Tours and transferred
the to Hotel Divani Caravel.
That's our blue tour bus for the next two days. Ian, having slept little
between Dulles and London (but took a good nap on the
shorter leg to Athens), quickly found his
Day 3: Pelopennesus
The next morning we boarded a bus for a tour to Pelopennesus. Along the way
we stopped to look at the
Corinth Canal, which
joins the Agean Sea and the Ionian Sea, permitting sailing between the two
without going around the Pelopennesian Peninsula. Here's
Ian adding a little color
to the scene. And here's a self-portrait of
canal was completed in
1893. Then it was on to Mycenae. Here is the
ampitheatre, Ian in the
foreground. And then with
Ian in the far background.
Another, about the same time, that Ian took from
the top. Here I am, seated
in the Royal Seat. Then
it was on through the
Lion's Gate, and then
another one by Ian of the
ruins in the rain (yah,
rained there, too). After many ruins, we took the tour bus back to Athens
with Ian in his
favorite position. Along the way I took this a shot of gas station station
prices. This is
Euros per liter, coming out
to about $10 per gallon.
Day 4: Athens
This morning (bright and early - Oh my, did our tour director believe in
beating the rush) we were off to the
Temple of Olympian Zeus.
There is a nice view of the
Acropolis from the
of Zeus. Here's a shot of the
three of us. Ian took a
nice shot of the pillars
through some trees. And
a nice shot of Amelia.
the Acropolis framed by two
pillars. We rejoined the bus for the trip to the Acropolis and along the
way Ian took pictures of
Poseiden, who were rivals
for the choice of protector of the city (guess who won?). Here is
the entry to the Acropolis.
Ian is indicating something about the
Parthenon, orginally the
Temple of Athena. Turning the camera the other way, here is a shot of the
Temple of Zeus from the
Acropolis. Then there is the
Erechtheum with the
roof of the Porch of the Maidens being held up by six pillars of ladies.
Ian took this picture of the
Theatre of Dionysus, still
in use today. On the way out to join the cruise ship, the
Louis Cristal, at the port of Piraeus we stopped briefly at the
Olympic Stadium of 1896.
After lunch on the Cristal, we were all briefed on emergency procedures, and
where our stations would be. Here's
Ian, all dressed up,
and fortunately, nowhere to go. Later in the voyage, Ian took a couple of
pictures in our cabin. Here's one of
me in the window. Then
another back toward the
front of the cabin (yes,
I'm in that one, too).
Day 5: Istanbul
Bright and early the next morning, I woke up as we were passing into the
Dardenelles, got up and looked out the window. By some sort of chance, we
were just passing by this
Cape Helles Memorial.
Somewhat later, we passed by
another that I've been
unable to identify, but surely looks like a memorial. As we neared Gallipoli
itself, I saw the
Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial.
All are memorials to the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915. Here's a shot where we
are in the Sea of Marmara with the
city of Galipoli in sight.
Amelia took one of me, with the six minarets of the Blue Mosque in the
background. I returned
the favor with one of
Amelia with unidentified
minarets in the background. After we docked we took a tour to the
Spice Market (yeh, crowded)
and to the
Grand Bazaar (much less
crowded, but busy).
Day 6: Constantinople
This was a day touring Istanbul, mostly parts built when it was Constantinople.
Why is it now Istanbul? As the old song says, that's nobody's business but
the Turks. More to the point, first stop was the
Sultan Ahmed Mosque,
popularly known as the Blue Mosque. The mosque was completed in 1616 after
starting construction in 1609. (An aside: St. Peter's Basilica, although
about three times bigger in all dimensions, took from 1506 to 1626 to build.
The interior dome tells
the story of the popular name. Outside are stations for
washing feet before
entering (we only had to remove our shoes). Outside the mosque is this
Egyptian monolith, which
the guide explained was stolen by the Turks after the English stole another
(and maybe a few others). It was
tulip time in Istanbul.
Next stop was
Hagia Sofia, now a
museum, but previously a mosque, and built as a church and dedicated in 360CE.
The view inside shows
the dome, and the
supporting half domes.
Here's another shot of the
interior. While painted
over when the building served as a mosque, the
Christian murals were
uncovered when it became a museum. Here's another
mural, then one of
Amelia and Ian taking in
the surroundings. After we left Hagia Sophia, Ian and I visited another
The tour then went to
Gördes store for a
presentation (and tea, or coffee, or Ouzo) about carpet and rug making (by hand,
of course), with lots of examples, and plenty of flourishes (e.g., a flying
carpet). Ian was very interested in buying a rug for his family, and Amelia
and I said: you're on your own, here, more or less. He and the salesman got
down and looked at lots of rugs, and after haggling, finally agreed to buy
a rug. While Ian was
already famous in our tour group, this made him even more well known on
shipboard. After all that hard work, we returned to the ship for lunch. The
afternoon tour was to the
Topkapi Palace. Once
the official and primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans, it is now a
museum. By the sidewalk into the main part is a pine tree that has been
grafted with an almond
branch. We didn't have a lot of time, but the wall
tilework is very pretty,
and that of the dome is,
too. Back on board the Cristal, we were greeted by this
Day 7: Mykonos
After the overnight cruise from Istanbul, we arrived at Mykonos. An
important stop was found
by Ian, and here he is
with Amelia, enjoying the
fruits of his labor (a Magic Bar), with our ship and a sister ship in the
background. Ian got a better picture of the
pink pelican of Mykonos
than I did. We walked up the see the
windmills of Mykonos
and Ian spent some time
playing on the rocks.
As in other parts of Greece, and in Istanbul, too, the
poppies were beautiful.
Ian took a picture of us
on a street. There were
many banners and pennants, here's some with a
church in the background.
They have many
blue doors on Mykonos.
We ate an early dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront, and while
seated there, a fellow was rowing around in the
harbor. Back on the
ship I got a
Day 8: Patmos, Kusadasi, and Ephesus
We arrived early in the morning in Patmos. We took a brief trip onshore.
Here's a good shot of the
Louis Cristal in the
harbor. Here's a Patmos door in a more
subdued blue. Then it was
on to the Turkish port of Kushadasi, and the hike to Ephesus. First tourist
site in Ephesus was this
honest merchant. Lots of
ruins in Ephesus. They
date back to Roman times.
Here's the remains of an
arch, and a more
interesting one of
bulls. Here are
more simple arches, with
lintels. Oh yes, did I mention that they have beautiful
poppies in Greece?
Here's a rebuilt arch,
the light blocks probably being new. Then, a
fair maiden, apprently
in flight. Here's an
overview of some of
the area. Again, this arch needed some new pieces before it could be
This shot shows the
tile work near the old
Roman baths. The work requiring
scaffolding goes on;
this is the Temple of Hadrian.
Another fair maiden. Well,
maybe not so fair, since that was Medusa. The Romans also required
other places to relax
alongside the baths. Here is the
library of Celsus.
On the walkway not
far from the baths is what was described to us as one of the earliest
billboards. It reads
(from top): Fellows, walk this way, bring money, to find love (heart).
Ah yes. Was there a ampitheatre, you ask? Yes, there is a
Day 9: Rhodes
We arrived at the port city of Rhodes, on the island of Rhodes early in the
morning. In keeping with our tour director's philosophy of beating the rush,
we were off for the bus tour of Lindos bright and early. Well, two of us. Ian
decided he was too achy, tired, blah, whatever, to get up and go that early in
the morning. So, he stayed behind on board. While I climbed to the Acropolis,
Amelia took it easy by going to the
beach. As with other
places in Greece, the
reconstruction is still
going on. Along the way, there is a relief of a
Rhodian trireme carved
into the rock. Here's a shot of the
city of Lindos from the
acropolis. Here are the
columns of the stoa
(supporting a covered walkway) that have been restored. There is a wonderful
view of a
small harbor below, the
entrance being obscured by the rocks. The ruins are
somewhat typical, I'd say.
There was a good view of a
church steeple (I'd guess
I took this at 6x). Not sure what this was, perhaps the ruins of one of the
round towers. The whole
area dates back to about 300BCE and Roman times. From Lindos we headed back to
the walled city of
Rhodes. Guess what, it
looks Mediaeval. Ah yes,
I like doors. The walls
of the city have seen
wear over the centuries.
After having lunch on the ship and
Ian having recovered,
we headed in to explore more of the city. Ian took this picture
me within the walls.
Ian pretended to
fire off a canon. Then
we headed down along the waterfront where we found this
World War II monument.
This is the harbor where the Collossus of Rhodes may have stood, astride the
harbor entrance, now guarded by a pair of piddly
stags, which nonetheless,
reportedly keep out snakes (I never saw any). Then it was back towards the
ship (not in the small inner harbor) where we passed the
gate we had entered
earlier. The Louis Cristal
and Ian on our return. That night the ship's chocolatiers had a display
of their hard labors. Ian and I went and looked, but didn't partake in much
of it. These
look really good.
Ian got this picture of
a chocolate eagle.
They also made
carvings out of fruits
and vegetables. Very clever.
Day 10: Agios Nikolaos and Santorini
We arrived in Agios Nilolaos, Crete, in the morning. Amelia, Ian, and I did not
take a tour, but instead walked into the town, up and over the hill to a beach.
Along the way I took a picture of
Agia Triada. Soon we were
at Ammos Beach and Ian
was testing the waters of the Mediterranean. While it was the warmest waters
we had seen on the trip, they
weren't all that warm.
As we headed back toward town and the ship, we saw this
small church. Ian and I
stopped and bought a Greek birthday card for Grammy (well, at least they said
it said Happy Birthday), and Ian found yet another
Magic Bar. Back to ship,
and off to Santorini (otherwise known as Thira). The sea was the roughest
we had seen it on this leg. Our cabin was near the bow and I took this
shot of the
waves and wake from our
window. The approach to Santorini by ship is into the caldera of an ancient
volcano, so there is neither a dock, nor anywhere to anchor. As a consequence,
those going ashore had to hop (with a lot of help) from the ship to a
tender to get ashore. The
towns pretty much cling to the
side of the caldera.
We took the bus tour to Oia Village, and it is as
pretty and the pictures
you may have
seen before. Since there
was no place to anchor, our ship was out in the caldera
cruising around, but I'm
not sure which white ship is ours. Oh yes, and
they have blue doors, this one with a large
happy sun. One of the
things Oia is famous for is its beautiful sunsets. Two problems. It was
cloudy, off and on, at least, and we had to be back to the ship before sunset.
I took several, none were very good, including
this one. Ian got a
better one, maybe.
Day 11: Disembarkation, tour to Delphi, back to Athens
After an early breakfast, we were off the ship (our main luggage was picked up
outside our door during the night), and here we are with
mounds of luggage, the
lineup in front of Ian and Grammy with orange tags being that of our group.
So, it was onto the bus with our luggage and off for
Delphi (Temple of Apollo
midpicture), which was about 2.5 hours away. I suppose this
explains what everything is
(was). Here is one of the
belly buttons of the
world at Dephi. Many cities had their
treasure houses at Delphi,
and here is a reconstruction of the ruins of the
And, of course, they had an
ampitheatre. Then, it was
back to the Divani Caravel, where we had a little time to rest up before going
out for our Highlight Farewell Dinner at the
Daphne's Restaurant in the
Plaka District. Along the way we saw the sculpture
Hellas Honors Lord Byron.
We were let off the bus to walk to the restaurant in front of
this sculpture of the late
Melina Mercouri, who
was at one time the Minister of Culture (among other things) in Greece and
unscuccesfully fought to get the Elgin Marbles returned to Greece from the
British Museum. Be that as it may, we had a fine dinner at the restaurant.
Here's a shot of our table, with the
marvelous tour drector
behind Ian (whom she simply adored (of course)). By that time Ian was getting
a little tired, so we walked up the street a half-block to get some fresh air,
and had a nice view of
the Acropolis and a crescent
moon (and I had a view of Ian). Ah schucks, I have to add this shot
without Ian, too.
Day 12: Athens back to Dulles
You talk about early and a long day! We were up at 4am with breakfast
delivered (part the tour) to our room at 4:15. Way, way ,way too much food.
At 5:15 or thereabouts we're out the door and onto a shuttle bus to the
airport (a little aside: When we went through the Athens airport in 1989 on
the way to Crete, it was the most primitive airport I had ever been in. This
one was built for the Olympics and it was fine.) to catch our British Air
flight to London Heathrow and change planes there for Dulles. We were in at
Dulles about 5:30pm, and Evan met us after we got through customs and passport
control. So, only 13 1/2 hour after getting up (well, and 7 hour time change),
there we were back in the USA. Tired, but glad to be back. A good trip and
we had a good time. So did Ian, I think.
We spent about a week with Evan, Laura, Ian, and Fiona, and then came back home to