Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ephesus, Turkey - A Step Back in Time

Wow! This day was a real highlight of our trip. Our ship was now in Kusadasi (rhymes with odyssey). We had a driver and a tour guide for today that met us at our ship at 8 am. Our guide spoke fluent English. We started by driving to the Virgin Mary's house which is on a hill a few miles outside of Ephesus. This is where Jesus told John to take his mother after his death so she could live out her life here.

Some believe the water here is holy and has healing powers. I filled a small bottle to take home.

There is also a prayer wall full of prayers written on paper.

After leaving this peaceful place we headed to Ephesus which used to be on the coast but is now inland about 5 miles. We saw fig, pomegranate, peach and orange trees and wheat fields.

Over time earthquakes have destroyed the buildings but we can tell where the buildings were and how they lived.

The men's potties were made of marble so they would send their slaves to warm them up.

The library was at the end of the street.

Street sign.

The theater where Paul spoke. We were fortunate to have a retired pastor with us who read to us from the book of Acts. It is awesome to think we were in the same theater referred to in the bible!

We saw the terrace homes which are being restored. The well-to-do lived here and reminded me very much of a modern condo. They had indoor baths and there were many steps to climb. In one we could see the large dining room which had a fountain. The purpose of the fountain was to drown out the voices so the spies could not hear them talk.

 We could see frescoes painted on the walls and mosaic tiles in the floors.  It is like putting together many puzzles to restore these houses.

After touring Ephesus we went to see the tomb where St. John is buried.

A small mosque across the street from the tomb which reminds us we are in a muslim country.

We saw so much today! I tried to absorb all the history but it is still hard for me to believe I walked in the footsteps of people like Paul and John.

Tomorrow it is on to Athens, Greece.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Highlights of Istanbul, Turkey

We took a shuttle from our ship to downtown Istanbul. (It was $10 roundtrip). This is a large city with many people. We headed for the Blue Mosque which was most impressive.

 Although there was a long line it moved quickly. Ladies knees and arms must be covered before entering. There was a woman handing out shawls at the door if needed. Everyone also had to take off their shoes.

The inside of the mosque with its many blue tiles.

From there we walked to Hagia Sophia which was the largest church in the world for 1000 years. It then was a mosque and is now a museum.

Harem skirts for sale.

 Nearby was the Topkapi Palace which used to be the home of the sultans.
We entered through the cannon gate.

The Ottomans while constructing this palace left great gardens in the middle and built palace buildings around them.

Anyone know what he was guarding? He was taking his job very seriously as one in our group tried to get closer to take a picture and this guy approaches him
with his machine gun.

We had a lunch of chicken crepes at an outdoor restaurant. While there we heard the call to prayer over the loud speakers from the mosques. They stop and pray 5 times a day.

We walked through part of the Grand Bazaar but one can easily get lost here. There are about 3500 shops with 18 gates to enter or depart through. It was very crowded and hot. They were selling carpets, jewelry and scarves as well as many other items. One of the popular items were the woven bookmarks as they were easy to pack.

A day here is not enough and I feel we only scratched the surface. But we are in for a real treat tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mykonos, A Diamond in a Sapphire Sea

Mykonos, Greece is an island about the size of Alabama. It's white buildings contrast with the dazzling blue of the sky and sea.

To protect themselves from pirate invasions the town and harbor was built compactly. The winding maze of streets was designed to confuse invaders and it also serves to break the effect of the winds coming in from the Aegean.

Few of the windmills still exist.

Petros, the pelican is their mascot.

Everywhere I looked seemed like a picture postcard.

Our ship was here from 9am-2pm. A little longer would have been nice but we walked around and shopped and really enjoyed our time here. Tomorrow we will
have a very full day in Istanbul,Turkey.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunny, Beautiful Naples, Italy

Mama Mia! What a great day we had here! As soon as we got off our ship at 8 am we met our driver, Ciro, who drove us through Naples to Pompeii. There we met our tour guide, Suzi.  Pompeii was destroyed and buried when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. It killed 2000 people but also managed to freeze an entire society at one instant of time under 23 feet of ashes. The discovery and excavation of Pompeii began in 1748. Some buildings have been carefully restored and you can see frescoes on many walls. Tons of ash and cinders destroyed any roof or canopy.

The roads in Pompeii are lined with sidewalks a foot or more above the street level. Stepping stones are placed to allow pedestrians to cross in wet weather but spaces were still left to allow wheels and horses to get by easily. We could still see deep ruts where chariot wheels have worn away the pavement.

They even had fast food restaurants! There were 27 in Pompeii. This is the counter and serving window of one. Business owners often lived behind the store or above on an upper floor.

The people of Pompeii lived rather well. The community bath was an important place and much visiting and business was conducted here. You can see the frescoes on the wall.

We also saw the brothel (complete with a picture menu). Here is one of the beds, made of rock.

Suzi talking to us in the theater.

We could see Mount Vesuvius in the background.

After our 2 hour tour Ciro drove us down the Amalfi coast. WOW! Pictures only give a hint of how beautiful it was.

There were many hairpin curves. I was really glad someone else was doing the driving. There was too much to see to try to drive at the same time.

We stopped along the way to eat pizza where it started. And of course I had to have gelato. Amaretto today - yum!

This was a very full but very enjoyable day. This is the pretty sunset from my balcony. We really enjoyed our balcony on this cruise. It was always so pretty watching us go in and out of port each day.

Tomorrow we get to rest and enjoy our ship and then it is off to Greece. Arrivederci!