Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011 – At Sea – Mediterranean Sea – 80s - Sunny

Another relaxing day at sea…

Our favorite spot on the open deck turned out to be toward the bow – an area that no one seemed to know about.  Quiet and, or course, no smoking.

 At Sea 9-17 Relaxing (Small) H and E At Sea 9-17 (Small)

Today is my third and final talk, “Cold Cases Solved”.  The presentation drew pretty much a full house (about 150 attendees).  It’s the longest of the talks but I did manage to get it done in the required 50 minutes without going to warp speed.  I think the audience liked this talk.

Final Talk (Small)

Final Talk: “Cold Cases Solved”

Applause Applause (Small)

Applause, Applause

We spent the rest of the afternoon out on the open deck as the ship made its way through several picturesque Greek Islands.  A combination of open sea and geographical wonders.

Beautiful Greek Island (Small) 

Greek Island (Inhabited) 

   H and E Greek Island (Small) E and Greek Island (Small) Greek Island At Sea (Small)

Ship Traffic in the Mediterranean

Although it took us almost the whole cruise, we did discover the “Peek-a-boo” Bridge.  This is a window that look down on the bridge so you can see how this big ship is run.  It looks like it might run itself.

Who is steering the ship (Small)

The Peek-a-boo Bridge Window

The show tonight was an eclectic mix of music and dancing.  My favorite set was devoted to John Williams and featured his theme from “Superman”.  The set for this musical interlude was great especially the iconic “S”. 

Hey its Superman (Small) 

Showtime 9-17 (Small)

Following the show, we went to watch the “70s Show”, something the Voyager Class Ships hold in the Royal Promenade.  Singers and Dancers perform on the bridge spanning the Promenade.  Ellen watched some of the show from the balcony and I took the shots from the packed floor.

70s party and E (Small) E and 70s party (Small) 

70s party in Promenade (Small)

70s nite (Small)

Packed Promenade Floor

Celebrity Singers 70s nite 1 (Small)

Celebrity Singers 70s nite (Small)

RCL Singers do their thing

Village People 70s nite (Small)

Obligatory Number by the “Village People”

Tomorrow we are in Malta.  We were supposed to go to Naples (no pizza again this trip) but the port was overbooked.

Seas are calm

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011 – Istanbul, Turkey – Sunny – 85F

A very nice morning on Day 2 in Istanbul, Turkey.

No tour today – the tours repeat on each day – we are planning to explore a little of the port area today.

Our first destination this morning is the Starbucks across the street to check on e-mails and send more pictures. We always get seats inside the cafe since that is non-smoking (but not non-flies).   We spent a while in the Starbucks on line (the code we got yesterday still got us connected today).  I got quite a bit of exercise shooing flies.

We checked out the park across the street from Starbucks.  The park contains statues and is right on the water.

E Golden Hon Borsphorus (Small)

My “Little Mermaid”

E at Bosphorus Park (Small)

H and Statue aat Park (Small)

Unknown Statue at the Park

After lunch on the ship, we decided – even though it was a bit warm -to walk to the Golden Horn Bridge.  We originally wanted to go to the Kosher Restaurant for lunch but thought better of it (still some time left on this cruise). 

The Golden Horn and Bosphorus were not that far away.  Our route took us along a street I like to call the Home Depot street.  This is because all of the stores were either appliance stores, equipment stores, or general hardware stores.  Lots of smokers along the way combined with guys in business suits.  We also ducked into a side street filled with hookah bars – places with comfy couches where you could puff on your hookah as long as you wanted.  I really wanted a beer but we kept on our route.

Waiting for my hookah (Small)

Hookah Bar (no hookah for me, thanks)

The area near the bridge was filled with people yet the restaurants – though nice and everywhere – were somewhat empty.  There were barkers trying to hustle up some business.  It was too hot to actually go onto the bridge but we did make it to the shore using the shade for protection.

We didn’t find anyone who we felt we could trust our camera to so we did not get a picture together.  We did, however, get some great shots of the Bosphorus and the surrounding architecture. The New Mosque can be seen in the background in the photo below.

H at Golden Horn (Small) 

     E at Golden Horn (Small)

The walk back to the ship seemed longer than the walk out.  We were proud of ourselves for having ventured out into the Istanbul port area.  It turned out to be nicer that we thought.

We did have some time to relax on deck.

Pedometer: 10,353 Steps; 4.9 Miles; 510 Calories; 2 hrs

Thursday, September 15, 2011 – Istanbul, Turkey – Sunny – 85F'

A beautiful day in Istanbul, Turkey

We are on tour today: “Bosphorus Cruise” 

The bus (a nice air conditioned coach) took us from the pier over the Galata Bridge (on the “Golden Horn”) to catch our boat. 

The docks are right across the street from Eminomu Square and the New Mosque (below).

Mosque near Bosphorus boat pier 1 (Small)

Several busses were on the same boat so it was a little crowded but not bad for picture taking.

The boat headed back under the Galata Bridge and into the Bosphorus Straits (which divides Europe from Asia) and north toward the two bridges that span the straits on the way to the Black Sea.

Our tour boat takes us closer to the European Side of the Bosphorus.  There are several ships docked in Istanbul today.  One of the most interesting is the Queen Elizabeth.  Not as big as the QM2 or QE2 but still a magnificent vessel.

Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship (Small)

Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship

We also get a great view of the Mariner of the Seas.

Mariner OTS (Small)

Mariner of the Seas

Once we pass the cruise ships, we are afforded a great view of the European city with the distinctive Galata Tower.

Galata Tower from boat (Small)

European Side and Galata Tower

There are many interesting buildings and mosques along the shoreline as we continue along – I like the second picture below since it contrasts the classical mosque with a new modern structure.

European Side (Small)    Mosque and Modern Building (Small)

One of the most striking buildings on the European side is the Dolmabahçe Palace,  built between 1843 and 1856 by the first Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

The XXXXX Palace (Small)

Dolmabahçe Palace

The next structure along the shore is the large and opulent Four Seasons Hotel, with it’s outdoor eating areas and pools.

Four Seasons Hotel (Small)

Four Seasons Hotel

The Ciragan Palace is another royal building along the European Shore.

Ciragan Palace (Small)

The Ciragan Palace

Two bridges cross the Bosphorus and connect Europe and Asia.  The first one we encounter is the Bosphorus Bridge.

The XXXX Bridge (Small)

The Bosphorus Bridge in the distance

Bosphorus Bridge (Small)

The Bosphorus Bridge

Beyond the Bosphorus Bridge the shoreline contains upscale homes, waterside eateries, and shops (two pictures below).

Where the Rich Folks live (Small) Wealthy homes (Small)

It took a few minutes but we finally got someone to take our picture on the tour boat.  As you can see, the boat was pretty full.

H and E Bosphorus Cruise (Small)

Rumeli Hisari, is a Turkish castle on the European side of the Bosphorus. It was built in 1452 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II for the conquest of Constantinople. The castle is located near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

The XXXX Fortress (Small) The XXXX Fortress 1 (Small)

Rumeli Hisari Castle

After crossing under the second bridge, the boat turned around and sites along the Asian side took center stage.

The guide, in an effort to promote the interfaith identity of Istanbul and Turkey, pointed out a site that contained a synagogue, mosque, and church in very close proximity (below).

Synagogue Mosque and Church together (Small) 

In the center of the Bosphorus is the Maiden’s Tower.  It was originally built around 400 BC and served as a lighthouse for hundreds of years.  The tower is also mentioned in the mythological tale of Hero and Leander (an earlier version of Romeo and Juliet).  It has been modified several times over the years to reinforce the structure.  It is now a popular restaurant.

Momument Mythological (Small)

Maiden’s Tower

The return trip gave us a long view of the many ships docked in Istanbul.  The Mariner OTS was the largest of the ships in the group.

All the Cruise Ships (Small)

After disembarking our tour boat, we walked across the street to the Spice Bazaar.  The Bazaar dates back to the late 16th century (a few renovations since then I’m sure).

E near the Spice Marker (Small)

Ellen in Eminonu Square (near Spice Bazaar)

Eminonu Yeni Camii (new) Mosque 1597 (Small)

Eminonu Yeni Camii (new) Mosque 1597

The Spice Bazaar is a fantastic place – any spice or candy you might need is here.  We were told to be careful about low priced Turkish Taffy (not compatible with the GI system).

The Spice Bazaar (Small) The Spices on Sale (Small)

The Spice Bazaar and the Spices

Ellen did buy some spices and got a photo op with the proprietor.

E and Spice Guy (Small)

While in the Spice Market, Ellen noticed the word “Kosher” on one of the signs.  After going into an alley and up some scary stairs, we found “Levi's Kosher”, a buffer type place serving all kinds of Turkish style kosher food (e.g. kabobs, hamburger steaks, rice, veggies, and chicken).  We told him we would try to come back tomorrow.  There were no customers in the restaurant, not a good sign.

Kosher Restaurant (Small)

Levi’s Kosher Restaurant in Eminomu Square

After returning to the ship, we went looking for the Starbucks we had seen from the bus.  In our previous visits to Istanbul, we were hesitant to venture out off the port (just didn’t look inviting).  This was deceiving because once to get past the ugly port buildings, the street beyond is nice, new, and bustling.  The Starbucks was only a block away.  After trying hard to find out how to log in, I got some some help from a customer, who said everyone was on the same UN and PW.  She gave it to us and soon we were on line on TTNET.  We checked our e-mails and sent some pictures home.  All in all, we spent three hours at the Starbucks (not sure if they appreciated that) – I did buy a Vente Vanilla Mocha Coffee ($6) so I earned some series connect time.  We save the UN and PW for tomorrow.

On Line at Starbucks (Small)

Ellen on line at Starbucks

After returning to the ship, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the boat traffic on the Bosphorus.  It is fascinating – like a highway on the water.

Ship Departing (Small) Ship traffic on the Bosphorus (Small)

We also could see the big three of Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque – from the deck (below)

Hagi Sophia Topkapi Blue Mosque (Small)

After dinner, we took some night time picture of Istanbul.

Blue Mosque area at night (Small) The XXXXX Bridge at night 1 (Small)

The Bosphorus Bridge all lit up

Moon over Istanbul (Small)

Moon over Istanbul – and a planet as well

Since the ship is staying in Istanbul overnight, the show tonight consisted of local musicians and a Folklorico Show.  We gave it a few minutes and then went to the lounges (largely deserted) to read.

Pedometer: 11,164; 5.3 Miles; 546 Calories