Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015 – Kusadasi, Turkey – Partly Cloudy – mid 80s

It’s a beautiful day in Kusadasi, Turkey…

Port Briefing.  We are one of 650 ships that visit this resort city every year.  The name of the city comes from 'kuş' (bird) and 'ada' (island) because an offshore island near the city has the shape of a bird.  The island is now connected to the mainland by a walkable causeway.  There is not much on the island except for some recent ruins.  Kusadasi has a population of about 70,000 living in the city proper and another 20,000 in the surrounding areas. 

Ellen is on tour today doing a bus tour of Ephesus and Surrounding areas while I plan to walk the city and put some steps on my pedometer.

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Queen Victoria and Rhapsody OTS Docked Today

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The Eponymous Bird Island

Right across from the port is the Moorish style Kervansaray Hotel.  I’ve never been inside but it is definitely an imposing structure.

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My walk today will take me along the beachfront and into the city. 

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Ataturk Hill and Statue from the Boardwalk

I have seen the monument below several times but this time I stopped to take a closer look.  It depicts Ataturk and two children and the inscription reads: ''Yurtta Sulh Cihanda Sulh'' (which translates as ''Peace at Home, Peace in the World'').  I wonder how that is working out.

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Ataturk Peace Statue

While I am pounding Kusadasi’s pavement, Ellen is on an A/C bus touring the countryside.  He bus just skirted Ephesus so no real good pictures of the popular site.

However, the tour did stop at St. John’s Basilica.  Built by Justinian I in the 6th Century, the structure marks the burial spot of St. John, the Apostle.

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The Basilica of St. John

The bus also passed by the Temple of Athena (below).

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Farmers Tending Their Flocks

Another significant stop is the House of St. Mary, the structure that Mary stayed at when she fled to Turkey after the crucifixion. 

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Ellen’s tour also stopped at a silkworm factory for a demonstration on the spinning of silk.

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Silkworm and Silk Factory

Ellen and I met up again on the ship and decided to take another walk through the town.  I also was able to see silkworms in action at a local store.

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Back to the ship for dinner and the night’s entertainment, which, since I am writing this is November, I do not remember.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015 – Rhodes, Greece – Sunny, Warm – 80s

An almost perfect day in Rhodes, Greece.  


Rhodes Town, as always, looks great from the deck of the ship.

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Rhodes Town from the Ship

We are not planning to walk into Rhodes Town today (we have done this several times).  Instead, we are both on tour today – “The Acropolis of Lindos”.  The tour involves a bus ride along the Southeastern coast of Rhodes to the the town of Lindros.

The tour started off in the parking lot adjacent to the pier and proceeded along the road bordering the harbor.  We passed the “Dolphin Statue” which sits ride on the beach.

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Rhodes Harbor and Dolphin Statue

The bus also passed by the purported site of the Colossus of Rhodes – a Wonder of the Ancient World.  The Colossus was thought to straddle the harbor entrance but that has been disputed.  Two non-colossal deer now stand at both sides of the harbor entrance.

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Entrance to Rhodes Harbor

Just outside of Rhodes (about 3 Km) sits the highest point in Rhodes, the Acropolis.  The Acropolis dates to the Fifth Century BC.  The bus stopped across the road from the Acropolis and passengers who wanted to get a closer look could walk over to the site.  Our stay was short so we walked partway to a point where we could get a picture of the Temple of Apollo.

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Acropolis of Rhodes – Temple of Apollo

A photo stop gave us a marvelous view of the Southwest coast of Rhodes and the Trianta Bay.

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Trianta Bay

The bus descended down to sea level giving us a nice view of the beautiful beaches of Rhodes.  Not too many people out here today despite the wonderful weather.

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Our route then took us across the island to the Eastern side of Rhodes.  Our first stop on the way to Lindos was St. Paul’s Bay.  It is believed that the Apostle Paul landed here in a storm in 51 AD to spread religion to the inhabitants.


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St. Paul’s Bay

St. Paul’s Bay is very close to the town on Lindos and our next stop.  The city of Lindos (population 3,600) consists of the typical Greek whitewashed building but the spectacular Acropolis of Lindos is why we are here.  Our tour will not take us up to the Acropolis but the bus stopped at various locations giving us great views of nearly all sides of the structure.

The Acropolis is home to several temples (Greek and Roman) and also was the Castle of the Knights of St. John (Roman Catholic Military Order similar to the Knights Templar).



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Above – Various Views of Lindos and Acropolis

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Yes, We Were Here

From Lindos, the bus drove North along the Eastern shore of Rhodes for several miles before stopping for a photo opportunity – Anthony Quinn Bay.  The bay got its name from the famous Mexican actor and Greek character player, Anthony Quinn.  When the actor was here filming “The Guns of Navaronne”, he fell in love with the area and vowed to return and set up a retreat for artists and actors in the area of the bay.  The land was “gifted” to Quinn (for a symbolic sum) but the government annulled the deal (even though Quinn had paid for roads and water distribution),  As recently as 2011, his widow was trying to get that land back.  In any event, it is a very picturesque area.


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Anthony Quinn Bay

Before we headed back to Rhodes Town, I caught a glimpse of a less than colossal Colossus of Rhodes guarding a store. 

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Re-Imagining the Colossus of Rhodes

Our return route took along the Eastern shore of the island and even afforded a view of Turkey in the distance.

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Turkey across the Water

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As we got closer, we got a very nice view of Queen Victoria docked in Rhodes Town.

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Queen Victoria Docked

Once onboard, it was unwind time from a long but nice tour of the island.  A good place to do that would be the Winter Garden Lounge.

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Ellen Chillin’ in the Winter Garden

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 – Heraklion, Greece – Sunny – Warm - 90F

Port Information.  Heraklion is the largest city and capital of the Island of Crete, Greece.  The city has a population of about 174,000 people.  Heraklion gets its name from the Roman port of Herculaneum (City of Hercules).  The Palace of Knossos is the largest Bronze age archeological site on the island and may be the oldest city in Europe.  The palace is the mythological home of King Minos (e.g. the Minoan Civilization).  He is responsible for the construction of the Labyrinth, a maze of caves meant to confine his son, the formidable Minotaur.  This is the inaugural visit to Heraklion for Queen Victoria. 

It is a very warm day in Heraklion.

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Heraklion From the Ship

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Turkey in the Distance

The airport must have been quite close as we were able to see several aircraft taking off over the ship.

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This is the first time that Queen Victoria has visited this particular port.  Heraklion, showing its appreciation and hoping that we return, put together a little ceremony marking the occasion.  A band and tent, maybe a few dignitaries, marked our maiden stop.  The Commodore, himself, attended.

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Festivities and Commodore Returning to the Ship

We are both on tour today to visit “The Ancient City of Knossos”.  Knossos has a significant place in Greek Mythology as it is thought to be the city ruled by King Minos of Minotaur fame.  Some believe it to be the oldest city in Europe.

The bus had good A/C and the guide was pretty understandable.

We saw a number of interesting sights along the way to Knossos.  The first was the Venetian Fortress of Rocca al Mare.  This fortress dates from the first half of the 16th Century and was designed to protect the inner harbor of the port city.


Venetian Fortress

Also visible among the newer buildings in the port area were medieval walls of the old city.

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Medieval Walls

We also got a squinty view of Queen Victoria through the many masts of boats in the Marina.

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Once we arrived at Knossos, things became a little more hectic.  There were several tours visiting at the same time and it was very difficult to keep my group together and hear what the guide was saying (no Whisper Sets).  So with the exception of the Palace of Minos, I was not able to determine what most of the sights were.

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Tour Group 17 – Trying to Stay Together

Palace of Minos

Palace of Minos

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South Propylaeum (South Entrance to the Palace of Minos)

Near the entrance was the Fresco of the Procession.  The Minoans had a technique of coloring the frescos while the plaster was wet.  This allowed the plant color to soak in and last for centuries.  In Minoan art, men are always painted red and women white.

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“Bull Leaping” Fresco (1500-1700 BC)


“The Ladies of the Court”

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Mosaic Floor

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Throne Room at the Palace of Knossos

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Above Series (Knossos)

As it turned out, we didn’t lose anyone. 

The tour then left Knossos and headed back to Heraklion, where we would have some free time.  Ellen and I were able to rendezvous in the town so we could walk and see some of Heraklion’s shops and restaurants.  We did find a nice gelato place which took some of the bite out of the heat.

We did come across a fascinating fountain in Lion’s Square called the Morosini Fountain.  It was a well preserved structure from the Venetian Era.

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A long but interesting day of touring.