Wednesday, October 30, 2013

RHODES, GREECE.......UH OH......I forget this port......So Sue Me!!!!!!

Well, this trip is finally catching up with me!  Somehow, I forgot to post on Rhodes, Greece.  Apparently I was there on October 23rd. I really liked Rhodes too!  The ship docked really close to the main gate into guess what, another walled City!  Boy, back in the old days these coastal cities really needed extra protection.  But, I have learned that Ports were highly valued back then because so much of a country's economy depended on import and export via ships.
Entrance to the walled town.
Sailing into many ruins of castles etc.  The history is incredible!
Again, these incredible arched narrow alleyways....many leading to residential areas and apartments.
As much as I have seen similar still boggles the mind... this mixture of ancient and modern.  The flavor of Europe is incredible.
I was particularly fond of this restaurant that I had lunch at!  The waiter saw my IPad and he gave me a seat at a table with the best internet reception!  This day while having lunch of veal & rice stuffed grapevine leaves....I got a ton of work done!
It was such a lovely garden square and even with the ship in dock, most of the people having lunch here were locals.  Once again....if you go beyond the entrance to any tourist attractions, take a few turns here & there and before you know are rid of the tourists and immersed in more of the real life of where you are.
I still can't get over what you see just by turning a corner!
Just an afternoon of wandering and exploring.  AND letting curiosity take me around new corners!
This was the view from inside out......the water, the arch, the history.  What was fabulous you passed under the arch....took a right and it was a short walk back to the ship.  
More wonderful street scenes.
 AND.....I am still decorating my home away from Rhodes I purchased this tablecloth for my outdoor just makes breakfast outside feel a little more like home!

Hopefully with this post I am back on track with the sequence of my travel. 
Stay tuned for more of this Journey!!!! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kusadasi Port

While in Port after our incredible tour....we had a stop at a Shop where they showed how Turkish Rugs were made.  I thought it was a little hoaky from reviews I read, but in fact, I found it quite interesting.  This lady was demonstrating hand weaving.
This lady was taking the silk pods and extracting the fibers.
These are the pods that were opened and revealed the silk threads which in turn were spun onto the wheel, shown above.  That was all I needed to know.....and I made a discreet exit so I could explore the port!
This and following are some scenes I came across
Fishing boats with their nets on board!
I must say, Kusadasi was a very pretty coastal town and Port.....Actually it is a favorite Resort town for people who live in the area....perhaps like Cape Cod for us in New England.
Of course I found a Cafe in the port.....and after having a beer I decided to turn around and look behind me....voila....that is my Ship behind me.....the Noordam!!!  How cool is that???  I shared a table with a Jamaican gal.....who it turned out to be was one of the Photographers from the ship and also the one who took my picture in Rome when we arrived after an overnight flight .....I told her she really took probably the best shot of me that gruelling morning!!!  So much so that I actually bought the photos!

NOTE:  I left the picture on the ship!!!!  Can't believe I forgot it!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Just a short just occurred to me that I have been focused so much on the incredible sites that I have seen,  that I have gone off track a bit from the Purpose of my Blog...Traveling Alone!!!  Here's the plan.....YES, incredible things have been happening in the "people meeting" arena, some funny stories.....and relationships formed.  I plan to use the time during the crossing when the ports are focus on this aspect of my Blog.  Right now there are just too many wonderful cities, ports and cultures I want to share.  Just a hint.....Traveling Alone is WONDERFUL!!!!!!  Holly

EPHESUS, TURKEY.....Mind Boggling

I have heard in passing prior to this trip that Ephesus was a place NOT to miss.  As I stated before, I am not a huge Ruins fan, but my brother who was there in 1972 insisted that I had to go.  So go I went.  The experience is beyond description!
After leaving the Virgin Mary's House we traveled down the mountain to Ephesus.  Once again Zachery was sharing his vast knowledge.  HAL does pick the cream of the crop to handle their tours
What I found facinating, was that Ephesus (one of the best preserved ancient cities in the Easter Mediterranean) was once a coastal City.  The road we traveled on used to be all Sea, but after thousands of years of natural disasters, earthquakes, disease & erosion, the site is now at least 5 miles from the sea.

I was not prepared for what I saw.  Once we entered the site words are difficult to find to describe what I saw.  I will let the pictures and my brief description tell the story!!!

Pharmacy....This was basically a sign for the pharmacy.  It was located directly across the road from the Hospital shown below.
They were able to identify the building to the left of this sign as the Hospital from the artifacts that they found during the dig.  There were many medical items including surgical tools and other things that signified that it was a hospital.  Not much different than from today, you go to the doctor/hospital, then across the street to fill your "prescription".  
These ruins continued along the main avenue.
This was where the boutiques were located....a number of shops with the mosaic walkway fronting the buildings.  Zach said it was the equivalent of Rodeo Drive or any major high end retail street found around the world.
They are still working on uncovering and restoring the mosaics.  These are teeny marble stones.  It blows the mind at what painstakingly difficult and tedious work this is!
This is a view looking down the main road/avenue leading eventually to the library.  What has not been uncovered yet up the hill on either side of the main road are the residential buildings that line street above the shops and main businesses.
All these sites along the main road depicted monuments, and significant structures.  Of course my memory fails me....there was so much information that I chose to just listen in amazement, then when I get home I will have a lot of Winter Reading to do to put what I saw and learned in order.  I see a serious update to this blog or a sequel to get all the facts right!
This was the public communal latrines.  Apparently the men would meet there and talk politics while doing their "business"!
This is the library at the end of the main avenue.  It's facade, restored, is impressive, however the inside of the structure was minimal since many of the residents did not was mainly for a statement of grandeur.
Through some arches next to the library is the Agora....the Market place aka a farmer's market where vendors would sell fresh fruit & vegetables and whatever other wares they had to sell.

A closer view of the library facade.  I apologize for the picture arrangement, but at exorbitant internet prices, perfection is not my priority right now!
On the way out of the city, you see the was huge.

According to our guide, only 30% of the City has been restored.  He said at least 300 more years before restoration is complete.  I sent my brother pictures and he said it was quite different from 40 years ago.  It is hard to imagine the painstakingly difficult job such a major restoration is.  The site is manned by archaeology students, archaeologists and volunteers.

Also throughout the city were a brothel and a theater.  So we will never see the completed project in our lefetimes and hopefully no other disaster between now and completion will undo all the work that has been done.

Next I will have a post showing the Port of Kusadasi....which turned out to be quite fun & interesting!
See you in Port!!!

KUSADASI, TURKEY.....Home of The Virgin Mary's House & Ephesus

The Ship's Berth in Kusadasi, once again, was fairly convenient.  My tour to the House of the Virgin Mary and Ephesus left around 8:45 a.m. & lasted for 4-1/2 hours.  Our guide, Zachery, was Turkish and Christian and a history teacher for High School students.  As we traveled up the mountain to the House of the Virgin Mary, he focused on the Christian religious history.  On the way up the mountain we stopped to see this statue of Mary.
Once we reached the site, we walked up to where the house was.  The park like surroundings were very lush & beautiful.  The house was tiny and very simple.  The house is considered a sacred place by all and before entering a Turkish guard was on duty to remind visitors to be silent while inside and NO pictures.  Inside was simple as well.  As you entered there was a picture of Mary to your left and ahead was an altar with simple momentos.  Something magical happened while I was inside, at least to me.  I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, so much so that it brought tears.  Other people seemed to be experiencing similar feelings.
Once outside the house there was a candle lighting area....I had two candles that I lit for a very special friend.  The feeling of peace remained.
This was a small statue & description that was along the park walkway.
A wishing wall where many people were leaving handwritten wishes on scraps of paper.  Of course I forgot my pen and notebook so my wish was a whispered one that I made to the wall.
This was at the appeared to be a water sistern.

I have a picture somewhere of the people collecting water from several taps built into a wall.  It is believed to be Holy Water from a spring within the mountain.  At some point I will find that picture and include it here.

After we left Mary's House, we headed down the mountain and proceeded to Ephesus.  Overall, I am so glad I picked this tour and really appreciated having the wonderful guide Zach!
See you in Ephesus!!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

AN UPGRADE of MY ATHENS impressions.....found the Plaka!

Well, I finally found The Plaka in Athens ....and it was much more to my liking.  Quaint and residential with tons of restaurants and locals.  Found one with WIFI & enjoyed the company of the MaĆ®tre  De, Antonios!

The Plaka has the charm I was missing in Athens.  After a short walk around, I found a Greek restaurant ...Ithaki, and had a really nice Greek salad & glass of wine.  
The waiter, or as he said, Maitre De, was interested in my Blog....gave me his email to send him the link to my blog...and I will link the restaurant.

He was kind enough to take my picture while I ate yet another Greek Salad!

 A Church undergoing repairs in a huge Plaza in Plaka!
 More of the Plaza!
 A Greek famous religious figure, I suppose!
Another Church!

I am so thrilled that I finally found the Plaka on my second day in Athens after staying in the wonderful and luxurious Hotel Grande Bretagne.  Obviously, this area has changed my opinion of Athens......just a few streets away from Constitution Square, I found my little area of peace, local people and the cafes I so adore. I was in Kusadasi, Turkey....and I am not sure how I am going to pare down the photos I took of The Virgin Mary's House on the Mountain and especially Ephesus....If you want to talk mind boggling.....I experienced it today....that post will probably come on October 24 when we have a day at I will have the time to do it proper justice.

Tomorrow, I will be in Rhodes, Greece......Okay Okay....I will once again fall behind....since I will not have the free computer service of the Hotel Grande Bretagne....but I will try to find (which I am getting pretty good at) free WIFI in Rhodes.  IF ONLY HAL had given me free internet on board.....I would have done myself, you and HAL a lot more justice with this blog.....but as they say....C'est La Vie!!!!

I can add right far this has been the most informative, picturesque and incredible I said in the beginning.....the adventure of a lifetime!  And I am so happy to be able to share it with all of you who have taken the time to look at my Blog!  Thank you everyone!

I have decided that during the last 7 days I will be at sea enroute to Florida.....I will share my "people" encounters (if I can keep them all straight, I have taken notes") and finally analyzing what it is like to be a solo traveler.  HINT....Not as difficult as I was anticipating!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ATHENS, GREECE.........a little disappointed!

Well, here we are in Athens, Greece.....Jeff & I walked from the Port to the first Metro station which took longer than I liked.  I had a small overnight bag on wheels....since I was staying at the Grande Bretagne Hotel overnight.  Then of course, the Metro was another 20 minutes....but it did leave us off on Constitution Square, right in front of the Hotel.
I checked into this rather lovely room.....freshened up and went out to explore.  Jeff spent a week in this Hotel with our Dad back in 1972 and he wanted to see what had changed.  First impression was the air in Athens was "cleaner", the hotel fancier.....but, he was 9 years old at the time....his interests were very different back then.
This was impressive at the hotel, the rooftop pool area...... I didn't bring a bathing suit....but it was a nice view and looked relaxing.  Jeff & I got a beer and who do we run into????  Our cousin Barbara from talk about coincidences.  We planned to meet for dinner that evening!
Just strolling through Greece.....Jeff was able to identify landmarks etc....I believe this was a University.
We walked forever and believe it or not, we could not find a restaurant for some Greek lunch!!!!  There were plenty of cafes, but for coffee & pastry.....FINALLY I found this place where we were able to get a sandwich and a glass of wine.  
The entrance to the Grande Hotel Bretagne!  
The view from the Roof Top Garden Restaurant at the Grande Bretagne....that is the Acropolis along the skyline!
We sat here for cocktails before dinner.....glorious views all around!
Again a view from the restaurant!
My impressions of Athens.......I was not impressed.  Perhaps if I had gone to visit the Acropolis...but like I said.....ruins are not necessarily my thing....and I was disappointed by the lack of restaurants....perhaps I was in the wrong area....but it was very crowded, very noisy....kind of like a Greek NYC!!!  I love NYC and I know it well.....but even Manhattan and noise get to you eventually!
Would I go back......perhaps enroute to somewhere else, but I think not.  I can't forget the charm and ambiance of the other places I have visited so Athens will have to take a back seat!!!
After dinner last night I said Good-bye to Jeff ....he went back to the ship and disembarked this morning....he has a treacherous flight back to Hartford, CT....but he should be at the lake tonight around 8 pm.....EST  I am on my own now for the next 26 days.  I think my time with Jeff got my feet wet for this SOLO Travel experience.....!!!!!
One thing I do like about Athens is Free Internet in the Business Center of the Hotel....this has been wonderful not worrying about how much my blog work is costing!
I am going back to the Ship shortly.....will be in Athens on board overnight then sail on tomorrow at 4:30 pm  and I am not sure where!!!! 
Tomorrow's Monday, It Must Be Belgium.......oh no, Thursday is Belgium.....Uh, I'm NOT going to Belgium......when I get back on the ship I'll let ya know!!!

Back on the ship......Tuesday I will be in Ephesus, Turkey.....also, tomorrow I will upgrade my impressions of Athens.....I found the Plaka.....very different....very nice!!!!