Saturday, May 26, 2012

Venice, Italy - Grand Sail-In

We had stopped at many ports prior to coming to Venice, but nothing compares to the beauty of the sail-in here.  Passengers were lining every outside rail for a chance to see Venice from a unique and high perspective.  I was on the 15th deck at the front of the ship.  Italian opera was playing on the loud speakers and it was beautiful.

This map should give you a good idea on our path as we made our way to our berth. (google maps)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Athens - Panathenaic Stadium

In honor of the Olympics, I am posting my photos from the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. The remains of the ancient Greek stadium, it was refurbished in time for the 1896 Olympics and hosted the first of the modern day Olympic games.

Athens, Greece

We pulled in to Athens on an overcast day with mild temperatures. Perfect for touring!  The port of Piraeus is a very short distance from Athens.
The port not only holds the cruise ships but the smaller fishing boats as well.

This is my first view of the Acropolis after we entered Athens.  

The Athens temple.

The marble Olympic Stadium was built in 1895.  Totally made from local marble, a relatively inexpensive building material!

Syntagma or Constitution Square is an elegant space in front of the Parliament.  This is the gathering place of protesters.  It was originally built as a home for the Greek kings, and also hosts the monument to the Uknown Soldier.

We stopped for a coffee break at a palace-now-hotel.  We liked the coffee and snacks, especially the pistachio cookies.

A typical street in Athens.  You used to be able to see the Acropolis from every where in the city until the housing boom set in and multiple storied apartments were built.

A good view of the (under renovation) Acropolis.

This is a store on the low budget market street. It looks like they sell everything that you would need.

We stopped at an official store approved by the cruise lines.  Many nice things at a reasonable price such as jewelry, reproductions of statues, ceramics.  I would recommend going to Athens; we felt safe and the city was clean.

Pireas (Greece) - Port City Views

5/21/2012 - We left Kusadasi, Turkey and sailed across the Aegean Sea, through a few islands, and docked at Pireas, Greece, the port for Athens.  The coastline is lined with docks for large cruise ships, ferries to other islands, and huge shipping vessels.  Of course, the sleepy Greek fishing village (little) portion is my favorite view.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kuşadası (Turkey) - Shopping on the Dock

Our bus returned to the ship after an adventurous afternoon exploring the area around Kusadasi.  I found my "local Starbucks".

There were a few cafes on the pier.  This is looking back towards the main part of Kusadasi.
We saw this little shop and went crazy buying Turkish products.  We bought several boxes of Turkish Delight in fruity flavors.
This was a smart idea.  The passengers were dropped off and could walk through this little shopping area for some "one more thing" shopping before boarding.  Can you see the Starbucks sign at the end of the walkway?
A lot of the items that we had seen during our tours were available.
A very pretty backgammon board, plus those lamps that I liked so much.
Very pretty and colorful.
There was quite a variety of items to buy, but we were able to walk past these.
Only to get caught in another Food store. I bought one of the baskets with apricots, nuts and other fruits. Everything tasted very good.  I have since found dried Turkish apricots in Costco and I'm a big fan.  You can also seasonally buy the dried figs.
Interesting sign that was in the terminal building as we made our way to the ship.
A little map to show where we were. We will now head across the sea to tour Athens.

Selcuk (Turkey) - Storks

5/20/2012 There were several nests throughout the town.  I am going to put all of the nest photos in one blog post.  This nest had two little white heads peeping up.  Baby Storks!  So cute. Everyone on the bus moved to the one side to be able to see this nest.  "There are many more," said the tour guide.

The birds found nests throughout the city, on top of a variety of high places.
 The storks are the messengers for the beginning of summer.  This one is standing on an ancient ruin.

 One story mentions that remaining parts of the aquaduct that ran through town provide high platforms that the storks love for nests.  A closer look at these structures make me think that these are the aquaduct remains.

We all continued to move from one side of the bus to the other trying to see the birds.  It was fun to see them.

This map is for reference and shows the location of Kusadasi, Turkey.  Selcuk is in this general area.

Selcuk (Turkey) - Turkish Baths and Medieval Grand Fortress

We continued on our way through Selcuk and the surrounding area.  This man was out for a walk and stopped to take a rest.  Very nice wall, fields and flowers lining the pedestrian walkway.

Selcuk (Turkey) - City Tour and First Time Views

Our tour bus returned to the main road and we headed towards Selcuk, a major city in this area.

Ephesus (Turkey) - Statue of Mary

We drove past our view of Ephesus and up the mountain road.  The driver pulled over so that we could take photos of the statue of Mary.  Mary spent the end of her life in Ephesus (Efes).

This is a close-up view of the head.
 Her hands.
 The folds of her gown.
 This is the full view of the statue on the pedestal.
 This is the dedication plaque for the statue.  The organization "The American Society of Ephesus" is based in Lima, Ohio.  Click for their website.
 Mary gazes out at the valley below. I don't know if her view or orientation is significant, but this is what she "sees".
 We were able to spend a few minutes at the statue and then the bus turned around and went back down the hill.  I saw these stores at the bottom.  Normal souvenirs were sold here.
 I thought that the sign was funny.  Truth in can buy advertised Fake Watches here!
We continue our drive in to the city of Selcuk and the museum.

This map is for reference and shows the location of Kusadasi, Turkey.  Ephesus is in this general area.

Kuşadası (Turkey) - Delta Road to Selcuk

We headed east away from the coast through an area that used to be an inlet.  The tour guide said that Ephesus was a coastal city. The sea has been filled in long ago by silt.  But that is not the only story...

This map will help you to see where we are. We are following the yellow arrows.

One story for Ephesus is that it was a coastal city. You can see from the map that it is not a coastal city today.  I researched this topic and found some interesting maps on a website. The writers had the same questions and did a very nice job presenting an answer.  Thank you to AOI.COM The website is here.   I've borrowed a few of the map illustrations.

This map shows the layout of the town today. Ephesus is just left of the red balloon at Selcuk.

The blue area shows the water if the sea level was 4 meters higher.  This puts Ephesus on the coast.

Another story is that a river flowed through the valley, and that silt filled the river and removed the coastal access.  What do you think?

On with the tour!

As we drove through the valley we saw ranches.
There were a lot of fruit trees and fields planted with vegetables.

The Baggio Rossini Leather store is along the main road.  This is the description of their business from the website.  They also have a Facebook page!  We drove past and didn't stop in the store.
We are a leather manufacturer based in Izmir, Istanbul Turkey and we specialize in tailor-made and mass manufacturing of leather apparel like coats, overcoats and jackets. We have been exporting to all corners of the world since 1998 and we have retail presence in Ukraine, Russia and Egypt in addition to several domestic retail locations in Turkey We are looking for retail and wholesale opportunities in Europe. We would like to work with well-known retailers either by exporting our goods, opening a corner store or opening a brand new leather boutique in partnership with the domestic retailer. Our vision is to sell leather apparel at reasonable prices in mass quantities and we are looking for partners to accomplish this.
This is a busy intersection. The wild flowers were in bloom.
Views of the surrounding mountains.  We had a very pretty sky today, with fluffy white clouds and peeks of blue.
Here is a gas station. I like to check out how this common facility is organized, and it is very similar to what we have in the US.  Can I now read Turkish?  The sign says "Oto Gaz".  Auto Gas!
This building is under construction.  I thought it was interesting that three of the four stairs were solid, but the one of the left isn't filled in underneath.
This is quite a self sufficient building.  Look closely and you will see a cell phone tower, water on the roof, and a satellite dish.  Is that a set of solar panels?
Look!  The lower left side of the photo shows the stadium seating of Ephesus.  These stadiums were normally along the sea.
This is a closeup of the stadium.
I wonder if this is the Grotto of St. Paul.  The grotto is not open to the public, and it contained early Christian frescoes and inscriptions.  I'm not sure and I am guessing.

A lot of the tourist destination signs in the area are in English.

I get very excited about any few blocks that look old. This is probably just an recent old foundation.
The fields.
There is an airport for Ephesus (Efes).

Our traveling continues...

This map is for reference and shows the location of Kusadasi, Turkey.