Thursday, May 24, 2012

Princess - Ship Food - Volume 1

May 2012 - This is volume one of the food review.

This is what we ate, in addition to the buffet food. And in addition to the little cafe with coffee and pastries.  I neglected to take the piles of food that we enjoyed when we went to the buffet.  Most of these meals we had at the any time dining at the Michelangelo Restaurant.

These little delights went along with the wine tasting that was a special event.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Venice (Italy) - Guidecca Canal at Water Level

I took these to give a different perspective. Water level vs 15 stories high.  I hope that you recognize the buildings from earlier posts.  These views are all of the buildings on the Dorsoduro side of the canal.  See if you can recall. I will post the answers at the end.

Venice (Italy) - Giudecca (Laguna Tour)

We started the Lagoon Tour by going on the Giudecca Canal the reverse route that we used to make our Grand Sail-In.  The posts on the sail-in focused on the Dorsoduro side of the canal so as we make the make the turn out of the main stream and in to the lagoon, we can now see Giucecca, the island.

Venice (Italy) - The Crown Princess docks

We turn at the end of the island and prepare to dock.  It is amazing to watch them dock the ship.

Venice (Italy) - Dorsoduro - Sacca Fisola

We are near the docks as we sail to the end of Dorsoduro.  The map shows this long building as warehousing.

Venice (Italy) - Dorsoduro - Wide walkways and Zippy Boats

The wide walkways make this section of Dorsoduro a great strolling area. We are now looking at Fondamenta Zattere Al Ponte Lungo.  "The Zattere", with all of its different street names, is a recognized pedestrian section of Venice with its wide walkways.

Venice (Italy) - Dorsoduro Salt Warehouses and Church of the Gesuati

"A particularly calm and beautiful part of the city that enjoys wonderful views, this area has always been favored by wealthy foreigners when staying in Venice. However, when the heart of Venice was at Rialto, this area was rather out of the way and became the site of numerous religious foundations and public buildings; those large warehouses and vast convent and hospital structures are still awaiting reconversion to more functional uses."

This photo was taken as we moved past the large church Santa Maria della Salute and continued our exploration of the section (sestiere) of Venice, Dorsoduro as we enjoy our grand "sail in" to Venice. Keep in mind that deep tones of the Italian singer floats through the air as we take in our first views of this port.

Venice (Italy) - Dorsoduro - Punta della Dogana and Santa Maria della Salute

Our grand entry in to Venice continued past the section named "Dorsoduro".  We are traveling on the Giudecca Canal.  The canal that we see on the right side of the photo is one end of the long winding Grand Canal. The section of Venice to the right is San Marco, and on the left is Dorsoduro.

Venice (Italy) - San Marco Gondolas and the Grand Canal

The first building on the right is the Hotel Metropole.  We talked about this hotel at the end of the previous post. The next building is a church and the tan building is Locanda Vivaldi Hotel.  Vivaldi?  Yes!  More about that hotel in this post.

Venice (Italy) - Castello Bridges and Boats

We sailed past the Castello sestieri (a municipal district) of Venice.  It is the largest of the six sections of Venice and was built around a yard shipyard (on the other side and out of our view).

Venice (Italy) - First Canals

TEXT is not finished. I'm posting the photos only.

Venice (Italy) - Enter the Lagoon

The Captain announced that we were entering the waters around Venice and told everyone that they really should find a place along the walkways as the "Sail In to Venice" is one of the grandest sail-ins of all.  I went to the 15th deck and squeezed my way around the railings until I found a tiny spot at the front of the ship.  Perfect!

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)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day at Sea - Relaxation day

5/22/2012 - Day at sea.  Finally a chance to sleep in, rest, and chat about all that we had seen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

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) - Sail Away

5/21/2012  The visit was yet another delightful sampling of a piece of culture that I have not explored. I liked Greece and will keep Athens on my list of places to visit because I would like to spend more time exploring the Acropolis. I'd like to see it lit at night, and I'd like to sit on a patio of one of the hotels and have dinner in sight of the Acropolis.  All in due time.  Here is our cute little tug boat, ready to help us depart.

Athens (Greece) - Return to the Ship

5/21/2012 - It has been a long day and we certainly have seen a lot of beautiful, new, and amazing sights. Some things were the same, some things were different.  All in all, well worth the trip.

Athens (Greece) - Transportation

5/21/2012 - I think that would be easy to move around Athens and see all of the sights on your own.  I talked about this with my friend Lisa F. and she agreed.  She has spent a few days in Athens on her own while waiting to connect with friends. She said that she was never concerned for her safety and was able to get to the museums and spots that she wanted to see easily.

The ground level trams zip around throughout the city.

Athens (Greece) - What is sold in a kiosk?

5/21/2012 - This mini-stores, kiosks, on the streets always intrigue me and I strain to see what they are selling.

Athens (Greece) – Misbehaving Statues

The tour continued to show us the sights of Athens. 
The department stores lined the street and looked much like the stores seen in a city in the States. 

Athens (Greece) - Hotel Grande Bretagne

Our mid-tour snack took us to Hotel Grande Bretagne.  I was surprised to see the elegance but shouldn't have been because Princess has selected grand places for our lunches and snacks on all tours so far.  This post is fairly long because I have a lot of photographs from inside the hotel that I want to show you and I didn't want to break this into multiple posts.  

Athens (Greece) - Outdoor Market

5/21/2012 The bus was returning to the ship, zipping through the city streets. I had been taken photos of the general area, like the ones shown in the previous post.  What a surprise when we suddenly came upon this very colorful outdoor street market.  It looks like you could buy anything here, from large pots for the kitchen, to clothes, and more.  Take your time on these and click on the photos to make them larger.

Athens - Costas Varotsos - Dromeas aka "The Runner"

The bus tour continued through Athens.  What a pleasant surprise!  Read on...

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) - Hellenic Parliament and Evzones

5/21/2012 - We drove past, or through (not really sure as my photos are so blurry I can't display them here) the National Gardens of Athens.  It is a huge park in the middle of the city.  It is the green backdrop to most photos in the Athens posts.  At the northwest corner of the gardens stands a royal building.

Athens (Greece) – Acropolis of Athens

5/21/2012 We are finally on our way to get a closer view of the Acropolis.

Athens (Greece) – Street Scenes on way to Acropolis

5/21/2012 We drove to an area of town that appeared to be a lower rent district.  The buildings were slightly disheveled.

Athens (Greece) - Daily Street Scenes

5/21/2012 - We continued the drive through the city.  This length shows the city in what looks like an average suburban area.  The small cars seem to squeeze into that last tight space before the curb ends.  The gas station looks typical.  A construction crew is at work, but there are not a lot of people out and about today.  There are some deteriorating buildings, and sidewalks.  I did spot one man and I don't know if he is waiting to cross the street, for a bus, or to sell something.

Athens (Greece) - Drive from Pireas to Athens

5/21/2012 The bus left Pireas and drove a direct route in to Athens.  I am very excited to see some of the great sights in Athens.  My eyes were constantly scanning the surrounding areas for my first site of the Acropolis.

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.