September - October 2019
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  • Day35

    Athens to Doha

    October 15 in Qatar ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    After a hairy trip to the airport (local taxi driver who thought a 60km speed limit meant no worries.. Go 130!!😲) boarded our flight to Doha. Fairly rough landing.. But now we wait for a couple of hours till the long haul home.❤️

  • Day34

    Athens again

    October 14 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Disembarked in Athens.. Our cruise director made an observation that stuck with me, having been to several countries that are in constant conflict with their neighbours and within their own borders.. On board we had 900 passengers from 33 different countries, with crew of about 450 from 30 different countries.. all living together in peace and harmony for a week. With a bit of tolerance and understanding it's amazing what can happen.

    On our last day in Athens we went to see the Changing of the Guardians, which happens on the hour, every hour at Parliament House, and also at the home of the President. Quite hard to keep a straight face... Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks came to mind 😂
    We also visited the Olympic stadium where the first modern Olympic Games was held in 1896 (the ancient stadium is in Olympia.. about 2.5 hours drive from here).. Wandered through the Botanic Gardens and ambled through the backstreets, stopping for a traditional moussaka and local wine.. to end up at Mars Hill, where we sat and soaked up the view until sunset ❤️
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  • Day33

    Kusadasi

    October 13 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Kusadasi.. Since we'd been here with our tour group last week and explored ancient Ephesus already, we decided to do our own tour today of the port instead. We visited a 17th century Castle from the Ottoman Empire, which was used as a resting inn for travellers on the silk road.. also the sea fortress which we'd seen from our hotel last week but hadn't had time to visit. An unexpected surprise inside was a huge whale skeleton which had been washed up in the 1990's.😲
    After running the gauntlet of the local bazaar and coming out unscathed we enjoyed a local Apple tea, and spent a lazy afternoon watching the local fishermen, before setting sail late afternoon to head back to Athens.
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  • Day32

    Heraklion, Crete

    October 12 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Our ship arrived at 7am at Heraklion, capital of Crete. First stop was Knossos palace (5km from the port), the ruins of a Minoan palace, built in 2000BC. This is one of 4 Minoan palaces that have been uncovered in Crete so far, from the Bronze Age. Around 1700BC a series of earthquakes destroyed most of the palaces but they were rebuilt. The ruins we saw are dated from this second rebuild. Around 1450BC Santorini volcano erupted and Crete was affected by the resulting tsunamis that reached the North coast, destroying their ships which annihilated the Minoan economy.
    The first excavation here began in 1878, and it's still an active archaeological site with more things being uncovered. The palace was a labyrinthine series of 1400 rooms for the royal family, priests etc. It was built as a labyrinth to be a refuge for the minotaur (said to be the product of the daughter of the king and a white bull she fell in love with, according to mythology, which was hunted, then eventually killed by Theseus). Most stone is white gypsum stone, locally occurring (also known as alabaster)
    The red columns we saw in concrete are reconstructed.. (the original columns were cypress) Typical Minoan columns look upside down.. slightly narrower at the base and wider at the top.
    Original Fresco paintings using natural pigments have mostly been moved to the museum, but some have been reproduced here.
    We saw the oldest throne in Europe, and the oldest continual flushing toilet!😲
    The original drinking supply was natural Springs which are still the major water source for Heraklion today
    150,000 tonnes of olive oil are exported from Crete annually. This is their main export, and also 95,000 tonnes of wine.
    .. Back to City centre to the archaeological museum to see the jewellery, pottery, frescoes etc that were found at the palace of Knossos and the 3 other Minoan palaces. The museum is built on top of a Venetian monastery from 15th century, the Venetians controlled Crete from 1204-1669AD and there are remains of many buildings , castles and City walls from this era The Turks took over and held control of Crete from 1669-1898 After that it was a separate state until 1913 when it became part of Greece again.
    We walked the city of Heraklion, including the Venetian sea fortress.
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  • Day31

    Santorini

    October 11 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Another day at Santorini. We choose not to do any shore excursions but relaxed and watched the spectacular scenery. At night..the captain's cocktail party 😊🥂

  • Day30

    Santorini

    October 10 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We got up early so we could see the ship arriving at Santorini, which is a complex of 5 islands. The main one we visited today has 25000 residents,
    3 are uninhabited with dark lava at the base and white pumice at the top.(One of these is an active volcano..last activity in 1950)
    The other island is called Little Santorini and has 300 inhabitants.
    Santorini is a caldera.. (which our guide defined as the area of land and sea created around a volcanic crater after an eruption) . Originally Santorini was circular but after the volcano exploded around 1650BC the centre sank leaving a ring of islands.
    The ash layer crater created an excellent building material that when mixed with lime becomes very strong. This was mined and used in building the Suez canal, the Port of Alexandria among other things.
    Our first stop was the tiny town of Megalochori, a village of 500 people, famous for its clocktowers and pistachio trees.. all the homes have heavy wooden doors originally for safety against pirates.
    As we drove through the countryside our guide told us Santorini has over 600 churches.. most of them family owned. Most locals own their own family church
    70% of the island's agriculture comes from grape vines.. they don't get watered, just absorb water at night, and are pruned low to the ground in a basket shape to protect the grapes from the high winds. They also have fava beans, pistachio, fig, olives.
    Santorini has no rivers or lakes, so they only use rain water, but have very little rainfall, water is imported from Crete.
    Next stop was Oia- the most picturesque village in Santorini. It was the first major port till after the 1956 earthquake. We wandered the cute streets for a couple of hours. Then headed to Fira, the capital (as opposed to Thira, the official name of the island)
    Trev and I decided to brave the local buses and find our way to the other side of the island to Perissa, a beach with black volcanic sands. It was novel.. but it's not like our Aussie beaches 😊 Worth the trip though to meet some locals and see the non touristy bits of the island.
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  • Day29

    Milos

    October 9 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    We woke this morning as our ship departed Mykonos, so enjoyed the morning at sea cruising past lots of islands some uninhabited, some quite large . We got to Milos at lunch time, but this time we couldn't dock as it was a smaller port, so we tested the lifeboats to get to shore 😊 We chose the amazing beaches tour.. First stop was Sarakiniko beach.. Not really a beach but stunning white stone cliffs formed by volcanic activity, with crystal clear water.. Very beautiful. The second beach was Paliochori beach.. Known for it's colourful stone formations, and volcanic sands. The water was cold but again crystal clear, so we enjoyed a dip in the Aegean.Read more

  • Day28

    Mykonos

    October 8 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Woke this morning as we were approaching Mykonos. Breakfast with a spectacular view as we docked.. cute little white houses dotting the hills. We opted to do our own exploring here and wandered the tiny streets with quaint little shops and cafes. Mykonos is known for its night life, but the night clubs are all on the other side of the island thankfully (we must be showing our age!) The side where the cruise ships dock is very pretty.. probably a tourist trap. .but very gorgeous to just meander through ❤️Read more

  • Day27

    Athens

    October 7, Aegean Sea ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    Up early this morning to beat the crowds! First up - the Acropolis.. so many temples to multiple gods, the most impressive was the Parthenon. It was easy to see why Paul choose to preach from Mars Hill/Areopagus though.. Just a plain rocky outcrop..a stark contrast to the ridiculous showy shrines to every god they could think of.. even, as it says in Acts 17.. one to the unknown god..in case they accidentally missed one 🤔

    Then we wandered through the Roman Agora, Hadrian's library and the ancient Greek Agora..the biggest building was the Stoa.. which was a place for Athenians to meet, shop and conduct business.
    We also saw more beautiful architecture in the Athens cathedral, built in 1842.. But again couldn't help feeling how over the top and showy it all was.. compared to Mars Hill. We were reminded of the fact that God doesn't dwell in temples made by man(Acts 17) ..but in our hearts.

    Change of pace..boarded our cruise ship and had dinner before setting sail for the islands 😁 Eep!!
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