11/09/13. Today we went to Kusadasi. Home of the old city of Ephesus and the burial place of The Virgin Mary, or so says an old German Nun back in the 17th century. She woke up one morning and told her neighbour that during the night she had received "a vision from god". Apparently that's all it took. A few people told a few more people who told a few more and bingo, perception becomes reality and that's now where The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, is buried. There is also a rumour that Jesus told John, one of his disciples, while he was on the cross that he was to look after his Mum when he was gone.
Apparently John went to live and subsequently die in Ephesus and it is assumed, there's that word again, that if John was there then Mary must have been there too. I don't know why he didn't just send a guardian angel down to do the job for him and let John get on with writing scriptures and letters etc.
We decided to give Mary's tomb a miss and just got off to wander around the town and the port. The water was so amazing, so inviting, I just had to drop my kit and dive in.
|I was so hot and the water looked so cool. I had to no choice.|
It was delicious. Cold, salty and so clear you could see the tiny schools of minnows swimming on the bottom. Christina was not impressed because she felt that she couldn't do the same and as such I should not have fun while she couldn't. Also she had to walk through the bazaars and cafes with a man with a large wet patch down the front of his pants looking very much like his colostomy bag needed changing. But hey, I may have been wet, but I was cool and happy.
Kusadasi is a small little town of only 65,000 but that number swells to over 500,000 at the height of the tourist season.
It's a very quaint little seaside town where the shopkeepers and merchants spend their days flirting with the tourists. Everyone who passes by is a potential customer and everyone gets their attention. The sale pitches come thick and fast and while persistent you can't help but feel a lot of it is all tongue in cheek and they're having as much fun as the tourists are.
And unlike Istanbul, no one threatened to shoot us for not buying.
Although there was one young fella, about fourteen I'd guess, who tried to get our attention by using a different kind of strategy.
As we pass his stall he looks at us and yells, they like to yell a lot here,
"hey you, hey old couple, come see our jackets".
We both looked at each other and then turned to him in disbelief.
"you talkin to me, are you...talking to me" I say in my best Robert De Niro
We're probably in the youngest percentile of tourists that cruise these places and he's calling us "old couple".
We had to do the kid a favour and gently informed him that while his strategy of reverse flattery was unique, it wasn't going to get him any business.
"you might want to rework your sales pitch there kid, that isn't gonna work so well".
He turned a nice shade of red and drifted back into his store, we kept laughing and turned away down the street. He got our attention, he just wasn't going to get this "old couples" business.
12/09/13 Only a couple more days to go before we depart this floating Shangri-La. Today we landed in the Port of Piraeus and are going to head into Athens for a look see at the Acropolis and the mighty Parthenon. This amazing White Pentelic marble temple, dedicated to the goddess Athena, was built by the savour of Athens, Perikles, in 447 B.C TO 432 B.C. The city had been overrun by the Persians but the brave Perikles managed to put together a coalition of the willing among his neighbours and regain his city.
There is a brilliance and an ingenuity here that is reminiscent of so many other ancient civilisations, monuments and works of architecture that we have had the opportunity to see. Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Pompeii, Pont Du Gard, Chartres Cathedral and more.
|The CVW'S minus one. Charlie chose the kids club today.|
|The Temple Of Athena|
The only dampener was the 17,000 other people who all happened to land in port on the same day. There were no less than seven large cruise ships all hitting the same port at the same time. We were like ants on a big marble toffee apple.
And it was hot. Officially 33C, but where we were, crowded and standing shoulder to shoulder on a massive great outcrop of marble and stone, it would have been much hotter Our guide, who was no doubt very informed about the history of the place, spoke so softly and had an accent so thick it was like trying to listen to her through ear muffs. If you weren't standing right next to her you missed everything she said.
The views, over the top of the heads of the tourists, was impressive and on any other day it would have been a real treat. While there is plenty else to see in Athens, a city that goes back over 2500 years, we'll leave this for another time.
13/09/13 A day at sea today. We do love our days at sea. No where to go and nothing to see except endless miles off ocean. No beckoning ancient monuments, cathedrals, churches or bazaars. It's ping pong, eating, target shooting, eating, lying around the pool and yes, more eating.
14/09/13 Today we find ourselves gliding gracefully down the Grand Canal towards our final port,Venice.
|Entering the Grand Canal|
What an entrance this magnificent ship would make to those lucky enough to be watching her as she slips silently through the wide waters. It is early afternoon on a beautiful balmy day. There are no clouds, just a gentle sun leaving a warm glow on your skin. We're in Mike and Eleanora's room, on the balcony peering down from 11 storeys high into and over the top of this beautiful old city.
|Venice, here's lookin up your canal|
|No caption needed|
As though to ease us gently from our cruising cocoon, the ship is here for two nights, so there was no hurry to disembark. Many of the passengers get off early, eager to throw themselves into the crowds but we waited till mid afternoon when the gangways and shuttle boats are less crowded. It makes absolutely no difference of course to the crowds that were to greet us when the shuttle boat dropped us at St Marks Square. Unsurprisingly, it was like bees around the honey pot.
|It's like someone shouted,"Free Beer"|
We did the obligatory walk through St Marks Square, which is charming and ancient but also in need of a little of work. A lot of the facades are just plain grimey and grey. We turned down one of the many small arteries that take you away from the maddening throng. The further in you went and the more tiny bridges you crossed the thinner the crowds became.
|The back streets were the place to be.|
It would be good to have a couple of days to spend getting lost among the back alleys and canals. The gondolas were doing a great business. In some of the bigger canals they were literally "bumper to bumper," waiting in line to go under a bridge.
|What did John Cleese say, Gondolas here , Gondolas there Gondolas every ....|
And where is the singing and the accordion playing? We saw a hundred of them but only heard one fella carrying a tune.
The price was $100 euro for a boat for about 30 -35 minutes but I'm not sure if they take into account the time your stuck in a line waiting to get under a bridge. I liked the idea and if I had bought more $$ we would have done it but alas they don't take cards, only cash. So our turn to be sitting camera fodder for the herds of happy snapping tourist leaning over the sides of bridges will have to wait till next we are in Venice.
Unfortunately I have got Christina's bug and have been laid low the last couple of days so our last night on board was not a big one. She is still recovering herself so there were no party frocks and dancing pants tonight. It was more a case of throw the last of our stuff into our cases and get it out into the hallway before 11pm to be collected and taken dock side tomorrow morning for us to pick up and be on our way.
15/09/13 One last dig at the breakfast buffet before we finally disembark and head off to Slovenia. We wipe a tear from the corner of our eye and some bacon grease from the side of our mouth as we bid a fond farewell and clunk our way down the gangplank for the final time.