Published: July 2nd 2010July 2nd 2010
This city has some of the finest and stunning Roman ruins anywhere in the world. There is the Odeon, or small theatre with a capacity of 1400 which was also used for public meetings of the city council. The Magnesian Gate and Town hall are nearby. Some of the sights are quite amazing, such as the public toilets and the Government run brothel, the hospital and Apocathery.
The impressive Library of Celsus stands at the foot of the main street. It’s a stately two storied façade that had interior walls designed to display 12,000 scrolls in niches which protected them from humidity.
The Temples of Domitian and Hadrian are impressive and the Great Theatre, which holds 25,000 and is where St Paul preached to the Ephesians and is still in use today for concerts. The Arcadian Way which connected to the Port district has beautiful colonnades on either side and marble pavement which Marc Antony and Cleopatra used on their visit to the city. A short distance Way you can see the ruins of the Temple of Artemis which was several times larger than the Pantheon. At the end of the city was the Great Theatre which seated 25,000 and was where St Paul preached to the Ephesians.
Even in it’s abandoned state, Ephesus remains an awe inspiring city. The 2 kilometres of streets, with it’s marble paving stones scarred by iron shod chariot wheels, the shops, the ‘town houses’ of the rich are incredible and the whole scene was brought to life by the incredible knowledge of our Turkish Tour guide.
A fantastically interesting and enjoyable day in a lovely country.
Tuesday, 29th June, 2010. Santorini. The Greek Islands.
Wow, what can I say about this place ? What superlatives can adequately describe it ? This beautiful and tranquil island was formed by a volcanic eruption some 1600 years BC producing one of the most dramatic land and seascapes in thee Mediterranean. In 1967 Archaeologists on the island unearthed the remains of a bronze age city that is believed to be the fabled Atlantis so this entire island is steeped in mystery. Part of the island is still an active volcano, the last eruption happening in 1948 and is on the same fault line as Stromboli, Vesuvius and Etna. The Island is also subjected to earth quakes the last being in 1969.
We arrived about 7am to see hundreds of white painted houses and churches perched precariously on top of towering cliffs that dropped hundreds of feet into an azure sea. A truly dramatic sight. We were delivered to shore by ships tender at the foot of these cliffs and took a cable car to the top. We could have traveled to the top by donkey as this is a popular mode of transport here but we opted for the easy way up. When at the top we entered the typical Greek capital of Fira with it’s rabbit warren of tiny shops, white painted homes and churches with cobbled streets. It was picture perfect. We wanted to go to the mountain top village of Oia (pronounced Eeah) so we found a taxi and with another couple negotiated a ride to this famed town.
After a 15 minute drive we arrived there and it was like something out of a picture book. I think everyone has seen the painting of a white Greek church with a blue domed roof standing above small Greek cottages and the Mediterranean sea, well, this is the village where the church is and the view is truly amazing. Narrow cobbled lanes full of brilliantly whitewashed houses and churches with tiny shops and cafes everywhere. The camera was running red hot as it is a photographers dream. This was the Greece that tourists dream about.
We returned to Fira and spent the rest of the time we had roaming around the miriad of small cobbled streets looking in the hundreds of shops. Again, there is not much I can say about this fantastic place as it has to be experienced. One of the highlights of this cruise. PS, it was bloody hot as well.
1st July, 2010, Venice, Italy.
Venice, one of the highlights of the tour that we have all looked forward to and it was well worth waiting for. We docked at midday, cruising into this wonderful city and it’s magnificent islands. We had the luxury of having all afternoon and evening until midnight then the next morning until 12 midday, so off we went on our shuttle water taxi to St Marks Square. Talk about hot and sticky though, it was extremely hot and around 90% humidity. When we arrived there the crowds were immense and of every possible nationality. Of course the ubiquitous souvenir stalls were abundant (all selling the same products) and doing a hot business as usual. Our first stop was the Doges (pronounced Doje) Place which was great. The Doge was the ancient ruler of Venice and was housed accordingly. The place was full of Tintaretto murals and paintings and the ceilings were something to behold, absolutely magnificent. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk through this place and the prisons and armory. The prisons, or dungeons, were fantastic and we actually got to walk through the Bridge of sighs, the famous canal bridge through which the prisoners sentenced by the Doges court were taken after being sentenced to death or imprisonment.
The architecture and statues were magnificent and only a small part of what we will see in Rome but the craftsmanship of the artisans was truly incredible.
One of the things we were warned about in Venice is that there are two standards of fees when it comes to services such as café’s and bars. One price for the locals and one for the tourists and boy, was this evident in some places. Lyn had a coffee in the Doges Palace and it only cost 3 Euro’s, but in the labyrinth of shops surrounding the Square most café’s were charging the tourists 9 Euros for a coffee as this was where the majority of the tourists congregated. We got the locals price in the Palace. Throughout this cruise I have gained te distinct impression in almost every country that the whole Island/City/town that the cruise liners visit they have prior knowledge and the price of things skyrocket as they have this belief that if we ‘westerners’ can afford a world cruise on a luxury liner we must be rich and therefore ripe for the plucking. And Pluck they do. At one of the restaurants/cafes in a side street last night an Aussie family sat down at a table and ordered 2 beers and a milkshake for their kid and received a bill for 80 Euro’s. When they questioned the bill they were told that the cost was because they sat at the table and had waiter service.
The shopping was fantastic though, colour and pageantry everywhere in the windows with the caanals meandering through the shopping alleys. A sight to be seen nowhere else on earth. The Gondola’s were also a sight to see and crowded with tourists but again, the differences In prices. The average gondola ride when you asked was 80 Euro’s but we saw one price advertised as ‘last minute’ gondola ride at 23 Euro’s. Big difference. I was also aware of the argie bargie robustness of the average Italian when in a crowd situation. No manners, no beg your pardons, just push your way through but that it Italy so you accept it, roll your shoulder, brace yourself and give it back in spades. If they want to try to move 110 kilos of robust Aussie out of their way they had better be good. So watch it you aggressive Italian Signorina’s. Great fun.
We had a wonderful time in this fabulous place and we returned to the ship for a break then went ashore again for another looksee in the evening and returned around 10pm.
The next day we were going to go ashore again for the 3 or 4 hours before the ship set sail but I’m afraid my bad knees were really painful after the first days marathon walks up hundreds of concrete stairs and steps so we gave it a miss. We saw most of what we wanted to see so it was no great hassle. Certainly one of the highlights so far. A fantastic place to visit. Tomorrow its Dubrovnik in Croatia, so more walking and climbing steps, then a day at sea and it’s Rome for lots more walking and the next day its Florence with some more walking. Who said cruising was relaxing ? I’m knackered and very sore.