This was our first trip to Cyprus. This, like Israel, is another divided country. We docked in Limassol, which is the Greek part of the island. The northern part of the island is controlled by Turkey. Our guide, Naflia, said that it has been occupied by the Turks since they invaded in 1974. Even the capitol city of Nicosia is divided by The Green Line which separates the Turkish Cypriots from the Greek Cypriots. Cyprus has fallen on hard times and is in the throes of a terrible financial crisis. This is not so evident to the visiting traveler.
We had a private van tour with John and Brooks and Bert and Lani. We went up into the foothills to the lovely village of Omodos, which is a well preserved country town. We arrived in a downpour so we didn’t do too much wandering around. Back by the coast the weather improved so we visited the archaeological site of Kourion. It is filled with Greek and Roman monuments. Because of its strategic location, many famous and infamous, real and mythological characters have spent time here; like Alexander the Great, Achilles, Ulysses and Richard the Lionhearted. Aphrodite and
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Apollo were highly venerated by ancient tribes. The history of Cyprus can be traced as far back as the Neolithic Age.
We had a perfect day in Rhodes. Fortunately there was only one other ship in port, so it was easy to explore this walled city without encountering hordes of fellow travelers. This restored medieval town is enchanting and we spent hours roaming around its narrow alleyways. We happened upon the Kahal Shalom Synagogue and learned that the entire Jewish community was rounded up and sent to Auschwitz during WWII. There were only 160 survivors and very few returned to Rhodes after the war. While we were in the synagogue’s museum there was some recorded music playing. We saw the credits and much to our surprise, the haunting guitar music was being performed by a friend of ours, Judy Frankel. We all belonged to the same swim club in Marin County and she had given us several of her DVD recordings. Unfortunately, Judy passed away several years ago and the world lost a very talented and lovely woman.
We were really looking forward to our stop in Kusadasi, Turkey. It is a great port of call, but more
importantly, our friends Jean and John were sailing their boat up from Turgutreis to Kusadasi. We spent ten days together last year in Istanbul and at their marina near Bodrum. John and Jean live in Pebble Beach but keep their sail boat in Turkey. We have been friends for years dating back to our days with Braniff and the Navy.
I was awakened as we neared port by a tremendous thunderclap and bright display of lightning followed by a huge downpour. We chucked some touring plans and instead spent a delightful day on their sailboat getting caught up with each other’s traveling life. Jean fixed us a nice homemade lunch---our first in four months. Later in the afternoon the skies cleared long enough for us to stroll around the neat bazaars of Kusadasi. We’ll see Jean and John this summer and we’ll return the favor of a homemade meal but on our boat in Sausalito.
The rain seemed to be following us as we docked in Piraeus. Rather than going into Athens, we opted to spend our day exploring the ancient port city of Piraeus. We stopped a lady on the street and asked for a restaurant recommendation.
Later as we were having lunch, this kind stranger came by to make sure that we were enjoying our food. As it turned out, the restaurant owner used to work on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. He came back home to start a family and the restaurant. Our Greek gyro lunch was delicious.
That evening the skies cleared off long enough for us to dine al fresco with Jim and Dora out on the aft deck. It was a gorgeous sail-away with the sun sinking behind the Greek Islands. We cruised past the Oceania Riviera, the ship we sailed on in December in Central America. There was much horn tooting and waving from one ship to the other as we steamed off into the sunset.
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