adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 8: Morning in Ephesus

The excursion to Ephesus is included in our package and was noted by both Elena and Christiana as a highlight of our trip.

They were not kidding!

Despite the late night we are all up and on time (good thing too) for our tour of Ephesus, in Turkey. Which means it’s not just another country for me: it’s another continent!

Our tour guide (whose name I can’t spell but it is pronounced like “John”) is delightful. He tells us, on route to the ruins at Ephesus, about his experience over 20 years as a tour guide. About common misconceptions about Turkey, about his family, and about the site we are visiting. Continue reading “Day 8: Morning in Ephesus”

adventures abroad, travel

Day 7: Embarkation and Mykonos

This morning we meet back up with Christiana, for the first time since our intro on the first night. (She’s a lovely person though I think we have all fallen a little bit in love with Elena as our guide, and we miss her.)

It takes a bit longer to get to the port this time: rush hour.

It’s scattered and chaotic at the ship checkin process. To some extent that is par for the course but Christiana won’t know who is who by sight so she won’t realize when some are hung up by security and are lagging.

I am inclined to mother hen a bit.

We get to our cabins. I am surprised to find we have outside cabins, views to the sea. I am less surprised that my single has been set up with separate beds; that has happened at all the hotels for me too. And we have a drinks package.

Once again, we ask ourselves how they can be making anything on this package, with all that is included?

I explore the ship, get lunch, attend one of the shipboard activities and then bump into Connie, who has found a nook in one of the bars where there’s music setting a mood and a bartender sending her stuff that isn’t in our drink package, and I visit with her a while. We know we’re going to be back here again!

The sea is smooth as we sail to Mykonos for our evening stop.

It’s the end of the season, so we are the last ship making this route, and the only one in port (will be the case throughout our sail). So although the narrow streets are busy with cruise passengers, it’s less so than it would otherwise be. I can’t imagine if it was summer and 5 ships in port plus tourists staying. But it’s not summer, so arriving in the evening means we have landed after sunset.

No light, few pics. 😕

We traverse the narrow streets, single file. Christiana takes us herself rather than the cruise line’s fee for the same thing. She takes us around and then lets us free to enjoy what we will of the island before we head back to the ship ahead of its departure.

Connie, Troy & Deana and I grab dinner together, hang out at the bar getting free (on our package) drinks and free (great bartender) shots to all hours, with laughter and dancing and just generally a great time had by all.

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 6: Delphi and Athens Again

The grounds at Delphi, which we saw at a distance from below, are amazing once we get on site. Elena tells us a bit about the history and mythology of the place, about Apollo as god of light and wisdom. Hmm, I wonder who this could be foreshadowing?

After exploring the grounds we go inside to the museum as well.

Part Sphinx, part Griffin
Impressive friezes

Afterwards we get back on the bus to return to Athens, with just enough time to say a warm goodbye to Elena – our tour guide for the cruise portion of the trip will be Christiana – and put ourselves together for our optional (fancier) dinner out at the marina.

Then it’s back to The Stanley to repack, get some rest, and regroup for our departure to the cruise ship tomorrow.

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Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 5: Circling the Corinthian Bay to Delphi

We leave Olympia, stopping first for a taste of olives, olive oil, and Greek wines (Οπα!) and then begin our journey in earnest, crossing the Rio-Antirrio bridge.

Then we trace a path overlooking the Corinthian Bay, water sparkling in the sunshine. We progress to Patras for lunch, where the scenery is the most delicious offering of all.

We press on and stop to see the lower ruins at Delphi, which we will visit in the morning.

Then we stop in scenic Arachova, which in a few weeks will go from sleepy off season village to bustling ski town, before heading to our hotel (the pleasant if rather industrial-styled Amalia Delphi) for the night.

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 4: Off to Olympia

Orange πορτοκαλί trees at the Hotel grounds.

We have a long drive today, starting by passing through the scenic Arkadian mountains (on the Ionic Sea).

Actually it’s a very long drive and I didn’t sleep well last night so… no pics. Just dozing.

Along the way we stop to see local artisans explain the ancient processes that yield the distinctive pottery of the area.

They had some amazingly beautiful works inside but I didn’t get pics. Sorry.

We stop for a delicious lunch en route – it’s a lovely springish day and everything is blooming, considering it’s November and then we arrive at Olympia, to visit the ruins of what was the site of the original Olympic Games.

An immense complex has been uncovered and portions of it restored, and a museum shows some of the original recovered pieces. Elena explains the way the games would have worked in antiquity, as well as the site where the torch was lit, but I have no pics of any of it (for now)… I very inconveniently left my camera/phone on the bus for this outing.  Which means, I pretty much felt distracted and discombobulated the entire time.

😦

I will report however that the Europa hotel near Olympia… Fantastic. As nice as some have or will be on the journey, this one is our collective favorite.

The rooms themselves are small but smartly laid out, with a lower level seating area, and bathrooms that feel positively luxurious after some we have had. The dinner and breakfast buffets are both superb as well.