Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fourth Rhapsody Cruise June 1-June 12 Turkey & Greece

Hi Blog Readers,
     We have been visiting Mike and Marilyn Harrison at their lakefront home (Agency Lake) in Chiloquin, OR ever since last Sunday.  Thankfully, we had an uneventful drive over from Thayne, WY where we had been for a month.  It was great to see them, and we have been enjoying walks, Happy Hours and dinners with them every day.  The weather has been sunny and warm here but a few of the days we have been having very hazy air from all the fires burning in northern CA and some in OR too.  We have been trying to pack for our upcoming trip to Seattle and the 2 Alaska cruises from Vancouver (Aug. 21).  Here is apicture of Mike and Marilyn:

     The following is about the 4th (and last) Rhapsody cruise we did between June 1 and 12.  It was round trip from Istanbul, and all the ports were in Turkey and Greece.  It was a very different cruise from the other 3 we had just finished, because most of the cruise friends left the ship on June 1 and flew home.  Still on board with us were Tom and Sandy Wills:
And Ernie and Diane Wilson:
Mark and Norah Lemon were with us too but I can't find the picture of them.  We all managed to have an enjoyable time in the lounge again, but it was much quieter!!
     The first port was Kusadasi, Turkey, where we have been several times before.  It is the port where most people take a shore excursion to Ephesus.  We explored that ancient city (which is now a ruin) on a land tour in 2006 and thought it was very interesting.  Kusadasi is also a good place to do some shopping, but we find the sellers to be rather aggressive, and the last time we enjoyed a walk along the waterfront much more, so we did that again.  Right off the side of the ship in a causeway out to a small island with a fort on it, and we have done that in the past also:
The ship docks right near the main part of town, and there is a very nice terminal area with restaurants and shops too:
Along the waterfront, there are outdoor restaurants, but mostly it is a nice walking area and this is one of the unique sculptures:
On June 4 we docked at Bodrum, Turkey.  Since we had never been here before, we were looking forward to seeing it.  There was a great view across the bay from our ship to the main attraction of this town, the Castle of St. Peter:
It was not a very long distance to get there from the ship, so we decided to walk.  We are glad that we did because the walk was right along the waterfront, where there were very nice outdoor restaurants, nice hotels and guesthouses, and beautiful beaches.  These are some of the restaurants:
And these are the seating areas right across the sidewalk and along the beach.

Many Germans and other Europeans come here for holidays.  Everything was very clean, well organized, and fairly inexpensive.  Also, this is a good place to come to experience a boat trip in a gullet (local boat) on the Turquoise Coast, which is what the waterways along this area are called.  It is just beautiful.  We spent several days on one of these in 2006 and enjoyed it very much.

     As we got further into the town, the streets became busier and were lined with stores and shops selling every type of goods for tourists.  The Castle of St. Peter is the main attraction for the tourists. This tall monument was built by the Knights of St. John between 1402 and 1437. The castle has got beautiful gardens and a spectacular view.
The Underwater Archeology Museum is the most fascinating attraction of the museums in Bodrum, and it is located in the Castle of St. Peter.  The Museum displays objects recovered from the sea along with illustrations of the methods and equipment used by the underwater archeologists.  As we walked in to the castle there was a long wall with displays of amphorae, which were ancient clay storage jars having an oval body, usually tapering to a point at the base, with a pair of handles extending from immediately below the lip to the shoulder: used chiefly for oil, wine, water, etc.
In the inner courtyard, there is a chapel and minaret.  The chapel was the first completed structure, probably in 1406.  In 1522 when the Ottoman Turks conquered the area, they changed the chapel to a mosque and built a minaret.
The construction of the three-storied English tower was finished in 1413. One door opens to the north, to the inner part of the castle, while the other leads to the western rampart. One could only access this tower via a drawbridge.
From the ramparts, there were great views over the town and the entire area:
The underwater archeology museum is housed in various parts of the castle.  It is the biggest underwater archeology museum in the world and the only one in Turkey. Most of the artifacts consist of those raised during underwater excavations (since 1960) and those brought up by sponge divers.  There were many specially constructed exhibits showing treasures such as these old coins:
And some exhibits which were constructions of what the ships probably looked like:
Even though the castle is very old, and has been through many incarnations, such as being turned into a military base in 1824 and a prison in 1895, there are a few original mosaic floors still in existence:
There were other attractions in Bodrum which would have been interesting, such as remnants of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, and a large Roman amphitheater, but we were out of time and energy so we left them for our next visit.
     The next day, June 5, we docked in Rhodes, Greece.  We have been there before and enjoyed it very much.  There is a huge walled city, with many ruins and museums, shops, and other attractions.  It is very easy to walk into the walled city from the port.  This is one of the views from our ship:
This view shows a lot of the walled city and a couple of the old windmills:
Walking into town, after going through the old gates, there are the ruins of an old church:
Many of the old buildings have living quarters on top and shops for tourists below:
We stopped at the tourist info office and learned that there was a free day at the local museums.  So we went to the archeological museum:
The Archaeological Museum of Rhodes is housed in the medieval building of the Hospital of the Knights, from the period of the Crusades. The building was begun in 1440 and completed in 1489.  There are many interesting collections there, but we wanted to get up to the main event, the Palace of the Grand Masters.  This is the street leading up to it, and it has clearly been restored, but also shows what it was like in midevail times:
It had to be rebuilt after a huge earthquake in 1841.  In 1523 it was overrun by the Ottoman Turks, and all the churches were converted to mosques, and other buildings had eastern influences.  The palace of the grand masters was turned into a penitentiary while the hospital was turned into a soldier's camp.  This is the front of the Palace of the Grand Masters today:
Once again we were able to visit this site with no fees - hooray!  This is the inner courtyard:
It is one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece.  The site was previously a citadel of the Knights Hospitallar that functioned as a palace, headquarters and fortress from 1309 to 1523.  There were interesting displays inside of the way people lived then.
     Later we walked through the town and headed out through a different gate, where we saw this mosque and minaret:
There are also many great shops in Rhodes, including some stunning leather works places:
The other local handiwork goods which interested us were olivewood goods, but we didn't get any pictures this time.
     The next day we were back in Santorini.  Once again our ship anchored off the area where the tenders could get us ashore, but this time we were the only ship:
Because we had just been here on the last cruise, we knew what we wanted to do this time - take a public bus to Oia, the village which is located about 45 minutes away by bus from Fira, the main town of Santorini.  We had done some research and found out where the public bus station was, and that the cost was about 2.2 Euro, instead of about $50 on a ship's tour.  So we walked to the bus station and were able to catch the bus almost immediately.  It was quite an adventure getting there because the roads are narrow and twisty and every time there was an approaching car, it was like playing "chicken" with it.  Once we got to Oia, it was easy to find our way around because it was so small.  One of the first sights was the local church, which was typically Greek, with whitewashed walls and a blue domed roof:
Here is a picture of Elaine with the houses of the village behind her:
You can see that the cliffs are pretty steep to get down to the water.  There is a small harbor in this town where it is possible to catch a boat back to Fira, rather than going by road:
This is another view in the town, looking down to the water with the blue dome of another church in the picture:
Many of the buildings along the main walkway had been converted to shops to sell goods to the tourists:
This is a view of Oia where you can see that the houses are appearing to be "stacked" on one another, when in actuality, they are built into the cliffs.  They call these troglodyte houses because they are like caves:
Here is a closeup of one that is in construction:
They are very eco-friendly because they are warm in winter and cool in summer.  Here is a picture of the inside of one:
When we got back to Fira, on the bus, we stopped in to a recommended restaurant for a gyro and a beer and ran into Norah  and Mark Lemon, who were already there:
Our next port was Piraeus again, which is the port for Athens. We had just been there a few days before, and we have been there a number of times, so we skipped going out this time.  The next day we stopped in Mykonos, an island we had never visited before.  Our ship got the only place to dock, but the bad part of that was that we were not near the actual town.  The ship tried to sell people a shuttle bus ticket for $15, but we knew that we could get a shuttle boat over for 2 Euro, so we did that.  The water was a bit rough in the harbor of the town when we arrived:
Right near where our boat let us off was the local fish market:
As usual, walking down the streets was a shopping opportunity, but the shops were charming and even the streets were unique:
This was a tempting pottery shop:
Most places were both a shop and a house, with the living quarters on the upper floors:
And there were plenty of outdoor restaurants because everyone loves to eat and drink outside, even if it is right in front of a church:

Right along the waterfront is a row of houses supposedly built by the sea faring captain's who sailed from here:
Across from these houses is the row of windmills, which is one of the most complete arrays in the Greek islands.  Most of them were built by the Venetians in the 16th century, but construction continued into the early 20th century. They were primarily used to mill wheat.  They were an important source of income for the inhabitants. Their use gradually declined until they ceased production in the middle of the 20th century.  Now they are an important tourist attraction.
The next day we were in Chania, Crete.  The port is Souda, which is quite a distance from the town and tourist attractions but there is a city bus which picks people up right at the port for 2 Euro and it drops you off right at the main city market.
Walking through the market is interesting and fun and it puts you right on some small pedestrian streets behind it with stalls on them for good shopping, on the way to the Venetian waterfront.  We passed this rather impressive church:
The Venetian Waterfront is called that because it was built by the Ventians when they had control of this place and it maintains all of its charm.  There are many restaurants with outside seating, almost all display their prices and specials on boards in front, and we were surprised at how reasonable they were.  Perhaps it was because of the recent Greek difficulties with the Euro.
Across from the restaurants you have a view of the Venetian lighthouse:
There was a sea day before our ship returned to Istanbul, so that was the evening when the Pinnacle members enjoyed a very nice dinner at the Chef's Table.  Usually the Chef's Table costs $70 per person because it is gourmet food paired with special wines and only 16 people can be accommodated.  The Rhapsody had arranged for a different special dining experience for the Pinnacles on all 4 of our cruises, and this was the best!!!
The next day we arrived in Istanbul again, and docked in the same place as before.  Because we were going to be here overnight, we had all day to explore the city again. Once again, we had a great view of the Blue Mosque:

We walked down to the spice market:
They are so excellent at arranging all the spices for sale:
Of course, they have other goodies to tempt people too:
The surprising thing is that all of the Muslim countries are supposed to be so conservative, yet you see displays of goods for sale such as this:
In so many ways, the city seems very progressive.  This is a picture of one of the trams.  They have quite an extensive network of trams and they are reasonably priced:
Across the Galata Bridge, near the fish market, we found a nice little restaurant with some tables located right on the banks of the Golden Horn where we stopped for some fried calamari and a local beer:
The next day we had an early flight so we arranged for a car service to pick us up at the port and deliver us to the airport.  For 25 Euro, the Effendi Car Service was at the port by 6:30AM to pick us up in a very comfy van which could have accommodated at least 4 more people.  We recommend them.  We flew back to San Francisco and had a nice family reunion with all our kids in Fremont, CA.
We hope you have enjoyed traveling with us on these cruises.


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