31.05.2015 - 12.06.2015 72 °F
These are my short reflections from the 12-day Mediterranean Cruise we took early June, in order of each stop.
Venezia: We meet again, 14 years have passed. This time there are more tourist crowds and the Rialto bridge is under repair. Still charming but our time is limited and you are too busy now.
Piraeus (Athens), Greece: I walked on ground, stone, and marble steps that have been around B.C. The columns, Athena, Zeus, Socrates, Myth, Art, centuries and centuries old. Still relevant and even revered today. The beautiful remains in this city, and the many visitors still pay tribute to this ancient place.
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey: Walking on these marble and stone streets to me, felt as if I was walking in ancient prosperous times. Once closer to the sea, now four miles away filled in with delta. Caesar's and Apostles walked here. The theater (capacity of 2500) is where the great uproar over Diana of the Ephesians took place (Acts 19) , and musicians including Sting, and Pavarotti have performed here.
We attended a carpet loom demo showing hand-woven silk carpets, along with a Turkish snack, and we quickly became fond of a beautiful catalog style rug.
Side note: I didn't know exactly what Turkish Delight was until I bought some. It's pretty much a jelly candy rolled in powdered sugar. I tried rose, lemon, and pistachio with actual chopped nuts in it. It tasted good, but probably not good for my teeth.
Istanbul, Turkey: Hagia Sophia now a museum and the most important Byzantine monument in the world. The Grand Bazar's labyrinth of streets with over 4000 shops. A visit inside the famous Blue Mosque kept us dry during a torrential downpour under it's tiled domes. Everyone inside walking in socks, and women with scarf-covered heads. This mosque is a stunning spectacle with massive crowds.
Mykonos, Greece: White houses and buildings with blue trim and blue doors. White cement and stone walkways, winding streets, bougainvilleas, shops, cafes, and small beaches make up this quaint little island.
Naples, Italy: Napoli lived up to its reputation. Pompei was an impressive city of affluence and remnants. The body casts are a bit eery, but the preserved frescoes are colorful and inspiring. Vesuvius sits quietly in the backdrop.
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy: Civitavecchia is a city with its own charm. We decided not to take a jaunt to Rome on this stop since we had been there before. We spent our time at a quiet pizzeria enjoying the obvious; pizza, wine, and wifi! We even skyped with our family here.
Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy: Livorno, another nice Port city. Half an hour by train to Pisa. Once you walk to the Piazza dei Miracoli (Italian: Square of Miracles), the four great religious edifices come into view: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). The Leaning Tower resembles a layer cake in my eyes (I know, food food food). We only admired the exteriors and took our tourista photos. Once we did that, we were kinda done.
And now for a brief intermission on our way to France. Early that morning I awoke and hurried out to the deck to witness a sunrise on the Mediterranean Sea and wrote a spontaneous poem in response.
The fireball slowly rises
from behind the blue Mediterranean
brushing the sky with a peach tint and dusty red hues.
Shining its golden glow on the sea and
on to my face.
It continues awakening and lighting the day as we near
Toulon France, gliding along the Mediterranean blue.
There is a quiet brilliance to the dawn of this new day.
May the living rise, embrace, and embody the warmth and beauty
offered freely to us all. -- A.M.A.
Toulon, France: Quaint streets with a large outdoor marketplace. Tables of beautiful produce, and booths with clothes and accessories. Another unexpected, impressive port city that did not feel touristy or terribly noisy, however busy.
During the cruise we watched two good movies we hadn't seen. "Big Eyes" a biographical film about the American artist Margaret Keane which was interesting, and "The Theory of Everything" about Stephen Hawking. I can see why Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor. We also took an Argentinian Tango dance lesson which was fun! We try to practice every few days so we don't forget the steps.
We dock in Barcelona and disembark our ship. The days of tranquil seas, a regular schedule of meals, and free entertainment has come to an end.