Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mediterranean Cruise/ Greek Isles and Turkey

We just got back from an amazing vacation! Ever since we have graduated, I have wanted to travel abroad. I have always wanted to travel Europe and go on a cruise. So, a mediterranean cruise enabled us to see a lot all in one vacation.

We started in Venice, Italy. That plane ride was definitely rough! We arrived early the morning before we needed to board our ship. That is one thing I regret. We were so tired after flying, but it was our only time to see Venice. Not so smart! But, amazingly we had enough energy to see some. After getting lost a while in the streets of Venice; which is very cool, but not when your time is limited, we figured out the easiest way to get around was by water. We really enjoyed it! All of Venice is on water. It's amazing that those old buildings have stayed up as long as they have. Here are some pics of our water bus ride and St. Marco's Square and Basilica.

We boarded our ship that evening. It was with Royal Carribbean called the 'Splendour of thSeas'.
It was about a medium sized ship. It was very nice.

Our first stop on the Cruise was to Dubrovnik, Croatia. We spent all of our time in 'Old Town'. This is the area which huge brick walls were built as a fortress to protect the city. In 1991 when Yugoslavia disolved, Dubrovnik was at war with Serbians. This city was bombed and a lot was destroyed. They have rebuilt much of it. We walked the walls and rode a boat around the pier.

Our second day on the ship was at sea. So we caught up on sleep, layed in the sun, swam, and got to know our Irish friends at our table. It's amazing how difficult it is to understand people with heavy accents.

The third day and 2nd stop was to Kusadasi (Bird Island), Turkey. We had a fun time here. We took a cab ride to the Ancient ruins of Ephesus and the Virgin Mary's house. Ephesus was first an Ancient Greek City and then became the 2nd largest city of the Roman Empire. Virgin Mary's house is rumored to be where the Apostle John brought her after the death of Jesus Christ. Many speculate this is where she died. Here are some pics.

Statue of Mary and Her Home. And then ruins of Ephesus.


We really enjoyed our cab and driver. He was a great tour guide. He told us a lot about Kusadasi's history. We found an interesting fact that despite the great Christian history there, 90% of the people there are Muslim; leaving the other 10% to be of other religions.
The kebobs here were amazing! If you visit Turkey, this is a must! We also enjoyed education about the famous rugs made in Turkey. Each girl starts at a young age learning how to make rugs from there mothers, then they go to school for it. We bought a small silk rug. It's very beautiful!

Our fourth day and third stop, was to Santorini, Greece. I loved every stop, but this was our favorite! I have seen a lot of beautiful places and this ranks among the top! It is so breathtaking! Every five steps we took, I wanted to stop and take a picture. All of the villages are on the top of the mountain. It looks like snow from far away. The only way into the villages of Santorini, is up a tram, walk up 600 stairs, or ride a Donkey. There was no way I was going to walk up the stairs and I felt bad for the Donkeys. So, tram it was. Once up to the village of Fira, we rented a 4-wheeler to ride to the Village of Oia. This was recommended by one of Joe's friends. This village is famous for all of its white buildings. We just loved riding around, enjoyed shopping, beautiful views and the food. The water is so clear there! Here are some pics of Oia and our adventures.

The only thing I did not enjoy about Santorini was the back down. Of course, Joe wanted to at least walk down the 600 stairs to say, "we did it". Bad idea. I got blisters on my toes from all of the pressure, which are still healing. Also, we barely made it around the corners due to Donkeys almost running us over and trying to avoid Donkey droppings. It is now fun to laugh about. And we can definetely say, "we did it".

Our fifth day and last stop on the cruise before returning to Venice was to Corfu, Greece. It is the largest Island in Greece. We enjoyed shopping in all of the small shops, ate some yummy Baclava, and enjoyed a swim in the Mediterranean!

Taking a cruise to Europe was a great way to get around and see a lot. I was grateful that I did not get sea sick. I was really worried. A few things we leared about traveling and cruising. Give yourself a nights stay before boarding your ship and go with another couple on longer cruises. On sea days it would have been nice to have another couple or so to hang out with and also nice to have people to take your pictures! We tried self-portraits, but most of them didn't turn out well.
Last, either plan ahead and leave room for souveniors, or take an extra bag with you.

I highly recommend this cruise! It was wonderful! I still can't believe we were able to go and that I finally talked Joe into traveling out of the country. He is a fan other than the long plane rides! Here are some fun random pics.