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Eastern Mediterranean and Grrek Isles

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Sep 8th, 2013, 08:14 AM
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Eastern Mediterranean and Grrek Isles

Just came back from a last minute (okay, it was booked 3 months ago when it was on sale) 12 days cruise to East Med and Greek Isles. Boarding at Civitavecchia (Rome) and disembark at Venice. Although we have been through the Mediterranean a few times, but this would be our first time to the Mediterranean in August, arguably their hottest and busiest time, and that was absoutely surprising that the sale offer came through on an email with such low price.

The sale offer was under $800 for an inside cabin, meaning less than $66 per person per day for accomodation, meals, entertainment and transportation, a price that was literally almost a give away. We have always say that if you can get a cruise for less than $100 per day per person (or $125 per person per day for a balcony cabin), you are doing good.

The itinerary is actually quite good. Leaving Civitavecchia (Rome), stopping at Naples, Santorini, Kusadasi, Mykonos, Piraeus (Athens) , Katakolon, Corfu, Dubrovnik and ending with an "overnight onboard experience" in Venice. That woudl be only 2 sea days on a 12 day voyage.

Although we have been through most of the port of calls, it is still a good trip as we wanted to revisit a few ports and catch a few things that we did not have a chance to visit on previous trips. The biggest attraction for this cruise was Venice as it was one of those places that was sort of on our bucket list (although not too high on the list) and is kind of out of the way for where we wanted to go in the future ... so at he bargain basement sale price, we decided to book it. The deal was too good to pass up. (Again!)

We book our flights with airline points and it immediate presented a challenge as it is not a round trip. In the end, we got it done and didn't cost us extra points or anything extra, just the usual you pay the tax bit. The ticket was almost $1600 per person if we would have to pay full fare.

I originally wanted to go staright to Civitavecchia once we landed at Rome and spent time there. DW had different ideas and wanted to stay in Rome instead.

We wanted a direct flight to Rome from the east coast and there were many choices, but we wanted an over nighter so we would arrive in the morning and have an extra day in Rome. So, instead of flying out from New York, Jersey or Philly, we ended up flying to Montreal and take the red eye to Rome from there.

And while you are in Montreal, you got to try Schwartz's smoke meat sandwiches and we did. Best smoked meat ever but don't make teh mistake of calling it corned beef or pastrami as you will get a lecture.

We arrived at Rome 10 am in the morning and going through their immigration and customs was a breeze. We showed our passports, the guy at the kiosk looked at the pictures and sayyou can go now. Didn't ask if we have anything to declare, not even a stamp on our passport. (Try to remember the did not stamp our passport bit as it will resurface later when we leave for home.) We walk through the secured area and was immediatly greeted by our driver from Bob's Limo.

The driver took our luggage and asked us to wait at curb side while he retrives his vehicle. A few minutes later, we were on our way to the hotel on a Mercedes sedan. The cost of the limo was 38 euros for both of us, probably cheaper than regualr cab fare.

We decided to stay at Hotel Quirinale as we have stayed there before and it was a great experience. The hotel is centrally located, 2 blocks from Piazza Republica, 5 blocks from Trivi Fountain and walking distance to most destinations. It is also only 2 blocks to a metro station and 2 stops away from Spanish Steps. The room is clean, quite large by European standard, and a full hot breakfast is included, all for a modest 128 Euros per night.

We arrived at the hotel before 11 am. The drive from the airport was pleasant. We knew the room won't be ready so we checked our luggage at the bell desk and wander off. DW wanted to do some shopping but most of the shops were closed. We found out later that August 15 and 16 was Ferragosto, a 2 day Italian summer holiday. We ended up knocking off a couple places that we missed last time and back in the hotel to check in much later. The temperature was in the 90s and it was hot hot hot!

The desk staff was friendly and chatty. They found out that we were returning customers and offered a free upgrade from the basic room that we booked online. This is going to a very good start to our 18 days in Europe.
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Sep 8th, 2013, 11:14 AM
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So that's where you've been! What ship did you take?
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Sep 8th, 2013, 06:23 PM
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Larry, it was the Ruby Princess. We were on it last November and since then, it has been refitted. The changes were very suttle, such as removing the "platform" in the dining room so it no longer takes one step up to go from the main pathway to the seating area.

Since this is on the cruise forum, I'll just report things related to cruising so I'll skip what we did in Rome. Needness to say, with lots of shops closed for August 15 and 16 holiday, we spent a little more time sight seeing and a little less time shopping.

We also arranged for Bob's Limo to pick us up at the hotel and took us to Civitavecchia on departure day. The driver showed up promptly at 10:30 am, and the cost was 85 euros for both of us, with a "shared" transportation. We arrrived at the dock before 1 pm.

The vehicle was an Opel and there was enough room for 8 people and lots of trunk space behind the seating area. We made one stop and picked up 2 couples at another hotel.

We made small talk and found out that they too booked the cruise around the same time and for about the same price. No surprise there. We have walked by the hotel that they stayed at on our previous trip and it didn't look too nice from the outside, plus it was right next to the tunnel and on a major noisy traffic route. Curious, I asked how was the hotel and they replied it was 98 euros a night. That wasn't my question and I didn't ask how much but they told me anyway. I repeated the question and one of them said the room was small and quite plain, but it was clean, centrally located and breakfast was included and she went on to describe what's available for breakfast and said that they got a good deal. All I can say is that paying the extra 20 Euros per night for what we have was a good decision.

One thing that I haven't mentioned yet was that we booked an "obstructed" view cabin. We had picked a cabin with a view between two life boats. We have never stayed in an inside cabin ever as we like to have natural lighting from the window. We paid $960 instead of the $800 inside cabin sale price and I think the extra $$ between the 2 of us for a window is worth it. (I know, someone is going to say the exttra $$ can buy quite a few drinks or a good spa treatment or shore excursion.) At least we didn't splurge for the regular oceanview cabin which was another extra $100 per person, or the lowest category balcony which started around $1250.

Since we have taken a couple of trips this year already and this was booked on a whim, we couldn't justify spending more $$ for a balcony although that would have been nice.

I always check my email where free wi-fi is available. On the morning of the departure, I checked my email at the hotel and to my surprise, we got an email from Princess from the night before that our cabin assignment was changed. There was a last minute scramble to try to print new luggage tags and remove what I had put on the luggage already. The print luggage tag option was not avaialble for whatever reason so I quickly scratched out the cabin number on the tag and the barcode and hope for the best at the dock.

The last minute cabin assignment change was actaully not bad news. We have been upgraded all the way to a category BB balcony on the Baja deck! We have had upgrades before, usually for a couple category, but never from the lowly obstructed view all the way to a top level balcony. To be totally hoenst, we were really surprised. If we got an upgarde to a normal oceanview, we would have been very happy; and even to low category balcony cabin would be beyond our expection, but this? Wow! Whoever at Princess decided to give us the upgrade, we thank you!

The ride to the port from Rome was uneventful. I tried to explained to the porters at the dock that our cabin was changed last minute and it was suggested that we took our luggage with us to registration since we didn't have proper luggage tags, which was fine by me as we have only 1 piece each.

Security check, registration and embarkation took a grand total of maybe 10 minutes. Within 15 minutes of being dropped off by the driver, we were in our cabin with our luggage. This has to be some sort of a record as we have never been "processed" taht fast. I think in future, where possible, we would just pack light and take our luggage with us. We quickly unpack and get ready to enjoy our cruise. With everything that's been happening, so far so good.
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Sep 9th, 2013, 01:31 AM
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Great start pal. I am following.
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Sep 9th, 2013, 02:39 AM
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me too...want to hear more!
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Sep 9th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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Me too
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Sep 9th, 2013, 01:50 PM
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First thing that we did after we left our cabin was buying a coffee card. The cost is now $29 plus the 15% gratuity. It used be around $22 a few years ago, but still, 15 special coffees for $29 is pretty cheap plus all the special tea and brew coffee at the International Café. We quickly picked up a double shot ice mocha white chocolate Expresso, and only a single punch for the double shot.

Very surprised to hear that lemonade was not available throughout the cruise. No official reasons were given. It was one of the freebies that we enjoyed on a hot afternoon.

As we were really tired, we ended up sleeping through the entire afternoon. We did not participate in any of the activities such as scavenger hunt, sail away party or explore the ship. We did, however, went to the mandatory drill as they scan your cruise card to make sure you didn't skip.

We enjoyed any time dining and to our surprise, the dining room was quite slow. Lots of empty tables. Typically, if you didn't arrive by the first hour, you may have to wait a bit for a table. The dining room also open a little later as well, 6 pm instead of the usual 5:30. The menu was identical to our June Princess Alaskan cruise menu, which was not a surprise.

For whatever reasons, we have found that the beef (steak, prime rib etc.) on European cruise tasted differently and not as good as when we cruise near North America. We think the European beef is missing that "beefy" taste if it make sense. This time, DW actually commented that the medium rare prime rib she ordered was actually tasted like Beef, which is a good thing.

For the first time ever, we did not went to any of the entertainment venues as we will be in Naples very early in the morning and we made plans to be ashore by 8 a.m.

We have been through Sorrento and Naples before. We have been to Pompeii so for this time around, we decided to go visit Herculaneum in the afternoon after walking through Naples a bit on our own.

Nothing much has changed since our last visit form 2 years ago other than there are more graffiti and they were not being painted over.

If you ever want to see what a real shopping plaza should look like, you have got to go to "Galleria Umberto I". Most people from North America would be awestruck when they realize it is a shopping plaza. If you don't know what I mean, go Google for a picture of it.

There is one negative on "Galleria Umberto I" is that when we walked pass the building under the huge columned archway, we noticed distinct puddles in the corners and smell of urine, not pleasant at all. It was about 9:30 am when we walked past it on our way to the Royal Palace of Naples.

The Trieste and Trent Square was empty, other than a lone police car, there's no one, which was another surprise. We continued going up to Via Gennaro Serra and towards some parks and residential area where we mingled with the local and have the cultural experience that we didn't have on previous trips.

We headed back to the dock and meet our guide to Herculaneum by noon. HE was very passionate about Herculaneum and was quite vocal about all the residential buildings built there around the site. He said that the best thing that could happen is an earthquake and forced those people (he called them worse names than that) who live around the site to move out so that they can excavate more of the ancient remains. As it is, less than 25% of the ancient city was excavated.

The point he made was that the residents there are impeding the excavation of a national treasure and they are interested in money and won't return (or sell) the land back to government without huge profit.

Herculaneum was destroyed by the same volcano that buried Pompeii in 79 AD. Herculaneum is different from Pompeii as it was more of a commercial center than residential, and looks like there was more riches at Herculaneum, and it appears that people who lives there are more social: a stone bench in front of most buildings.

The people in Herculaneum actually had a chance to get out from under the disaster but many didn't. They found lots of human remains buried in the ashes, but no animal remains (no dogs, horses etc.), and a majority of the human remains were found at the 6 boat chambers by the sea, meaning they could have escaped but didn't, as they went back for personal belongs.

Until this trip, we didn't know much about Herculaneum. After visiting Herculaneum, I would say that it was a better experience than Pompeii, and if I can do it all over again, I would have picked Herculaneum over Pompeii. Everyone talks about Pompeii. A few years back, we asked people where to go in Naples and everyone said Pompeii.

Pompeii is so crowded there that you don't get the up close experience like Herculaneum. Mind you, Pompeii is easier to navigate, easier to get around and less strenuous on the legs. At Herculaneum, you'll get a better history lesson and you will get a better glimpse of life back then.

We stayed till we had to go or else we will miss the boat (literally). I think we will be back, if the body is willing.

Next up was a sea day before arriving Santorin, There wasn't much to report except we love our free balcony and we slept in. Skipped breakfast, slept through the afternoon, and that's about it! Isn't it sad that we are sleeping through this cruise? Old age is creeping in ...
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Sep 9th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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I would like to see Herculaneum too but last time, Oct. 2012 we were a bit too tired to go. My bad.

Actually I saw a documentary about this volcanic eruption. They said the Romans had no words for a volcanic eruption and no knowledge at all about volcanoes. It was said some thought that the smoke and thundering represented arguments among the gods. Many could have been saved but they just did not know any better.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 03:59 PM
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Larry, the way it was explained to us was that they could have got away if they did not delay their departure by collecting their personal belongings. Looking at the map of that particular eruption, Herculaneum was at the edge of the coverage and the people probably saw it coming in. The amount of ash dumped on them was on a scale that is not comparable to anything in modern history. The closest things that we can relate to was Mt. St Helen and this one in 79 AD is probably hundreds of time more violent.

Speaking of Volcanos, we decided to do the Volcanic hike at Santorini, all I can say at this point was we picked the hottest day (93F) and there is no shades to be found. We probably would have enjoyed it more if it was less sunny. (Did I just say that, less sunny?)

We took the tender to Ormos Firon, the little landing that was below Thira. Took a boat to Nea Kameni Island which is the center of the volcano. The hike up to the summit was relatively easy and there were opportunities to stop, rest and view Santorini from a distance and listening to the guide's explanation of what we are seeing around us, and the history of the Santorini volcano.

The famous Minoan eruption 3600 years wiped out the Minoan. The volcano was none other than the Santorini Volcano where we were standing. The volcano is not dormant. It is actually active with the last eruption happened in the 1950's and it has a track record of eruption every 60 years or so.

The first question I asked was the 60 years up? and the answer was yes, and it is due. The guide went on to explain that the lava field underneath has been expanding steadily for the past few years. Question: why are we standing here if it is due and the lava chamber is expanding? :-? Answer: there are many monitoring station on the island and it is safe, and there will be plenty of advance warning signs. Nothing to worry about.

I was surprised at the amount of people (tourist) that is actually on the volcanic hike. I saw a group with "Globus" tags meaning they are not cruise ship passengers.

We make our way to the summit, look around, saw a handful of vents with steam and sulphur smell, and that's about it. Nothing really too spectacular. Nothing close to Hawaii or Galapagos.

After the hike to the summit, we went back to the dock and the boat took us to a cove where you can take a swim in a volcanic "hot spring". The boat anchored maybe 100 yard away from shore, you can see the color of the sea water is yellowish near the shore, obviously from the sulphur. One would expected the "hot spring" would be a lot hotter but that wasn't the case. The water was barely lukewarm. The closer you get to the "source", the warmer it gets but it really never got hot. If you can't swim, you can borrow a lifesaver from the boat. We saw kids with wingtips and adult with float vests.

All in all, we spent about 4 hours on the island and the cove. There wasn't any place to shower or change, but with the hot sun and the breeze from the boat, we were quite dry (or dry enough) to took the cable car and go up to Thira rather than return to ship first.

The cable car was more expensive than I remembered. 4 euros one way and no round trip tickets available. We learned from last time that there are very limited public free washroom facility at Thira. We found ours at the upper Cable car terminal and cleaned up a bit.

Thira was exactly the way we remembered: beautiful but very crowded. We found a restaurant and settled down for lunch, relax a bit before we ventured out to explore the town some more. It was actually quite easy to get lost but since it is such a small place, it is not too big a deal.

If you can find your way to Museum of Prehistoric Thira, it is probably worth 45 minutes to an hour of your time. The exhibit includes items dating back from the 17th century BC, excavated from Akrotiri. The wall painting exhibits are fabulous.

We have always loved "off the beaten path" and we wandered off to the side streets near the edge of town where it was less crowded. That's where you will find the real bargains. The challenge, of course, is as you move further away from the main tourist area, the local will speak less English. If you want to get more into the local culture or mingle with the locals, this would be the way to go.
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Sep 12th, 2013, 01:15 AM
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Next stop was Kus-ada-si. That's what the guide said how it should be pronounced. Although we've been to Ephesus, we have the urge to go back and spent a little more time there.

The last time we were there was 2010, which seems like an eon ago. All I can say is that the place is even more crowded than I remember, and moving around in Ephesus is even more difficult.

We spent time mainly at the Terrace houses this time around as it was really rushed last time. The first thing I like to say is that I am glad that we decided to go back and re-visit the Terrace houses.

First off, although Ephesus is really crowded, the Terarce houses was not. As it is an extra fee attraction, the majority of the cruise ship tour groups didn't go into the Terrace houses.

Secondly, they have a few more things restored, new information (explanation) boards were added, new pathway were also added, and some were raised. As an example, the area where you view the Poseidon mosaic is now even higher so that more people can see the full mosaic and a vantage point towards the front. The unfortunate part is that as you are higher up, it is harder to get a good picture of the Poseidon mosaics.

There is an up side to the new higher platforms. With more wall paintings were restored, you can see more rooms, more walls (and wall paintings) and more mosaics from the new higher vantage point. Some of the rooms are now "named" and from the mosaics, they identify the room as a boy's room or a girl's room.

The Terrace houses is work in progress. The wall paintings and the mosaics are like giant jigsaw puzzles. They appeared to be more organized and you can see semi-finished mosaics on the tables in the work areas. I distinctly remember that many were just "piles" of stuff on our last visit. Maybe in a few years time, they will have a few more things done and worth another visit.

Although a lot of people visited Ephesus, few (especially cruise ship passenegrs) visited the Ephesus Museum which is located in the town of Selcuk itself. It would be a good "companion" visit to see both the ruin and the museum.
The temple of Artemis, which was the grandest of the 7 anceint wonder was maybe 10 minutes away. However, there is nothing much restored there and the most spectacular was the one single column. There is a mosque and a church near by and it is rumored that St Paul was buried below the church.

We have originally wanted to visit both Priene and Miletus as well but there is just not enough time to see both. Although Priene is along the way to Miletus, we decided to skip Priene. Ephesus overshadows both Priene and Miletus as Ephesus is more developed and have more vistors. Like a diamond in the rough, with less visitors, Miletus is actually a more enjoyable place to visit. I thought the theater at Miletus was better restored than the one in Ephesus. You can explore the "tunnels" below the seating area. The bathhouse was also quite well preserved. After visiting Miletus, I am thinking we should have visited Priene as well. But then, what should we have skipped? Ephesus because we have been there? But then, we would have missed the updated Terrace Houses. Well, there is always a next time.

By the way, it appears a lot of "foreigners" are buying the new condos in Kusadasi. The going rate for a one bedroom condo (in the new area) is less than 100K USD and there is a thriving foreigner community in Kusadasi. Never visited the beaches by Kusadasi but drove by a few and they looked nice enough. Don't know if I wanted to live in Turkey though.
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Sep 12th, 2013, 06:19 AM
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Nice report E. Did you use a private tour guide in Kusadasi?

The condo price seems very reasonable. Sue is bugging me about getting a condo somewhere in Hawaii but I would rather rent and stay for a few mos. in winter when we retire. The thought of another mortgage and assoc. fees of around $500.00 per mo. minimum is too much.

Anyway keep posting, am following!
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Sep 14th, 2013, 02:42 PM
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We didn;t buy at Palm Spring, Phoneix or Florida for the same reason a few years back. Teh cost is around 10 to 15K for upkeep. Unelss I'm there 6 months of the year or more, I can rent an executive home for a whole lot less when I needed to a couple weeks at a time. Besides, we are planning trips outside the country as well so that mean less use on the sunnty south property.
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Sep 14th, 2013, 08:14 PM
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I am following too !
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Sep 15th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Next stop was Mykonos and we got there quite early. There is one place that I wanted to spend a lot of time at and it is Delos, and according to Greek mythology, where light was born. It’s also a UNESCO world heritage site.

Delos is an interesting place. It looks barren, there is no visible water soruce on the surface of the island, and why did people settled here and thrived?

The main water source back then was well water and rain water collection and it supported a population of more than 20,000. It is quite amazing and the "central" underground water reservoir is an enginering wonder, consist of a series of arches to support the roof and there are channels to let rain water flow into it. The main reservoir is not on the low ground, meaning it will gravity feed the reserved water to the main population, without a water tower. I think people back then are a whole lot smarter than we are today. The guide called it the theatre Cistern, as the rain water collection channel came from the massive Theatre, which is near by. By the way, the front row of the theatre had marbled back rests.

We arrived Delos after a short boat ride and the first impression of the place was only so so. The sea was choppy, not too many people is making the trip, and the boat pitched quite a bit. It was early in the morning as well, making it even less attractive for the genral tourists. The place was not busy.

From the dock, all you see is a vast landscape of ruins, and at a distance, some small houses and a couple larger buidlings. One would be the cafeteria and the other would be the museum. Both are a fair distance away from dock.

We made our way up the hill where the residential areas were. There were a number of big houses (and smaller ones) where the pillars were the main "attraction". Most of the houses are designed the same way, a big courtyard in the middle and surroudned all 4 sides by "rooms" and there are no windows facing the streets. Natural lights comes from the open courtyard and brighten the rooms around the courtyard and no street noise there is no outside windows facing the street.

There is only one exception. There is one house with an outside window, and there were iron bars on the window. The guide speculate that was the residence of the "money changer" as Delos was a free trading port and all kinds of money are being accepted, and this was the palce where the currency changer took place.

The Delos ruin is still actively being worked on and we noticed people were surveying, taking measurements, drawings etc throughout our visit.

A lof of the artifcts are actually housed in the museum and only replicas are being displayed at the original ruin site. So it is worth the walk to the museum and see the "real" articles. Most impressive were the various statue of Artemis. The real lions are housed there too.

There are ruins further up the hill and there are steep steps that leads up to the top of Kymthos where many of the sanctuaryies are either located, or along the way up. There are many sanctuaries as all religions and gods were accepted and temples were built to worship them by the various groups. A true melting pot and religious freedom and tolerance thousands of years ago. The view at the top is breath taking, imagining the actual town in the full view below.

The Kynthos Cave in interesting enough as it mostly men made. A large boulder located in the middle of the room and it was the pedestal for the statue of Hercules. The remains of the statue was removed.

The second most impressive building left standing (sort of standing) is the Egyptian temple of Isis. In my mind, the most impressive was the house of Hermes where it is a two story building with stone (marble?) columns on the second floor! Remember the main courtyard being the source of light and gathering palce for those big houses? This probably is the biggest one with a second floor. You have to see it to appreciate it.

The Greek mythology had it that Appolo and Artemis were born at Delos and the residence think the island is sacred. They would not allow anyone to born there or die there. I am not sure how they could have enforced that, but there is no grave sites at Delos. At least we know they were not allowed to buried there.

As Delos was an open sea port and the residence firmly believed that the island is sacred and they were protected by the Gods, there are no defensive wall of any sort. The truth was, they were just wealth waiting to be plundered, and as a result, it was sacked, plundered and burnt more than once and there lies the ruins.

By the time we got back to Mykonos, it was already quite late. We walked through "little Venice" and the windmill (tourist trap) walk around the town a bit and called it a day. For us, Delos is the destination, not Mykonos.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 10:35 PM
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Thanks for posting, looking forward to the rest of your trip report
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Sep 17th, 2013, 05:57 AM
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Nice report E. I must say you delve into the history of places. Very nice indeed.

We roamed the small and narrow streets which we found rather quaint and relaxing.
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 08:27 AM
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After spending a week at Niagara-on-the-lake, the East Med Greek Isles TR will contiue. Sorry about the time dealy between posts. Duty calls ...

After Mykonos, the next stop was Piraeus, the sea port for Athens. Since we have spent some time at Athens a few years back, we decided to head out to Corinth.

At the ancient Corinth ruin, the most impressive pillars were those form the temple of Apollo. The three remaining pillars from the Temple of Octavia is of a different design and is imrpessive as well. But everyone was talking about the BHMA (not Bimmer the car but is pronounced the same way ) which was part of the Agora where Paul had preached to the Cornithians in the early days.

The main road in Corinth, the Lechaion Road is almost as wide as the main road in Ephesus, and you can see Acrocorinth Fortress towering not too far away. The gate and the fortifications of Acrocorinth is impressive considering when it was built. If you only look at a small section up close, a almost looks like a miniture version of the Great Walls of China.

Of all the fountains around Cornith, the Peirene fountain is probably the best restored. You can see the remnants of the surface channels and behind the impressive facade behind the rectangular pool are a series of tunnels dug into the clay beneath the Lechaion Road. The clay overhanging was supported by a series of poros limestone cross-walls, which created six chambers. It is very hard to describe but all I can say it is an enginerring marvel.

And would an ancient Greek or Roman ruin be complete without a theatre? Of course not. But the theatre is not well restored. You can imagine the size and all but is nothing like the one in Ephesus or Delphi. The Roman Odeion was in slightly better shape.

The Museum that housed the articfacts is worth a visit. The "portable" air condiioning units made it a nice escape from the sun and the heat (93 degrees!) if you stand in front of it. They put on display many headless statutes in front of the museum. I wodner if it was done on purpose.

Inside the museum, the pottery display adn the Griffin mosaic are the highlights in there although the marble heads and the stone coffin are interesting as well. There is a display case of "feet". They are quite life like. I have not come across a display quite like that.

A big part of the reason for heading to Cornith is the ancient Cornith canal. The current configuration was completed in 1893. It is 4 miles long and only 70 feet wide.
There is no locks and the entire passage is at sea level, so you might as well call it a channel instead of a canal technically. The canal effectivly cut Peloponnesian peninsula away from the Greek mainland, making Peloponessian peninsula effectively an island.

The Corinth canal connects the Aegean Sea to the Golf of Corinth.

The first attempt to creat the channel was Periander in the 7th century BC. The plan was abandoned as he instead built an overland stone carruageway route (Diolkos) where ships (much smaller and lighter back then) could be towed from one side of the isthmus of Cronith to the other. We were told the remnants of the Diolkos still exist.

Several Roman Emplorers also had plans to construct the canal but none of them come to fruitation as they were all murdered before anything got started.

The first real attempt was Nero, personally breaking the ground with a pickaxe and removing the first basket-load of dirt in 67 AD according to Suetonius. This is the start of the "ground breaking" ceremony still being held worldwide to this day.

The construction crew back then consisted of 6,000 slaves and digging trenches from both sides. The work stopped after about 1/10 of the entire distance (due to Nero's death?) A relief of Hercules was left by Nero's workers as a memorial of the attempt and can still be seen in the canal cutting. Others have called it "Nero's relief" but I doubt the slaves will actually put it there for him.

Some said that the trenches were backed filled after Nero's death. The modern canal followed the same route as the ancient plan so none of the original work from Nero's days remains.

It is quite impressive to watch the boats passing through the canal. There is a bungee dive there but it was not operating when we were there.
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 11:14 AM
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Nice. How far is Corinth from the port?
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 07:39 PM
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Larry, took us about an hour and 15 minutes early in the morning with light traffic. I think it is less than 60 miles.
Next stop is Katakolon where we visited ancient (and present day) Olympia.
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Sep 23rd, 2013, 11:33 AM
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Some of the most amazing antiquities in Greece are a short drive beyond Corinth, the Mycenae and Epidavros.
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