Thursday, October 24, 2013

Napflion and Mykonos Greece

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 – Napflion, Greece Another gorgeous day…what a great time of year to travel to this region. We were in the lovely town with direct access to several ancient sites: Epidaurus, Tiryns, Argos, Dendra and Midea, Lerna and Mycenae. The theatre of Epidaurus is the most prefect and renowned monument of its kind, combining superb acoustics, elegance and symmetrical proportions. Mycenae is known for the Lions Gate over the entrance of this acropolis. There are two royal graves a monumental tholos tomb and an onsite museum. We opted to explore the town as we had been to Epidaurus and Mycenae on a previous trip and we had a great day! The first street we wandered through had the high school kids playing soccer. They were constantly popping over the fence to go to the grocery store for coffee and cigarettes…We found our way to the Archaeological Museum of Nauplion (you will notice there are several ways to spell the name of this town) which is housed in a magnificent Venetian building from 1713. They have tools and pottery from the Stone Age and the famous Mycenaean body armor from Dendra. We found the Town Hall and the Mayor’s communication director gave us a tour. St. George Cathedral was built in the 15th century by the Venetians. With each reigning power, this place of worship changed from a Catholic church to an Ottoman mosque and back again several times. We wandered to the edge of the town for a wonderful view of the sea. They had three natural seawater pools built in to the edge of the promenade and it looked to be a lovely place to swim. We took the elevator from the Naupflion Hotel up to the top of the town and walked to the Clocktower. This area was settled by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Turks. The clocktower was built during the reign of King Otto in the 19th century but later destroyed in WWII. It was rebuilt using a surviving Bavarian clock mechanism in 1949. The St. Spyridon church is mostly known as the location where the national hero and Greece’s first governor was murdered and we saw the bullet scars at the entrance of the church. There is one surviving Ottoman fountain used for cleansing before entering the mosque for prayer. The first parliament of Greece met here in the Palia Vouli. The Palamidi Castle sits high above the town; built between 19711-14, this huge Venetian fortress was designed to withstand all invaders and artillery. It fell to the Ottomans in 1715 after only a one-siege! You can take a taxi to the top or walk the 999 steps! Worked from the steps of the restaurant for about an hour and back onboard just prior to sailing. I had arranged a private tour of the galley for the Ensemble group! The Chef personally escorted us through the kitchen and we enjoyed the caviar and champagne while he explained each section of the kitchen and service areas. They bake over 2700 breadsticks daily!! And we are only 200 passengers… We had a wonderful dinner at a hosted officer table with Aleksander Belshov, Chief Engineer, and Lizette Elllis, Shore Excursion Manager, with three others from the UK. We are still trying to get to the specialty restaurant and each time we make a reservation, something else appears… Simon Gillespie, cruise director, performed a wonderful cabaret show of Peter Allen’s songs; Peter was an Australian entertainer from rural Australia who married Liza Minnelli and wrote some of the era’s most evocative songs: I Go To Rio, I Honestly Love You, Quiet Please, Tenterfield Saddler, among others. Wednesday, October 23, 2013 – Mykonos, Greece – the "windy" island This quintessential Greek island is marked by whitewashed houses, domed churches, imposing windmills and a labyrinth of winding streets designed to disorient pirates and make the ”shopper” in each of us feel right at home. The color blue is bold and bright on every door, shutter and window frame. The harbor has colorful fishing boats and the seaside cafes are the place to be seen. This island comes alive at night time – this is all about shopping, beach, yachts, dining, coffee shops and night life. According to legend, Hercules killed the Giants and threw them into the sea where they petrified and turned into huge rocks, forming the island of Mykonos. A few years ago, I toured the island of Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis, the children of Zeus and Leto. This sacred island is uninhabited now but its first settlements dated to the 3rd millennium BC. It houses the Sanctuary of Apollo complex, the area of the Sacred Lake, Terrace of Lions, the sanctuaries on Cynthus, and a commercial harbor district. Today, the seas were slightly rough so our tenders were not large enough for a calm ride so they hired larger tenders to transport us from the ship to the pier. We wandered the streets trying to avoid the motor scooter and cars on extremely narrow streets. Another LARGE ship was in port so the streets were bustling and after being onboard a smaller ship for a week now, the crowds were a bit much. We walked to the windmills which are the first thing you see when you sail in to Mykonos. We found the post office, the naval museum, folklore museum, a million small shops selling everything Greek you can imagine and a zillion coffee shops, ice cream parlors and dozens of closed night clubs. Back to the ship for an outdoor lunch at the Veranda. I really like to eat outside and they are there at your beck and call for whatever you may need. I napped in the very front of the ship and had the whirlpool to myself!! It was sublime. The hot water and bubbles and the wind rushing around me and the warm sun on my face…it was relaxing. But far too windy even for me! So after an hour, I was back inside and working. The seas are not calm and we do feel the movement in the ship but so far, so good. Entertainment tonight is Mark Donoghue an accomplished instrumentalist, singer, composer and arranger playing the mandolin, piano, guitar, harmonica and violin.