Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cruising the Med

Good thing there isn't any weight scales on our cruise ship, the Celebrity Constellation, as I'm sure I've gained a few pounds over 12 days of unbridled dining and drinking after boarding in Istanbul. Now, I'm not a real drinker so anytime I have more than two drinks, or any any, in a day is huge. But what a great way to continue our travels after 2 weeks in northern Italy and 5 days plus in Istanbul. In all, on our own and with the cruise ship, we visited 20 cities in appropriately one month, traveling by planes, trains, subways, trams, ferries, taxis, buses, cable cars, feet, and a 91,000 ton 965 feet luxury ship. It was truly a whirlwind trip for us. From remote villages and cities built along rocky coastlines and mountain lakes to old walled cities and major hubs of humanities such as Milan, Istanbul and Athens, we loved seeing and experiencing all of these places, however short or long the duration of our stay. It's difficult to single out a top highlight during the cruise since all the 'ports of call' had something unique and memorable to offer beyond the ubiquitous souvenir shops. Here's some favorite pictures from the cruise where we visited Chania (Crete), Katakolon, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Split, Athens, Santorini (Ia and Thira), and Kusadasi (Ephesus). Although I enjoyed visiting all these places, two cities that I would like to revisit should the opportunity arise, are Dubrovnik (because it's visually stunning with its old city walls plus our visit was interrupted by rain) and Athens (because of its size there's so much more to explore beyond its ruins).

Chania, Island of Crete in Greece above and below

Corfu, Greece below

Dubrovnik, Croatia below

Split, Croatia below

Athens, Greece below

The Parthenon

Acropolis Museum

In front of the Parliament in Athens

A cruiser by BMW

Exploring Santorini, Greece below

Descending the mule trail in Thira

Visiting Ephesus ruins

Feral cats are a common sight

Good eats in Kusadasi


Monday, September 28, 2015


After Lake Como, we returned to Milan for one night then caught a flight to Istanbul where we had 4 days to explore before boarding a Celebrity Cruise ship located on the north side of Galata Bridge. Istanbul, with more than 14 million people and 12 million visitors annually, is a busy crowded aggressive city where vehicles speed pass within inches, hawkers perched on storefronts solicit your business, and chaotic crowds converge. Kay and I arrived just before the weekend during a traditional 4 day holiday, the Sacrifice Feast, so the crowds were heavier than normal, particularly on Saturday and Sunday. We visited the mosques, palaces, and museums; ate on the streets; browsed their colorful stores and markets places; used their crowded trams and ferries; and wandered Istanbul's neighborhoods on both the European and Asian continents. The hectic pace and endless street activity of this lively city often reminded us of Hong Kong. It's a constant hustle from the busiest streets to the narrow crowded hidden walkways and corridors. The people are friendly, but business comes first. Love it or not, once you visit Istanbul, you won't forget it. This is the first Islamic country we have visited and hopefully it won't be the last.

The Blue Mosque above and below.

From the Galata Bridge area.

Busy Istiklal Street in the Taksim area above and below.

Galata Bridge above and below

After sunset

Busy waterfront on a Saturday evening

Blue Mosque below

Visiting the Basilica Cistern below

Cruising the Bosphorus River above and below.

Meeting up with friends who are joining us on the cruise.

Kay and Pam at the Grand Bazaar

Dining out

Suleymaniye Mosque above and below

Spice Market above and below.

Topkapi Palace of the Sultans above and below

Visiting Hagia Sophia below, an ancient mosque now a museum.