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Athens to Barcelona Cruise

Norwegian Sun
October 21 - November 14, 2009
Click here to see the itinerary

Nafplion, Greece

The beautiful port town of Nafplion is located about
2 hours south of Athens.
  We climbed the 999 steps up to the Palamidi Fortress
that towers above the town and features
a spectacular panoramic view.

Cairo, Egypt

The "new" Desert Highway runs between Alexandria and Cairo. The bus trip of 120 miles took about 3 hours.   Most of the trip was even more barren than Arizona,
but the sparce oasis along the side of the road
looked like a golf course.
We couldn't believe we were there!
The Great Pyramids rose out of the desert behind us.
  Behind the pyramids was nothing
but a huge expanse of desert.
Camels were everywhere
and completed the dream picture.
  Tourists are not allowed to climb the pyramids, (thankfully!) but you can go right up to them and sit at the base.
The Sphinx stands as the guardian to the pyramids and looks out at the sprawling city of Cairo below.   We were able to walk all around
the nearly 5,000 year old Sphinx.
We had lunch, with a belly dancer performing,
while floating down the Nile.
  We cruised past the area on the river bank where it is believed that Moses was found in the reeds.
We saw people living the way they have
for thousands of years.
  Women were washing their clothes and dishes in the river.
The Alabaster Mosque is one of the
architectural gems of Cairo.
  Families come to worship even outside
the 5 daily prayer times.
Cairo is a city of 10 million people with all the interesting food, shops, sounds, smells, pollution,
trash, dust, traffic jams and variety that goes with it.

Alexandria, Egypt

The Alexandria streets were full of shops
and incompleted buildings. We found out that people don't have to pay taxes until the building is done,
so most structures are left unfinished.
  Men at streetside cafes smoked with water pipes.
Bakeries feature baklava and other
honey, nut and date sweets.
  Men stop where they are in the streets 5 times a day
for the call to prayer.
The modern Alexandria library is incredibly hi-tech and huge. It has been built to hold millions of texts and caches all web pages every 90 days to make them eternally accessible on the Internet. The front of the building is an infinity pool by the seaside corniche.   We were happy to see so many university women studying in the library and using the computers. We talked to one 20 year old, who is studying the field of "security", who welcomed us to Egypt.

Iraklion, Crete, Greece

Children waved the Greek flag during a parade we watched celebrating a National Holiday.   Frescos from 1450 BC showed a man leaping over a bull while women distracted it. Sure makes Portuguese and Spanish bullfighting look like a modern sport!

Oia (Ia), Santorini, Greece

Classic Santorini -
a blue domed and white-washed church.
  A perfect day with perfect weather.

Mykonos, Greece

The "Little Venice" neighborhood of Mykonos was filled with shops, tavernas & caf├ęs.   Like Santorini most of the houses were
white-washed to reflect the hot summer sun.

Ephesus, Turkey

This is the home that is believed to be where the
Virgin Mary lived in her later years when St. John,
who was from Ephesus, was caring for her.
  Nearby is the old city of Ephesus.
Paul preached to the Ephesians in these streets.
The library of Celsus is in the background.
The Grand Theatre is still used today for
musical performances.
  There are so many artifacts just lying on the ground, most with carvings and inscriptions. Very few areas were roped off. We even saw one priceless carved stone someone had used as a stepping stone on the stairs!

Istanbul, Turkey

The Topkapi Palace was the home of the
Sultan and his harem.
  Most of the rooms had long divans and areas for lounging. The really spectacular part of the palace, though,
was the treasury with huge gems stones and pearls
like none we had ever seen.
The Blue Mosque is a practicing place of worship. Everyone is required to take off their shoes
and women must wear a scarf to enter.
  The Grand Bazaar is the largest and oldest covered market in the world. It contains a labyrinth of 4,000 shops for carpets, scarves, antiques, silver and gold - you name it! Hot tea is served to clients as they bargain for wares.
The Bazaar continues nearby as a Spice Market with rows and rows of who knows what?!   Yes, we've had goat's cheese before, but not like this! Sadaam, the son of a cheese seller, explained
that to make the cheese; the cow and sheep's milk
is placed in the skin of a goat for 1 1/2 years.
You can buy it still in the skin.

Athens, Greece

It was a thrill to see the solid gold 16th Century B.C. "Mask of Agamemnon" in person.   With Zeus looking over his shoulder,
Paul struck an Olympian pose.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Red tile roofs filled the hillsides and steep, narrow streets were a Dubrovnik staple.
The 14th Century Franciscan Monastery houses the oldest working Apothecary in Europe. It also has over 30 holes from rockets that hit it during the recent war.   Huge city walls have protected the entrance to the old harbor for years.

Venice, Italy

The Venice canals were as beautiful as ever
despite two days of heavy rain..
  Risers were still in place in the Piazza San Marco
to keep the people above the flood waters
that had filled the square yesterday.
Romantic gondolas and carnaval masks - symbols of the city.

Naples, Italy

The Spanish Quarter of Naples has streets lined with a continuous market of vegetables, flowers and the morning's catch of fresh fish and seafood.   The Christmas market was in the historic area.
Locally crafted nativity sets and thousands of different characters to put in them were for sale.