Good Morning Everybody,
I'm writing this as we continue our adventures on towards Barcelona, Spain from Rome. Today we begin the final leg of our two month trip to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain. We spend a few days in Barcelona and then we're off to Madrid where I present two programs for the Spanish Professional Photographers at their 3rd Convencion Internacional del Foro de Fotografos en Madrid and I have to say, I'm looking forward to getting back into "work" mode and am really getting fired up for my programs next week.
But, that isn't to say that we won't enjoy a little of the sights and treasures of what beautiful Spain has to offer.
What a TOTALLY fantastic trip it has been so far! Our travels throughout Italy have been amazing, but I must confess, I think our Mediterranean cruise has been my favorite leg of our journeys. LaDawn disagrees with me. She loved all the cities in Italy and our extended adventures within those locations. I felt totally relaxed for the 12 days we sailed the seas and really enjoyed our sometimes abbreviated stops along the way. I'm ready to sign back up tomorrow!!!
The cool thing about the cruise were the varied ports of call - from Santorini, Greece (LaDawn’s favorite); Naples, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey and all destinations in between - it was a marvelous, beautifully exotic, and for me, a completely relaxing journey. Istanbul seems like weeks ago at this point but still left us with the wonderful memories of their beautiful Middle Eastern art, culture and storied history.
Next it was on to Ephesus, Turkey – another exciting location to visit the antiquity of millenniums past and walk the same road walked by Cleopatra and Marc Anthony.
It was interesting to see how one of the most famous figures in Christian history was also linked to this part of the world. Standing where St. Paul preached to the Ephesians to joining the thousands of Christian pilgrims to visit the Virgin Mary's holy resting place – amazing, historic, humbling, photographic, and FULL or rich culture and history!
Next it was on to Athens, Greece. We had no pre-arranged tour scheduled and decided to take our chances with the local tour guides. This tactic is a little dicey but after being approached several times by other taxi drivers offering their guide services, we settled on the very flamboyant and totally affable, (only pay if you like) very humorous Yannis pictured right - between Joshua and I.
Once we climbed into his taxi, the adventure began. He quickly told us that as a taxi driver in Athens, he has two licenses - a license to drive and a license to kill ;~) We knew we were headed towards an exciting adventure from that point forward. Yannis had spent his entire life in Athens and he knew everybody in town including a few dogs he spotted along the way which he called out to by name.
Yannis' tour finished up at what he considered the best baklava shop in Athens - it offered an amazing presentation of sweet goodies a few of which we promptly purchased for our continued travels on the ship. We soon agreed with his opinion. Yummy!!
On To The Greek Isles - Mykonos
After departing Athens - sailing off into the sunset is always one of the highlights of the cruise stops for me - we headed for Mykonos - one of the Greek Islands' treasured jewels. The island is quite interesting to explore with all the twisting and turning walkways always seemingly to lead to another shop or two for the ardent explorer and shopper.
Two cool things about Mykonos - the little Venice section of the town and the five windmills that stand sentry-like over the town.
Our visit was short but still pleasant and interesting certainly from a photographic point of view.
One More Famous Island To See Off The Coast Of Napoli
Our last stop was the city of Napoli or Naples as we know it in the states. Napoli's claim to fame - they invented the pizza!!!! This is the only country in the world that thinks pizza is a food group;~) Anyway, Naples is supposed to have the best in all of Italy. That may be the legend and part of their claim-to-fame, but we had sumptuous pizza in other cities as well.
Because LaDawn and I had already visited Naples as one of our previous destinations we opted to take a hydrofoil ride to the Isle of Capri and continue further up the mountain on a chairlift ride to the top of the island. The day was beautiful, the sun warm and sights were breathtaking! It is a shoppers dream come true, sorry LaDawn no room in our luggage for any new treasures!
I'm still amazed how the tour busses navigate the super narrow serpentine roads leading around the island. They pass each other with only inches (maybe even an inch) to spare, although one of our drivers did wipe out another driver's rear view mirror as he passed - he acted like is was a normal occurrence of events. Me, I would never buy a new car in this part of the world - dents and dings are evident everywhere, even on our rental car from Tuscany. Anyway, I digress ;~)
We left Naples about 6:00 p.m. It was a magical time to be heading back out to sea and from the 15th deck of the cruise ship watch the beauty of this city recede into the distance.
After landing back in Rome on Friday, we still had two days to explore a few parts of the city we had missed on our earlier visit two weeks before. The highlight of our stay this time (besides Mass at St Peter’s Basilica with Pope Benedict VI), was the fact that we had a great balcony room at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel with a spectacular view - yes, that is the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world that you see to the right in the image below. We spent hours soaking up the views on our balcony and enjoying a glass of wine during our stay.
Today it's off to Barcelona, Spain - a fabulous world class city – at least that is what we have been told by all we talked with before our trip. Me, I'm looking for the change of menu - out with the pasta and in with the tapas;~) One of the treats for LaDawn and I is sampling the local fare. Sadly we enjoyed our last Italian pizza and gelato in Rome yesterday. Let's see what we can find in Barcelona today. Our waist lines are certainly enjoying this trip as well!!
Hey gang, that's it for me today. I'm not quite sure what our schedule is these next few days but be sure to check back.
Hope to see you soon, David