Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mediterranean Cruise - Wrap up

Okay, I promise this is the last post on our trip. 
I am fitting in our last day in Greece, day at sea, and then a full day in Venice before 
we headed home to the States.  
Just to warn you, my favorite spot was probably Venice.  
It was beautiful! 
I mean the other places were beautiful too, but I could have taken pictures of all the
architecture, flowering pots hanging over balconies, fountains, and churches for days.
ALL of it was amazing. 
Day 7 
Katakolon, Greece 
The word of the day when we visited Katakolon was RELAX. 
We knew our trip was coming to an end, so we all 
wanted to enjoy some time relaxing and not going on another tour. 
We hadn't gotten our feet into the blue water of the Mediterranean yet, so 
we wanted to cross that off of our list too.  
We could see the sandy beach of Katakolon from our balcony on the cruise ship so 
we knew it wasn't too far.  
 On our way to the beach we walked through a little town with small shops on both sides 
of the street.  We did a little souvenir shopping, of course, and Kathy and Mom would catch me in alley ways taking random pictures of pots on stairs. 
It's what I do.  LOL
Some of my best souvenirs from the trip will be the photos I took!
We made it to the beach.
And we made it into the Mediterranean.  It was so clear and blue.
Relaxing..... accomplished.
 Day 8 
Spent on the ship... not much to tell.
Can you believe I didn't take one picture on day 8?
Day 9
Venice, Italy
It rained much of the day while we were in Venice. 
There were glimpses of the sun and we took advantage of each one of them. 
But even in the rain, Venice was beautiful. 
We departed the ship and got onto a water taxi.  
Since Venice is a city built on water there are no buses or cars or bicycles within the city. 
A water taxi took us straight to our hotel. 

It was all pretty surreal.

The steps led right into the canals.  
Even the moss growing on the steps and buildings was picturesque. 

With umbrellas in hand, we tackled the streets of Venice.  
It was easy to get lost in this city.  There are no straight main streets and 
the streets themselves are no larger than 4' in width, and bridges dot the landscape everywhere. 

{Rialto Bridge}
I had four things I wanted to do in Venice after reading the guide books. 
1.  See the Rialto Bridge
2.  Visit Piazza San Marco
3.  See the Gondola boats
4.  AND eat an Italian pizza
We were able to do 3 of the 4.  We didn't get a gondola boat ride, 
but it was raining and didn't look as much fun in the rain.  
But I got a bunch of pictures! 
I also did things I didn't have on any list. 
I drank out of a fountain in a square.. even with my mother cringing and telling me I shouldn't. 
I had fun shopping for purses. 
Oh My Goodness!  The purses. 
I was in heaven in the purse shops. 
There were so many I wanted to take home... only two found their way into my luggage. 

{Piazza San Marco}
We thought maybe the line for the Basilica wouldn't be long with the rain showers, but we were wrong. 
The long line wrapped around the building.  
We instead found a nice spot to view the Basilica and people watch while sipping cappuccinos.  
Seriously, someone needed to pinch me... and then musicians started to play.  
It was like a scene out of a movie.  
All three of us had smiles on our faces all day, even when we were navigating ourselves around 
water puddles and dodging out of the way from in-coming umbrellas.
We ended the night with a Vivaldi Concert.  
Earlier in the day we had sought refuge from a downpour of rain in a church and they just 
happened to be selling tickets to a Vivaldi concert later that night. 
We had front row seats and the music was superb! 

As much fun as I was having, I was ready to be home though. 
I couldn't wait to get home to cuddle with my kids and sleep in my own bed. 
So we said good-bye to Europe and hopped on a plane home. 
And as I sit here at home, with a mountain of clean laundry waiting to be folded and an even larger 
pile waiting to be washed, sticky kitchen floors, no food in the fridge, and 
a to do list a mile long... I am happy.  
I am so happy to be home and even happier to have these memories of a wonderful trip. 
I am a woman blessed.  
Blessed to be loved, blessed to be needed, and 
blessed to live this life I have been given.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mediterranean Cruise - Part 3

And that brings us to Part 3. 
I told you I was a terrible editor, picking my favorite photos is like picking a favorite child.  
I just can't do it. 
So on to Day 4 and 5 of of my trip.  
The meat of the trip. 
In both Ephesus and Athens, we had Private tours with the JESUS film.  They included 
visits to historical sites, readings from the Bible, and fellowship.  
It is hard to remember everything we learned and saw in these two ports because they were 
filled with so much history.  
Day 4
Kusadasi, Turkey
I did not really think I would really like the Turkey visit.  
To tell you the truth, I didn't know what the city of Ephesus was. 
Then as I learned more, I discovered that the city of Ephesus is what inspired Paul to write the book of Ephesians.  
 {One of our many tour guides on our trip.}  
The city of Ephesus was founded in the 11th century B.C.  
That alone is amazing.  The marble streets that we walked along were once lined with chariots.  
Chariots.  We are talking way back when before cars, electricity, or before even baby Jesus was born. 
  Only approximately 15% of the ancient city has been excavated.  
The stone work and ornate columns are architectural impressive.  It is fascinating that they created these awesomely large structures with their hands

 The main streets are made of pieces of marble that leads to the library.  
{what is left of the library}

 A portion of the city (the homes) are under a shelter constructed to help in excavating this portion of the city.  The detail and precision the archaeologists are taking to put the ruins back together is amazing.  It's like doing a billion piece puzzle. 

 One of the many mosaic tile floors.  
  {the theater}
For lunch in Turkey, we ate outside at a Turkish rug factory.  
The setting for lunch was amazing and the food was probably one of the best meals we had all trip.  
We listened to Erick Schenkel and Henri Aoun, from the JESUS film, teach from the Word and it was all very inspiring.   Then after lunch we were given a tour of the factory.  

 I had known that silk came from silk worms, but had no idea the silk came from their cocoons and the whole process of extracting the silk threads from the cocoons while the worms are still inside.  
 And each rug is made by hand and takes 9 - 13 months to make.  
That is craftsmanship. 
 Then you look at the rugs.  That in itself is entertaining.  The men 
just throw these rugs around and spin them  in their hands just to catch different light.  The silk rugs can catch the light and look one color, and then flip it and look completely different another way.  
Stomachs full and our minds perplexed we headed back to the boat, our home away from home.  
We got ready for yet another meal. 
It is easy to see how one can step off the boat weighing much more than when they boarded. 

Yet another sunset.  
And another sunrise.  
Day 5
Athens, Greece
We approached Athens very early in the morning.  The moon was still out and the sun had yet to rise above the mountains. 
Our first stop here, was the Ancient city of Corinth.  
Think 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians.
 Again the architectural structures were amazing. 

 The temple of Apollo.  
This temple originally 38 columns of the Doric order (something I learned in Art History) but only 7 are standing today. 
After visiting Corinth we headed to Athens and the Acropolis.  
 {The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis}
Art History came in handy once again, as we walked around the acropolis.  It was a treacherous walk because none of the paths or steps are uniform or handicap accessible in any way.  

 The city of Athens stretches on for as far as the eyes can see in every direction.  
Marble steps are everywhere.  They are slippery even when not wet, so I can't imagine trying to climb the Acropolis in the rain. 

{At the top}
 Near the Acropolis is the Areopagus, or Mars Hill.  
This is the place Apostle Paul gave his most popular sermon 
 from Acts 17.
And then to leave you with more sunrise and sunset pictures.... because I 
couldn't get enough.