Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Greek Cruise, 2010

At the airport waiting for our flight to be called.

Waiting on the corner in front of Harry's bar for our hostess to meet us to take us to our apartment in Venice.

We got to our apartment and got kind of settled in and then kind of wandered around to stay awake until it was time to meet Janet and her family.
Our apartment in Venice.

The Driggers' bedroom.

Our room.

Our first stop was St. Mark's Basilica. St. Mark's is where the Apostle Mark is buried -- right under the altar. Behind the altar is a beautiful golden altar piece that is studded with 15 rubies; 300 emeralds; 1500 pearls; and assorted sapphires, amethysts, and topaz.

The clock tower in St. Mark's Square.

The next place of interest was the Doge's Palace. Doge in Italian is "duke." We were able to see many different sites in and around the palace.

This is called the "Stairway to the Giants."

This is presumably an old gondola in the courtyard.

In the courtyard of the Doge's palace.

The "Bridge of Sighs" is the corridor which passes from the Doge's Palace to the prisons. In the 1400s Venice had a reputation for swift, harsh, and secret justice. The council of ten plus the Doge and his six advisers would meet and dole out punishment. Immediately upon conviction the prisoner was whisked to the prison. Through the windows on this bridge the prisoner would see his last look of Venice.

The view from the Bridge of Sighs looking out to Venice. The scary thing about justice in Venice is that someone could be accused anonymously by a letter dropped in a "mouth of truth" -- a drop box in the side of buildings.

The council of ten was eventually disbanded, but their descendants enforce the dress code at St. Mark's Basilica.

Next we walked back to St. Mark's Square to meet up with Rusty and the kids. We there found Leo and Emma feeding the many pigeons that are all over the square.

Then we went walking around Venice to see the sights. Here the kidlets are standing on one of the many, many bridges that span the canals.

We finally found the Rialta bridge. It is only one of five bridges that spans the Grand Canal. The original bridge dates back to 1180. The current one was built in 1588. The bridge linked the political side of Venice to the economic culture.

We then went for a gondola ride. We saw Vivaldi's house, Napolean's house (which is now the courthosue), Casanova's house, and Marco Polo's house which was the first prison of Venice.

We took a water taxi -- with all of our luggage -- to the dock where we were able to go through the check-in process relatively easy.

We got checked into our cabin before we left to go waive goodbye to Venice.

Port No. 1: Split, Croatia
It was a Sunday and most of the shops except for the touristy ones were closed. So basically we just walked around and enjoyed the sites.

I attended mass at the Church of St. Francis while Anne and Emma found the museum of a famous sculptor who was the grandfather of one of Anne's clients.

The main square in Split.

There were these street performers who walked throughout the entire city. The man in the tan jacket was a tag-along -- he danced and marched to his own drum beat. But he was rather amusing.

We also found the fish market while walking around -- you could smell it from a couple of blocks over.

Anne snapped this photo of the kidlet and me in one of the parks in Split.

Port No. 2: Corfu, Greece

Our first sight once stepping off the transfer bus was the old fort.

Anne and I walked over to the Jewish community and toured the Synagogue which was 400 years old. At the height the Jewish population was 2,000. They had their own school, bakery, and kosher deli. Today the population is only 60. They do not have their own Rabbi. One has to come from Israel on the High Holy days.

The people of Corfu commissioned this beautiful sculpture. The plaque reads: Never again for any nation.

We then toured the Church of St. Spyridon (Greek Orthodox)
It was built in 1596. The patron saint's body is contained in a silver reliquary in a small chapel beside the altar. People travel from all over Greece to kiss the feet and head of the reliquary. The casket is carried through the town four times a year. He is the patron saint of Corfu because he is said to have the island four times: 1) from famine; 2) two times from the plague; and 3) from the hated Turks.

We meandered through the streets and ate the most delicious Greek food at one of the recommended restaurants.

And happened across this random man ringing bells outside of one of the Greek Orthodox churches.

Port No. 3: Athens, Greece
We almost had to cancel our Athens port due to the high winds. Apparently Captain Tommy had to argue with the port authorities. Glad he won as this was the main port that we booked the trip to see.

At the foot of the Acropolis is the rock where St. Paul preached in AD 51. The sermon was titled "On an Unknown God." Here he gained his first convert Dionysios who became the patron saint of Athens.

The gang at the Parthenon.

The Parthenon atop the Acropolis. Acropolis literally means "the high tower." The Parthenon was built to honor Athena after she won the battle with Neptune to become the goddess of Athens.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus -- begun in the 6th Century BC and completed in AD 132 by Hadrian. Less than 20 of the original 120 columns remain, with one laying on its side. Remains of Roman houses, the city walls, a Roman bath, and Hadrian's arch surround the remains.

The Ancient Agora, the birthplace of democracy. It was the commercial hub of ancient Athens with shopping, schools, theaters... This is the Hephaistion which is the best-preserved ancient Greek temple.

The parliament building. Was formerly King Otho's royal palace until he was forced into exile. It houses the tomb of the unknown soldier, and the changing of the guard occurs every hour on the hour.

The stadium where the first modern-day Olympics was held.

Port No. 4: Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos was probably one of the biggest surprises of the cruise. It was the first port that actually looks like what we think all of Greece looks like -- the white houses with the brightly-painted shutters and doors.

And the biggest pelican I've ever seen!!!!!

We ate lunch at a little cafe in town on the square. It was yummy!!! I had what was called lamb casserole. Anne had a Greek salad (she was being good) and a Greek beer.

We walked across the town and ended up at this little point where the rocks went out over the water. Beautiful scenery.

There was lots of fishing boats around Mykonos.

There was this little village of windmills at the top of the city. There were actual residences in the windmills and little stores.

Port No. 5: Katakolon, Greece
This was the island where the ancient Olympics were held.

As we drove out to Olympia, we would see these boxes. They're kind of like the equivalent of our road-side crosses. They're placed there to either thank the gods that someone was spared in an automobile crash or to remember someone who died in a crash.

The first Olympic village.

Rusty, Emma, and Leo racing in the stadium where the Olympics were held.

We then got to tour the museum. Evidently we could take pictures of the statues but not of people posing with the statues -- as I found out after I snapped this one.

We found this little bar/cafe in Katakolon where we enjoyed some adult beverages.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Today my sister Janet and I drove into France. We saw the American Cemetery at Lorraine which was a very moving site. We then drove to Metz (pronounced Mess) where we had a great lunch; saw a beautiful, old cathedral; and then went shopping and window shopping. We then drove back through the back roads of France to Germany. Great, relaxing day.