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Caroline


9 Blog Entries
1 Trip
4 Photos

Trips:

Europe 2009

Shorthand link:

http://blogabond.com/Caro233




Capital of Two Empires

Istanbul, Turkey


Arrived in Istanbul today. We arrived at noon so we got to see the city as we arrived, saw the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet) and Aya Sofia from the ship. Once docked we got on our tour bus which started off by stopping at the New Mosque, which we went inside to see. This mosque was built in the 16th century. We went into this mosque and not the Blue Mosque because it is Ramadan and the Blue Mosque is closed to tourists during this time. After the New Mosque, which was really beautiful, we went to the Blue Mosque to take pictures of the outside and then walked over to the Aya Sofia. This was first a greek orthodox church which was destroyed from fire and earthquakes and then the site became a christian church in the 6th century and then was later taken over by muslims. It is no longer a practising religious site but a museum so we went inside and were told alot of the history. It was beautiful inside, even though it doesn't look like much from the outside. After that we walked over to some underground water system. After this it was to the Grand Bazaar. All you can say is Wow, think WEM but all small shops and has men standing outside each shop asking you to come into their shop. Tonight last night on the ship. Tomorrow off to the hotel and next day back home.

All in all a great trip!

permalink written by  Caroline on September 16, 2009 from Istanbul, Turkey
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Ephesus

Izmir, Turkey


Ship arrived in Izmir, Turkey this morning. We had a tour booked for Ephesus; which is an old city built 3000+ years ago. Got off the ship once we were cleared by Turkish officials and were given a landing card; its kind of like a visa you receive it when you get off the boat and have to give it back to Turkish officials when you get back on and was told very specifically not to lose it. So we walked to the tour bus and met our tour guide, Esther. The drive to Ephesus took about an hour; we saw lots of countryside, which had cotton plants, olive trees and other fruit trees. We heard a little about Turkish history as we headed to Ephesus. Once in Ephesus we walked around the historical/archaelogical site. Only 20% of Ephesus has been excavated but it is the most complete ancient city excavated in the world so far. Ephesus is amazing, what we saw was actually thAe third version or site of Ephesus (the one built by the Romans). The roads were all made of marble and most of the buildings are marble. Donna wouldn't let me bring home a column, I thought it would make a great countertop :). We also stayed to watch a show that they put on; they were all dressed as Romans and there was a gladiator fight and some dancing, it was really neat. After that we had some time to wander the shops; bought my pashmina - yaaa! Then back on the bus. Next stop was a Turkish Carpet showplacce, where they showed us how to make a Turkish carpet (double knots and all). Then they showed us completed carpets to show the difference in materials used. Of course then there was time if you wished to purchase a carpet. I thought they were too pretty to walk on so obviously didn't buy one.
All in all it was a great day; I'm happy we saw Ephesus and didn't stick around Izmir like lots of people did.


permalink written by  Caroline on September 15, 2009 from Izmir, Turkey
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Piraeus & Athens

Athinai, Greece


Today we docked in Piraeus which is a city adjacent to Athens. We got off the ship and headed to a tour bus which took us through Piraeus and into Athens. The first stop this morning was the Acropolis, which is where the Parthenon is. Once we got off the bus; we walked up to the Acropolis which in 30 degree heat plus tons of humidity is not an easy feat (especially with all these little old people in front of you). So once at the top and still alive it was awesome, the Parthenon is absolutely amazing and you could see all of Athens from up there. One the way up & down we saw all these dogs just lying down in the shade (see they're way smarter than us humans :)). After the Acropolis we wandered some of the streets close by and then got back on the bus which took us to the stadium that was used for the first modern day olympics in 1896. After that it was more a tour of Athens and back to the ship. Great experience; again another city that you could spend more time in.

permalink written by  Caroline on September 14, 2009 from Athinai, Greece
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Olympia

Katakolon, Greece


We booked a tour to Olympia for our stop in Katakolon, Greece. Katakolon is a port village that is quite small, there are only about 1200 residents. So we got on a bus that took about 30 minutes to get to Olympia. Olympia is the village that held the first olympics. Our tour included a guided walk of the archaelogical site. We walked around this site that dates back to 776 BC, which is the first year the olympics were held. We had kind of dressed warmer because the forecast called for 23 degree weather and rain but it turned out to be about 30 degrees and very humid. So we kept stopping and sitting down on some of the ruins; only in Europe do they allow you to sit on something that is 3000 years old :). After the tour of the archaelogical site we wandered the village of Olympia for a while, which is also quite small. After that it was back on the bus for the ride back to the cruise ship. Stopped at the duty free shop near the ship and thought about buying some Ouzo since it was only 2 euros but everyone talked me out of it since you're not actually allowed to bring liquour back on the ship. They hold it for you until the end of the cruise.

permalink written by  Caroline on September 13, 2009 from Katakolon, Greece
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Venice

Venice, Italy


Yahoo we're in Venice. Venice has always been a city I've wanted to visit. The ship docked a ways away from the centre of the city, so we took a water shuttle to St. Mark's Square. The square is absolutely amazing, I loved the architecture. We wandered a bit and ended up on this back street (is there a back street in Venice???) where we stopped for some lunch. We all had pizza which was totally different from the pizza served in Naples. During lunch we admired gondolas going by; thought about taking one but heard it was really expensive so we didn't. We continued to walk around, over bridges, and down side streets until it was time to take the water shuttle back to the cruise ship. Venice was totally awesome and someplace I'd like to explore some more.

permalink written by  Caroline on September 11, 2009 from Venice, Italy
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia


Today the ship stopped in Dubrovnik; it did not dock we had to use tenders to get to shore. Once there our tour started, we chose a historical tour of Dubrovnik. Met our tour guide, Kate and then headed to the bus. We boarded the bus to see a panaramic view of Old Town, our ship which was anchored close to the little green island (actual name of island). Took pictures from the look out point; well me and my dad did as mom and Donna didn't like that the viewing platform was a straight drop to the sea. We got back on the bus and headed back to Old Town. In Old Town we had a walking tour which showed us a lot of what happened even as near as their last war in 1992 when Croatia became it's own country (before it was part of the Republic of Yugoslavia). The tour included tours of the Maritime museum and another museum. Dubrovnik is an absolutely beautiful place to visit; the Old Town is all Stone and dates back to many centuries ago.


permalink written by  Caroline on September 10, 2009 from Dubrovnik, Croatia
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Napoli

Naples, Italy


Today we're in Naples, or Napoli. We didn't book a tour today, so it's off the ship and walking around the city. Once off the ship we were basically attacked by dozens of taxi drivers encouraging us to get in so they could show us the city. But no, stuck to our guns and kept walking. Donna and I Split up from the parents early on and walked around part of the city, we saw this old fort and some buildings. I think Naples was hit hard by the second world war because the buildings aren't very old. The part of the city we walked didn't seem very clean; there was garbage and graffiti everywhere. We continued to walk kind of looking into shops to see if there was anything we may want to purchase but there wasn't so we decided to head back to the ship. Once back on the ship, I decided that I wanted to head back out for lunch so that I could try pizza in Naples. It was really good but not at all like the pizza we have at home. Naples is the birthplace of pizza so I had to try it :) Glad I visited but not sure if I'd go back.

permalink written by  Caroline on September 8, 2009 from Naples, Italy
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Rome & Vatican

Rome, Italy


1st cruise stop - woohoo! We decided to book a tour to visit Rome and the Vatican. The ship docked at Civettechia which is approximately 1.5 hours from Rome. We spent the morning driving around Rome; the tour guide explained what we were looking at. Can't remember half of the information, there was just too much of it. We finally got off the bus at the Colosseum; we spent about half an hour walking around and taking pictures. Lots of people trying to sell you tourist crap (postcards, scarves, etc.). We got back on the bus and continued the tour around Rome. We stopped close to the Vatican for lunch; where we were served lots of wine, pasta, meat and potatoes...there was sooo much food. After lunch, back on the bus and stop at the Vatican. We walked through the Vatican museums which were really nice, took some video but not many pictures. We stopped in the Sistine Chapel which was as amazing as expected except for the hundreds of people in there and claustophobia setting in. After the Sistine Chapel we went into St. Peter's Basilica which is the largest church in the world and had many marks pointing to where other churches stopped in length. We saw where the pope's apartments were and the balcony where he does the easter sermon. The entire afternoon was spent in the Vatican, I had no idea it would be that big. After this it was back to the bus for the journey back to the ship in Civettechia. Great day, but could've definately spent more time in Rome.

permalink written by  Caroline on September 7, 2009 from Rome, Italy
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain


We've spent 2 days in Barcelona going around the city and visiting the sites. Yesterday, we purchased a 2-day bus ticket on the Barcelona Bus Turistic which allows us to hop on and hop off the bus. There are three bus routes with this tour company; green, blue,and red. There is a stop right beside our hotel which is really convenient; our hotel is on the green line - Forum stop. So after spending a fortune on a buffet breakfast we headed to the bus stop. We got on the bus and boarded the upper deck; plugged in our headphones so we could hear what we were looking at. We got off the first transfer point to the blue line and boarded another bus to take us to Placa de la Catalunya which is where Las Ramblas is (the street where there are tons of touristy things - souvenir shops, human statues, etc). We took tons of pictures and stopped for a spanish beer; ok my parents did, I chose to go with Stella. After a couple of hours we boarded the red bus line to see the northern part of the city. The first stop on this line was the Sagrada Familia. This is the church that has been under construction for hundreds of years and is still under construction; this church was started by Gaudi. After this we boarded the bus again and stopped at the Park Guell; which was up 2km from the bus stop uphill in 32 degree weather. Needed to stop for another beverage before actually viewing the park; which it turned out was really worth it. It was a really nice park; lots of beautiful architechture. After a couple of hours it was back on the bus and basically back to the hotel.
Today back on the bus after eating breakfast at the mall beside our hotel. This time we weren't going back to the red line we'd stick to the middle line (blue). We rode the bus for a hour or so until we stopped at the Museu nacionale d'art... where there was a really nice view of the entire city; you could see everything from there. It took about 6 busses to go by before we could actually board one; the tours were definately busier today and we found out it was because there was 4 or 5 cruise ships in port. So once back on the bus we stopped at the marina/pier where we spent a few hours wandering around. There was some cool kids activities. These things that looked like giant hamster balls that kids were rolling/running around in. After spending several hours at the pier it was time to head back to the hotel. Time in Barcelona was awesome, obviously didn't get to see everything but saw quite a bit and learned quite a bit about its history.


permalink written by  Caroline on September 4, 2009 from Barcelona, Spain
from the travel blog: Europe 2009
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