S: Eastern Mediterranean Cruise - May 2011 Book 1
FC: Eastern Mediterranean Cruise - May 2011 Book 1 | Featuring: Rome Messina Athens
1: Cruise Schedule 2011 Book 1 May 22 - Rome, Italy May 23 - Messina, Italy May 24 - At Sea May 25 - Athens, Greece Book 2 May 26 - Ephesus, Turkey May 27 - Chania, Crete May 28 - At Sea Book 3 May 29 - Rome, Italy
2: We settled in our seats waiting for takeoff when a storm quickly passed over. The rainbow out my window was a surprise, but I hoped it meant good times ahead. Once we said goodbye to New York, the snacks and food were being served.
3: The plates just kept coming. I skipped the ice cream for some much needed rest.
4: After a few hours, I peeked outside and finally saw land below. Before landing, I saw the cruise ships... almost there.
5: We took a quick tour of Rome prior to boarding the ship. Leaving the airport terminal, we saw the train terminal that we will use on our last day. The oleanders were in full bloom along the freeway with flower beds everywhere in the city. We caught a glimpse of their gas prices and were glad we didn't have to worry about that expense.
6: We even spotted a Toyota dealership - it looked like part of the park. Small grocery stores were tucked in among other shops. We didn't see any single family homes - only apartments over the street shops.
7: The dome of St Peter's is clearly visible over the Vatican walls.
8: We crossed the Tiber River on Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II bridge which offered views of Castle St Angelo
9: View of St Peter's outside of the Vatican walls
10: Vatican City - St Peter's Square
11: The two Statues in front of St Peter's are of the 1st century apostles to Rome, Saint Peter and Saint Paul
13: We did not have time to visit inside, but we enjoyed the views.
14: The Vatican Obelisk, transported here in 37 BC from Alexandria, stands in the center of St Peter's Square | A lot of people started to gather before we left the square. As we made our way to the bus, we could hear the Pope begin his address to the people.
15: Michelangelo designed the massive dome for St Peter's in 1547. Thirteen statues along the top of St Peter's represent Christ, St John the Baptist and all the Apostles except St Peter
16: Gian Lorenzo Bernini built the square from 1656 - 1667. The portico branches out from the basilica to form two semi-circles with a double row of Tuscan columns supporting statues of saints and the immense coats of arms of Alexander VII. It is a symbolic embrace of the Church that welcomes and protects all the faithful of the world in this and the next life.
17: The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 135 AD and 139 AD. Legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, giving the castle its present name.
18: Palazzo di Giustizia (The Hall of Justice) built by Guglielmo Calderini between 1888 and 1910
19: Triton Fountain by Bernini | The northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, and now called the Porta del Popolo. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826. | A quick glimpse beyond the gate.
20: The Temple of Hercules | The Arch of Janus dates from the reign of Constantine. Merchants did business in its shade. | Piazza del Campidoglio. Aracoeli staircase above built in 1348, Cordonate - Michelangelo's great staircase to the right. | Beyond the Victor Emmanuel Monument, you can see the Colosseum
21: The ruins on Palatine hill overlook Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium. The ruins are of the Domus Augustana and the palace of Septimius Severus | Public rose garden in full bloom.
22: Colosseum - 72 - 80 AD, Games held every other day with gladiators fighting to the death
23: After viewing the exterior of the Colosseum, we head for Citvitavecchia, Italy were our ship was waiting
24: Check in was a breeze and we quickly made our way to our room and then set out to find the Windjammer for a quick bite to eat.
25: A quick look at the display and to grab some food. It's been a long day.
29: Messina, Italy | Shore excursion - Tindari. Visit Tindari cathedral best known as home to the Black Madonna. Visit Roman ruins that housed the original founders of the city. | Gold Madonna at the entrance to the port
31: Tindari cathedral is located at the top of a mountain overlooking the sea
33: According to local tradition, the statue, which is certainly of Byzantine origin, was one of many works of art smuggled out of Constantinople in the 8th and 9th Centuries during the period of Iconoclasm initiated by Emperor Leo III. | A storm forced the ship carrying the Black Madonna into the port of Tindari, where the sailors deposited their load at the local abbey for safekeeping. | The inscription below reads "nigro sum sed formosa" (black am I, but beautiful).
36: We walked around the small village passing gift shops on our way to the ancient city | The original city walls could be seen below
39: Ancient Roman Basilica
41: Roman habitations and baths, complete with wonderful floor mosaics and ingenious radiator heating systems
44: A well-preserved theatre, built in the 4th Century BC. In the summer months, it is possible to see performances of Greek plays with stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian Islands, the tongue of sand and the Sicilian coastline
49: We made our way back to Messina and boarded the ship
50: We left Messina's port with a blessing from the gold Madonna. The next day we explored the ship and relaxed.
52: As we made our way to the Acropolis, we passed by the new Olympic stadium as well as the Panathinion Stadium constructed in 1895 for the first modern Olympics.
53: We could see the Acropolis rise above the city with the Parthenon and Temple of Wingless Victory in view. | The Philopappos Monument (right) is an ancient Greek mausoleum and monument dedicated to Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos
54: The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla.
55: Propylaea, a monumental gateway that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis
56: The Erechtheum was built between 421 and 406 BC. The famous "Porch of the Maidens" contains six draped female figures (caryatids) as supporting columns,
57: Each sculpted in a different pose and engineered so their slender neck is capable of supporting the weight of the porch roof while remaining graceful and feminine.
58: The Parthenon is a Greek temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, who was considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC
59: Parthenon means the "temple of the virgin goddess" and refers to the cult of Athena Parthenos that was associated with the temple. | The east pediment narrates the birth of Athena from the head of her father, Zeus
65: View of the Temple of Hephaestus from the Acropolis. The best-preserved ancient Greek temple from 449BC; it remains standing largely as built.
66: After leaving the Acropolis, we made our way to Plaka, a pedestrian zone with shops and cafes.
68: Hadrian's Arch built to mark the boundaries between the old and new city. | The Temple of Olympian Zeus
70: Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisioned building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD some 638 years after the project had begun.
71: The design contained three rows of eight columns across the front and back of the temple and a double row of twenty on the flanks, for a total of 104 columns. Fifteen columns remain standing today and a sixteenth column lies on the ground where it fell during a storm in 1852.
72: Modern Athens
74: Farewell Athens
75: Coming up... Book 2 Ephesus Turkey and Crete