S: Tripping with the Ancients 2012
BC: Map to the best Gelato in Rome
FC: Tripping with the Ancients Steve and Susan Auer's and Michael and Carolyn Greene's Greece, Turkey and Italy Vacation September 2012 | Tripping with the Ancients 2012
1: Greece | ARRIVED 6 SEPT 2012 | This book is a memory book of my dream vacation, sailing the Greek Islands on a sailing ship. Steve and I and our best friends, Carolyn and Michael Greene signed on for this adventure. Michael kept a journal chronicling our travels. The Wind Spirit part of the trip included two nights in Athens, then a week cruise ending in Istanbul. In Istanbul we stayed three nights. We then flew to Rome. The Greenes stayed three nights and Steve and I stayed seven days. As to the title, it does have another meaning to me. I kept it lively by my occasional falls, usually happening at the top of some ancient stairs where I got tired of lifting my feet high enough to clear the top step (my drop-foot syndrome). I do bounce lightly and had no serious injuries. No trip insurance was used! | Trippin' with the Ancients GREECE, TURKEY, ROME SEPTEMBER 2012
2: Our first evening in Athens | Our Odyssey Blue lines for our ship voyage, red lines for the flights
3: The Parliament Building where we watched the changing of the guard, shopping the Plaka and the t-shirt picture that served as our dictionary. Michael shopped many hat stores before he found the perfect hat.
4: Michael's Journal 9/5/12 - Orange County - Wednesday 3:00 AM up. 3:45 AM leave for airport (LAX). Delta Air to JFK 6:30 AM. Arrive JFK 3:15 PM. Had to circle Buffalo 1 hour because a good tail wind got us to NY too soon. Delayed departure – broken plane - new plane – left at 7:30 PM – 3 hours late. 9/6/12 - Athens - Thursday Arrived in Athens behind schedule – met by reps of Windstar – cab drivers – to Hotel St. George Lycabettus – in Kolonaki area – good area – on hillside – nice shops – hotel rated “luxury” - but a little worn. (Breakfast included on a beautiful view balcony floor – view out to Acropolis, and sea beyond. Fantastic perk). | All tired – we napped 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM. Then a refreshment stop at Garden Restaurant at hotel (drinks expensive – 6 euros for a Coke). Walked to Syntagma (Parliament House location) – Saw changing of the guard ceremony – guards in skirts, pompoms on shoes – goose stepping – change every hour. Elaborate and comical, almost. Very hot weather – guards sweating through their uniforms. Little tram in front of plaza, took us to Plaka, old town area – toward Acropolis – stopped at restaurant in park – tourist spot, but food was good – had moussaka (potatoes, ground meat and eggplant – layered, topped with light cheese/egg type covering). Then caught tram again to continue on toward Acropolis Museum area. Lots of people around, very warm night. Had to wait for tram to start back. Tram did not take us all the way back to Syntagma because of a protest rally by public workers – organized event. We saw police there in buses on our walk to the area earlier. They were there to monitor it apparently. Seemed bored waiting for it. All done when we got back to the area, about 8:30 or 9:00. Asked taxi to take us to hotel. He explained it was difficult because many streets blocked – would cost 16 to 17 Euros – ok with us. He ran his meter and took many side streets – total of 21 euros – with tip 25. Discovered later he must have put his meter on zone 2, which is only supposed to apply after midnight. He must have thought, “Dumb American tourists – glad to get back to their hotel.” And we were glad. [Greeks seem to be good at finding ways to run up costs, such as the money exchange at the hotel. I asked if there was a service charge -”No” - but when I traded 3 travelers checks, there was a 1 euro charge for each “document” - but , of course, not a “service charge”.]
5: 9/7/12 - Athens - Friday 9:00 AM - Breakfast on balcony floor – beautiful day – buffet breakfast very good – checked emails (free WiFi) – took our time. Walked downhill from hotel – nice shopping area – caught cab – started out and Steve remembered he had left his backpack in hotel lobby. Cab took us back – started again – cab took us all the way to Plaka area – fare only 8 euros – including tip! Stopped for lunch in walking street area – shade trees, outside tables – many cafes aggressively competing for our business. (One maitre d' very angry with us when we changed cafes). Steve and I had salmon – great! grilled, with a crispy finish. (Our waiter had taken us to the kitchen first to convince us to eat at his restaurant. Good move). On to Acropolis Museum, beautiful new glass building – Acropolis artifacts – plus partial reproductions of sculptures from Parthenon – very well done. Had sorbet in restaurant in museum. Always a good decision to have food to keep up our strength! Headed for Acropolis about 5:00 PM. Starting to cool off. We intentionally waited to beat the heat. (On the way some people told us the Acropolis closed at 6:00 PM. We hesitated, but went on, luckily, because it did not close until much later. One of many lucky choices, or happy accidents, during the trip). Lots of climbing to get to the hilltop. Wind picked up, but still warm. Slippery surfaces (we had been warned from videos we had watched) – old worn marble. Enjoyed view and people watching as well as the antiquities – could see our hotel in the distance from the edge of the Acropolis. | Descended toward Plaka area. Came upon a restaurant located on a steep street with tables and chairs on steps and in a little courtyard – we talked to owner (who told us of his trips to the U.S.) and we decided to eat there. Lots of young people eating and drinking. The owner insisted on introducing us to 3 girls sitting near us, college friends from North Carolina. On the other side, 3 computer engineers in early 30's. One girl and 2 guys who were having a reunion after 6 years apart – doing a week's stay in the islands – interesting, we thought – various speculations on our part – Steve and I were the most creative in that regard. Owner hung lanterns as the evening darkened. We stayed until after dark, walked through shopping area where we had eaten lunch – got a cab, who quoted us a fixed price of 15 euros – should have bargained, or told him to run his meter, but we accepted his price and got a quick ride back to our hotel.
6: Museum of Greek Folk Art This little museum offers a break from the folk kitsch on sale throughout the Plaka. Five floors display four centuries (17th-20th) of traditional artwork. Wonderful folk costumes from each region, followed by jewelry and other silver and gold items. On one floor is a photo essay about Karpadthos Island, a remote region that seemed frozen in time. Reminded me of Shangri-la. | The Plaka
7: The New Acropolis Museum This new Acropolis Museum (opened in 2008) begins with metal ramps that take you to the ongoing excavations where we peered through glass panels at an ancient Athenian neighborhood (where houses, baths, shops, workshops, and roads have been thus far uncovered) and an early Christian settlement buried underneath n the museum's lower levels, By seeing the history and the models inside the museum, we were able to form a much more coherent picture of what we were going to see "up on the hill." The top floor displays what remains in Greece of the original Parthenon sculptures and frieze -- 36 of the 115 original panels, alongside stark white plaster casts of the originals in London. It is here where one gets the full picture; the grandeur of the past, the importance of this incredible legacy and the ugly truth that this is a work of art that has been looted. Even though fragments of the Parthenon frieze were returned in early 2009 from Italy, Germany, and the Vatican, they are merely fragments of the whole of a spectacular work of art. There are also missing body parts, turning the splendid into the grotesque -- the goddess Iris has her head in Athens and her body in London; Poseidon's rear is in Athens while his torso is in London, and so on and so forth. As magnificent as the museum is, both in its design and in its treasures, you cannot walk away without an even deeper appreciation of a glorious era in the history of man. Yet we also left with a sense of sadness knowing that this tremendous work of art has been looted, vandalized, and ravaged far too many times in its history. (No pictures were allowed in the museum.) | Model of the original frieze
8: ACROPOLIS The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. In the second half of the fifth century BC, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position amongst the other city-states of the ancient world. In the age that followed, as thought and art flourished, an exceptional group of artists put into effect the ambitious plans of Athenian statesman Pericles and, under the inspired guidance of the sculptor Pheidias, transformed the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts. In this view from the top of the Acropolis, I like how the tumbled stones resemble the buildings of Athens. Our hotel is at the base of the hill in the distance.
11: My favorite graffiti I saw in Athens. | The restaurant we found coming down the hill from the Acropolis. Good drinks and friendly fellow tourists. | Some nice grill work.
12: WE SET SAIL | The Wind Spirit | 9/8/12 - Athens - Saturday At St. George Hotel. Up at 7:30 AM – Got bags packed and outside door before breakfast, to be picked up for transfer to the boat. Breakfast on the balcony again – beautiful weather. Left hotel for walk down the hill to shops – bus to leave at 1:00 PM. Looked at nice shops - stopped for cappuccino in street cafe – back to hotel – checked out, cashed traveler's checks – loaded us onto bus to boat, the Wind Spirit. On the boat by 2:00 PM – filled out papers – lunch on deck (spaghetti) - unpacked in room. 6:45 PM lecture/greeting in lounge. 133 passengers on board. To dinner at 8:30 (after naps – still adjusting to time change). Found out we were going to Milos (Venus de Milo island) – not Mykonos (party island – Jackie Onassis playground) – because strong wind blowing and Mykonos harbor is too exposed, while Milos is very sheltered. Wind rocked the boat, and water sloshed up on our portholes (cabins not far above water line) – looked like a washing machine door – but rocking didn't bother any of us – no seasickness. Asleep by 11:00 PM. A good day.
13: Huge pool! | We set sail with the soundtrack of "1492" by Vangellis, very stirring!
14: Milos Our sailing route was diverted from Mykonos, because of rough seas to Milos. We were happy with this because it is a much quieter island and not so touristy. Milos is famous for the statue of Aphrodite (the "Venus de Milo", now in the Louvre), | There is a Sand Museum in Milos. It has sands from all around the world
15: This cat loved Steve.
16: This friendly couple invited us into their studio apt. It's available for rent. It was very clean, everything in white. The only color was this sunflower wreath in a niche by the bed. Seeing the sunflowers, I thought it would be a perfect place to take another picture of Princess Sunflower to send home to Megan. The idea was for the princess to follow us on our travels. But the woman thought I had given it to her and she hugged and kissed me on both cheeks. I decided that it wasn't worth it to try to explain it was for Megan's pictures. So it is still there, and we bought a fairy doll for future pictures for Megan.
18: The Catacombs of Milos dating from the 1st - 5th century, are perhaps only a small part of a sizable necropolis.The catacombs were used by the early Christians first as a burial site and later also as a place of worship and a refuge after persecution by the Romans became widespread. When discovered, the catacombs had been already ransacked by tomb raiders. It is estimated that upward of 2,000 Christians were buried in the 291 arcosolia and floor tombs used as family graves. Still visible are inscriptions on the walls including the monogram of Christ. Carolyn and I waited at the top of the hill, Steve and Michael descended the hill to see the catacombs, Steve even ventured into a restricted area to get the above picture. | A reproduction of the Venus de Milo statue in the archaeological museum. | Catacombs of Milos
19: 9/9/12 - Milos – Sunday Up at 7:30 – Steve called us – didn't want to miss breakfast outside on the deck – eggs Benedict – great warm weather. Took tender to pier at 9:00 AM – then taxi (8 euros) to Plaka, main town high up on hills – beautiful little town – all sparkling whitewashed houses with blue trim. Narrow little streets paved with stone right up to the houses – no cars on the little lanes lined with houses. Came upon a white church with a courtyard and an incredible view down to the sea below – few people! Nice! Walked the streets – met an older couple who were fixing up rooms to rent to tourists – showed us a room – [70 euros off season/85 euros mid-season/100 euros high season] – Susan had a little figurine with her, taking pictures of it everywhere for Megan. The woman misunderstood and thought Susan had given it to her when she set it on a shelf and took a picture – so Susan let her keep it – didn't want to cause an international incident – we're having enough problems with that country and the euro. Tricky Greeks! Beware of Greeks bearing gifts; now beware of Greeks taking gifts, too! Hiked to a historical artifacts museum showing items from BC time period – then walked half mile to catacombs – very hot – Susan and Carolyn decided not to go the last hundred yards down a steep path, stayed at parking area. Steve and I went on to take tour – 4 euros each – guide led a group of 10 – she could speak little English – short tour – okay. Steve shot good pictures – (he went beyond allowed area, and I followed – guide didn't catch us). [While we were in the caves, guide from boat encountered the girls and told them they made a “good choice” to pass up the extra walk to the tour area. Ha!]. Best part of the event was that the ticket office at the catacombs called a cab for us – met us at parking area (cab driver was named “Mike”) and took us back to dock area. | Had lunch at outdoor restaurant named Flisvos – simple place overlooking dock – gyros (pork we think) – good, plus beer – tasted great after the heat and walking. Carolyn had French fries – another traditional Greek dish. Bought bottle of local wine in store – back to ship – drank wine before dinner – a good red.
20: Santorini is one of the great natural wonders of the world, and its main attraction is the landscape and seascape of the island itself. The configuration of the present, roughly semicircular island is the result of an enormous volcanic explosion which occurred probably around 1630 BCE, Some have speculated that this event was the inspiration for the myth of Atlantis. The towns of Fira, Ia (also known as Oia) and Thirasis cling to the 900 ft. steep cliffs facing into the caldera bay. The sunsets are supposed to be magnificent from the top of the hills in Santorini. Crowds gather every night in anticipation. But we had to be back on the cruise by 4. I wish we could have stayed longer, an overnight would have been nice here. A young couple from our cruise got married here. We were in the transfer boat with them back to the ship. They have a great story. | Santorini
23: We had a choice of going up and to the top of the 1000 ft. cliff either up the zig-zag path by donkey or by tram. Both cost 6 euros. Guess what we chose? | Lunch at the Blue Sky Restaurant in Oia, Santorini
28: 9/10/12 – Santorini – Monday Got up early to see the ship arrive at port – watched sunrise. Tenders into shore at bottom of huge cliffs – choice of donkeys or aerial tram to top – 587 steps – 20 to 30 minutes by donkey (5 euros) or 3 minutes by tram (4 euros). Donkey ride sounded very adventurous, but we chose the tram. Good choice - (Not for a minute did we actually consider the donkeys. Ha!). Streets of Fira (the main town of the island, on the hilltop) lined with stores and tourists – went into old church – spectacular views from courtyard in front, looking down to our boat and others in the bay – checked wine prices in nice wine shop – but best prices in little grocery store. Took a taxi to picturesque town at end of island, called Oia (“EE-AH”) - 20 euros each way – took about 20 minutes. Another hilltop town, all white with blue trim – blue round domes on top of houses – narrow streets – even better views to ocean below – crowds of people (and this is not high season) – a jewel of a town, but very tourist oriented. Ate lunch at Blue Sky Restaurant. I had lamb chops – delicious. | The blue, blue Aegean Sea. Our room on the ship, well laid-out, plenty of storage. space and a very cozy bed. | Fira
29: 9/11/12 – Rhodes – Tuesday Didn't wake up until 8:00 AM – ship already docked – no tenders needed. After breakfast on deck - served by Dany, our very funny waiter – we walked into the “Old City” where castle was built by Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in the1400's. Archaeological museum inside – incredible ancient remnants from centuries before Christ, up to articles from the 400's AD. All inside a medieval castle – very unique. When we first walked into the inner courtyard we weren't very impressed, but as we walked from one area to the next, we found new discoveries at every corner. Back to ship for lunch, then took a taxi to a beach area down the east coast from Rhodes (the city with the castle), to an area called Faliraki – 60 euros round trip for the four of us. Driver recommended this beach because sandier than Kalithea, which was closer. Still lots of pebbles, but water clear and refreshing, cool – boardwalk down to beach, where we rented umbrellas and chaises (8 euros each couple). Just a small crowd – beginning of off season. Woman next to us topless, not young but in good shape – her tan was pretty even so she apparently did this often. Her husband (not topless) was also there, and a young couple we thought might be Swedish. Stayed 2 hours, then got a beer at restaurant nearby while we waited for our cab to return (we hadn't paid him anything yet, so we knew he would come back). On cab ride back driver told us Greece was hurting economically – he thought the drachma had been better for Greece – his wife is a school teacher and her salary has fallen from 1250 euros per month to 750 euros – taxes high, not enough jobs. The euro also devalued by half, yielding the same work about one-fourth the pay. | Dinner on ship followed by Greek dancers – awful – like they were making it up as they went along, but made us laugh (didn't let them see our reaction), so okay. We left early and headed for bed. | Our ship pass and room key
30: Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was constructed to celebrate Rhodes' victory over the ruler of Cyprus, Antigonus , in 305 BC. Before its destruction in 226 BC—due to an earthquake—the Colossus of Rhodes stood over 30 meters (107 ft) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world. It did not stand astride the harbor, as it is often depicted, but rather to one side. The medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. In 1309, the Byzantine era came to an end when the island was occupied by forces of the Knights Hospitaller. Under the rule of the newly named "Knights of Rhodes", the city was rebuilt into a model of the European medieval ideal. | Rhodes
31: Fish pedicure? | It was cheaper to buy our wine on shore and bring it back to the boat.
32: Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes | In Rhodes, We bought Sir "Kirby" so Kevin could have a toy to join Fairy Lily on our travels.
33: Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes The palace was built in the 14th century by the Knights of Rhodes, who occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1522. After the island was captured by the Ottoman Empire, the palace was used as a fortress. The original palace was largely destroyed by an ammunition explosion in 1856. When the Kingdom of Italy occupied Rhodes in 1912, the Italians rebuilt the palace in a grandiose pseudo-medieval style as a holiday residence for Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, and later for Benito Mussolini, whose name can still be seen on a large plaque near the entrance. On 10 February 1947, the Treaty of Peace with Italy, one of the Paris Peace Treaties, determined that the recently-established Italian Republic would transfer the Dodecanese to the Kingdom of Greece. In 1948, Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese were transferred as previously agreed. The Greeks converted the palace to a museum.
35: I liked touring this castle, so many courtyards and rooms, each turn an interesting discovery as we wandered about.
36: Didn't have the nerve to take a picture of the topless lady sunbathing behind us. | Swimming in the Aegean Sea
37: One of my favorite times on ship, breakfast on deck, served by our favorite waiter, Dany. | Transport to shore
38: 9/12/12 – Bodrum, Turkey – Wednesday Bodrum has been a boat building center since the time of Cleopatra. Famous for Mausoleum that was one of Seven Wonders of the World (ancient world, that is). [Mausolus, satrap (ruler) died in 353 BC – his wife built a giant tomb for him, known as the “Mausoleum” - lasted for 19 centuries – destroyed by earthquake in 14th century AD]. Knights of St. John lost Smyrna in 1402 AD and came to Bodrum. They used the remains of the Mausoleum to build Castle of St. Peter. [1523 the Knights moved to Malta because Suleiman the Magnificent captured Rhodes and they couldn't defend Bodrum anymore]. We headed for castle but found out it was going to close from 12 to 1 for lunch, so we went to lunch first at the waterfront. Bodrum is a well known tourist and resort area – a big marina filled with beautiful expensive yachts – must be a good place to keep your boat, because many were registered there. For lunch I ordered chicken with “Chef's Special Sauce” - disappointingly bland – put hot sauce on it to make it better. Carolyn had margharita pizza, actually very good, like deep dish crusty style. Susan also had pizza, and Steve had grilled fish (whole – head and eyes included). Bought hat with brim, made in Turkey, from a shop along one of the streets that are lined with little shops that all seem to sell the same things – 15 Turkish lira (one lira equals about 55 cents US). | Back to castle- 20 TL to enter – lots of big steps – the remains of the Mausoleum must have been big stones – rented audio guides for 5 TL each (not Carolyn) – followed numbers on the exhibits. Most famous for its underwater artifacts – (no, we weren't underwater – the artifacts were found underwater) – showed the breadth of trade in Turkey from as early as the14th century BC. Full sized recreation of a 7th century Roman shipwreck – saw remains of Princess Carian II and her jewelry – and bones from a mouse that ended up in her tomb by his misfortune. 4 towers for the four countries with knights there – Spain, England, Italy and France - climbed countless steps to see all the castle sights – took a wrong turn and added even more steps (Steve gets credit for leading that leg. Ha!) Left castle and found ice cream to go – caught a taxi to take us back to the dock area for the 3:45 PM tender (missed the free shuttle at 3:00 PM) – on the ship – nap time. 5:45 PM speaker on Turkey – [Some background – Turks call their country “Turkia” - spelled Turkiye. Turks came from an area of China, picked up Islam on the way, and blended in with groups as they went]. 6:15 PM – Turkish dancers, and then a belly dancer – she was tiny and athletic, not like usual voluptuous belly dancers we expect to see – more like a Tahitian dancer, with hip moves. She got several chubby men passengers to dance with her, of course. Steve and I weren't chosen to humiliate ourselves since we're in such good shape – (whew! - dodged that one). [We bought a bottle of wine in the lounge during the dance show – Multipulciano d'Abruzzo – took it to dinner where Steve and I finished it]. 7:00 PM – Big barbeque dinner on deck for all passengers – steak, lamb, ribs, whole roasted pig, lobster, chicken – very good – and desserts – great display of food and food sculptures. Sister ship Wind Star sailed around us with sails up for good photo opportunities. To bed early. | Slept until 7:45 – used tenders to get to dock, then a free water shuttle to town area proper. [On the tender we talked with minister (Jim) and wife (Helen) from Portugal, but originally from USA – she is an artist, showed us her drawings on Ipad. They have 7 children – 2 adopted – and 17 grandchildren, spread all over – some in Placerville, California – some in New York – some in Portugal].
39: Bodrum Turkey | Bodrum is gaining a reputation as the Monte Carlo of the Aegean, with a smart new marina, sophisticated restaurants and millions of dollars worth of sailing craft laying over for a night or two.
40: Same, Same | The Castle of St. Peter the Liberator of the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Rhodes - to give it its full, comprehensive title - is Bodrum's acclaimed landmark. Over the period of six centuries it has served as a military garrison, a compound enclosing a tiny village, and even as a fortress prison. Today it houses one of the finest museums of nautical archaeology in the world.
42: Even though their proprietorship of the castle lasted only some 120 years, the prevailing aura today is still of its former Crusader occupants, the Knights Hospitaller of St. John. This is due to a large extent to the castle’s restoration and accentuation with period furnishings, all done by Turkish authorities after its transformation into a museum.
43: (Left) Remains of Princess Carian II and her jewelry – and bones from a mouse that ended up in her tomb by his misfortune. (Bottom Left0 The former chapel houses an exhibition of vases and amphoras from the Mycenaean age (14-12th c. BC) and findings from the Bronze Age (around 2500 BC) In 1895 the castle was turned into a prison. During World War I, the castle was fired upon by a French warship, toppling the minaret and damaging several towers. After the war, the Italians stationed a garrison in the castle, but withdrew in 1921 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk came to power In 1962 the Turkish Government decided to turn the castle into a museum for the underwater discoveries of ancient shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea. This has become the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, with a collection of amphoras, ancient glass, bronze, clay, iron items. It is the biggest of its kind devoted to underwater archaeology. | Illustration of the maritime trade from about 2500 BC
44: The special, on-deck dinner buffet had about all the different foods I could think of, all beautifully presented and delicious. The best food we had on vacation was on the ship. Our sister ship circled our ship for pictures.
45: Kusadasi & Ephesus Turkey | The Wind Spirt offered many excursions, all seemed expensive, so we made our own arrangements once we were on shore. The one exception was when we reached Kusadasi. Because this was such an important stop with so much history, we arranged for a private tour guide and van through the ship. It turned out be be a better bargain than the larger group tour. We first stopped at The House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus, The remains of the house were discovered in the 19th century by following the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824), a Roman Catholic nun, which were published as a book by Clemens Brentano after her death. The Church has never pronounced on the authenticity of the house for lack of acceptable evidence. A small chapel was made from the stones of the house. The belief is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by Saint John. Several popes have visited the site. Anne Catherine Emmerich was Beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 2004. | It was extremely crowded, but our guide, Servet, quickly led us. Below is the wall of intentions left by the pilgrims to the site. | The House of the Virgin Mary
46: Our guide diagrammed the meaning of the marking left in the marble by persecuted early Christians. | The Greek goddess, Nike, who personifies victory. The Nike swoosh is taken from one of the folds of her gown. | Prytaneion Important civic building
47: 2000 year old toilets, no flowing water now though | Medusa relief on the Temple of Hadrian | Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, St. Paul and possibly St. John and the Virgin Mary have all walked these marble roads. | Ephesus
48: The Mazaeus & Mithridates Gate leading to the agora, built in honor of Augustus and his wife Livia by two slaves whom they had freed.
51: Ephesus terrace houses are covered with protective roofing which resembles Roman houses. The mosaics on the floor and the frescoes have been consolidated and two houses have been opened to the public as a museum. They had interior courtyards (peristyle) in the center, with the ceiling open. They were mostly two-storied, upper stores have collapsed during time. On the ground floor there were living and dining rooms opening to the hall, and upstairs there were bedrooms and guest rooms. | The heating system of the terrace houses were the same as that in baths. Clay pipes beneath the floors and behind the walls carried hot air through the houses. The houses also had cold and hot water. The rooms had no window, only illuminated with light coming from the open hall, so that most of the rooms were dim. The excavations of the terrace houses started in 1960. | The Terrace Houses of Ephesus
52: 9/13/12 – Kusadasi, Turkey (Gateway to Ephesus) – Thursday Big city – lots of tall buildings, compared to Bodrum – 4 or 5 stories, also lots of summer homes here – Bodrum had only small buildings. Lots of recent construction according to Dany – Kusadasi has timeshares – good weather and location. In 200 BC Kusadasi was ruled by the Romans. When Roman empire was divided up, this became part of the Byzantine Empire, at the end of the silk trade road. Kusadasi was ruled by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1413 AD. After WWI Greece invaded the area. In 1922 it became part of the Turkish Republic. We arranged a private tour to Ephesus through Windstar – only the 4 of us with our guide, Servet, and driver, Dennis. Nice big van – big enough for 10 people - [$350, plus admissions of 136 TL for all of us – each couple tipped 20 TL to Servet and 10 TL to the driver]. First stop, site of home of Virgin Mary – high in the hills – beautiful views of delta area from the van as we climbed , with rich soils for good farming. Site loaded with buses of tourists, lined up to walk through a little shrine that has been built there. Interesting story about a big forest fire that raged in the area in the recent past. It moved all the way up the hillsides, approaching the Virgin Mary site, and then stopped just before it, singeing the trees right next to it. Divine intervention? Back on road to Ephesus. [Turks call it Efes, which is also the name of their good beer]. Ephesus was once on the coast, but silting of the river has moved it 6 miles inland – there were actually 3 prior sites of Ephesus – kept moving it to get back to the seacoast. | At the height of its development, it had a population of 250,000. British and Australians excavated the ancient site in the 19th century. We started at the top of the site and walked downward, which we were pleased about, since it was very warm. Rugged walkway surfaces, but also slippery at places because of the marble worn smooth. Servet walked us through with a great narrative along the way – streets paved with marble and lined with marble columns – when St. Paul was here in 57 AD, it would not have been at the peak of its grandeur, but we may have walked on some of the same stones that he stepped on – that's really something to contemplate. (Servet walked us around some of the crowds to get us to important viewing spots). Entered Terrace Houses (separate admission price, but well worth it) – stacked residences climbing a hillside, in the process of excavation. These were huge houses of the rich, with each lower house offset forward, and holding up the house above. Excavations continue, with a gigantic roof structure protecting the work site. (It reminded us of the site of the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, China). Walls were covered in marble veneers, much of it recovered and put in place – (We learned that silk thread was used to cut through the marble pieces to
53: make the veneers. Marble is relatively soft, while silk is very strong and sharp) - elaborate mosaics on floors, frescoes on walls – inside toilets and running water, through clay pipes – oil lamps for light. Because you must pay a separate admission, much of the crowd did not go into the Terrace Houses, but they are one of the best parts of the site. Viewed the facade of a great library built to honor the father of the builder – Celcius Library – reconstructed in the 1970's – held more than 100,000 scrolls. A little further down the path we found the Grand Roman theater (not an amphitheater, according to Servet because it isn't a full circle like the Coliseum in Rome, just a half circle). On way back to Kusadasi, Servet took us to a carpet weaving demonstration – interesting - showed us how silk cocoons are soaked and then unwound in bunches of 15 or 20 and twisted into thread. Displayed incredible Turkish carpets, made by hand – gave us raki (Turkish version of ouzo) and tea – tried to bargain on a carpet with multi-colors, but couldn't reach a deal - ran out of time. [Learned about carpets. Can be wool on wool, wool on cotton, or silk only on silk (because silk is very sharp and would cut other materials) – great display of carpets, flipped around midair to show how their color changes from different directions]. Back to town – quick lunch on water's edge – had lamb kebabs (delicious) – Susan and Steve had fried shrimp and Carolyn had pasta aribiatta – not spicy enough. Efes beer for all. | Tour of shopping streets after lunch, very aggressive vendors – (Carolyn looking for belly dancer costumes for Ava and Julianna) - bought bottle of Turkish wine, syrah, after bargaining, for 30 TL. Back to ship – left port at 4:00 PM. Bought another bottle of good wine on the ship.
54: Celcius Library In the facade, one can see several statues: allegorically, they embody the Celsus' qualities, Sophia (wisdom), Arete (character), Ennoia (judgment), and Episteme (expertise). The choice is not very surprising: any Roman official would have claimed to have these virtues. The original statues are now in the Ephesos Museum in Vienna. | The best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean, Ephesus is the place to get a feel for what life was like in Roman times. Ancient Ephesus was a great trading city and a centre for the cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess. Under the influence of the Ionians, Cybele became Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt and the moon, and a fabulous temple was built in her honor. When the Romans took over and made this the province of Asia, Artemis became Diana and Ephesus became the Roman provincial capital. These ruins were more impressive to me than the Forum in Rome. And I think I heard that Ephesus is only 20% unearthed. | Artemis
55: The theater of Ephesus. Its construction was started in the Hellenistic age, but the Ephesians made a beginning with its renewal during the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-54). Under Nero (54-68), the stage was constructed. The decorations can be dated to the reign of Trajan (98-117). The theater of Ephesus. About 24,000 people could find a seat and watch the spectacles. Special concerts are still held here. | The story of Paul in Ephesus is told in Acts 19:1-20:1. Acts says that he went first to the synagogue, but Ephesus has yet to yield any synagogue remains. From there he moved to the hall of Tyrannus for his ministry of preaching and healing. Paul called his hearers to join a new community, one stripped of ethnicity, and built on self sacrifice and mutual helpfulness. Out of almost three years, Acts details only two incidents to highlight what Paul encountered in Ephesus. The city was known as a center for magic and miracles and the first story is about itinerant Jewish exorcists who tried to heal in the name of Jesus as Paul did, but were unsuccessful (Acts 19:13-16). The second incident was the near riot in the theater prompted by the silversmiths' protest against Paul. According to Acts, Paul was so successful ("the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily" - Acts 19:20) that he threatened the livelihood of the craftsmen who made silver souvenirs of the Temple of Artemis and sold them to the foreign tourists and pilgrims. Most of the Greek and Egyptian pantheons were present in Ephesus, but Artemis was the patron goddess. Scholars disagree about what she represented, but she seems to have been an amalgamation of the Greek Artemis, the virgin goddess of chastity, and an ancient mother goddess. One source said that the goddess' religion was not characterized by base sensualism or focused on sexuality and fertility, but that it was internationally recognized as a premier religion which appealed to both the social need and personal pietism of the Ephesians. Some scholars also believe that sometime in the fall of 54 CE--soon after the spoiled, 17 year old Nero replaced his assassinated father, Claudius, as Emperor--Paul was arrested and imprisoned in Ephesus. We don't know what the charge was, but this transition period between imperial regimes was a time of political uncertainty and fear of sedition. Nero's assassins had poisoned the Governor of Asia. So Paul's imprisonment suggests that his mission had come into direct conflict with Roman imperial power | Gate of Mazaeus and Mithradates, built in 4 or 3 BCE and dedicated to the emperor Augustus. This was the monumental entrance to the commercial agora. | Theater of Ephesus
56: Our guide Servet | Our obligatory tour of Turkish carpet production. First it begins with the silk worms, then the weaving by young girl, each carpet taking 1000s of hours to produce. Turkish tea is offered while the carpets are being whipped about to show the color changes with the light. The Turkish spokesman on ship says it is the goal of Turkey to have a Turkish carpet in every home. That doesn't not happen for the want of trying. | I was drawn to these shops of mosaic lights. I wondered whether you needed to buy a score of these for the full impact. I finally decided I could probably find one in Cost Plus at home without the paying expensive shipping charges
57: Day at Sea On the Way To Istanbul This day was so peaceful, no agenda. I wish we we had more days just sailing. | Our Captain
58: 9/14/12 – On ship, traveling toward Istanbul – Friday Slept until 8:00 AM, best night's sleep so far. Entered Dardanelles Strait (ancient Greeks called this Hellespont) – Captain described bitter battle in WWI by allies to try to capture the strait – 9 months of fighting – 500,000 casualties – [British 36,000 deaths, 200,000 casualties; Ottomans – 55,000 deaths, 250,000 casualties; French 47,000 casualties] – in the end a stalemate – Gallipoli Peninsula couldn't be taken. A huge cemetery and memorial there today. Nice rest day on the ship – played board game Sequence in the afternoon in lounge – Steve had made a light weight board for the trip. Had wine and drinks at end of the afternoon while listening to farewell from the Captain. Signed up for phantom cruise - $100 each, but a full credit against our current bill, and against the future trip if we use it within 2 years. Had to pack up before bed and put our suitcases in the hall by 9:00 PM for pick-up and transfer to the shore in the morning – kept clothes for morning.
59: Istanbul | Hagia Sophia
60: The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social center of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultan Ahmet Square in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with a few fragments of the original structure surviving. The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos (horse), and dromos (path or way). Horse racing and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras. The various columns from other countries were the spoils of wars, transported to be centerpieces of the Hippodrome.
61: The Blue Mosque
62: Hagia Sophia | I thought it was interesting to see that the lights are hung low in mosques
63: Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Emperor Justinian I elected to build a third and entirely different basilica, larger and more majestic than its predecessors. The emperor had material brought from all over the empire – such as Hellenistic columns from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, large stones from quarries in porphyry from Egypt, green marble from Thessaly, black stone from the Bosporus region, and yellow stone from Syria. More than ten thousand people were employed. This new church was contemporaneously recognized as a major work of architecture. I liked the Blue Mosque better.
64: 9/15/12 – Istanbul – Saturday Awake by 6:30 AM. Ship docked at 6:00 AM across a bridge from the Old City, Sultanahmet. Breakfast at 7:00 AM. Said goodbye to Dany, our favorite waiter (gave him $20 extra from each couple the prior night at dinner – we each paid $12 per day per person as part of our bill for tips for the crew. Also paid $20 per couple to Wahono, our cabin steward). Got final bill and left ship – suitcases on dock – cleared customs quickly and got 2 taxis (20 euros each cab) to our hotel, Innova Sultanahmet. | Foreign feeling, big city – narrow streets in Old Town – hotel very modern, on small street, five stories tall, with a small glass elevator that barely fit the 4 of us. Rooms very large, with 2 big twin beds in each. Small, step-on balcony with a slight sea view to the right side, down a narrow street. [View directly across the street of an ugly old yellow 5 story building in the process of repair (probably built in the 1960's, cheap looking) – Susan thought it looked like an old Soviet building with its uninspired utilitarian architecture]. The streets around the hotel are all cobblestones, pretty rough, lots of steps in the sidewalks – every direction we go is up, says Carolyn. Met our prearranged guide at 9:00 AM at the hotel – little “girl” of 28, with a 1 year old at home. Her name is Ebru (sounds like “April” almost, and she said we could call her that if it was easier for us). She couldn't believe we could come right from the ship and go for a whole day's tour – | Many TV stations at the hotel, in various languages – English speaking ones were CNN and Bloomberg, and a history channel – still, we got some news updates from the west. [Noticed that standard posted room rate was more than 400 euros a night – not much less than our total price for three nights for each of our rooms - $622 US – and breakfast included – a good deal]. | we found out why – it was eight and a half hours of touring and walking on a warm day. [Ebru was tireless, kept us going. Considering all her exercise, she was a bit round – but she explained to us her love of food. At one time she came home from college to visit her family, and ate half of a baklava that her mother had made for 40 people – said she just couldn't stop – ended up going to the hospital for 3 days for hypoglycemia].
65: Ebru led us through three days of tours in one day – the Hagia Sophia (“Aya Sofia” to the Turks), Blue Mosque (because of interior blue tiles – it has 6 minarets), Topkapi Palace (pronounced “Topkapa” - it's an “i” at the end, but sounds like an “a”). Blue Mosque requires that you remove your shoes – Turks also washed their faces, hands, arms , and feet before entering – women required to cover their heads – scarves available to use. Full of people milling around, a soaring dome in the middle. Floor covered in woven carpets for kneeling in rows (the design helped define the rows) – women must pray in back Ebru explained because a woman bent over in front of a man would distract him from his prayers – so not a sign of disrespect for women, but out of concern for both genders, and for their own good. Women are to pray in the back, behind a screen. [Muslims are called to prayer 5 times a day – callers used to climb minarets all over the city to announce prayer times. Now loud speakers have been installed in the minaret towers to call out the prayers. Very strange feeling to me, like someone looking over your shoulder, but the Turks seem content to take it or leave it – some go often to prayer, others only sporadically]. Hagia Sophia is now just a museum (since 1935). It was a church before, built by Justinian I in Byzantine style in 530 AD as a Christian cathedral | and then converted to a mosque in 1453 when Sultan Mehmed II took the city and established the Ottoman Empire. A second floor balcony area is reached by a switchback ramp of stone. Women had to use the second floor of Hagia Sophia when it was a mosque. The number one wife of the sultan had her seat there, directly above the sultan's seat. [Since the Hagia Sophia started as a church, it is situated looking to the east, and sunrise. For Muslims the altar area had to be slightly reoriented to face Mecca, so it now has an off-center altar at the front dating back to its use as a mosque]. Ebru wanted to impress upon us that the Turks are very tolerant of all religions and all ethnicities. They are not fanatics like the extremists and terrorists, or the Taliban. She said that we would get along fine in Istanbul because of our mellow demeanor (which caused us some pause – why would we be concerned about our behavior if the Turks were so tolerant? East meets West again). | Ebru, Our travel guide. Carolyn said she led us on a forced march all over ancient Istanbul, otherwise known as an 8 hr. walking tour.
66: Ebru took us to the Pudding House for lunch. This was a real “hippie” spot in the 70's she said – (my friend, Chuck Kanter, mentioned this from his time here in the mid 70's – he jokingly told me to look for the Pudding House, a great place to score hashish, and go to jail, ala Midnight Express – he had no idea it still existed) – the place became so popular as a hangout, it added food to its coffee and dessert menu. Now it's a cafeteria type dining spot, crowded and warm – we worked our way through the line and then went upstairs to a seating area in long rows of tables – food was interesting, but not gourmet. Had lamb, stuffed zucchini, salad, baklava. bread and Coke. Carolyn had a large serving of chicken. Food was included in our tour price (except the drinks). To Topkapi Palace after lunch – courtyards within courtyards – grass and flower areas. Sultans and Turks loved tulips – would have a special day each year when the, concubines and family members would stroll the gardens at the height of the blooming season. Many treasure rooms on display in the palace – we toured through on | our own while Ebru waited outside for an hour – to give her a break, I think. Crowds of people made viewing difficult, and this wasn't even peak season for tourists. Then a special exhibit in the harem wing – not the harem tour, but this showed many of the costumes of the royal family and artifacts of the sultans. At one time the sultan's sons became governors of different regions and then competed to be chosen as the next sultan – resulted in too much strife, so the practice was changed to have the oldest son automatically become sultan. We left Ebru about 5:30 – 160 euros per couple, and we tipped her 10 euros per couple. Back to hotel to rest and clean up. Carolyn too tired to consider going out, so Susan, Steve and I wandered out to the main street nearest our hotel – found a restaurant there that was a combination Turkish establishment and El Torito! Had Mexican food, but not quite like we get at home – my chicken burrito came off more like a rolled up quesadilla – but it was okay. Took a chicken quesadilla and Diet Coke back to Carolyn. | Bill Clinton was here, too. We also followed him in China.
67: The Topkapi Palace is a large palace in Istanbul, Turkey, that was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign. Pleasant park space now for all. | Topkapi Palace
69: The Topkapi Palace – As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a major tourist attraction and contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammad's cloak and sword. The Topkapi Palace is among the monuments contained within the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and is described in Criterion iv as "the best example[s] of ensembles of palaces [...] of the Ottoman period." Construction began in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, and covered a large area with a long shoreline. The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire. The palace contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint. The name translates as "Cannon gate Palace" from a nearby gate which has since been destroyed. From the end of the 17th century the Topkapi Palace gradually lost its importance as the Sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosporus. In 1856, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahe Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, and the mint were retained in the Topkapi Palace. Following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, the Topkapi Palace was transformed by a government decree dated April 3, 1924 into a museum of the imperial era. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The palace includes many fine examples of Ottoman architecture. It contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasures and jewelry. It was so overwhelming and crowded, we either quickly scanned or bypassed rooms full of jewels and antiquities. We were tired and were mainly looking for a shady place to sit down. We did see a special exhibit about the harems. Ebru stressed that harems were not what we thought. but I wasn't sure what the difference was. | We saw this man on the Amazing Race about a month after we got home. He played the role as the official greeter to Istanbul.
71: 9/16/12 – Istanbul – Sunday Breakfast in basement level of hotel – not the wonderful ship breakfasts we had (nor as good as the buffet breakfasts on the balcony in Athens at St. George Lycabettus), but okay considering the price. Various stuffed breads, fruit, cereals (similar to our cereals), hard boiled eggs (served on a bed of salt for some reason – guess it kept them from rolling around), good French bread and regular sliced breads with a toasting machine available. Also, yogurt and jams, and an interesting set up for honey dripping from a honeycomb – for an extra charge, omelets and other items were available. Expecting to meet with Ergun and Aytac (sounds like “I-touch” ), in-laws of Elizabeth's friend Tracy (who lives in Austin and is married to their son, Ozan). Called them and arranged for a meeting at 4:00 PM at the hotel. They live outside town, about 40 minutes ride. He is an engineer and she was a geography teacher, a little older than us. We toured around before they came – went to see underground Basilica Cistern, built by Justinian I in 542 AD to assure water supply for the city – restored and opened to the public in 1987 – fantastic underground site – 336 ancient marble columns supporting the ceiling – many brought from conquered areas, including 2 from Ephesus (too short, so they placed 2 large carved heads of Medusa at their bases to raise them up – one sits on its side while the other head is upside down (no one knows why). Dark and cool inside, with shallow clear water, and fish swimming in the water to keep it clean – columns lit by dramatic indirect lighting – surreal – Steve got great pictures. Stopped at a cafe underground and had cappuccinos and Cokes – very strange really – Justinian could never have imagined it.
72: 9/16/12 – Istanbul – Sunday (cont.) On our way to find tram to cross river to new city portion of Istanbul, we met a young Turk who gave us directions, but then asked if we would take a quick detour up the street to see his family's gift store, just a block away. He had been so considerate, how could we refuse, so we followed – right into a carefully orchestrated sales pitch drama, to convince us to buy a Turkish carpet. First served us tea, then a move to another showroom for a display of carpets – a cool area down a flight of steps. Next they insisted on bringing in lunch for us – simply their way of showing hospitality, wouldn't take no for an answer – we knew what was coming, but I went along with it anyway – kind of liked those Turkish carpets. They showed us carpet after carpet, flipping them through the air to show the different colors – all sizes, all finishes.
73: When we found the carpet we liked – or I thought we liked - (two small ones and one large) - the bargaining began. Bought the three carpets – one intended for the dining room and two for the entry hallway – wool on cotton – price about half of original quote – (plus shipped to our house by DHL and duty covered, all in price). Carolyn, however, ended up insulted because the closer shook my hand to make the deal, and when she protested, he told her it was for the men to make the bargain – that didn't go over well – he had to try to make peace – gave her 4 pillow covers and kissed her hand, but she still left mad. I should have let Carolyn finish the bargaining – she would have gotten even a better price (but we may have lost Turkey as an ally). Our guy also guilted me into tipping $20 to the boys who had to do all the carpet hauling and flipping – hope it went to the boys. They worked hard. Whole process lasted close to three hours, I think. So we canceled our plans for the tram trip to the new city and went back to the hotel to rest. [Food served to us at the store was one of our best meals. I had lamb shish kebob, Carolyn chicken, Susan and Steve also had lamb which was “minced”, meaning chopped and formed into meatballs, cooked on skewers. Had rice and fresh vegetables. I told Susan and Steve that lunch was “on me”]. Met with our Turkish friends at 4:00 PM and decided to walk to a nearby cafe on a side street in the shopping area to have Turkish coffee and talk. Had a wonderful time. Ergun loves history and is very knowledgeable about Turkey, as well as other places such as Cairo – a great talker and so kind. His wife Aytac had a more difficult time with the language (ironic because she also works as a translator, but of written work), but she managed to communicate – talked of grandchildren and travels, and she read our fortunes from the grounds left by the coffee – Turkish coffee is syrup-thick and strong. We learned a lot about current day Turkey. It is doing well economically, and is generally more liberal than other Muslim areas. Housing can be very expensive in areas near the waterfront, or in wealthy neighborhoods in new Istanbul. Ergun paid $1 million US for his house. He said an Austin house like his son's might cost as much as $30 million on the water in Istanbul. Turkey is such a surprising place – didn't expect it to be so modern and affluent.
74: After Ergun and Aytac left we returned to the hotel for a break before going out to a performance by Whirling Dervishes – very authentic we were told, in a small theater, only about 30 people in the audience (and that filled the place). First 15 minutes was Turkish music and singing by a heavy set guy with a deep but mellow voice, great for the chant-like songs – words of songs and poetry were projected in English on the wall (amazing how so many people spoke English wherever we went). - haunting verses about seeking truth in your heart, and peace – also love. Four dancers in black robes walked in, removed robes that covered their white costumes, signifying a move to enlightenment. They whirled unendingly, hands raised, heads tilted, in tall hats – incredible that they never showed any sign of dizziness. A hot room, the dancers would pause briefly, fold their arms across their chests to their shoulders, then wipe away sweat from their faces with just their fingertips – no display of emotions, very serene. We were told there was to be no applause. At the end of 45 minutes of constant movement, the music, dancing and singing | ended, the dancers silently put their black robes back on, and walked out. A person thanked us for coming and we all left quietly. We liked it. It was about 8:30 PM – walked past the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – beautiful warm night with streets full of people, all enjoying the outdoors. Returned to a side street above our hotel and found a restaurant across the way from a shop with pillows and trinkets. A handsome maitre d' seated us outside while we waited for a table to become available inside – we picked this place because Susan liked the maitre d' – we decided the outside table was too close to the street – good decision – not long after we were seated inside, a heavy rain storm hit and the staff dropped a plastic curtain down next to our table to protect us – food was mediocre, but the location was great – (Susan and Carolyn planned to return the next day to shop at the pillow store). Rain passed by and we headed back to hotel for sleep – another good day. | Whirling Dervishes
76: The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. So much of it seemed the same. I don't know why one would buy at one shop as opposed to another. Steve and I bought a small table cloth and a picture of the Whirling Dervishes. Carolyn drove a hard bargain for belly dancer outfits for her granddaughters.
77: "Are you sure you don't want one of these wonderful tops?" Carolyn & Michael resisted the high-pressure salesboys. On the European side of Istanbul, “5th Avenue” of Istanbul – Istiklal Avenue. A street closed to most traffic that had many of the shops we see back home.
78: 9/17/12 – Istanbul – Monday Our day to visit the Grand Bazaar – old covered market place with thousands of shops – (4,000? 6,000? Who knows – it probably changes everyday). Nice covered galleries with street signs to help you avoid getting lost – all for walking only. Ebru had walked us right to the entrance on our tour so that we would know where to go. (She told us to come out the same gate we entered - but we didn't – went in Gate 1 and exited Gate 7 – no problem, we didn't get lost). Carolyn found the belly dancer costumes for the girls in a shop off a side alley, down some steep steps. Seller asked 40 TL for each – came down to 65 TL for both, and finally 40 TL total, including head scarves and headbands. Carolyn drove a hard bargain, but also we were early morning shoppers, probably his first customers, and he wanted to get that first sale of the day, as Ebru had suggested to us. Finally headed out to the new city by tram. The tram line runs above ground with tracks in the street – (surprising that people aren't run down, but they seem to know to get out of the way). Purchase tokens for 3 TL each from dispensing machines - 2 tokens required each way for the ride, but it was free when we got on because it was before 1:00 PM - (it was free because it was the first day of school). Took tram across Galata Bridge to new Istanbul (the same bridge we crossed when we left our boat and headed to hotel). Took tram to end of the line at Kabatas stop (the place to catch Bosporus River tour boats). Then took an underground funicular up hillside (also usually a token ride, but free that day before 1:00 PM). | At top of ride, we arrived in Taksim Park and Square - a crazy traffic circle with a big monument in the middle. Then walked down “5th Avenue” of Istanbul – Istiklal Avenue. Aytac insisted that we see this part of town – modern big stores, wide boulevard, top name retailers, galleries of stores with multi-levels connected by glossy escalators – (this also reminded us of splashy shopping center we saw in China, but here there were shoppers – not deserted as in China). Aytac is clearly very proud of this image of Istanbul – she rarely goes to Old Sultanahmet - (just a tourist spot – despite all that history). | This bread was so good, hollow inside, full of steam as you broke it open.
79: Found a little restaurant up a side street with reasonable prices. Sat down outside at first, but it started raining and we moved indoors – about the only people there. Had meatball shish kebobs, lamb pieces on skewer, and Carolyn had “buffalo” chicken wings – all very good. Walked back to funicular and rode it back down to the waterfront for the river tour. Just missed the 2:45 boat and had to wait for the 4:45 boat, but we found a local roadside spot for tea and Cokes. Not a tourist place, locals were there, very informal with just temporary tarp type walls – stayed for an hour and a half, talking – the bill was only 10 TL – very cheap and a great spot for resting. Got tickets for the boat ride up the Bosporus and boarded the ship. Perfect warm weather, no rain, nice warm breeze in our faces and sun at our backs as we headed up river. Sat in back seat of boat on open top deck, but with a canvas cover over just our seating area. An amazing ride up the wide river and under the Bogazici Bridge that connects Europe to Asia Minor – two continents, East and West, Old and New. Huge cargo ships moving along side us up to the Black Sea from all over the world. The shores were lined with luxury hotels and elegant houses - looks like a USA resort area. Turkey clearly has wealth. Very surprising to see the beauty of the houses and gardens, green trees on the hillsides among the houses and leading up away from the river – expected Turkey to be arid and desert-like, but it has a lot of water, at least near the Bosporus. One hour and 15 minute ride, just 12 TL per person – worth every TL! | Tram back to hotel area and then dinner at a modest restaurant on the same street as prior night – lamb and rice again, with tomatoes. The owner gave us tea afterward – asked us to come back, but we told him we were going to Rome – somehow that sounded so exotic when we said it – he wished us well. Decided on dessert at McDonald's, 4 chocolate sundaes – 10 TL. Tasted like home, but the servings were smaller. Back to hotel to print boarding passes – I had to make a call to Travelocity in India to get mine straightened out after my trip number didn't work, but she fixed it. Packed up. | A view from the Topkapi Palace across the Bosporus River to the European side of Istanbul.
80: I loved this river cruise of the Bosporus River, no walking and nice sites. I thought the above picture with the redwood houses could be a hillside in Marin County. Also on the cruise, there was this Muslin woman on the left who was so beautiful and she had the largest diamond on her finger This glass "evil eye" we saw everywhere. a shopkeeper in Greece even gave us a tiny one on a pin for good luck.
81: Rome Arrival in Rome, to be honest did feel like a relief, although Steve and I had not been there before, it felt familiar, i.e., western. It would have been more of a relief if we didn't have to squabble about the hotels and be bumped for one night . Michael had arranged for two half day tours, great idea! First we went to the Forum. It seemed disappointing to me, so much overgrowth, so much not reconstructed as it was. Luckily, our guide, Alex had a clever book with transparencies illustrating what the ruins looked like in their glory. | The three columns are what is left of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, Roman gods, sons of Jupiter
82: Arch of Titus Made by Jewish slaves in 70AD to commemorate the victory of the Romans over Jerusalem and the destruction of their temple. | Arch of Constantine (In the Great square of the Colosseum) As its inscription records, it was erected in 312 AD by the Senate and People of Rome in honor of the Emperor, who liberated the city and state by the 'tyrant' Maxentius. It is decorated with sculpture taken from monuments erected by earlier emperors. | (Top Left) Headless statues of the Vestal Virgins
83: Our guide, Alex | The Colosseum Our guide Alex stressed how magnificent the Colosseum was, all clad in white marble with statues in every arch way. It had elevators to bring in the gladiators and animals. The center could be flooded for naval demonstrations. The white marble was ripped off to build St Peter's. | Drawing of how it was
84: 9/18/12 – Istanbul/Rome – Tuesday Spent morning at the hotel, resting up and packing. There was rain, thunder and lightning outside, so the timing was perfect. Arranged through the hotel for a car to the airport, to leave at 11:30 AM, just 35 euros, which seemed like a good deal – it was a big car and a smooth ride. Easy trip through security (although we had to do it twice – seemed to be looking for different things at the two stops – but very easy going personnel). Flight left at 2:30 PM Turkish time and landed in Rome at 4:15 PM - one hour time change. Taxi from Rome airport was small – there were larger ones, but we had to go with taxi next in line – too bad if it's not comfortable. They have their rules. They shoved our luggage into the back and we were on our way. Took about 45 minutes - nice ride through the outskirts of Rome – but traffic got heavy as we neared the city, and very heavy in Rome proper – motorcycles everywhere, squeezing into every opening in the traffic flow, weaving in and out. From every stop sign they would zoom ahead and a new group would join us from behind. Taxi cost 60 euros, plus 4 euro tip. Arrived at River Palace Hotel – great location near Piazza del Popolo. All looked good until Sergio asked us to sit down. He explained they had overbooked – very sorry - their reservation system was having problems. They would put us up in their sister hotel across the Tiber, north about 4 kilometers – would pay for our taxi and would bring us back the next day to the River Palace. Reloaded our bags in a taxi and delivered us to the River Chateau – not as good an area, | small heavily decorated rooms, very dark. Carolyn and I had a balcony big enough for 2 chairs and a table, but it overlooked a parking lot – not very enticing. [Sergio suggested he might be able to give us an upgrade the next day, but that didn't turn out to be true. Met another couple while we were waiting for the taxi to the Chateau – same thing had happened to them, but they had come for a week and they were happy with the room they got when the came back from Chateau, plus a bottle of wine. At Chateau we met another couple going through the same drill. Seemed clear to us they were doing this intentionally to keep the Chateau filled]. Went out to look for a pasta place for dinner – a young local couple talked to us and told us to follow them. Took us to a great little restaurant called Avio Trattoria – (really liked the ambiance, except the pasta was a little too al dente for Carolyn). Had a bottle of house wine for 20 euros – pretty good red, but when we asked for another, the girl told us they were all out of red. We joked with her and said it was not possible to run out of red wine in Italy. She took it well. Walked back to our hotel and got to bed early. We had to meet our guide the next morning back at River Palace. [The girl at Avio seemed to be running the whole place by herself, waiting tables, taking orders, bringing out dishes, and cleaning up - there may have been a cook in the back. Took awhile to get our food, but that seems to be the speed of dining in Europe – once you are at your table, it's yours for the evening, so why rush].
85: 9/19/12 – Rome – Wednesday Got up early and had breakfast at Chateau (included in the price of room) – not as much choice as at our breakfasts in Istanbul – coffee really awful! [Later learned from our guide, Alex, best to order a double espresso with hot water on the side if you 're looking for American style coffee. Italians aren't good at making American coffee. Lattes also work for Carolyn and me, because it's strong coffee cut half by hot milk]. Back at River Palace, Francesco was our new man (Sergio off duty) – said it wasn't possible to upgrade our rooms – none available – the trap closed! - very sorry! Ha! Met our guide Alex at 10:00 AM – big kind guy – Jane and Bob Jacobi recommended him. Alex had a great vehicle, kind of a square SUV crossover – very roomy. [Alex is a big lumbering fellow, probably in his late thirties – played sports when he was young – looks like a football tackle. Easy to find in a crowd because he is very tall. Educated as an engineer – his dad is in construction – but seems they couldn't work together well. Started his tour business with his wife, Ana. They live about an hour and a half outside Rome in a house his wife inherited from her grandfather. He seemed proud of the house – must be very nice. I think it allowed them to take a chance on their own business]. Alex suggested we do the Roman Forum and Coliseum that day because rain was expected the next day, and we could spend that day inside at the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. Okay with us even though we had dressed for the Vatican with long pants, etc. to meet dress code there. We bought tickets at the forum entrance while Alex found parking. [12 euros each for entry to forum and Coliseum]. | Alex led us on a fact-filled, but interesting tour explaining all the old relics. The walls and walkways had once been covered with beautiful marble, but the Vatican took all the good material for St. Peter's. The site of the forum ended up buried until the 1800's – then many of the remaining good items were excavated and taken to England, France and other countries. The marble and columns left at the site by the Vatican were mostly broken or cracked, so that is all that remains there to tell the story from the original days. The Coliseum is astonishing in its size and complexity. Alex explained how it changed over time to become more elaborate with naval battles (water was diverted from the Tiber to fill its lower level). Elevators were later added to hoist wild animals into the arena to engage fighters, or consume Christians for the pleasure of the audiences. Alex took us back to the hotel to check into our new rooms – had just left our bags in the morning. Went up to our rooms (strange system of 2 elevators to reach our wing). We found out that the rooms were not upgraded, just standard size – back down to the front desk for a long discussion with Francesco, who gave us 2 options: a free dinner at a certain restaurant, or 20 euros a day credit per couple at their expensive hotel bar. We weren't happy. Decided to go look at the restaurant they were were suggesting – it was a dump – dark hole, with a limited menu. Looked for another place to eat near the Pantheon - enjoyed our walk, looking into shops along the way on Via del Corso, a big beautiful street with very nice stores, and little cafes up each alleyway.
86: People's Square Two blocks from our hotel, was our entry into the center of Rome | Via del Corso
87: Trevi Fountain The fountain at the junction of three road, famous to us for the movie Three Coins in the Fountain. In 1629 Pope Urban VIII, asked Bernini to sketch the design but when the Pope died, the project was abandoned. Though Bernini's project was never constructed, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it exists today.
88: 9/19/12 – Rome – Wednesday (cont.) We chose a nice trattoria and ate inside, which turned out to be a good plan because it started pouring rain outside. The restaurant had heavy wood beams and straight back chairs, but it was perfect. I had lasagna and others had pizza – good cracker-thin crust. Ordered a red wine, which was a great buy at only 10 euros – Chianti – service very leisurely again, but worth the wait. After our late lunch we wandered the narrow streets there toward the Pantheon. Found a shop with beautiful carved wooden toys. In another store Susan and Steve bought a Roman soldier on a horse for Kevin. [Later that night Carolyn and I both decided independently that we should buy the same toy for Nate. So we had to search high and low the next day to find it elsewhere for 3 euros more]. Rain kept coming and going – we had brought umbrellas from the hotel, and just ducked into stores as we went along when the rain got heavy. Went into a little coffee shop and had lattes and cappuccinos, and an espresso for Steve – Steve won't drink sissy coffee with milk in it!
89: Finally got to the Pantheon about 6:30 PM – we were afraid it would be closed – (Carolyn and I missed it in 1995 when we were here with Chris and Katie because it was closed) – but it was open and free. A great day to see it, with dark skies outside, and rain puddled in the middle of the floor, roped off where it fell from the circular opening in the ceiling at the top of the great dome. The place took our breath away. It has a huge dome overhead, 142 feet across and 142 feet above the floor, all coffered in small squares. The room had many people, but it was quiet. We stayed for an hour absorbing it all. One of our favorite spots, it made a bigger and more lasting impression than the Hagia Sophia. Left the Pantheon and searched out Piazza Navona with the Four Rivers Fountain. Finding it was a challenge – when we were told to go a certain direction, we always found our way blocked by another building. Finally got our last clue from a grouchy traffic cop inside a glassed-in booth. Besides the big center fountain, there are two smaller fountains that flank it at each end of the piazza. The square was not very crowded because it was night time - somewhat dark in the fountain areas, maybe to keep peddlers out – nice soft light on the fountains – couldn't make out many details, but probably the way it looked originally at night. Decided to have just a light dinner in the piazza – we all shared bruschetta, then had soup, while Carolyn had roast chicken and potatoes – not our best food, | but it was okay and the ambiance was nice. Wandering musicians played and sang Italian songs and American rock and roll – they asked the crowd for handouts – we didn't think they should give up their day jobs. Stopped for gelato, then a cab back to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, Carolyn and Steve went to work on Francesco again. He offered another option: 55 euros worth of transportation for each couple to the airport. Ultimately we took that option. He also gave each couple a bottle of wine, delivered to our rooms. That was a nice touch. Still think it was all planned out, but at least he tried to make us feel better about it. | The Pantheon
90: The Pantheon Rome's best preserved monument, built by the Emperor Hadrian in 120AD. The dome is the largest made until the Renaissance. It is 142 ft high and 142 ft wide. The oculus, or the eye in the sky, is the building only light source is almost 30ft. across. (I first thought it was a window). At fitst it was a temple, Early in the middle ages it became a Christan church. | Raphael's tomb
91: Piazza Navona Literature and films – The piazza is featured in Dan Brown's 2000 thriller Angels and Demons, in which the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (the "Fountain of the Four Rivers", i.e. the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile, and the Rio de la Plata) is listed as one of the Altars of Science. During June 2008, Ron Howard directed several scenes of the film adaptation of Angels and Demons on the southern section of the Piazza Navona, featuring Tom Hanks. –The piazza is featured in several scenes of director Mike Nichols' 1970 adaptation of Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22. –The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi was used in the 1990 film Coins in the Fountain. The characters threw coins into the fountain as they made wishes. The Trevi Fountain was used in the 1954 version of the film. –Sophia Loren's character, Mara, lives in a second-floor apartment overlooking Piazza Navona, in the 1964 Italian comedy film Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow ("ieri, oggi, domani").
92: The halls on the way to the Sistine Chapel
94: Alex dropped us at the entrance to the Vatican museum and then left to park his vehicle. We went inside to wait for him near the on-line ticket desk (at which point we discussed whether I was to go to the desk and redeem our ticket voucher, or wait for Alex, which I thought was the plan. Italians can be a little vague in their instructions, kind of like their road signs - I tend to take them too literally and miss the turn. The group finally convinced me that I should go get the tickets, which was the right answer). Alex joined us and began leading us through the crowds. He was big enough to make a good path for us – led us to a courtyard outside where he explained the panels of Michelangelo's masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (you aren't supposed to talk once you are inside). Led us through rooms of sculptures from the first century BC to the second century AD. Astonishing how beautiful they were. All that artistic ability disappeared in the Middle Ages and then surfaced again in the Renaissance. Much of the art came from Greece, of course. The Romans were good at stealing everything in sight, bringing statues, columns, and marble decorations back to Rome (and also to Constantinople – such as the pillars in the Basilica Cistern built by Justinian). Seeing all this in Rome brought home to us how our trip was all tied together in the end. Finally arrived at the Sistine Chapel, filled with people. All were supposed to remain quiet, but people couldn't stop themselves from saying something in the presence of all that famous artwork. Every few minutes the guards would shout over the speaker system, “Silence! Silenzio!” which comically only added to the noise. We found a bench and craned our necks upward – beautiful vibrant colors now that it has been cleaned in recent years. The | 9/20/12 – Rome – Thursday Last full day in Rome for Carolyn and me. Leisurely breakfast and then just took it easy until our time to meet Alex. Alex said we should start out at 11:00 AM - his reservation for our tickets was at 11:30 – (19 euros for each of us, but well worth it to go to the head of a very long line). Got organized for our trip home while waiting – went to business center to check in to airlines and print boarding passes. Had to send the boarding passes to the front desk for printing, but of course it didn't work. Francesco then tried to do it from his computer at the front desk, but it still wasn't showing up. Time was running short when the passes magically appeared on his screen and we were able to print. I hate the ”convenience” of computers. [A problem with our reservations – the seating assignments – Carolyn was in 34J and I was in 34E. Don't know how they got assigned to us, but when we tried to change them the next day at the airport, there were no other seats available. Luckily, once we were on the plane, the woman on the aisle next to me was willing to trade with Carolyn for her aisle seat. Later, the attendants spilled a meal on the woman. A fortunate move for Carolyn, but we felt a little guilty about the considerate lady]. Weather turned out beautiful for Thursday. The rain all blew through the night before, so our day was perfect for walking. (We were very lucky on weather the whole trip). Alex showed up right on time with 2 bottles of Italian wine as a gift, one a white and the other a spumante (sparkling) white. Nice guy. He was always very patient with us – we kept losing Steve because he was off taking pictures behind us somewhere. That never upset Alex – we would just wait until he showed up. Alex called him a paparazzi. Ha!
95: room is surprisingly smaller than expected after all the hype, but it was a huge piece of work for a single artist lying on his back. [Interesting stories from Alex about the issue of nudity in the paintings. Michelangelo loved the human form and didn't want to cover it up. At various times he had to add clothing to certain areas because it was just too much for the church authorities to accept. One administrator ordered the artist to put more clothing on people in the Last Judgment scene, which Michelangelo was commissioned to do 25 years after the original ceiling work was done. Michelangelo painted the fellow into Hell, and when the administrator complained to the Pope, the Pope said, “Sorry. If only you were in Purgatory I could help, but once you are in Hell, it's too late for even the Pope to spring you out!”]. Walked through many rooms of Raphael's paintings, with amazing visual effects in many of them – eyes that seemed to follow the viewer, and a table top that changed its orientation as you walked past. Also a hall of hanging tapestries, 600 years old or more. Next we went into St. Peter's Basilica – very huge and adorned with marble brought from all over the world (including the Coliseum). The Bernini altarpiece inside, with soaring twisting black columns of bronze is so modern in comparison to the classical statuary found all around Rome. Alex walked us through the cathedral with explanations of the many objects and structures inside. [Down the center aisle of St. Peter's are floor markers showing the comparative sizes of all the other big cathedrals in the world, with the length of their interiors measured from the wall behind the altar of St. Peter's. Washington D.C.'s National Cathedral, for instance, is shown there. St. Peter's, of course, beats them all. Cathedral envy for the rest of them]. | At the end we went into St. Peter's square, where Alex pointed out and named the many saints on the rooftop ringing the courtyard (well he didn't actually name all of them – but all the Apostles and St. Paul, among others). He also pointed out the window where the Pope now appears (he no longer comes to the window in the center of St. Peter's facade, but a window in his private residence). Alex then led us along some nearby streets to a favorite restaurant, Ristochicco, on Borgo Pio, 186, where we took an outside table. Steve and I went inside with Alex and paid him (he didn't want to exchange money outside where he might be targeted by thieves). [The tour was 100 euros for each person, plus 19 euros each for tickets to the Vatican. Also paid 12 euros each for the entrance to the Forum and Coliseum the prior day. That was 238 euros for each couple. We added a tip that brought it to 250 euros per couple. He seemed very pleased, but he was so nice I'm sure he would have been pleased regardless]. Said our goodbyes to Alex – he hugged us all and told us to come back and see him. We told him to come to California. His tour was great.
96: Michelangelo's St. Peter's Pieta
97: St. Peter's
98: St. Peter's Square | Castel Sant' Angelo (below) This Fortress was built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian (AD130-139), but it has also been a prison and a papal residence. It was used by former Popes who absconded there for protection in times of danger. There has been a covered passageway which still connects Castel Sant'Angelo to the Vatican. | Papal Swiss Guard
99: 9/20/12 – Rome – Thursday We could never have covered all the sights he showed us in two days if we had been on our own, and we certainly wouldn't have known a fraction of what he told us. Our meal at Ristocchio was wonderful. I had gnocchi with meat sauce, Carolyn had tortellini, Steve had broad noodles in a creamy sauce, and Susan ordered a really big plate of grilled shrimp (she didn't expect it to be so big), heads still on, but a fantastic flavor, encrusted with bread crumbs soaked in garlic and butter -we all shared with her, and ended up eating much of the thin shells, too, because they were so good, and it was easier than peeling them. From there we walked toward Piazza Navona again, searching for the Roman soldier toy for Nate. Found it at a store right next to the Piazza. [Sent a text message to Nate that day wishing him a happy birthday. Monica wrote back that he had a good day, starting with chocolate chip pancakes, then going to Pretend City]. Took a cab back to the hotel and rested for an hour. Carolyn and I packed up our clothes for the trip home – not hard to do because we really hadn't unpacked, having moved through two hotels in three days. (Decided to check at the front desk regarding the 5:30 AM wake-up call Francesco supposedly wrote down that morning for our Friday morning trip | to the airport. He also said they would prepare breakfasts for Carolyn and me to take with us. When I checked at the desk Friday night I found that we weren't on the wake-up list, and Friday morning there were no boxed meals for us. I guess I should have asked about the meals again on Thursday night. Apparently what Francesco really meant was that it was possible to have a wake-up call and boxed meals – he didn't mean that he had actually arranged any of that. What was I thinking? Ha! That's Italy, I guess). We brought a bottle of red wine downstairs (Chianti from Sergio and Francesco – got to give them credit for that). The four of us went to the business center, located at the front of the hotel, with a low table and 2 couches facing each other, right next to a big window with a view of the street. It was a great spot to sit and sum up our travels. The hotel staff didn't object to our little party there. Out for one last walk to find a dinner spot. Steve had a recommendation from a friend for a place on Via Ripetto. We took a look at the menu and weren't sure – it didn't seem to have many choices. Suddenly we were accosted by two ladies from Scotland who saw us studying the menu – mother and daughter – mother belatedly celebrating her 70th birthday from last January. They had also been in Rome for her 60th. They insisted we had to go to a
100: 9/20/12 – Rome – Thursday restaurant down the street, called Gusto - better food and better prices. They walked us there, chatting the whole way, and then we said goodbye. Sat outside in a colonnaded walkway – nice setting, but it turned out to be pretty boring food for tourists – not bad, just not very Italian. What were we thinking, taking food advice from ladies from the British Isles? Oh well, it was a step toward returning to the fast food of California. Nice walk back to the hotel, with a quick stop for more gelato on the way. Said goodbye to Susan and Steve. Finished packing up and to bed by 11:30 PM with a wake up call to come at 5:30 AM. 9/21/12 – Leaving Rome -Friday 5:30 AM call came as advertised - finished packing up – downstairs before 6:15. The driver was there with a nice comfortable van. We talked on the way to the airport – he was from the Ukraine, had been in Rome 11 years. His wife and daughter also there (three year old daughter named Julia – we told our stories, our granddaughter Julianna etc.). He spoke wonderful Italian, and I was able to converse a little with him – he also spoke very good English. Plane left a little late, about 9:55 AM, but we were on schedule to land in LA at 1:15 PM that same day. The plane was completely full. The first beverages they served were not coffee and juice, but wine and beer. They definitely wanted to knock us out. Why not? I ordered beer. A great trip, but always nice to be heading for home. | Trajan's Column is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in AD 113, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians (101–102 and 105–106). Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern.
101: 9/21/12 – Rome -Friday Steve & Susan's Journal I wanted to see the Borghese Gallery on the recommendation of my friend Krishna. We asked at the hotel desk about tickets and found out that all the tours had been sold out, you need reservations weeks ahead of time. But we were told that we could try for tickets at the Gallery, all those with reservations do not show up. So we got up early to get a cab so we could get there as soon as it opened at 9am. Had a woman cab driver, a first. We noticed that she took us on an extra long way, no tip for her. When we got to the ticket office, Steve started to explain that we know you need reservations, but the lady said she had tickets before we could finish asking. We went right in, before the people in line with tickets! No photos allowed. We rented recorded guides and had to check backpacks and purses, The beautiful gallery was specifically designed to exhibit the art collection begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V (reign 1605–1621). The Villa was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio, developing sketches by Scipione Borghese himself, who used it as a villa suburbana, a party villa at the edge of Rome. The gallery has two floors, the first floor exhibits sculptures and the second floor, paintings. Scipione Borghese was an early patron of Bernini and an avid collector of works by Caravaggio, who is well represented in the collection by his Boy with a Basket of Fruit, St. Jerome, Sick Bacchus and others. Other paintings of note include Titian's Sacred and Profane Love, Raphael's Entombment of Christ and works by Peter Paul Rubens and Federico Barocci. | Our favorite art were the many sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which comprise a large percent of his lifetime output of secular sculpture, starting with the Goat Amalthea with Infant Jupiter and Faun (1615) to his dynamic Apollo and Daphne (1622–25) and David (1623) considered seminal works of baroque sculpture. Daphne is being transformed into a tree by her father to save her from Apollo. The leaves that form between the two figures were so delicate. In addition, three busts by this sculptor are in the gallery, two of Pope Paul V (1618–20) and an insightful portrait of his first patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1632). Finally it has some early works such as Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius (1618–19) and the Rape of Proserpine (1621–22).
102: 9/21/12 – Rome -Friday (cont.) After the Gallery, Steve and I wandered around the vast Borghese gardens. We decided we wanted to revisit St. Peter's for more pictures. We tried the subway for the first time. Not bad, but still entails a lot of walking. Unlike going into St. Peter's after the Sistine Chapel, this time we had to wait in long security lines to get in. We had a nice dinner on some side street. What I remember is that we were eating outside and our table was secluded with potted plants. A line for tables formed shortly after we sat down. We felt fortunate. Afterwards we wandered around the streets near the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. They were so much more crowded than when we first saw them. It was a party atmosphere. 9/22/12 – Rome -Saturday We wanted to see some of the famous Roman catacombs. It would have been wonderful if we could have explored beneath St. Peter's, but you needed special advance tickets. After reading guide books, we decided on the catacombs of St Sebastian. They seemed to be a long way away on the other side of city. We took a taxi and went down the Appian Way. The catacombs were interesting but I was disappointed there wasn't more art on the walls. (And again, no pictures allowed.) The catacombs were used for many classes of people, not only Christian martyrs. They mainly used them to save space, It's hard to believe that land was hard to come by so long ago. After the tour and a visit to the church of St. Sebastian, We had to figure a way to get back to central Rome. Asking at the gift shop, the man said that a bus could take us back, the stop being down the Appian Way (about a mile we discovered). We and other waiting tourists saw three buses go by, and none came back our way, it was supposed to be a loop route. Finally a cab came by. While the others were still considering, Steve & I climbed in and asked to be taken to Circus Maximus. | Postcard from the Catacombs of St. Sebastian | Borghese Gardens | Waiting, waiting at a bus stop | I liked the feather in his hat.
103: Porta Portese Porta Portese is a street market held every Sunday from the early morning until around 1 o'clock. It is situated on the left bank of the Tiber, between Porta Portese and Stazione Trastevere. It is primarily a clothes market, selling both new and second-hand clothes. It went on and on. We were there about 3 hours and still didn't reach the end of it. We bought some clothing for gifts and some old postcards for me. | The Spanish Steps | What I wanted to do | Pyramid of Cestius The pyramid was built about 18 BC–12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations in Rome, the Septemviri Epulonum. It is made of brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble standing on a travertine foundation, measuring 100 Roman feet (29.6 m) square at the base and standing 125 Roman feet (37 m) high.
104: National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II Completed in 1935, monument for the first king of a unified Italy. It is often referred as the Wedding Cake. This building of many steps has a museum inside commemorating the history of the unified Italy. Also it is the site of the tomb of the Unknown Solider. A panoramic elevator was added to the structure, allowing us to ride up to the roof for 360 degree views of Rome
105: 9/22/12 – Rome -Saturday (Cont). After a long walk along Circus Maximus, we decided to eat lunch at The Scholar Lounge Irish Pub just around the corner from Piazza Venezia. Lunch was fun, friendly staff, didn't feel like downtown Rome at all. Afterwards, Steve somehow convinced me to tackle the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II. We went in a side way, so maybe not so many steps, but I did manage to trip up twice. Did a quick walk through the museum, then went up some more. We had finally reached the level where there was a tube-type elevator to take us to the roof for a fee. It was worth it, the Views were spectacular. After all that walking we got a taxi to take us to the People's Square where we walked to the hotel for a rest before dinner. | We walked over the Pantheon Square for a place for dinner. Can't remember the restaurant or the food much. But afterwards we discovered The place for Gelato, Lo Scimmiotto. A fews days earlier as we were walking nearby the Pantheon, Michael noticed a lady eating a gelato making orgasmic sounds about how wonderful it was. We wanted to find that place. My friend Krishna had also told me about the best gelato near the Pantheon. I knew it was the place when I saw the line of people, the vast selection and the system of paying at the cashier booth before you got in line. I got a chocolate mixed with raspberries. It was so much richer and smoother than other gelatos we had had in Rome. Too bad Michael and Carolyn weren't there with us to enjoy it. We were able to visit it twice during our stay.
106: 9/23/12 and 9/24/12– Rome -Sunday and Monday Sunday and Monday memories run together, We just wandered around mainly shopping for more souvenirs for the grandchildren and Italian paper for me. Looking on Yelp I found the best rated toy shop in Rome. It was fairly easy to find. Had many interesting toys. We got a couple fairies, one riding a horse to go along with knight on the horse we had previously found for Kevin, Sunday we went to the outdoor market Porta Portese by the subway. On Sunday eve, we stumbled upon a church having a late evening mass. We stayed for the rest of the mass then had dinner in the square in front of the church. Monday was the day to search for the paper stores. Found three listed. Finding them took us to some new neighborhoods, lots of beautiful designer clothing in the windows. At the third paper shop, I finally found a few interesting papers, limited myself to three sheets. I had most of the other papers already. Florence is a much better place to shop for the hand marbled papers. Last time I was there, I loved finding a shop where they were actually marbling the papers and I was able to buy the end pieces and samples. 9/25/12 – Rome -Tuesday Going home. Steve had packed very carefully the night before, we used a bigger carry-on bag to transport the stuff we had bought. Had the same early fight as Carolyn and Michael. The hotel-booked taxi driver was quite nice. (No charge for the 55 euros it cost as a benefit for being bumped the first night.) Spoke English well, would have been a good private tour guide. The plane ride home was uneventful and not too uncomfortable, we had an empty seat between us. | I loved these trees, called Umbrella Pines.
107: View of Rome from the rooftop of National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II