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Honeymoon Photobook

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S: Our Honeymoon in the Mediterranean

BC: “““Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends... The mind can never break off from the journey.” – -Pat Conroy

FC: Stephanie & Gregg September 2011

1: Itinerary: Chicago, Rome, Greve, Maranello, Bologna, Pisa, Civitavecchia, Taormina, Athens, Ephesus & Kusadasi, Rhodes, Istanbul, Malta, Rome, New York, Home | preflight drinks @ O'hare | autostrada {Italy}

2: St Peter's Basilica | September 6th, 2011 | & Vatican Museums

3: After the long flight we were relieved and excited to finally be in Rome! We didn't want to waste one minute so we dropped off our rental car at the hotel and headed straight for Vatican City. It was easy to find St. Peter's Basilica but it took a bit of waiting in the wrong lines and wandering around to find the entrance to the museums. Luckily, we still had time to make a quick stop at the Vatican post office to send out a few post cards!

4: It was so incredible exploring the different museums and galleries within the Vatican. We spent a lot of time admiring all the beautiful works of art in the Chiaramonti Museum where there are about a thousand sculptures, including portraits of Emperors and gods, friezes and relieves of sarcophagi. I was even able to snap a picture of Gregg making a handsome stand in for a row of Roman busts!

7: These photos do not do justice to the incredible works of art housed inside the Vatican Museums. Everywhere you looked there was more to see. Breathtaking paintings on the ceiling, detailed mosaics on the floor, intricately carved pillars along the walls and treasures in glass cases filling the rooms. Although there were "no fotos" allowed in the Sistine Chapel, Gregg was able to sneak a couple minutes of video recording. The chapel was much smaller than I expected but just as astonishing as I imagined.

8: Sfera con Sfera | “Sphere within Sphere” sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro

9: Cortile della Pigna | We relaxed for a bit and people watched in the beautiful Cortile della Pigna - the upper terrace of the Cortile del Belvedere - before making our way to the Sistine Chapel.

10: Roman Colosseum A short ride on the Metro dropped us right in front of the Colosseum. It was amazing to be able to walk up and touch the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire! Construction started in 72 AD and when finished in 80 AD it could seat 50,000 spectators. Unfortunately we were unable to go inside because of the political rioting in the city the week we visited. I guess we will just have to go back someday! | 9.6.11

12: Julius Caesar | Metro | Arco di Costantino

13: Fontana di Trevi | Toss in a coin = return to Rome | After seeing the Colosseum we explored more of the Roman Forum before taking a walk to no where in particular. We stumbled upon a cute little tucked away restaurant where we dinned al fresco and indulged in truly authentic Italian dishes. After dinner we made our way to Trevi Fountain. The plaza was crowded with tourists and street vendors so we stood on a bench to get a good view of the fountain. When we got back to the hotel we had a drink on the rooftop café then climbed a rickety spiral staircase to an even higher rooftop to take in Rome's sparkling lights. Finally we forced ourselves to get some rest before the next day's drive through Italy. I could hardly believe it had only been day one of our honeymoon and there was so much more ahead!

14: museo ferrari maranello, italy 9.7.11 | On the second day of our trip we managed to fit in a visit to both the Ferrari and Ducati museums. At Ducati we were even allowed to tour the factory floor and see the newly assembled bikes waiting for shipment. I think Gregg could have spent all day looking at the expensive vehicles, but we still had more to see!

15: ducati museum & factory bologna, italy 9.7.11

16: We took a scenic drive through the Chianti valley on our two day journey through Italy. We stopped in Greve to pick up a couple bottles of wine from a local vineyard and indulged in a few scoops of gelato. Yum! Gregg always seemed to pick the better flavors and we would trade halfway through. Now that is true love!

17: Pisa, Italy September 8, 2011 | On the way to port we made a quick stop in Pisa. It wasn't too crowded and we were able to take our time to get a couple pretty good pictures in front of the leaning tower. Another young couple even waited patiently for us to finish so we could take their picture for them. They didn't speak English, so they just handed Gregg their dslr and posed. It was pretty cute. After we walked around a bit we hopped in the car to race down the coast to catch our boat!

18: Taromina, Italy 9.9.11

19: Our first day at port started with a twisty drive down the Sicilian coast to the most adorable little town, Taromina. There we shopped along the picturesque streets, listened to musicians play under shady trees and rode a funvia down the cliffs. The views from the cable car were great, but the heat and odor, not so much. We then ventured down to the rocky beach to dip our toes in the cool and incredibly clear water. Our only wish was that we had brought our bathing suits!

20: In the afternoon we cooled down with gelato before we climbed to the ancient ruins of the Teatro Greco. From the top we could see amazing views of Mt. Etna and the city. We ended the day with an adrenaline filled, twisty downhill drive back to port. Gregg laughed the whole way; I held on tight and tried to keep the camcorder steady. | Mt. Etna: the tallest active volcano in Europe, standing 3,329 m high. In Greek Mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under this mountain by Zeus, and the forges of Hephaestus were said to also be located underneath it.

21: We had to quickly snap this photo before we were ticketed for using our tripod; it was definitely worth the risk! Teatro Greco: was built early in the seventh century BC. It is the second largest of its kind in Sicily and is still frequently used for operatic & theatrical performances and for concerts.

22: Acropolis of Athens | September 11, 2011 | Temple of Athena Nike

23: We took in the outstanding view of Athens from Areopagus Hill (The Rock of Ares) before climbing to the top of the Acropolis. | The Acropolis' first evidence of worship of the city's patron goddess, Athena, dates all the way back to the Archaic period (650-480 B.C.) During the Classical period (450-330 B.C.) three important temples were erected on the ruins of earlier ones: the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Nike. These monuments went through many different phases during the city's history. Some of them were converted into Christian churches, houses of the Franks and later on, of the Turks. After the liberation of Athens from the Turks in 1821, the protection, restoration and conservation of the monuments was one of the first tasks of the newly-founded Greek state. We took the metro from port Piraeus into Athens in the late morning. It was very warm and sunny out and the climb to the top of the Acropolis was a long one. The marble stairs were so worn down by visitors that they were very slippery so we had to be careful; the safety precautions were quite different from the USA. There was a lot of construction equipment around from the restoration projects but we tried to imagine how it would have looked thousands of years ago in all it's glory. We almost couldn't believe we were there, standing in such an iconic place. For lunch we stopped at a food stand and had the best gyro we've ever tasted. It's a day we will never forget and we had so much fun experiencing it together.

25: Odeon of Herodes Atticus | A refreshing Greek Frappe to help chase away the effects of too much fun at the cruise's pub sing along the night before. | The Erechtheion | The temple was built between 421 and 405 BC and it derived its name from a shrine dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erichthonius. On the south side is the "Porch of the Maidens," with six draped female figures (caryatids) as supporting columns, each sculpted in a manner different from the rest. One of the maidens was removed in the 19th century and is now on display at the British Museum in London. The Odeon was built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife. The stone amphitheater origianlly had a wooden roof and a seating capacity of 5,000.

26: The Ancient City of Ephesus 9.12.11 Visiting Kusadasi and Ephesus was one of the best stops we made on our cruise. It was a gorgeous day and we took a private tour to the ancient city. We walked down the same streets that Alexander the Great once did and learned about this amazing place. Here's a little history lesson: The city dates back to the Neolithic Age (about 6000 BC) and existed through many different periods including the Bronze Age, Dark Ages, Archaic Period, the Classical Period, Hellenistic Period, Roman Period, Byzantine Era, and Turkish Era before finally being completely abandoned in the 15th century. During the Roman period, Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world. We had so much fun imagining what life was like for the people who lived there many hundreds of years ago; the whole day was incredible. | the goddess Nike | backgammon board

27: Temple of Hadrian | Medusa

28: Library of Celsus & Gate of Augustus (which leads to the agora) | The Great Theater of Ephesus has a capacity for 25,00 people and was used for plays, concerts, religious, political and philosophical discussions and for gladiator and animal fights.

29: Port of Kusadasi, Turkey | We finally found a Starbucks and it had an awesome view!

30: There's nothing better than putting your toes in the sand; especially while on a beautiful Greek island. | We did not have anything planned for our day in Rhodes except to relax and soak up some sun. In the morning we took a double decker bus tour around the island and it didn't take long to spot a public beach. So, we hopped off the tour and were lucky enough to find two open chairs to rent under straw umbrellas. We spent a couple glorious hours dipping in the sea and laying in the sun. Afterwards, we ate at a Greek restaurant and then entered the medieval town for some more shopping! | 9.13.11

31: Rhodes Greece | Moussaka and Mythos Beer | Tzatziki

32: Originally we were supposed to visit Egypt but, due to the the political and social unrest in that area, we spent two days docked in Istanbul instead. On day one we took a guided tour to visit the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Grand Bazaar. On the second day we set out on our own to explore the city. We had beautiful weather and soaked up as much culture as we could. There were a ton of people, including the boatloads of tourists, but all the locals we met were very nice. All in all, we had a great time visiting this fantastic place.

33: Istanbul | September 15th & 16th 2011

35: The Blue Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616. The design is the culmination of two centuries of both Byzantine church and Ottoman mosque development. One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is its six minarets. This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two, or just one minaret. It was quite a scandal at the time because the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. In the end, the sultan solved the problem by sending his architect to Mecca to add a seventh minaret. The interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles in more than fifty different tulip designs. Over 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light. The floors are covered with carpets that are donated by faithful people and are regularly replaced as they wear out. We stood in awe of its beauty with tourists and worshipers alike. However, the required removal of shoes spurred one of Gregg's favorite Stephanie-isms of the trip, "It smells like Chuckie Cheese in here."

36: Hagia Sophia "Church of the Holy Wisdom of God" | Istanbul, Turkey September 15th, 2011

39: Hagia Sophia The mosque that stands today was not the first structure on this site. There was a church built by the Roman Emperor Constantius in 360 AD that was damaged by a fire in 404 AD during rioting. It was rebuilt 415 AD but was burnt down in 532 AD by opposing supporters of chariot racers. They had united against Emperor Justinian and assaulted the imperial palace starting a fire that destroyed a large part of the city. At the end of 537 AD the Hagia Sophia was completed, but the dome collapsed in 559 AD because of an earthquake. It was rebuilt in 563: its size was reduced to 31 meters and it was strengthened by buttresses. Its interiors were richly decorated with artistic mosaics depicting scared images, many of which were removed during the iconoclastic periods of the 8th & 9th centuries. After the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque. The Turks removed the Christian decorations and plastered over the beautiful religious images and mosaics. Purely Islamic attributes such as the four minarets outside were added at various stages of the Ottoman rule. Lucky for us, in 1935 Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum and the plaster covering the mosaics was removed. We felt so small standing in this beautiful building and were even more impressed after we ascended the uneven stairs to the second floor for even better views of the incredible artwork from centuries past.

40: On day two of our stop in Istanbul we decided to walk to the Spice Bazaar for some heavy duty shopping. We were delighted to find that almost all of the merchants were very friendly and not pushy like we expected. We bought everything from pottery to jewelery to Turkish delight! On the way back to the boat we stopped at a plaza on the water. There were quite a few food stands but the one that caught our eye was the rocking boats selling fish sandwiches. For only 5 lira we bought a sandwich made with fish that was caught right on that pier! It was delicious despite a couple pin bones. After our quick lunch we stopped by a stand selling sugary donut type treats, kind of like beignets with a sprinkle of crushed pistachio nuts on top. We devoured them. | The bridge we had to cross to get back to our ship had a pedestrian walkway beneath it lined with restaurants. We stopped for a beer and scored a great table looking over the water. We relaxed and gazed out at the Blue Mosque and those awesome fish sandwich vendors.

42: Malta 9/18/12 | At the beginning of our journey we were quite disappointed to learn that instead of going to Naples, we were rerouted to Malta, an island south of Sicily. We tried to make the best of the day by taking a boat tour around the island and learning about it's history ranging from the knights of St. John to Malta's role during WWII. We ate lunch and had drinks at an outdoor café then did a bit of shopping. Many places were closed because it was Sunday so we mostly ended up walking around and marveling at how many stairs there were!

44: The Ship | Crew Members = 1,185 Gross Tons = 142,000 Length = 1,020 feet Number of Cabins = 1,557 Passenger Capacity = 3,114 Width = 158 feet | We had three days at sea where we relaxed in the sun, played bingo, gambled in the casino, and ate and drank until we couldn't take any more. The promenade was four decks tall and had shops, bars and cafés for us to patronize. There was a English style pub we went to almost every night for the sing along. At the casino I entered a slot tournament and won 2nd place! On formal nights we dressed up and took walks along the deck after dinner. One day we even went ice skating and then to a movie before we hit the hot tub!

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Stephanie Smith
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  • Title: Honeymoon Photobook
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