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Italy, Greece and Turkey

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S: Italy, Greece, Turkey & the Greek Isles 2011

FC: Italy, Greece, Turkey & the Greek Isles 2011

1: OUR FLIGHT ITINERY Sunday Aug 28, 2011 676 miles Minneapolis, MN 11:00am Toronto, Canada 1:55pm 4,399 miles Toronto, Canada 4:45pm Rome, Italy 7:20am Tuesday Sept 13, 2011 4,948 miles Athens, Greece 12:00pm Newark, NJ 4:00pm 1,008 miles Newark, NJ 7:30pm Minneapolis, MN 9:37pm Total Miles.........................11,031

2: Italy | ITALY | ARRIVED August 29, 2011 | Rome Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the European Union and has tourist attractions for all tastes. Visitors come from around the world to see Rome's world-famous landmarks.

3: Population: 2.7 million Size: 933 square miles Languages: Italian People: Italian, German, French, Slovenes, Albanian-Italians, Greek-Italians Religion: Roman Catholic (85%), Jewish (10%), Protestant (5%) | ROME

6: Pizza al Taglio is pizza with a thicker crust, cooked in a large pan. This is served by the piece, usually to take away, and is a good cheap way to get something to fill you up. It's sold by weight (the listed price is usually per 100 gm, known in Rome as an etto).

8: "The Eternal | City"

9: Rome, the “Eternal City”, is so called because it is a place of great beauty, contrast and life. Rome is an eclectic city: the religious world center of the Catholic Church, the fabulous ruins of the center of the Roman Empire, and modern, bustling Rome. In Rome you will encounter ancient monuments, medieval and Renaissance buildings and fountains, and great museums. Rome is the capital of modern Italy and boasts many fine restaurants and cafés, good nightlife, and lively streets and squares. Rome is one of world's most photogenic cities and is home to some of the most remarkable sites in the world, like the Colosseum, St Peter's Square, the Vatican, Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Rome is the capital of modern Italy and boasts many fine restaurants and cafés, good nightlife, and lively streets and squares. In Rome you will encounter ancient monuments, medieval and Renaissance buildings and fountains, and great museums. Today's Rome (Roma), is a vibrant and lively city with reminders of its past everywhere. Although it is a huge city, the historic center is fairly compact. | Rome

10: The Vatican Museums, located in the Vatican City, is the largest museum complex in the world with over 1,400 rooms and are one of the attractions you must see on a visit to Rome. Here you will find priceless artworks, from Egyptian and Roman antiquities to paintings by leading Renaissance artists. A tour of the Vatican Museums also includes a visit to the Sistine Chapel, where you can see Michelangelo's most famous frescoes (the art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments). The Vatican Museum includes the museum, galleries with 3,000 years of art and parts of the papal palace. There is an astonishing amount of art, including a room of works by Raphael. The Pinacoteca Vaticana is probably Rome's best picture gallery with many Renaissance works. One of the most impressive halls is the Hall of Maps, with murals of old maps of the papal lands.

11: The Vatican Museums

16: The Ceiling

17: The Sistine Chapel The Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous and ornate churches in all of Europe. The masterpiece of Renaissance art, known as the Cappella Sistina in Italian, is a part of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope's official residence in Vatican City. Over the years, the expansive space has been the site of Papal Conclaves, Masses, and tours. The Sistine Chapel ceiling is a work of art like no other. The image of Adam's hand reaching out to God has become representative of Renaissance art, along with the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. "The Creation of Adam" is just one of the Michelangelo paintings in the Sistine Chapel, a soaring space that seems to span both heaven and earth. This is Michelangelo’s masterpiece and one of the most important painting cycles in the world, covering 2,625 square feet of wall with “good fresco” painting. It was begun in May 1508, and then stopped for about a year between September 1510 and August 1511. The chapel was solemnly inaugurated by Julius II on November 1st, 1512. The paintings on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling have been restored to their original splendor. The careful and fragile work began in 1980, continuing for the next two decades. The centuries and burning candles had stacked on layers of grime and faded the paintings, but now the brilliant reds, sky blues, and spring greens once again tell the story in living color. The "Last Judgment," another signature work of art at the Sistine Chapel in Rome, was painted on the altar wall. Michelangelo's massive fresco was completed in 1541, nearly 30 years after the ceiling. A vital chapter in the history of the Sistine Chapel is much more recent. Restoration of the Sistine Chapel, completed nearly 500 years after Michelangelo transformed the space, has restored the paintings to their original splendor. Centuries of dullness were carefully stripped away, revealing the bright colors the painter knew well. The ceilings and the frescoes, including "The Last Judgment" became even more brilliant. | SISTINE CHAPEL

19: Swiss Guards at Vatican City The Swiss Guards are a small force responsible for the security of the Vatican City with various task including guarding the entrances to the Vatican as well as ensuring the personal safety of the Pope. Today being a Swiss guard at the Vatican City is largely a ceremonial role; however the history of the Swiss Guards corps is a long one involving many real military campaigns. The flamboyantly dressed Swiss Guards were founded in 1506 by Julius II to defend the Papal States against invading armies and are still today responsible for the Pope’s personal security. Today they still dress in the traditional Swiss Guard costume. Guard recruits must be Roman Catholic Swiss nationals and can obtain certificates of good conduct, between 19 and 30 years of age, single, have a professional diploma or high school degree and be at least 5 feet 7” tall. They must have also completed Swiss military service.

20: Saint Peter's Basilica

21: As the mother church of the Catholic faith and the largest church in Christendom, Saint Peter's Basilica is one of the top sights to see in Rome and the Vatican City. With its impressive dome, the focal point of Rome's cityscape, and gilded treasures, Saint Peter's is without doubt pleasing to the eye. But the church also draws millions of visitors each year because it is the resting place of many former popes including John Paul II and Saint Peter, Christendom's first pope and the founder of the Catholic Church. Pilgrims also flock to Saint Peter's during religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, as the pope performs special masses at the basilica during these times. | Mother Church

24: Arch of Constantine Right next to the Colosseum stands the Arch of Constantine, the most recent of the three remaining imperial arches in Rome (the other ones are the nearby Arch of Titus and Arch of Septimius Severus). Emperor Constantine believed that his improbable win over Maxentius was the result of the help of the Christian God. As a result, during Constantine's reign persecution of Christians ended and Christianity became the official religion in the Roman Empire. To commemorate the victory over Maxentius, the Senate of Rome awarded Constantine a Triumphal arch. It was dedicated just a few years later, in 315 AD. The well preserved and richly decorated large arch with 3 archways is almost 85 feet wide and 69 feet high. During construction, many parts from older structures were reused, which was common practice at the time.

25: Arch of Titus The triumphal Arch of Titus is one of the two arches that remain on the Roman Forum and is one of the most celebrated monuments. Located at the east entrance of the Roman Forum, it is the oldest surviving arch in Rome, is the simplest, has only one opening, and is perhaps most well-proportioned of the arches still standing. It was built to commemorate the immensely popular emperor Titus, who died suddenly during a plague A.D. 81, after only a two year reign, and to celebrate his victory in the Jewish war. Domitian, the younger, not-so-popular brother of Titus, had the arch constructed to honor Titus' popularity, and possibly to take advantage of it for himself; it was dedicated in A.D. 85 with large festivities.

26: The Roman Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hill. It originally was a marsh, but the Romans drained the area and turned it into a center of political and social activity. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and was the central area of the city around which ancient Rome developed. Here was where commerce, business, prostitution, cult and the administration of justice took place. Much of the forum has been destroyed. The columns and stone blocks are all that remain of some temples. The Arch of Titus and the Arch of Septimius Severus still stand and are in good shape. Like many other ancient Roman buildings, stone blocks have been removed from the Forum and used to build nearby churches and palaces.

27: Roman Forum

28: Jody Bengtson | August 30, 2012 | Fabulous place to visit | The Colosseum

31: Colosseum The Flavius Amphitheatre is the biggest and most imposing in the Roman world, but is also the most famous monument in Rome and is known as the "Colosseum" or "Coliseum" and is the greatest amphitheatre of antiquity. Started by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavia family, it was opened by his son Titus in 80 A.D. Vespesian ordered the Colosseum to be built on the site of Nero's palace. His aim was to gain popularity by staging deadly combats of gladiators and wild animal fights for public viewing. Massacre was on a huge scale: at inaugural games in AD 80, over 9,000 wild animals were killed. The Colosseum was a place where a lot of people could sit and watch entertainment. The entertainment was mostly people killing animals, or people killing each other. It was almost exactly like a football stadium today. Emperors used the Colosseum to entertain the public with free games. Those games were a symbol of prestige and power and they were a way for an emperor to increase his popularity. Games were held for a whole day or even several days in a row. They usually started with comical acts and displays of exotic animals and ended with fights to the death between animals and gladiators or between gladiators. These fighters were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. A few gladiators and warriors found glory there. Some even found fame and riches but many more died an anonymous death, providing entertainment for eager Roman spectators. The Colosseum, located just east of the Roman Forum, was built of concrete and marble and limestone and could accommodate some 55,000 spectators who could enter the building through no less than 80 entrances. Entry was free for all Roman citizens. Above the ground are four storeys, the upper storey contained seating for lower classes and women. The lowest storey was preserved for prominent citizens. Below the ground were rooms with mechanical devices and cages containing wild animals. The cages could be hoisted, enabling the animals to appear in the middle of the arena. The Coliseum is huge, an ellipse 617 feet tall and 512 feet wide. The Colosseum was covered with an enormous awning known as the velarium. This protected the spectators from the sun. It was attached to large poles on top of the Colosseum and anchored to the ground by large ropes. A team of some 1,000 men was used to install the awning. The Roman Colosseum is the most famous monument to have survived from the classical world. The southern side of the Colosseum was felled by an earthquake in 847. Parts of the building - including the marble facade - were used for the construction of later monuments, including the St. Peter's Basilica. The monumental structure has fallen into ruins, but even today it is considered an imposing and beautiful sight, an architectural and engineering wonder, and remains as a standing proof of both the grandeur and the cruelty of the Roman world.

34: In ancient Rome, gladiators fought often to the death, to entertain crowds of spectators. Gladiators were trained in ludi (schools or games) to fight well in circuses (or the Colosseum) where the ground surface was covered with blood-absorbing harena 'sand' (hence, the name 'arena'). They were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. They could also be free men fighting for wealth and fame. Most were men, but there were a few female gladiators. These combats were attended by the poor, the rich, and frequently the emperor himself. As gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from the audience around the Roman Colosseum. One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. Should the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on. The gladiatorial games continued until Christianity progressively put an end to those parts of them which included the death of humans. First men in armor came out and fought against wild animals like bears, bulls, tigers, lions, panthers, leopards, rhinoceros, giraffes and gazelles imported by the Romans from their conquered territories in faraway places and brought them to the stadiums specially. Then the Romans treated the animals badly to make them hungry and mean so they would fight. Usually the men killed the animals, but sometimes the animals killed the men, which everyone thought was very exciting. You can still see this kind of fighting today in bullfights in Spain and Mexico. Gladiators were divided into categories based on how they fought, their armor and weapons. There were horseback gladiators, gladiators in chariots, gladiators who fought in pairs, and gladiators named for their origin, like the Thracian gladiators. The fights between gladiators in ancient Rome were brutal. It was not like a football game (American or otherwise) where it would be assumed that both sides would go home with just a couple of bruises. Death was a common occurrence at a gladiatorial game, but that doesn't mean it was inevitable. Victors received laurels, monetary payment, plus donations from the crowd. Individuals defeated in a dual met a certain death unless the emperor or public were prepared to show them mercy, in which the loser could be made free. At the end of service a gladiator won a rudis (a gift to a gladiator for a special achievement. This signified his release from a slave to a freeman). He could then become a gladiator trainer or a freelance bodyguard. In view of their popularity, the games were frequently paid for by politicians to gain popular support. Much of the audience attended such brutal events for the single purpose of witnessing the bravery of a gladiator in the face of death. | The Gladiators

36: Almost every square in Rome and the Vatican City is adorned with a beautiful fountain at its center. Like so many other elements of Rome, these fountains are pure works of art and several are tourist attractions in their own right. The most famous fountain in all of Italy is the Trevi Fountain, an over-the-top Baroque masterpiece completed only in 1762. At all hours of the day, the Fontana di Trevi is crowded by tourists who visit it to throw coins into its pool in the hopes that this practice will ensure a return trip to Rome. Other than the cost of a coin or two, it costs nothing to see the Trevi Fountain, making it one of Rome's Top Free Attractions. The Trevi Fountain's central figure is of Neptune, god of the sea, riding a chariot in the shape of a shell pulled by two sea horses, each guided by a Triton. It's a popular tourist destination so there are usually crowds. A good time to see it is early morning or in the evening with the lights on. The fountain has been featured in many movies that take place in Rome. Although they often depict a character jumping into the fountain, it is illegal to do so. You can, however, through coins into the fountain, said to ensure your return to the eternal city. | Trevi Fountain

38: The Piazza di Spagna, or Spanish Steps is one of the most famous images in the world, as well as being one of the most majestic urban monuments of Roman Baroque style. In the Renaissance period, the square was the most popular tourist attraction in the city; it attracted artists and writers alike and was full of elegant hotels, inns and residences. The Spanish Steps are usually very crowded during the summer months, with tourists just sitting, chatting, and taking a rest from visiting the designer shops that litter the area. Though the Steps are clogged day and night with tourists, locals, and street vendors, they are also a venue for several events throughout the year. In the spring, the Spanish Steps are blanketed with big pots of pink azaleas. In the summer, Rome hosts "Le Donne Sotto le Stelle," which is a fashion show during which models use the Steps as their catwalk. And, on December 8, the Day of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope himself travels to the Spanish Steps and the Trinita dei Monti by way of Via Condotti in order to celebrate the important Catholic holiday. The Spanish Steps are one of the most popular attractions and meeting places in Rome. It is also one of the most visually pleasing squares. The combination of a monumental staircase - the famous Spanish Steps, an obelisk and a beautiful church draws photographers to the square. If you look upwards, you see the two towers of the Santa Trinita dei Monti church which has an excellent interior. On the square below, you see the Fontana della Barcaccia, a fountain from the 17th century created by Bernini’s father. Many couples come here to take pictures on their wedding day. In the evening, the 138 stairs and the church are artistically put in the spot lights, there are however too many people to still see a stair case.

39: Spanish Steps

41: Ally & Jenny | Ashley & Jenny | Mary & Sharon | Mattia & Our Waiter | Ramon & Crystal | Katherine & Michael

42: Tuscany is a region in Italy. The regional capital is Florence (Firenze). Tuscany has an area of about 8,900 square miles and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. It is known for its gorgeous landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and its influence on high culture. Tuscany is regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some many influential people in the history of arts and science. It is one of Italy's top regions for tourists, has great wine and food. Tuscany offers beautiful scenery and historic cities, hill and mountains.

44: Karen & Jim | Caroline & Linda | Salvadore

45: "YMCA" | Mattia

46: Pinocchio, a classic of children's literature, was written by Carlo Lorenzini, who was born in Florence in 1820 under the pen name of C. Collodi. It was first published in Rome in 1881. All the children of the world are familiar with this little hero, the naughty wooden puppet who walks and talks - and whose nose grows longer and longer every time he tells a lie. | Florence

47: Florence is located in central Italy and is the capital city of Tuscany and is Tuscany's most populous city with over 360,000 inhabitants. The city lies on the River Arno surrounded by gentle hills and is internationally famous for its beautiful city center that looks like an open-air museum. Because of its monuments, churches and palaces, Florence Italy's historical center is a classified as a World Heritage Site. All of Florence, including its churches, squares, and public buildings, is a museum. Florence receives an average of 10 million tourists a year, placing the city as one of the most visited in the world and is also an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked within the top fifty fashion capitals of the world

49: In Florence you can experience the splendor of the Renaissance and visit some of the most beautiful Italian museums such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Academy Gallery where you can admire Michelangelo's David.

51: Florence Italy (Firenza Italia) is one of the most popular travel cities in Italy and holds many attractions for the tourist. Florence, a Renaissance city in the heart of Tuscany, has some of Italy's best museums, beautiful cathedrals and churches, and interesting streets and squares with elegant buildings and shops.

53: VERONA | Arena di Verona - a 2000 year old Roman Arena and it's still going strong. The opera stage is the largest in the world. In the summer months the arena hosts opera and other performances | Verona Italy is well known as the setting for the Shakespearean tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and his comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Historic Verona Italy is a tangle of its storied past and modern industry. Once one of the most powerful cities during the early rule of the Roman Empire, the old city of Verona today contains one of the best-preserved old districts in the country. The city has been awarded world heritage site status by UNESCO because of its urban structure and architecture.

54: "City of Love" | Written by: William Shakespeare Type of Work: play Genres: romantic tragedy First Published: 1594–1595 Setting: Verona, Italy | In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a long feud between the Montague and Capulet families disrupts the city of Verona and causes tragic results for Romeo and Juliet. Revenge, love, and a secret marriage force the young star-crossed lovers to grow up quickly — and fate causes them to commit suicide in despair.

56: The Torre di Pisa or Leaning Tower is one of Europe's most famous towers. Building on the tower started in 1173 but wasn't finished until the late fourteenth century. The cylindrical tower, 177 feet tall, has eight stories, six of them with open galleries. Inside the spiral staircase has 294 steps leading to the top of the tower.

57: The Tower of Pisa was designed as a bell tower but its main purpose was to promote the town of Pisa. The foundation of the tower was only three meters thick and the soil underneath was unstable. A series of wars interrupted the construction for many years. During the long pause, the soil continued to settle. Rather than abandon the project, builders accommodated the tilt by adding extra height to the upper stories on one side of the Tower. The extra weight caused the upper part of the Tower to lean in the opposite direction. Today, after centuries of being eased into new positions by gravity and man made forces, the tower stands some three feet higher on one side than the other. It leans at an angle of about 3.9 degrees, having endured more than a few schemes to keep it stabilized. The most recent effort was in 1990, when the tower was closed to the public and its angle was altered by removing some of the dirt underneath one side. That and other stabilization efforts made the tower stable enough to be reopened to the public in 2001. According to engineers at the time, it will be safe for at least another 300 years. In 2008, after more dirt was removed from beneath one side, engineers revised the previous estimate, saying it will be stable for another 200 years. Only time will tell which set of workers is correct — but both agreed to leave the tower with a tilt. Only a limited number of people are allowed up into the tower at a time, for obvious reasons of weight and stability.

58: The Battistero or Baptistery is a round white-marble building. Construction started in 1152 and was completed in the late fourteenth century with the addition of an eight-sided cupola. The pulpit, supported by lions resting on columns, is decorated with scenes from the life of Christ. Also inside are some impressive statues, originally from the outside. | The Duomo is a Medieval cathedral whose construction began in 1063. A massive fire in the 1500s destroyed many of the Medieval artworks that used to be housed inside, but the artistic portions of the cathedral itself were either restored, rebuilt, or replaced. Like the Leaning Tower, which was built on similarly lousy soil, the cathedral lists — but not nearly as much as the world-famous landmark.

59: "Field of Miracles

60: Ravenna is a tourist destination in northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. It is the capital of the province of Ravenna and was for a time the seat of the Roman Empire. It is known as the mosaic city and for its Mosaic Basilica. Ravenna has stunning 5th-6th century Christian mosaics that adorn the walls of its churches and monuments and it is still one of Italy's top producers of mosaics. Ravenna has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Roman sites, museums, Dante's tomb, and many cultural events. Much of historic center is a pedestrian zone. | RAVENNA

62: Venice is in on northeast coast of Italy and is one of Italy's top travel cities and a beautiful, romantic destination with many attractions. Venice, the world's only pedestrian city, is easily walkable, and the absence of cars makes this a particularly pleasant experience. The Grand Canal is like Main Street, cutting through the center of the city. You'll find many magnificent churches and palaces, lively squares, and interesting shops. Venice actually consists of 117 bodies of land connected by more than 400 bridges over its 150 canals. Summers are humid and winters can be foggy and wet. To avoid the large crowds, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit. | Venice | Mattia, Jody & Balagio

64: Venetian Masks

65: Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during Venice's annual Carnevale (Carnival of Venice), which starts 40 days before Easter and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The masks have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters. Venetian masks are characterized by their ornate design, featuring bright colors such as gold or silver and the use of complex decorations in the baroque style. True Venetian masks are hand-crafted and decorated so no two are ever exactly alike - but each one is a little work of art.

66: Venetian glass is a type of glass object made in Venice, Italy, primarily on the island of Murano. It is world-renowned for being colorful, elaborate, and skillfully made. Despite efforts to keep Venetian glassmaking techniques within Venice, they became known elsewhere, and Venetian-style glassware was produced in other Italian cities and other countries of Europe. Many of the important characteristics of these objects had been developed by the thirteenth century. Toward the end of that century, the center of the Venetian glass industry moved to Murano.

67: The process of making Murano glass is rather complex. The glass is made from silica, which becomes liquid at high temperatures. As the glass passes from a liquid to a solid state, there is an interval when the glass is soft before it hardens completely. This is when the glass-master can shape the material. Murano’s reputation as a center for glassmaking was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction to the city’s mostly wood buildings, ordered the destruction of all the foundries within the city in 1291. Though the Republic ordered the destruction of the foundries, it authorized and encouraged construction outside the city, and by the late 13th century, the glassmaking industry was centered in Murano. Today Murano glass is still interwoven with Venetian glass.

69: Caroline, Linda, Crystal & Ramon | Jenny, Ally, Adina & Ovidio | Antico Pignolo Restaurante Waiter | Ashley, Jenny, Sharon & Mary

70: As a unique form of water transportation, the gondola has been a chief form of transportation through the canals of Venice for centuries. Nearly every visitor to Venice wants to enjoy a gondola ride while visiting the city. However, gondolas aren't the normal form of transportation around the canals. That task falls to the vaporetti, or water taxis. Gondolas, instead, are tourist vehicles that visitors can hire for sightseeing purposes or purely for the opportunity to say they rode on one of these historic vessels. Many hire them for a romantic journey and, each year, hundreds of couples become engaged while sailing through Venice's canals.

72: The Rialto Bridge is the most famous of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal and is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. The canal is an ancient waterway, lined with buildings - about 170 in all - that were mostly built from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Most were constructed by wealthy Venetian families. The current structure was built in just three years, between 1588 and 1591, as a permanent replacement for the boat bridge and three wooden bridges that had spanned the Grand Canal at various times since the 12th Century. Today, the bridge is home to a number of shopping stalls selling Venetian wares. The bridge is also in the middle of Venice's food markets. | Rialto Bridge & Grand Canal

73: Although Venice is composed of islands and canals, the Grand Canal is the only really large one. It's shaped like a backwards letter S, and is approximately two miles long. At its widest point, at the Salute/San Marco (southern) end, it is roughly 350 feet wide; the normal width is about half that. The Grand Canal was traditionally the high-rent district in Venice; houses were larger, and decoration was on a much grander scale. This makes sense when you consider that the Canal offers much greater opportunities for everyone to see the buildings facing it. Further, the Grand Canal, affording easier transport and access to shipping, tended to favor the kind of residents who were large-scale merchants--the very ones likely to have more money.

77: A gondola is like a luxury car. Although black is the official color, many are ornately decorated and have comfortable seats and blankets. Although they have often changed their appearance in the past, today gondolas have a uniform look: painted black, 36 feet in length, made out of 280 components and 8 different types of wood. In the 1800s there was up to 10,000 gondolas circulating the canals of Venice. In the 20th Century with the common use of motorboats on the Grand Canal, the number went down considerably, so today there's only a few hundred Venetian gondolas.

78: Not everyone can be a Gondolier. In Venice, being a Gondolier is considered a noble profession that has been passed down from generation to generation through the centuries. Driving an Italian gondola has always been very much a ‘closed shop’. The Gondolier’s license used to be passed from father to son, or if there was no son to another male family member. These days it is even more difficult. Every gondolier must belong to the thousand-year-old Gondolier’s Guild which is strictly controlled. He must find an experienced gondola driver to act as mentor, attend four hundred hours of instruction, and later pass a rigorous examination which tests not only physical endurance but navigational skills, knowledge of other languages and, most importantly, knowledge of Venice’s culture and sights. This is one of the most highly-regarded and sought-after professions in Italy. Its training may be rigorous, but it is certainly worth it - a Venetian gondolier can expect to earn around $150,000 each year.

79: What to Expect from your Gondolier 1. Gondoliers must be officially licensed. 2. Gondoliers must wear black pants, a striped shirt, and closed dark shoes. They usually have a special hat but don't always wear it. 3. Singing is not a requirement for a gondolier. Although some may sing, it's best not to expect it. Some may also give information during the ride. 4. Gondoliers stand up to row and use only one oar as this is the best way to row through the narrow canals of Venice. | "The Gondolier"

81: Saint Mark's Square - Piazza San Marco is the main square of Venice surrounded by chic sidewalk cafes and fancy shops. While it's a great place to enjoy the scenery and people, you will definitely pay top price to sit at an outdoor table. In the evening, you can listen to live music, too. | Basilica San Marco, the grand, multi-domed church on Saint Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco), is one of Italy's most spectacular churches and one of Venice's top attractions. Visitors flock to Basilica San Marco to admire its gleaming, golden Byzantine mosaics, which adorn the church's main portal as well as the inside of each of the basilica's five domes.

82: Burano is a small island located in the Venetian lagoon in Italy. In fact, Burano is a series of several different islands that are all linked with bridges. The island is located just 4 miles from Venice and can be reached here in boats or ferries that take somewhere around 30 minutes. The island is mainly famous for colorful fishermen’s houses, its lace work and there are several shops here where beautiful lace cloths can be bought. In the 16th century the island grew in popularity when the women of the island started making lace with needles and it was soon very sought after by people throughout the country. The population of the island is today close to 4,000 people. | "Island of Burano"

84: There really is no way to describe the uniqueness of the Island of Burano – picturesque and very romantic, no cars, just boats and clothes hanging out on lines from the windows. Burano is a little, very pretty island, located about 30 minutes by ferry from Venice. Burano is mainly famous for two things, for its lace and its colorful houses. These houses are quite small and brightly painted and are extremely popular among the European artists. There are some famous artists who own houses on the island. The color with which the houses have to be painted is decided through a well set up system. When anyone on the island wants to color their house they need to send a request to the government who would consider the set of approved colors for that part of the island and then approve or disapprove of a color. Because of this practice the island has different areas with different sets of charming pastel colors which have made it so distinct from the other islands. Some say the houses on the Island of Burano were brightly colored because of the fishermen – so they could easily spot their homes from their fishing boat.

86: Ancona

87: Ancona is a the largest naturally formed sea port harbor found on the Adriatic Sea and is very well connected to many international destinations. There is a constant influx of tourists visiting the city on their way to other places in Italy. Founded in 386 BC, you can still see Greek influences in the art and architecture. Ancona is home to around one hundred fifty thousand people. Most of its population is Italian, with other European countries making up a small majority. This is a city rich in history and culture. Ancona is home to many beautiful buildings, statues and monuments; some of which were created by the greatest architects of their times. Most of these are still there today, a testament to art and architecture both.

89: Ancona, Italy The Jewel Of The Adriatic

92: GREECE | GREECE | ARRIVED SEPT 5, 2011 | Greece is also famous for its azure blue seas, temperate climate, beautiful coastline and the longest coastline in Europe. Greece ranks among the top 10 most visited destinations in Europe

93: Patra Greece, located 134 miles west of Athens, is the third largest city of the country and owes its activity to the busy port, which serves itineraries to the Ionian Islands and Italy. Patra is a beautiful town that gets lively all year round and it s the regional capital of west Greece. It has important historical sights and ample squares, while the beach promenade is a lovely spot for coffee and a relaxing walk. Patra is also famous for hosting the best Carnival in Greece with many events and a large costume parade.

94: The area of Olympia Greece is one of the most popular archaeological sites in Greece. Olympia attracts thousands of visitors every year due to the natural beauty that surrounds the area and the historic significance it has. In the ancient times, it was the places were the Olympic Games were held and thus it was a sacred place dedicated to god Zeus. Today it is an interesting archaeological site in the heart of Peloponnese. Peloponnese is a region in south Greece. Originally a peninsula connected to the rest of the country by the Isthmus of Corinth, it is now cut off from the mainland by the narrow Corinth Canal, spanned by bridges connecting Peloponnese to Attica across the canal. Peloponnese is situated very close to Athens and all destinations are easy to access. It gets very popular as a weekend or a family destination. Things are certainly less busy than in the Greek Islands, but due to the large shape of the area, there are more things to do and ancient sites to discover.

95: Olympia

96: Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic Games and Zeus' sacred place, Olympia has cultivated ideals since ancient times. It was never just the games, but also the honor, the peace, the struggle and the body - all in one. Visiting the archaeological site and museum, you will walk in one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Greece. Situated in the landscape of Ilia, by the foot of Mt. Kronion (Kronios Lofos), Olympia invites you to take part of the history of Greece. The site of Olympia, in a valley in the Peloponnesus, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the 10th century B.C., Olympia became a center for the worship of Zeus. The Altis – the sanctuary to the gods – has one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces from the ancient Greek world. In addition to temples, there are the remains of all the sports structures erected for the Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia every four years beginning in 776 B.C.

98: Olympia was a sanctuary of ancient Greece and is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times. The games were held every Olympiad (i.e. every four years), and possibly date back further than 776 BC.

100: The Archaeological Museum of Olympia, one of the most important museums in Greece, presents the long history of the most celebrated sanctuary of antiquity, the sanctuary of Zeus, father of both gods and men, where the Olympic Games were born. The museum's permanent exhibition contains finds from the excavations in the sacred precinct of the Altis dating from prehistoric times to the Early Christian period. Among the many precious exhibits the sculpture collection, for which the museum is most famous, the bronze collection, the richest collection of its type in the world, and the large terracotta collection, are especially noteworthy. The museum building comprises exhibition rooms, auxiliary spaces and storerooms. The vestibule and twelve exhibition rooms contain objects excavated in the Altis. The auxiliary spaces (lavatories) are located in the museum's east wing; a separate building between the museum and the archaeological site houses a book and souvenir shop. Finally, part of the east wing and the basement are dedicated to storage and conservation of terracotta, bronze, stone, mosaics and minor objects.

101: God of the gods and of the sky, pictured with a thunderbolt or lightning in his hand, Zeus was the most powerful god and his image appeared on most Greek coins. He had overturned his father Cronus and seized power, and everything was ultimately in his hands. Zeus was a weather god, as well as the protector of the law, the state, the society, the city, the family and strangers. The people of Greece worshipped this idol as their god. Zeus became one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

102: On the Way to Tolo

105: Beautiful Tolo

106: Once a traditional fishing village, the stunning views and clear waters at Tolo have made it a popular holiday destination. Tolo today is a village with much to offer to anyone who visits it, including its traditional charisma along with all modern amenities. It attracts much tourism from all over the world and from other cities within Greece for is natural beauty and general hospitality. It is central positioned to draw lovers of archaeology enabling them to visit the many sites of the Peloponnese, ramblers with its beautiful and mountainous terrain, lovers of wild flowers and wildlife and water sport enthusiasts.

112: The Corinth Canal is a junction of international sea transport and serves ships coming from the Western Mediterranean and Adriatic en route to Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea ports and vice versa. Before the Corinth Canal was constructed, ships had to travel all around the Peloponnese, which added approximately 185 nautical miles, and several days more travel to their journey time. The Corinth Canal, though only completed in the late 19th century, was an idea and dream that’s dates back over 2000 thousand years. It is still in use today, though many newer and larger ships are too large to pass through any more. However, the Corinth Canal is still used by many smaller ships, and there are also cruises organized where you can travel on a boat along the canal and bungy jumping is available for those brave souls who would like to give it a try.

113: Facts about the Corinth Canal Length: 3.94 miles Width at land level: 80.5 feet Width at Sea Bed: 69.5 feet Water Depth: 26 feet Highest Point from Sea Level: 259 feet

114: Mycenaean burials were located in vast tholos tombs. These tombs were engineering and construction marvels, erected using corbelled arches and a post and lintel design. Cut into a hillside, the doorway of the tholos tomb often weighed several tons.

115: The Tomb of Agamemnon is one of a number of 'beehive' tombs found in the vicinity of the ancient site of Mycenae. It is by far the best preserved of these tholos tombs, although the others are worth a visit as well. It was built around 1250 BC, and it is an impressive monument worth visiting. The size of the tomb and the masonry work is awe inspiring. Despite its name, no treasures were found in the tomb as it has been pillaged in ancient times, but there is one item that could not be stolen: the tomb's aesthetic awe inspiring appearance.

116: The Lion's Gate | The ruins of the Mycenaean Acropolis themselves are stunning. The awe inspiring "Lion Gates" take one to the interior of the acropolis, and a steep path leads your climb through several ancient buildings and pathways, towards the palace where Agamemnon was murdered by his wife Klytemenestra and her lover after he returned victorious from the Trojan war. The Lion Gate was built in the form of a 'Relieving Triangle' to support the weight of the stones. It dates back to the 13th century BC and located right at the entrance. The Lions heads have broken off and have never been found.

118: The Acropolis of Athens is the best known acropolis (high city) in Greece and in the world. Known as the Sacred Rock, the Parthenon in Athens is the most famous surviving building of Ancient Greece and one of the most famous buildings in the world. It has stood atop the Acropolis of Athens for nearly 2,500 years and was built to give thanks to Athena, the city's patron goddess, for the salvation of Athens and Greece in the Persian Wars. Throughout its long life, the Parthenon has functioned most importantly as a Greek temple, but has also been a treasury, a fortress, a church, and a mosque. Today, it is one of the most recognizable icons and popular tourist attractions in the world.

120: Athens, the capital city of Greece, is situated at the southeastern tip in Attica on Greece's mainland and is a world famous tourist destination and rightly so. This ancient city boasts both cultural heritage and contemporary attractions. It is a mythic city and the birthplace of democracy. It has legendary monuments and is immortalized by Nobel prize-winning poets, ancient philosophers and classical dramatists. Athens took its name from the ancient goddess Athena. It is thought that the town has at least a 3,000 year old recorded history and this makes it one of the oldest cities in Europe. Athens is known all over the world as the cradle of a great civilization and the most significant monument of Athens is the picturesque Sacred Rock or Acropolis. Athens features a nice blend of medieval and modern architecture. It is the place where the political system of democracy, sciences and philosophy were born. Today, it is the commercial, cultural, financial, political and industrial center of Greece... Athens is an ideal destination for every age, lifestyle and budget. Those who wish to plumb the depths of one of the world’s most ancient cultures will marvel at the city’s archaeological sites and museums.

123: 1.With an area of 50,949 square miles Greece is roughly the size of Alabama. The population of Greece is more than 10 million people. 2.Approximately 16.5 million tourists visit Greece each year, more than the country’s entire population. 3.No one in Greece can choose to not vote. Voting is required by law for every citizen who is 18 or older. 4.About 7% of all the marble produced in the world comes from Greece. 5.Greece has more international airports than most countries because so many foreign tourists want to visit. 6.The world’s third leading producers of olives; the Greeks have cultivated olive trees since ancient times. Some olive trees planted in the thirteenth century are still producing olives. 7.Greece has zero navigable rivers because of the mountainous terrain. Nearly 80% of Greece is mountainous. 8.Approximately 98% of the people in Greece are ethnic Greeks. Turks form the largest minority group. 9.About 12 million people around the world speak Greek. They live mostly in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, Turkey, the United States, among other countries. 10.Thousands of English words come from the Greek language, sometimes via the Roman adaptation into Latin and then to English. 11.In the 1950s, only about 30% of Greek adults could read and write. Now, the literacy rate is more than 95%. 12.Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which approximately 170 are populated. 13.Over 40% of the population lives in the capital Athens (Athina in Greek). Since becoming the capital of modern Greece, its population has risen from 10,000 in 1834 to 3.6 million in 2001. 14.Continuously inhabited for over 7,000 years, Athens is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is also the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, political science, Western literature, historiography, major mathematical principles, and Western theories of tragedy and comedy. | 15.Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine—or 3,000 sunny hours—a year. 16.Currently, Greek men must serve from one year to 18 months in any branch of the armed forces. 17.The life expectancy for ancient Greek women was 36, and the average for males was 45. Of the children born, only half survived infancy. Currently the life expectancy for Greek females is 82 years and for men, 77 years. Greece is ranked #26 in the world for life expectancy rates. The United States is ranked #49. 18.Greece is the leading producer of sea sponges. 19.Greek ships make up 70% of the European Union's total merchant fleet. According to Greek law, 75% of a ship’s crew must be Greek. 20.Greece has more archaeological museums than any other country in the world. 21.Football, or what Americans call soccer, is the national sport of Greece. 22.Retirement homes are rare in Greece. Grandparents usually live with their children’s family until they die. Most young people live with their families until they marry. 23.In Greece, people celebrate the “name day” of the saint that bears their name rather than their own birthday. 24.The first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. 25.In Greece, the dead are always buried because the Greek Orthodox Church forbids cremation. Five years after a burial, the body is exhumed and the bones are first washed with wine and then placed in an ossuary (chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place). 26.Greek has been spoken for more than 3,000 years, making it one of the oldest languages in Europe. 27.Greeks do not wave with an open hand. In fact, it is considered an insult to show the palm of the hand with the fingers extended. Greeks wave with the palm closed. 28.After giving a compliment, Greeks make a puff of breath through pursed lips, as if spitting. This is meant to protect the person receiving the compliment from the “evil eye.” | 29.No point in Greece is more than 85 miles from water. Greece has about 9,000 miles of coastline, the 10th longest in the world. 30.The Greeks would sacrifice one hundred bulls to Zeus during each Olympics. 31.Greek’s highest elevation is the legendary home of Zeus and other Olympian gods and goddesses, Mount Olympus at 9,750 feet. Its lowest elevation is the Mediterranean Sea, or sea level. 32.Alexander the Great was the first Greek ruler to put his own face on Greek coins. 33.Greece’s official name is the Hellenic Republic. 34.The Greek flag includes nine blue-and-white horizontal stripes. Blue represents Greece’s sea and sky, while white stands for the purity of the struggle of freedom. In the upper left-hand corner is the traditional Greek Orthodox cross. 35.Greece has two major political parties: the Socialists and the Democrats, founded in 1974. 36.Greece has one of the lowest divorce rates. Greece traditionally also has the highest abortion rates. 37.About 10% of a Greek worker’s pay is taken for taxes and another 10% for national health care. The government provides free hospitals and other medical services. 38.Greek workers get at least one month of paid vacation every year. 39.About 10% of Greek adults are unemployed. Even with a college education, it is hard to find a job. 40.Greece’s currency, the drachma, was 2,650 years old and Europe’s oldest currency. The drachma was replaced with the Euro in 2002. 41.With more than 1,800 merchant ships in service, Greece has one of the largest fleets in the world. 42.At its height, Greek colonization reached as far as Russia and France to the west and Turkey to the east. | 42 Interest Facts About Greece

124: When traveling to Athens, visiting the Acropolis to see the Parthenon is the one historical site you can't miss. Its because it was the most perfect building built by the world's most advanced civilization and even though we have been studying it for centuries we are still not sure how they did it. The Parthenon and other main buildings on the Acropolis were built in the fifth century BC as a monument to the cultural and political achievements of the inhabitants of Athens. The term acropolis means upper city and many of the city states of ancient Greece are built around an acropolis where the inhabitants can go as a place of refuge in times of invasion. It's for this reason that the most sacred buildings are usually on the acropolis. It's the safest most secure place in town

125: The Porch of the Caryatids, or the famous "Porch of the Maidens" are six draped female figures (caryatids) supporting the columns, each sculpted in a manner different from the rest and engineered in such a way that their slenderest part, the neck, is capable of supporting the weight of the porch roof while remaining graceful and feminine. The porch was built to conceal the giant 15-ft beam needed to support the southwest corner over the metropolis, after the building and the construction budget was drastically reduced in size due to the onset of the Peloponnesian War. Caryatids are sculptured female figures serving as an ornamental support in place of a column or pilaster. They were a frequently used motif in architecture, furniture, and garden sculpture during the Renaissance. One of those original six figures, removed by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s, is now in the British Museum in London. The other five figures, although they are damaged by erosion and replaced onsite by replicas, are in the Acropolis Museum.

126: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

127: The Greek Presidential Guardsman, known in Greek as the Evzones, is an icon of Greek culture – standing no shorter than 6’1” and dressed in an elaborate ceremonial uniform, they stand watch day and night outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. The Evzones are based in Athens and provide a 24-hour guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Hellenic Parliament and Presidential Mansion. The shoes (tsaroukhia) worn are completely hand-made from hard red leather and each sole has 60 nails. Each pair weighs about 7 lbs. The toe of the shoe turns up in a point which is covered by a black pompom. | The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was to be built in front of the main entrance of the Parliament building, facing Constitution Square. In April 1929 work began and the monument was completed in March of 1932. The tomb for the Unknown Soldier depicts a carved figure of a fallen heavily armed foot soldier of ancient Greece. The names of all places where Greek soldiers have died are engraved on the wall. On the left side of the tomb is written: "One empty bier decked for the missing". On the right side of the tomb is written: "Heroes have the whole earth for their tomb". The Tomb contains the remains of unknown Greek soldiers from the Balkan Wars.

129: The Archaeological Museum of ancient Olympia, Greece was reorganized in 2004. The result is a museum which has superb displays of artifacts from the site of Olympia. As you walk from room to room you are led through centuries of Greek history, able to admire some of the most valuable and beautiful treasures of the ancient world.

130: The Panathenaic Stadium is a classical cultural and touristic monument of Greece and one of the most significant monuments not only for Athens, but for the whole Greece. It is one of the city’s most popular touristic attractions and one of Athens’ landmarks. Its rich history is directly connected to the Modern Olympic Games as from their revival in 1896 until the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. It is also the place from where the Olympic flame sets up its journey to the cities of the Olympic Games, both Winter, Summer and Youth.

132: One of the best attractions of Athens is the nearby Plaka, which is an area made up of winding streets filled with restaurants and various shops. Nowadays, Plaka is one of Athens' biggest tourist attractions, just sitting below the Acropolis rock and its labyrinth like streets full of tavernas and small tourist shops selling ancient replicas and T-shirts. It actually feels like being on one of the Greek islands. Despite the hordes of people and the tourist shops many Athenians still came to eat out in Plaka as there are some excellent tavernas there.

133: "The Plaka"

134: The Happy Train is a toy-like street train that starts its tour from the Constitution Square and follows an amazing route through the historical center of the city, the old neighborhoods and the hill of Acropolis. | While the main ingredients of Greek cooking are basic and few – olive oil, honey, yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, lamb and fish – the manner in which they are prepared seems to have an endless variety and taste. There is also an additional delight, pretty much unique to Greece, of being invited into the kitchen to view the offerings and make your selection. There is as well a wonderful benefit that the Greek diet provides, whether you eat meat or are vegan: it is arguably the healthiest diet on the planet as well as user-friendly to those who want to eat well while not having to worry about putting on weight. | Athens Night Out

139: Mykonos Island is part of the Cyclades islands group in the Aegean Sea. Mykonos is, along with Santorini and Crete, the most famous and popular Greek islands and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The Greek Island is famous for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, its gay community, its exciting nightlife that is often compared to Ibiza, its picturesque Cycladic capital full of Mykonian whitewashed houses and blue domed churches, its luxury hotels, narrow streets and alleyways and its magnificent sandy beaches. According to Greek mythology, the battle between the Greek God Zeus and the Titans took place here. The island's name was derived from Apollo's grandson Mykonos. Today it is estimated that the population amounts to 11,000 people (4,000 are foreign residents). Celebrities, both Greek and foreign, are known to inhabit the island in the summer and can be spotted often dining at a Mykonos restaurant or strolling the streets. While Mykonos Greece is fairly small, covering just around 295 square miles, its image looms large.

142: Petros the Pelican, the island's mascot, can sometimes be found at the waterfront or even up in town. Originally the pelican was found wounded off the coast of Paranga shore after a storm back in the 1950s by a local fisherman. The pelican was nursed to health and remained on the island supported by locals. It soon adopted the name “Petros”. To great disappointment by locals and tourists alike, Petros was hit by a car in December 1985 and failed to recover. After Petros died in 1986 he was so popular that a new pelican was introduced as a successor. Now there are three pelicans inhabiting the island. This means that the Petros you meet, can be a Petra.

143: The Mykonos windmills are an iconic feature of the Greek Island of Mykonos. The windmills can be seen from every point of the village of Mykonos, the island's principle village, which is sometimes called the Chora. The windmills are the first thing seen when coming into the harbor, as they stand on a hill overlooking the area. There are currently 16 windmills on Mykonos. Most of them were built by the Venetians in the 16th century, but construction continued into the early 20th century. They were primarily used to mill wheat and were an important source of income for the inhabitants. Their use gradually declined until they ceased production in the middle of the 20th century. Their architecture is similar. They all have a round shape, white color and a pointed roof. Such windmills are found in almost all Cyclades islands. One of these windmills has been transformed into a museum.

148: For a truly sacred travel experience, make your way to Patmos. Today it is a place of pilgrimage for both Orthodox and western Christians, as well as the more profane sun and sand worshippers. Patmos is not a big island, but it is one of the best known. It was here St. John had his vision and wrote the apocalypse, and this is why Patmos is sometimes called "The Jerusalem of the Aegean". The Monastery of St. Johns towers above the capital, Chora, and the whole island breathes of faith and devotion. | Patmos is located in the south Aegean Sea near the island of Kos and not far from Turkey. It is a small island with a population of about 3,000 that has managed to remain one of the least touristy of the Greek Islands, despite its many visitors and firm presence on the cruise circuit. It remains delightfully unspoiled, yet it has still developed a good tourist infrastructure, with a number of excellent restaurants, hotels and beaches. Nevertheless, there is more to the island than its Christian reputation.

149: Patmos

151: The commercial harbor of Piraeus is one of the most important in the Mediterranean. It is Greece's third largest city in terms of population and is a municipality within Athens urban area. Piraeus is located just 6 miles to the south of Athens city center and is the chief port in Greece, the largest passenger port in Europe and the third largest in the world, servicing about 20 million passengers annually. Many cruises depart from the city of Piraeus

153: Drinks with Marieka

154: Turkey, with a population close to 74 million, has so much to offer her visitors. It has breathtaking natural beauties, unique historical and archaeological sites, steadily improving hotel and touristic infrastructure and a tradition of hospitality and competitive prices. Therefore, it is not surprising that this country has recently become one of the world's most popular tourism destinations. Due to Turkey's diverse geography, one can experience four different climates in any one day. The rectangular shaped country is surrounded on three sides by three different seas. Its shores are laced with beaches, bays, coves, ports, islands and peninsulas. The summers are long, lasting as long as eight months in some areas. Turkey is also blessed with majestic mountains and valleys, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and grottoes perfect for winter and summer tourism and sports of all kinds.

156: The extensive ruins including the theater, library or gymnasium create the special atmosphere of Ephesus, and appeal to every visitor. The modern ruins are particularly spectacular with the remains of what was a 36 foot wide paved road lined with fine marble columns running through the city, past the great theater, the baths, the ornate library, and the agora. Today the city's ruins are increasingly popular with more than a million tourists annually as one of the most accessible and comprehensible ancient sites in Turkey.

157: EPHESUS | If you want to visit a place where you can really get a feel for what life was like 2,000 years ago during the glory-days of Greece and Rome, Ephesus is the place. In terms of ruins, it's better than Rome itself. Ephesus was once one of the wealthiest and most prestigious cities of the ancient Greek world and the grandest of the ruined ancient cities of modern Turkey’s antiquity. It was the most important city in the entire Roman province of Asia Minor. Under the Romans it became the capital of the province of Asia. Early Christians made pilgrimages here because of its association with the founders of the Church. There is as yet no definite knowledge about the exact date of the foundation of Ephesus, but historians have estimated it to be as early as 3,000 BC. Over the centuries, a succession of empires—Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and finally, Ottoman—ruled over the city of Ephesus. Yet no matter how many times it changed hands, the city remained one of the most vibrant metropolises of the ancient world. Located on Turkey's western coast, nearly 300,000 people lived there at its height, in the second century A.D. Its busy seaport ferried goods from Asia to Greece, Italy and beyond. Ephesus is considered one of the great outdoor museums of Turkey, in fact perhaps of the world. The city itself and the ruins are all on the sides of a fertile valley. Ephesus was once a trade center of the ancient world, a religious center of the early Christianity and today, a unique tourism center proving all its perfectas to the visitors through the world.

158: Latrina The latrina that was built in the first century A.D. are the public toilets of Ephesus. The toilets were ranged side by side with no partition between them and in the middle was a square pool. The floor was paved with mosaics. | The Brothel Sign This is the famous advertisement found on a marble slab on the grounds of Ephesus. It guides sailors to the famous “love house”. The heart symbolizes the love, the left foot symbolizes it is ahead on the left and the figure is a carving of a woman. Sailors didn’t speak the language, so this was a nice pictorial representation letting them know where to go.

160: Raki is the national alcoholic beverage of Turkey. It is usually served mixed with cold water and is similar to Greek Ouzo. When mixed with water, it turns into milky white color...hence its nickname is 'lion's milk'. Raki contains 45% alcohol by volume. It can be consumed as a cocktail, but more commonly requires some sort of food, before a nice meal of kabobs and or fish. Raki has always been the traditional drink of special occasions such as weddings. Statistics shows that thirsty Turks sip 16 million gallons of Raki each year. Also ,Turkey exports Raki and you can find it in major liquor store in most countries along with duty-free shops in most of the airports especially in Europe. Turkish Raki is produced only in Turkey. When Turks toast their Raki they say "Serefe", which means, to your honor.

161: Of all the rug-weaving countries in the world, Turkey may be the most fun for travelers looking to buy. Rugs and carpets have been made there for centuries, so travelers find rugs of all ages in the Turkish bazaars and a huge assortment of them from thousands of villages. Many Turkish rugs are great-looking, too. Often they have a genuine tribal character, rarely looking stamped-out or stiff. Furthermore, Turkish rug merchants are engaging people who can make the whole process of buying a rug fun, and they are perfectly capable of shipping rugs internationally. Turkish Rugs are a great investment and they become more valuable as long as you use them and never lose it. They are similar to wine. They get more valuable after years pass.

162: Heraklion is the largest city of Crete and fourth largest city in Greece. It is a beautiful Greek island of the Aegean Sea in the Mediterranean. In Minoan times, Crete was a harbor for Knossos, the largest palace and effective power center of prehistoric Crete. The Bronze Age remains were built over long ago, and now Heraklion with more than 120,000 inhabitants, stretches far beyond even the Venetian walls. A city rich in treasures and legends, Heraklion is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the island. The archaeological treasures allow tourists to take a dip in the past, while the colors and liveliness of the city center refer to the vivacity of Arab and Middle Eastern locations.

163: Koules is the name of the Venetian fortress at the harbor gate in Heraklion on the island of Crete. The fortress was originally built by the Venetians and called Rocca al Mare, but is now known by its Turkish name, Koules. It has a mixed history; for centuries it was used as protection against invaders, as were the great city walls and ditches. These are among the longest city walls in Europe. With its huge dark hallways and cells, the fortress was also a prison to many Cretan rebels and those who broke the rules imposed by successive occupiers of Crete. Koules is built on two tiers and offers a commanding view of Heraklion from the battlements.

164: Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. The earliest evidence of Greek wine has been dated to 6,500 years ago where wine was produced on a household or communal basis. In ancient times, as trade in wine became extensive, it was transported from end to end of the Mediterranean; Greek wine had especially high prestige in Italy under the Roman Empire. In the medieval period, wines exported from Crete and other Greek ports fetched high prices in northern Europe.

166: Crete is the largest island in Greece, and fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea. It was the center of the Minoan civilization, the oldest Greek civilization in 2,600-1,100 B.C. It is said that Zeus, the king of Greek gods, was born in Crete. Mountains there are stony with scrub trees. But Cretan people knew how to use the dry land. There are 30 million olive trees growing on the island. Greece is third in olive oil producing in the world and Crete plays a large role. Cretan diet, which uses seafood, olive oil and vegetable, is believed to be some of the healthiest foods, as Cretan people have the least heart problems in Europe. | Touring the streets of Crete...........

167: Worry Beads are a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Tell your worries to the beads and as you work the beads with your hand you will notice how your worries will disappear. Keep them in your pocket or around your wrist and when you feel the need to use them they will always be with you. Today you will see young and old walking the streets of Athens, their hands behind their backs playing around with the beads or see men sitting around a Kafeneion (café) table arguing with a greater degree of agitation as the argument heats up. These beads are not religious; they are some kind of Orthodox rosary though you will see priests swinging them along as well. They are just a way of passing the time, keeping your hands occupied, which is why recently they have been promoted as an excellent way of giving up smoking. More and more women have taken up the habit of swinging around a set of worry beads which was never done before. That is why more sophisticated fashion conscious, even designer, sets of worry beads are being produced.

168: Most Greek folk dances originate in a very ancient tradition. They express love or happiness, prepare the men for war, or joyfully celebrate weddings. They can be danced by couples or by groups, in line or in a circle. Until quite recently, some dances were danced either by men or women and the interpretation differed in each case, even though the name and the music remained the same. In Greece, each region and each island has its own dances and has contributed to enrich the Greek cultural heritage. The variety also depends on the interpretation as the steps differ from town to village and even from one family style to another. This diversity is apparent in the costumes which reflect the regional origin, the village, the family and the marital status. City dwellers contribute a different style of dress from the country people to this rich heritage.

169: Music has always been a very important part of Cretan tradition since people were always expressing their fears, willingness for freedom and love by the songs. The Cretan songs were also always accompanying the weddings, births, holidays and harvesting. | During the Cretan traditional costume and folk dance, male dancers' stomp is very powerful and sexy. Audience, old and young, come up to the stage to join the dancers and dance in a ring, hand in hand.

171: Santorini is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, 120 miles southeast from Greece's mainland. Santorini has approximately 10,500 permanent inhabitants but during the tourist season this number swells dramatically. In the Ancient Times, the island used to have a circular shape. The volcano's eruption was so strong that it caused the center of the island to sink. Some believe that this eruption, which occurred some 3,600 years ago, was even responsible for the extinction of one of the greatest civilization ever: the Minoan Civilization of Crete Island, Greece. This cataclysmic eruption is the reason for many of the island's remarkable features -- from the current geological caldera (crater), its black-sand beaches and exquisite wines, to its fascinating archeological sites. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 7.5 by 4.3 miles, is surrounded by 980 feet high, steep cliffs on three sides.

173: World famous Santorini is a famed vacation spot in the Greek Islands, and although relatively small, it leaves a large impression upon its visitors. No island better epitomizes the Greek vacation experience than Santorini. Upon arriving by boat, there's a view that never palls: sugar-cube houses pasted onto the high cliff tops of Fira's caldera, washed by the cobalt Aegean and a light so pure and bright it makes you blink. Watched over by its famous smoldering volcano and steeped in lost-city-of-Atlantis myth, this is the Greece of photogenic sunsets and Hollywood backdrops, donkey rides and of blue-domed churches, which are often seen in travel books and brochures. The winding streets of its quaint villages are lined with shops, restaurants, open-air cafes and nightspots.

175: Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. | Santorini is, along with Mykonos and Crete, the most famous holiday destinations in Greece. The caldera and its vast curtain wall of multicolored cliffs are truly awesome. The village of Oia on the northern tip of the island is a hugely popular sunset viewing site because there is an uninterrupted view of the sun as it finally sinks below the horizon. You can enjoy most of the sunset from almost anywhere along the rim of the caldera.

178: Santorini does not have the most famous or most popular beaches in the Greek Islands, but there are a number of excellent ones, almost all located on the eastern side of the islands. Because of the unique volcanic geology of the islands, the beaches are almost all of colored sand or pebbles, with the color determined by which volcanic layer has been uncovered. The darker the sand color, the warmer the water. The island of Santorini is less known for its beaches which have the particularity, for most of them, to have black sand.

179: Santorini, also called Thira, is known for the whitewashed houses and churches perched along its volcanic cliffs. The picturesque village of Oia in the north is the island's most outstanding example of this architectural style. Here, a twilight image shows another of the town's claims to fame: its sunset views. Especially during the summer, tourists come to Oia for its charming ambiance and superb sunsets.

180: Renowned for its magnificent views, remarkable landscapes, turquoise seas and magical sunsets, Santorini, the “Black Pearl of the Aegean” is one of the most spectacular islands in the world. A sunset in Santorini is among the most exciting experiences the Aegean Sea can provide.

181: Spectacular Night Views

182: Our Final Day in Athens

183: The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. The evil eye, a glance believed to have the ability to harm those on whom it falls, can come from anyone at any moment. The term also refers to the power attributed to certain persons of inflicting injury or bad luck by such an envious or ill-wishing look. Belief in the evil eye is ancient and widespread; it occurred in ancient Greece and Rome, and is found in Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian cultures, being particularly prevalent today in the Mediterranean and Aegean. In Greece and in Turkey, glass blue eye charms to ward against the evil eye are still regularly sold - very often to be pinned on a baby's clothing. A religiously devout as well as superstitious nation as the Greeks are, they will often wear a protective charm, or mataki, as well as the cross, around the neck. | The Evil Eye | Shopping at the Plaka

184: Most people would agree that Ouzo is Greece's most popular alcoholic drink. Clear and silky, with a distinct licorice flavor, Ouzo is distilled from the must or remnants of grapes pressed for wine. It can be flavored with spices like anise, mint, mastic, and coriander. Potent and fiery, it is not a drink for the faint of heart. It has an alcohol content of about 40% (depending on the brand) but also a high sugar content that delays the release of the alcohol in to your system. Drinkers are advised to use caution because the effects of Ouzo will sneak up on you. No other beverage is as uniquely Greek or as closely linked to a culture as Ouzo is to Greece. In fact, in 2006, the Greek government won the exclusive rights to use the product name Ouzo. | If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you may as well stay home.

185: The best known Greek food are gyros, which are a folded type of sandwich with pork, lamb or chicken sticks, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce. You can find it almost everywhere in Greece and people eat it for lunch and dinner, too. You can ask for the (folded) gyros, just for the stick or for the plate. When you order, make sure you define what you want because if you don't, you will most probably get the plate than the sandwich, which is double or triple in price. | GYROS

186: Our Final Goodbye

187: It is good to have an end to journey towards; But it is the journey that matters in the end.

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About This Mixbook

  • Title: Italy, Greece and Turkey
  • 2011 trip to Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Greek Isles
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  • Published: over 4 years ago

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