Tuesday, January 10, 2023

From a Sleepy Tiny Island to a Big City

 After visiting Ilhabela, Santos seemed gigantic.  I beleive I heard that it is the biggest port in South America.  There were skyscrapers everywhere.

Our ticket said to meet in the Celebrity teater at 7:45.  Our group was escorted off the ship a few minutes later.  You are not allowed to walk on the pier.  All passengers must take a shuttle bus to the terminal.  When we arrived at the terminal our bus was waiting.

We've been on a lot of buses in our world travels but I've never seen a bus like this.  You enter the bus in the center and climb up a spiral staircase.  The knee space was unbelieveable--about 2 feet of floor space.  There was a pull down piece that reclined your legs.  Bill mentioned to me that there was a bus beneath us.  Sure enough when we got off I looked and there were seats below.  This is nothing like a English bus.

Our first stop was at a cable car.  There were a lot steps to climb up to the cable car.  I believe she said it was built in the 1920's.  Our guide, named Dummy, told us the history of the area and the Portugeuse influence.  The cable car took us up to the highest point of the city.  This is where they posted look outs.  Dummy also told us that the city is mostly flat.  Of course there was a church at the top.  

Unlike the trolley tour we took, our guide told us all about the history.  She never stopped giving us any information.

We stopped at the Coffee Museum.  This is where I realized that we were not the only ship in port.  It was so nice at the other ports that were not crowded.  The coffee museum was built in the 1920's and it took only two years to build.

No one can come to Brazil without visiting a "football" stadium and musuem.  I now realize why Pele was so famous. 

Following our tour of the stadium and museum, we went to the more exclusive section of Santos.  The beaches of Santos are in the Guiness Book of Records for having the longest stretch of gardens in the world.

Our tour guide did an excellent job of telling us about Santos.  You could tell she loved her city!

We returned about 1 and had lunch and then went down to our cabin to change into our bathing suits.  The weather has been perfect for dipping in the pools or reading on deck.  

Turtle Safely..... 

I'm in Love With Ilhabela!

I'm in Love With Ilhabela!

Bill and I were up early so that we could go to the lounge by 8:15 to begin our tour.  I don't think I mentioned this before but there are 995 crew members on board and less than 800 passengers.

The waters are so calm here that getting on the tender was no problem.  We were the last two on and then it took off for the shore.  Our guide walked us over to our tour bus and we were off!

Today's tour was night and day different from yesterday's.  Our guide, who was 27, spoke excellent English.  You could tell she loved what she was doing and also knew a lot about this island.  Ilhabela is the largest island in Brazil.  You could see the mainland across the water.  Lucky for this small village, you have to take a ferry to the mainland.  Of course, some people want a bridge to be built, but I think it would spoil the area.  The island population is 42,000 in the winter, but in the summer they estimate it could be 5 times greater.  However, we didn't see anyplace crowded and there are also no other cruise ships here.

Our first stop was a church.  It had some beautiful artwork inside but I thought the outside sculpture of Jesus on the cross was amazing.  It was done by a local artist out of reclaimed materials.   

We were shown the old prison which has now been converted to a museum.  Then we took a drive down the main street to see some colonial houses.  These now must be preserved.

The road followed the coastline and we learned that the forest on the island is protected.  The villages are along the coast.

Here's some more sculptures by the same artist that did Jesus on the Cross at the church.  We were sitting in the back seat of the bus, so I didn't get great photos and do wish we could have stopped for a few minutes.

We were happy to see Tara and Shawn, the English couple that we meet in Rio on the Christ the Redeemer tour.  This is their first cruise and they are from England.

Our first stop was at a waterfall and bird sanctuary.  Victoria told us the island has 365 waterfalls, one for every day of the year.

Our next stop was at another waterfall.  As we left the bus we were told to stop and get some citronella for mosquitoes.  I was glad I had packed our hiking sticks.  The walkway went straight down and then you walked on large rocks.  It was gorgeous, but a strenuous climb back up the hill.

The owners of this sugar cane farm gave us a demonstration of how they make cachaca.  They are the only place on the island where this is allowed to be made.  It seems that sugar cane ruins the soil and the government does not allow it to be grown.  The family that bought the farm back in 1957 has continuously occupied the farm.  They have now turned it into a culture farm and they are allowed to distill a small amount of cachaca.  They use all parts of the sugar cane.  One part goes into making the drink, the other part that is at 60% alcohol is turned into a cleaning product and the last of it is used in fertilizer.

We walked around the village after the tour.  It was very clean and the people were very friendly.

After returning to the ship, Bill and I finally found a little time to put on our swimsuits and go up on the deck to hear the music while we soaked in the pools.

I had my days mixed up and thought tomorrow was a day at sea.  It's a good thing our tablemates straightened me out.  When I got back to the room, I checked my tickets and sure enough we have the first tour of the day tomorrow.

Turtle Safely.........

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Buzios, Brazil

The ship arrived in Buzios, Brazil around 8 am.  Our tour was scheduled for noon.

Here's what I found in the daily planner about Buzios.

"Some call this once tiny fishing village "the St. Tropez of Brazil" thanks to more than twenty beautiful beaches and a lively nightlife, especially during the Brazilian summer.  Only two hours north of Rio de Janeiro, it is a popular getaway for locals to escape the crowded metropolis.  In fact, Buzios has gained a reputation as an international jet-set destination with people flocking from all over the world to enjoy the beaches, boutique shopping, nightlife, and delicious local seafood.  The Portuguese explored Pedro Alvares Cabral came ashore in northeast Brazil in 1500 and claimed it for King Manuel I and the Holy Roman Church, and promptly sailed away.  Whaling was important in the 18th century, but was all but over by 1768, and Buzios went back to being a sleepy fishing village.  It might still be that way today if it weren't for the arrival of a certain international starlet trying to escape the paparazzi in the 1960's.  Bridget Bardot put tiny Buzios on the map and a statue in the town commeorates her stay."

Bill and I decided to leave early and explore the village and then do our tour.  We had to use a tender to get to shore.  

I have been on a lot tours in my day, but this was one of the worst.  The only thing I learned was there were a lot of different beaches and the population in the winter (opposite of us) is about 30,000.

I couldn't wait to get off that trolley.  Every road looked the same.  It was a brick road surrounded by a lot of vegetation.  We climbed to the top and the views were incredible but after a while it looked the same.  There were no bathroom breaks.

I decided not to take my phone today as I was afraid I'd drop it while getting in the tender.  No problem, I took the old pocket canon camera for photos.  

I found a great place for a photo and that's when I realized that the memory card was still in the computer in our cabin. 

The weather was beautiful with a nice breeze.  By the time we got back to the pier, it was clouding up.  The tender left the pier right away.  About halfway to the ship it got really windy and then started to rain.  It was very rough and scary disembarking the tender.

The rain was over very quickly.  It seems strange have the summer season now.  The sunrise was around 5 am and no short days.

Turtle Safely..........


Monday, December 12, 2022

First Day Aboard the Infinity

 A good night's sleep hopefully will do wonders in my blogging.  I'm sorry about all the mistakes. I pushed the publish button before I reread it.

We had a very nice breakfast at the hotel.  George and Linda had checked out early and were waiting in the lobby.  I packed up the luggage but not before we put on our sandals as Bill and I wanted to take a walk on the beach.  

There were paths to the beach from the Hilton.  The path had a long irrigation type hose with sprinklers that kept the sand hard and cool all the way down to  the lounges and umbrella area.  Of course, we both had to put our feet in the water.  It was very warm and I can see now why it was so crowded over the weekend.

We also walked the street around the hotel looking for a souvenir or Christmas ornament for the travel Christmas tree.  It's usally the only thing we purchase on a trip.

Bill and I went upstairs to get our luggage and found out that our key had been deactivated.  Linda had returned the key I gave her the day before so they could retrieve their luggage fro our room when their room was ready.  When I saw the long line at the desk, I remembered that we belonged to the Hilton Honors and went there with no waiting.

Linda had arranged our transfer to the ship and we didn't have long to wait. Our driver picked us up promptly at 11 as we had a noon check in for the ship. On the drive over it was overcast but we could clearly see the Christ the Redeemer today.  Go figure, my camera and phone were in the trunk with the bags.

When we arrived the porter grabbed all or our bags.  They told us to wait while they got a wheelchair for George.  We just showed our boarding pass on the phone and then boarded the ship.  No waiting whatsoever, and yes, I was able to get it on my phone.

We went upstairs for lunch and when we returned our bags had arrived.  Lot's more storage and drawer space than some of the other ships we've been on.  Our balcony looks out at the bridge.  

We went up on the pool deck to watch Brazilian Roots--The Carnival of Emotion, a dance show.  One thing we learned about Brazil is that they don't wear much in clothing.  Everyone, and I mean, everyone wears a thong regardless of your size or figure.  I don't mean the type you wear on your feet!  One of the dancers had a little gold round thing about a fifty cent piece size that covered her nipples.  

Since I can't seem to figure out how to get the photos from my Iphone to the computer, I decided to write the narrative on the blog and post the photos on Facebook.  If you are a blog reader, contact me and I'll friend you on Facebook.  If there is anyone out there that can help me transferring the photos, I'd appreciate any help I can get.  I'll post the photos tomorrow once I get another password.

I counted 5 tables in the half of our dining room  for dinner that were occupied.  We had the most interesting table mates at our table.  They have lived in Russia, Israel and now Canada.  When I asked our waiter about how many were on board, he said less than half full but the next cruise is sold out.

I had prebooked all of the side tours using the Celebrity credit and also our travel agent's.  I found out I still had $200 credit.  I went down and booked a tour in Buzio, Brazil for tomorrow.  

I finally figured out that when I turned the computer on, it knocks out the WIFI on the phone.  I should have used two passwords instead of one.  Our free WIFI is for one devices each.

I know the show tonight sounded good, but decided to go back and relax this evening in our cabin.

That's all for today.

Turtle Safely.......

Rio de Janeiro!!!

I vowed to keep up the blog so I would have these memories in print.  I'm behind already.

 Sherry and Dave were kind enough to drive us to the airport since it wasn't in the middle of the night.  We left by 8 am allowing exta time in case the freeway shuts down.  The airlines tell you to allow 3 hours but our last flight from Tel Aviv that said 4 hours, was way too close as they were boarding the plane when we got to the gate.

This was our first time on Jet Blue.  When we arrived at the airport, the airline wasn't open until 2 hours before our flight.  Our bags were tagged but you couldn't drop them off.  Phoenix redid terminal 3 but didn't allow for any seating on that floor to wait for the airlines to open. Lucky for us, they opened a few minutes after George and Linda arrived.  Linda had trouble with kiosk so had to wait in a short line to get her bags tagged.  I was so proud that I could get the darn machine to work without any help that I didn't check the bag tags to make sure they were going straight through to GIG in Rio.

No problems with the plane as it arrived in New York 25 minutes early.  George, Linda and Bill all had wheel chairs and it took awhile before they had all that squared away.  We had to travel from terminal 3 to terminal 8 at JFK.  I don't know the actual distance but I'm sure it was a couple of miles and lucky for us, the wheel chair pushers knew exactly where to go.  

We had to go downstairs and wait in a little room for a bus to take us to terminal 8.  Then when we arrived we had to wait for the wheel chairs.  We had almost 3 hours between flights.  Our gate was the last one in terminal 8.  When we finally got down to it, the sign said boarding was in 20 minutes.  Just enough time to walk back to the end where the bathrooms were.  This was the shortest international flight we've ever taking.  The plane landed almost an hour early just under 8 hours.  Now it's Sunday morning.  Wheelchairs and drivers took the group through the passport control in a special line, so no waiting.  Wow! I couldn't believe smoothly everything was going.  We had prepaid for two private cars to take us to the hotel.  The wheelchair drivers led the group down to baggage claim.  The asked for our bag description and waited and waited and waited and waited.  Then we went to another place and they looked up our bags.  Good news they found them, bad news they were in New York.  No problem they'll bring them to the hotel.  Only problem is they don't have daily flights to Rio.  The bags will have to go to Miami and then to Rio.  The ship departs at 10 pm but if they don't arrive before the ship departs they will send them to Buzio our next stop.  I used to take two carry ons but only used one this trip.  This took a while before we had all the paperwork.  I was happy that our drivers were still waiting for us.

I think we arrived at the hotel around 11am.  The ocean front view rooms weren't ready but they had a side view ready so Bill and I took it.  It is on the 33rd floor and is a corner view room.  George and Linda were able to bring their carry on stuff to our room.  

We had a tour to Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf mountain and cable car booked for 1:30.  Now bear in mind this is Sunday and we left the day before.  I had on my zip off travel pants, so I was able to have shorts.  I had a t shirt under my sweatshirt so I had removed the sweatshirt in the airport.  George and Linda decided at the last minute not to take the tour.  It was a very physically challenging tour and they were also exhausted.  This small tour had four other people, one couple who is going to be on the cruise. I told Bill, "why would anyone go to Disneyland when you could get a thrilling ride just riding down the streets of Rio."  We've been to alot of places in the world, but nowhere like this.  Our driver had that minibus going down the streets like some action movie.  

Our tour guide was wonderful and she had so much energy.  We went through many tunnels here.  It seems like they just blast out a mountain and put in a tunnel and there's another cove like area for a town. 

Matilda did mention that they have had a lot of rain and this was the first weekend that they had sun.  Everyone was on the beach. 

Here's a photo from our room.

It's a good thing I don't get car sick because we climbed up this mountain through a huge forest.  The switchback road was made of bricks.  We passed the colonial home of the coffee plantation owners.  

Matilda told us that the forest is the largest national park in the world.  We drove up to what I thought was the top.  We exited the minibus and then had to climb a very steep walkway to the top.  Once Matilda handed us the tickets we then had to walk back and forth through a maze, which is usually crowded with people. This took us back down to the area where we were left the bus.  

Now we got in a van operated by the National Park and then went back up the road.  These roads were very narrow.  Once to the top, we exited the van and had to take an elevator and then two escalators to the top.  When we started up the escalators we were in fog.  It was clear below, but foggy.  Now the weather was not great for photos, but you could still see the size.  It wasn't easy seeing the mosaic but you could make it out.  I wish I had thought to bring the binoculars in the carry on.  

The monkeys like the ones in Gibralter were also all over the place.  I took a lot of photos on my phone, but still not sure how to transfer to the computer so I can put in the blog.  The Nikon camera quit opening up again.  I've figured out that it works fine in a dry climate but the humidity must do something to it.

We then drove down to another area where you could see the city.  The coastline is huge but not straight.  A lot of different beaches.  We are in Copacabana.

We could see Sugarloaf Mountain from this point.  The drive to it was another adventure.  Our timing was perfect as there were no lines.  Our guide purchased the tickets and up we went.

You went up so far and then had to take a second cable car to the top.  It's the second longest one in the world.

This tour lasted 5 hours. Matilda was great and having just a few people and no crowds was perfect.

When we arrived back at the hotel we were too tired to go out and explore the area for dinner.  I had a text from Linda and knew they were in bed.  We ended up going down to the 4th floor where the pool, restaurant and bar had a view of the beach and nightlife and had a beer and sandwiches.  

When we went back to our room about 8 pm I had a surprise.  There was our luggage!  Can't be any better start to our South American adventure than that!!

Turtle Safely........

Sunday, November 6, 2022

 Day 8--Cyprus/Turkey in One Day

We left the ship at 8:40.  Today we had to carry our passports as we had to cross the border into Turkey.

Bill has his dressing on his hand changed every morning, so we leave breakfast and go directly to the infirmary.  We had to pass through the harbor security but all we needed to do was show our ship pass.  

Once that was done our local guide met us and escorted us to the bus.  We are docked on the southern part of the country in Larnaka, Cyprus.  

It took about 50 minutes to drive north to the capital, Lefkosia. Did I mention they drive on the other side of the road? This capital is the only one located in two countries.  We walked a short way to the border.  We showed our passports and then walked through the buffer zone which is controlled by the United Nations.  There was no where to go in the buffer zone other than stright ahead to another border control.  Once we cleared passport control there was a Turkish escort that stayed with us.  It was night and day difference in that short block.  Seemed like a third world country.  Cyprus was very modern and clean and Turkey was just the opposite.

This was a very nice "caravan hotel" back in 1574 on the Turkie side.

We had some time on our own and I wanted to find a battery for our camera as I forgot to bring the charger. I did find a Christmas Ornament from Cyprus but all I could find from Turkey was a small flag for the travel Christmas tree.  

We were told not to get anything to eat until we returned to the Cyprus section.

That's as far as I got on the blog.  Bill and I got home very early this morning.

I should have taken notes.  I do remember we had a lot going on and no time to even sit down at the computer.  We enjoyed one day at sea with a very busy schedule.  Members of the Sir Edmund Hillary club were invited to a cocktail party.  Harry and Dee just completed their 30th trip.  We have completed 16 trips, it's a shame I can't count the ones we signed up for that were cancelled.

We were told that 47 of the 74 passengers have all completed 3 or more trips.  The captain told us that they were paid during the pandemic.  No wonder they were so great.  

I gained a pound and half.  I'm sure a lot of that is from sampling all the canapes.  They were all so pretty and different.  The waiters kept trying to encourage us to try all of them.

The farewell dinner, of course, offered lobster tail and baked alaska with some other alternatives.  

The following morning we disembarked the ship in Haifa.  Israel is very different than most countries.  They don't stamp your passport, they give you a stamp with your photo on it.  

Our first stop was the Baha'i Gardens.  Once again it's difficult to describe.  Can you imagine cutting grass with sicissors?  

If you look closely you can see the ship in the harbor.

Here's another photo of the gardens.

From here we visited Caesarea.  I'll have to tell you about that in the next blog.

Turtle Safely.......

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

 Day 7--Rhodes and Day 8 at sea

Playing catchup with the blog, is not something I like to do.

The crew must have been up all night decorating the ship for Halloween.  Bill really appreciates anyone who can carve.  

The waiters all dressed for the occasion to serve our meals.  The menu for the day had a halloween description, I forget the name they had on the lobster tail.

Our tour in Rhodes began at 9:20 with our guide and also a local guide.  The four groups always leave at different times to reduce any crowds.  We were the only ship in the harbor at that time.  Vasilis told us that many shops are closing on October 31 for the season.  

Rhodes is the largest island of the Duodecane.  We could see Turkey which is 11 miles away.  The weather was once again perfect.  Our guide showed us the three gates of this Old Town.  We've been here before, but different guides all tell you different and interesting things.

After touring the Old Town we proceeded up a long hill.  This road was one of the oldest in the world and led us to the Palace of the Grand Master.  Our group was the only one in the Palace. 

The Palace had an additional 70 steps to get into it.  There was no handrail and the steps were very steep.  

The Palace has been rebuilt after an earthquake.  There are mosaics on the floors everywhere.  It's hard to imagine these are 1,700 to 2,000 years old.   

As we were walking back to the ship a big ship was coming into the harbor.  It was so nice not having a lot of tourists in town while we were there.  After dinner, the tour guides had a nightime walk through Old Town but decided not to go.

Beer and wine are included with this tour.  It's not one glass at dinner but anytime you want one.  They had free cocktails and wine today.  I might also mention that we have free wifi.  Tips are paid to all local guides porter, and drivers.

We had a magic show for the nightly entertainment.

Today we had another beautiful day.  After breakfast we had a talk "The Church of the Holy Sepulcer and the Status Quo".  It was very interesting and well presented.  A half hour later we had a towel folding master class along with bloody marys.  

After lunch we attended a discussion on Cypress Conflict.  This was followed by the people that have taken three or more trips.  The couple we were sitting with had 30 trips.  Makes our 16 trips seem like nothing.  They received a very nice gift.  The canapes and champagne were very good.  

We were told that of the 74 passengers, 47 are in the Sir Hillary Edmund Club--three or more trips.  They also told us that many companies went out of business during the pandemic.  Anyone that had a trip booked during the pandemic were offered their money refunded or the option to rebook.  The vast majority said they'd wait for another date.  This allowed the company to pay their employees,(not 100%) even though they weren't doing trips.  

Tomorrow we arrive in Cyprus.  While we have a tour of Cyprus, it was announced that we will also have a tour of Turkey.  We'll need to have our passports with us.  I always wanted to visit "Checkpoint Charlie" so this will be the next best thing.  I can tell our tour guides are nervous and they want this to be a good tour.

We had a tour of the ship's bridge.  Bill sat in the Captain's chair.  We learned what it takes to sail this ship.

We skipped tonight's ships crew show, which I'm sure was good.  I wanted to finish this and try and catch up before tomorrow's tour.  

The doctor says Bill's hand is coming along.  He changes the dressing every morning.  

Turtle Safely........


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Day 6--Symi, Greece

The crew is so kind to us that they gave us an extra hour of sleep (due to the time change).  They changed everyone's clock, while we enjoyed last night's meal.  

Bill and I were both so tired we didn't go to last night's entertainment.  Santorina was our least favorite island, but I'm sure that is because of the crowds of tourists.  Patmos was much nicer and I'm sure that the fact that Clio was the only ship in the harbor had to do with that ranking.  I don't know how the harbor being closed affected the big ships, but it was nice that they weren't there.

Symi is gorgeous, however, at first I thought we were lost as my phone said welcome to Turkey.  Very quaint and quiet.  The yellow group was scheduled to leave at 8:15.  Sunday breakfast is always served with champagne. Dolphins were on both sides of the ship.  As we were enjoying breakfast, I remembered Bill was supposed to see the doctor to have his dressing changed.  We made a quick visit to the infirmary to have the dressing changed on  Bill's hand.  

The ship is docked in Symi and our bus was waiting for us as we departed the ship.  The driver took us up to the top of the mountain and the other side.  The scenery was gorgeous.

We then visited a Monastery, the Castle of the Knights of St. John and when we arrived found out that someone was being ordained as a new priest. It was erected in the 14th century atop the remnants of a fifth century monastery.  It was built on the site of an ancient temple to Athena.  This little area is expecting 6,000 people later in the day.

We enjoyed a short walk around the small cove.  Vasilis had told us to use the toilets to our left.  We walked further down the road and saw a WC sign.  These were "eastern squat toilets".  Now I know why he suggested we go left. Haven't seen those since we toured China. 

Our driver took us to the town where Vasilia showed us the statues of the sponge divers.  The divers would go out to sea and stay for long period of times.  The first divers would hold a big rock to get them to the bottom faster.  The daughter of the sponge shop owner told us that the longest record was 3 minutes and 58 seconds to a depth of almost 80 meters (approximate 250 feet?).  Then they advanced to the helmet with the air hose.  The only problem was the bends.  The way they "tested" them was to make sure they didn't come up too fast, was to give them a cigarette and if they could smoke it, they were OK.

The ship had to sail away from the dock at 12:30 to allow the ferry to use the dock.  We were told that we could stay in the village as the ship would be back later, but I think everyone went back to the ship for lunch.  There's two sections of upper decks and everyone was out working on their tans.  

There was a high tea in the afternoon but Bill and I both opted for a nap after getting to much sun.  

I'm not sure how to transfer photos from my phone to the blog, so you'll have to see the photo of Katarinettes on Facebook.  This is where the Germans surrendered control of the Dodecanese at the end of World War II ending Axis occupation. 

We've met some really nice people, who I know will stay in touch.  Once the ship docked again a lot of people walked down to the beach and away from the tourist shops.  I did manage to find a swimsuit coverup for our next trip.  

We only have a few more days on board, and we still haven't had time to open the bottle of champagne that was in our room.  

Dinner was great once again.  We went to the lounge for tonights entertainment and Bill and I left because we were both cold.  Still had our shorts on, and with the door opening for those who wanted to go ashore we could feel the cooler air.  Our tour guides suggested we go ashore as the bars were closing for the season after tonight.  We don't leave for Crete until 5 am. 

Turtle Safely........



Saturday, October 29, 2022

Day 5--Patmos

Our first thing we did this morning was visit the ship's doctor.  He tried to find us last night as he wanted to check up on the work the hospital did on Bill's hand.  He changed the dressing and asked us to come to the infirmary every morning to have the dressing changed.  He wanted a copy of the doctor' report. He also gave Bill some antibiotics to take for the next week.  The swelling has gone done and it looked much better.

 One of the things I forgot to mention was the beautiful weather and wonderful food.  There is always something going on.  Yesterday we had margaritas on the upper deck as we watched the sunset. Every night they have a special wine for lunch and dinner, one red and one white.  

I don't think anyone has taken advantage of thIe electric bicycles you can use when in port.  

There just aren't enough hours in the day to enjoy everything.  I want to get a massage sometime on this voyage.  There were only four women in the yoga class this morning.

We just returned from a controversial talk on the migrants and refugees.  They always try and give both sides of a topic.

I must have missed the news, as the dock in Patmos was closed as a cruise ship sunk here about a week ago.  We had to tender into the harbor instead of docking.  Of course, our small group of 74 can all fit on one boat.

Vasilis introduced us to our local guide.  Our local guide told us Patmos is one of the original dozen islands of the Dodecanese and are sacred islands of the ancient land. The island is about the size of New Jersey.

There are alot of folk stories about Zeus and Poseiden.

But the number one reason people come to Patmos is it is the home of St. John the Evangelist.  St. John lived in a grotto beneath  the Temple of Diana.  We toured the Holy Cave of the Apocalpse.  Here he wrote the Gospel, and also the Book of Revelations.

We also toured the 11th century Monastery of St. John.  It sits on the top of the island and  can be seen from anywhere on the island.  Photos of course, were not allowed.  

The Holy Cave of Apolcalypse now has ramps down to it, when we were here before I believe there were steps.  At the Monastery you climbed up steps that switchbacked.  There were places to stop for those who couldn't make it to the top.  We made it to the top, but I was glad it wasn't much further.

We were shown the cracks in the walls of the cave and also where he slept on the floor.  What a feeling to know you where walking where he walked.

We visited the museum that had priceless religous relics.

The bus took us back down to the port.  We had about an hour on our own to explore the shops.

We were back onboard in time for lunch.  Bill and I both went back to our room for a short nap until one of the tour leaders gave a talk.

All members of the ship's crew call you by your name.  I don't know how they can do it, I'm still having trouble remembering.

Tomorrow we explore Symi.

Turtle Safely.......



Friday, October 28, 2022

Day Three and Four--Santorini

I was so tired last night, I didn't have much time to tell you about yesterday.  This will be brief as there is a lot more to mention. 

Our small group of 18 people ate in Plaka.  It was a small intimate restaurant/bar.  The food was terrific but I have no idea what I had other than the beet salad.  Our guide told us what each dish was called and the ingredients but by the time all these dishes were passed, I forgot.

We had an hour to wander around the shops before we took the bus to the cruise terminal.  There were four different buses of less than 20 travelers each.  All we had to do was show our passports, go through the TSA and we were onboard.  We were met by the staff, and they carried our carry ons to our room.  Each one of the groups arrived ten minutes from the others so there was no waiting.

We were suppose to be on the third floor but found our cabin had been upgraded to the fourth floor.  The room is lovely and at least twice the size of the cabin on the 50 passenger ship we took to in December.  

Shortly after arriving we went to the lounge for welcome drinks.  Everyone on the ship was introduced down to the dishwasher and laundry people.

We were giving the nightly port talk, which tells us what the following day's adventure was going to be.  Dinner was served and it was a five course dinner.  There were no compliants.  The wine glasses never got below half full.

We came up to the room and fell into bed.  During the port talk, we were told the seas were going to be rough and to stop at reception for sea sick pills.

Around 4 am I heard this terrible noise.  I jumped out of bed and found Bill on the floor.  He got up to use the bathroom and tripped over the doorway.  I guess I also failed to mention that I unplugged two of the night lights to use the electric sockets.  

He is on blood thinners so I've learned not to be too alramed when I see blood.  He was concerned because he got blood on the carpet.  I called the front desk and the receptionist said she'd call the doctor.  I didn't even have time to get dressed before he arrived.  He bandaged up Bill's hand and said he'd need to go to the hospital once we arrived in Santorini.

When we went down for breakfast, Vasilis said I should have called him too.  He said they would make all the arrangements for Bill to go to the hospital.  The doctor wanted it verified that he didn't have a broken bone.

We took the tenders to shore and took the cable car up the hill.  Vasilis took the group to the bus and introduced the local guide to our group.  He then left the group and took us to a private hospital.  He'd already picked up our passports at the front desk.  

We had to wait as there was a Korean girl who didn't speak English in surgery.  

An hour later, the doctor  took Bill back.  He was worried about infection and made him soak in something for 30 minutes.   Then the took him back to the "theater"  Two nurses both undressed him.  The even had foot and head coverings.  An hour later the doctor came out to say he did fine.  

He had pictures of the before and after.

The doctor didn't want us to leave until he took more xrays.  We waited for a little bit and then they took him back for more xrays.  Nothing broken, thankfully.  

Our tour guide walked with us in Santorini and we stopped for ice cream.  We told him we were fine and he left to get the rest of our group, while we stopped at a little cafe overlooking the bay.  

There were no crowds whe we arrived but by the time we were finished at the hospital, everyone had a chance to use the cable car.

We've been to Santorini before and there were a lot of people, but I don't remember crowds like today.  Of course, today was a holiday.  They are celebrating the first day of the World War.  There was a parade in town and we saw kids in traditional costumes.  

We took the 4 pm tender back to the ship.  Bill had a short snooze before we went up on the 5th deck for Margaritas as we sailed away.

Don't let the jacket fool you.  I was in shorts, but to be honest it was windy.

Turtle Safely........


Thursday, October 27, 2022

Day 3--Acropolis, Parthenon etc.....

 I promised myself before we left home that I would do the blog every night.  I picked this trip because I thought it was a slower pace.

It's now 10 pm and we are just getting back to our room.  We were up for breakfast at 6:30 and haven't stopped all day.

Here's a phto of the Acropolis from the rooftop restaurant of the hotel

After breakfast our "yellow group" meet for our first time at 8 am.  Everyone introduced themselves and Vasilis gave everyone their "whisper" audio machines.  Our luggage had to be outside our room at 8 am and we were to be in the lobby at 9 am for a panaramic drive through Athens.  We've seen all the sites before.  

Five people out of the 18 decided they weren't capable of climbing up the Acropolis.  Bill was determined to do it.  For those of you who have never seen the Acropolis it is all marble.  On a nice sunny day like today, it is still slippery.  I was so glad that I hadn't forgotten our hiking sticks.  There are no handrails and nothing is flat.  

One person said her app recorded 2.9 miles which is straight up.  The app said we climbed 17 floors.  It was crowded and you had to watch constantly where you were walking.

After we caught up with the 5 who were waiting below, we walked up the Plaka.  We had a fabulous lunch with traditional Greek food.  We had small plates and they brought all kinds of different dishes.  The wine was a local one and they just served it in a picther.   

I'm just too tired to finish this blog.  Hopefully, I'll catch up tomorrow.

Turtle Safely ......

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Day 2 Athens, Greece

I think these guards we saw yesterday might have attended Jackie's yoga classes.  I don't know if you can see from the photo but the soles of each guards shoes are touching each other.  

 I must say when we woke up at 4 am we felt much more refreshed after a good nights sleep.  I guess if there would be one thing that you could eliminate from traveling either the long flights or the jet lag, I'd pick the jet lag.  

The hotel breakfast is on the 11th floor.  There are spectacular views of the Acropolis.  The lights were still on it, when we arrived at the buffet as they opened.  As we were about to leave, another couple that rode in the shuttle from the airport asked to join us.  I won't say we talked alot, but the breakfast hours are from 7 am when we arrived and close at 10.  We went back to the room and Bill took advantage of the time and had a nap.  Something he never does.  

When we went down to the lobby, all three of the tour directors had a desk set up for those arriving from the airport.  Vasilis had some suggestions on things to see and do.   Everything seems to be within a couple of miles of the hotel.  The metro is $1.20 for the first 90 minutes.  

We visited the Acropolis Museum the last time we were in Greece but now they have a new world famous one.  

One quick stop in our room to pick up my phone and off we went.  Vasilis had also told us about a tiny authentic Greek restaurant.  Once we started walking we walked past the turkey sign inside a building where the restaurant was.  Knowing we have our welcome dinner which is usually very nice, we thought we'd order something small.  Vasilis told us the restaurant couldn't accomodate more than 20 people.  There was one empty table.  As we were about to sit down a couple at another table waved us over to sit with them.  They are in our group and had just arrived and spotted my name tag.  The meal was delcious.  We shared the meal and still had some leftover.  Our waitress brought over cups of their soup to try and a platter of different breads.  Bill had a local beer and I had a glass of red wine.  Total for the meal and tip was less than 15 Euros.

I have to tell you about our experience at the ATM.  We never come with any foreign money just use the ATM.  I put our debit card in the machine and my card was sucked up and gone.  This has never happened in all of our traveling.  Of course, the machine is in Greek, while some machines in Europe have several languages.  Some nice gentlement could see I was having trouble and came over and helped me.  You can't get your card back until you have completed the entire transaction.  I took out $200 so we'd have anything left for the next trip.  200 Euro was $213 in US funds including the transaction fee.  Quite a huge difference from some of our other travels.  

By the time we gabbed with this couple we decided we we'd skip the museum as it was getting too late to go  there and back in time to attend the welcome drink, meal and meeting.  

This is our second day and we haven't visited a church yet.  I think that is a record when you are in Europe.  They are all beautiful and unique and you can't help but stop in everyone you see. 

Vasilis is really worried about tomorrowThe Acropolis is expecting over 15,000 tourists tomorrow as 6 cruise ships are in town.  

One thing you see everywhere are motorcycles, not little scooters like you see in Italy.  These are everywhere and they ride them on the sidewalks.

Our dinner was very good and there were a lot of happy people once they tried the ouzo.  The four trip leaders introduced themselves.  They were all what you expect from this company.  Fun loving people.  

I know there are a few readers that have never traveled outside the United States.  Here's a few things that are different in foreign hotels.  One thing is they do not use wash cloths.  You always have to bring them from home.  

The second is there is always an emergency pull cord to get help once you slip in there very high bathtubs and showers.  

They also have an emergency intercom by the toilet.  I am just reporting the facts.....so no comments as to why you need that.  

The next thing is the electric.  When you enter a room there is this little box that you put your key card into to give the room electricity.  It used to be that we could leave any kind of card with the magnetic strip so we could charge things while we were out.  Now the box only works with your room key.  The other interesting thing is that all the windows open.  Most US hotels don't have windows that open.  In England the law says they can only open 12 inches wide so no one will commit suicide.  So there folks, your first lesson in traveling abroad.

It's going to busy tomorrow.  Our group will be the first to leave tomorrow at 8 am.

Turtle Safely........