Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #13 – Saturday, April 27, 2019: Bari, Italy

Rain overnight, but clearing in the morning. People still haven’t got the hang of which way the elevators go. Twice this morning, an elevator stopped on our deck (the top deck) full of confused passengers.

The harbour wasn’t very welcoming. This wreck was waiting for us at the entrance to the harbour.

But check out this massive crossbow!

Our excursion to the Caves was cancelled due to lack of interest. I don’t see why MSC would have cancelled the tour. After all, we paid for it (of course, we were reimbursed, but still.) We just spent the day on board.

Betty and Ken’s Mediterranean Adventure #12 – Friday, April 26, 2019: Corfu, Greece

There were about five cruise ships at the port, many more people than the small city could support. It was also Orthodox Good Friday, so there were parades and larger crowds than usual.

Most of the people on our excursion were Spanish-speaking, and they monopolized the conversation with our guide, Mikesi. 

Mikesi explained that the more cruise ships in port, the worse business is in the town. It’s because of the crowds, and because people had to rush through their excursion.

Corfu is a bit poorer than the other ports we visited. More garbage, dingier buildings. The same old trinkets for sale, though.

There were dozens of swallows flying and screeching overhead in the town. Just as crazy and graceful and daring as in Canada.

We visited a pretty little monastery, with one monk and one acolyte.

They kept songbirds, chickens, and turtles there. And a sort of museum of tools.

They’re set up for catering at the monastery, though we didn’t eat there.

We drove to the mountainous end of the island, and went to one of its many beaches and enjoyed a beer.

Some of the many T-shirts on sale. I thought the designs were cleverer than we see in Canada.

It was at this point in our adventure that we began to get a little weary of the whole routine. Only one more destination to go: Bari!

Betty and Ken’s Mediterranean Adventure #11 – Thursday, April 25, 2019: Santorini, Greece

The caldera:

That’s our ship, floating in the mouth of the gigantic volcano. Santorini (part of the rim of the caldera) looks like it’s made of sedimentary rock, but it’s actually layers of volcanic ash. There is ash accumulating even today.

This is the biggest volcano in at least 10,000 years of history on the earth. The main volcano is still active, as is another volcano under water. Volcanic dust is accumulating every day on the island. People are whisking it away and cleaning it off their cars. You can see it in fields, about eight inches of dust that will eventually harden after a few million years.

The snowy peaks on the island are actually whitewashed houses.

I bought three mathematics-themed T-shirts on Santorini. There were tons of brilliant designs, and I could have bought dozens.

According to Betty’s phone’s pedometer, we climbed fourteen storeys on Santorini.

Another crazy T-shirt design.

All the grape vines are kept low to the soil, out of the wind. They are woven into little basket shapes to hold the grapes. Once that was explained to us, it was obvious that the whole island is planted in grape vines.

The residential/hotel part of Oia, Santorini.

We took a cable car down to the ship (there was no other option. Well, there were donkeys.). It was quite terrifying for some, not so much for others. Here’s a stock photo of the cable car:

The cable car mechanism. I have a movie of this.

Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #10 – Wednesday, April 24, 2019: Delos and Mykonos, Greece

We went to Delos on this ferry. We spent the morning at Delos, then returned to Mykonos for lunch.

Delos was once the financial and economic centre of the ancient world, the Switzerland of its day, with huge funds deposited in its banks. It was completely destroyed by a leader with a grudge against the Romans. The whole island is now in ruins, and uninhabited except by archaeologists and their staff. We saw the remains of houses which were up to four storeys tall. An amphitheatre that doubled as a rainwater collection system. 

I picked up a small piece of earthenware on Delos (just a shard in the pathway), and now it sits with the acorns in the bathroom at home.

Lots of cats on Delos. People keep track of them all, apparently.

These are the original sculptures of the tigers/lions. The ones in situ are the replicas.

The house of Dionysius with the columns showing how tall it actually was.

I believe these were water reservoirs. They would have been closed to the sky and sun back in the day, so they wouldn’t have developed pond scum or duckweed.

There are wildflowers all over Delos, hundreds of varieties in all, they say.

And a lot of stylized sculptures of human beings, possibly a tribute to the generations of people who lived on Delos:

This is a millstone to grind olives down to oil.

Back to Mykonos.

Mykonos was nice. It’s party central for the Greeks, and especially LGBT. It’s a series of bays and beaches, shops and restaurants. I bought a hat there, a brown Trilby.

Some impressive calamari.

Skipping stones at Mykonos

I did a pub crawl once we got back to the ship, photographing and filming the various acts. Not impressed at all.

Wednesday, April 24 Mykonos and Delos

We went to Delos on this ferry. We spent the morning at Delos, then returned to Mykonos for lunch.

Delos was once the financial and economic centre of the ancient world, the Switzerland of its day with huge funds deposited in its banks. It was completely destroyed by a leader with a grudge against the Romans. The whole island is now in ruins, and uninhabited except by archaeologists and their staff. We saw the remains of houses which were up to four storeys tall. An amphitheatre that doubled as a rainwater collection system. Broad streets and boulevards, now buried (and preserved) under mountains of debris.

I picked up a small piece of earthenware on Delos (just a shard in the pathway), and now it sits with the acorns in the bathroom at home.

There were lots of cats on Delos. People keep track of them all, apparently.

These are the original sculptures of the tigers/lions, stored in the museum. The ones in situ are replicas.

The house of Dionysius with the columns showing how tall it actually was.

I believe these were water reservoirs. They would have been closed to the sky and sun back in the day, so they wouldn’t have developed pond scum or duckweed.

There are wildflowers all over Delos, hundreds of varieties in all, they say.

There were also a lot of stylized sculptures of human beings, possibly a tribute to the generations of people who lived on Delos:

Poignant.

This is a millstone to grind olives down to oil.

Back to Mykonos.

Mykonos was fun. It’s party central for the Greeks, and especially for LGBT folk. It’s a series of bays and beaches, whitewashed shops and restaurants. Since I’d lost my ball cap, I bought a hat there, a brown Trilby.

Some impressive calamari.

Skipping stones at Mykonos

I did a pub crawl once we got back to the ship, photographing and filming the various acts. Not impressed at all. MSC hires mediocre entertainment, and my singer Catherine and I could wipe the floor with any of them. I’m not going to post any photos, out of mercy.

Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #9 – Tuesday, April 23: At Sea

Tuesday, April 23 At Sea

We sailed around the Grecian mainland, then made our way to the islands in the Aegean. The forecast was for stormy weather, but so far it was merely windy. I see where they get the image of “mountainous seas”. It’s not just a matter of size. There is a similar shape pattern between waves and the Alps we flew over on our way to Venice.

Your intrepid travellers:

Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #8 – Monday, April 22, 2019: Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro. Even more spectacular mountains. We drove along the coast to Parest where we took a boat to a tiny island to see Our Lady of the Rocks, a maritime church. Dianja was our guide, pronounced Diana.

Long hair, looked like Liberal Chick. There was an Arab girl with very distracting short-shorts in our group. Decorum prevents me from posting a photo of her.

The little church is positively stuffed with relics and donations.

We also toured the walled city and another church, with the wrapped Jesus (wrapped for shipping, no doubt). It made me think of that artist Christos, who wraps buildings and whatnot.

There is only room for one cruise ship in the port, so we stood at anchor and the passengers took a tender (small boat) to the port. So, in Montenegro, we went from a ship to a boat to a bus to a boat to a bus to a boat to the ship.

The translators do their best, but often get it wrong in telling ways, we still encounter phrases like “Cruises Ships”.

Below, a pretty shot of the port. Montenegro, of course, means Black Mountain, a reference to the dark pines.

Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #7 – Sunday, April 21, 2019: Split, Croatia

We rode a bus along a river valley among spectacular mountains. We had an early lunch with wine at a winery which was originally a mill. The river is a favourite of rafters. We mixed a bit with some  ladies from Maryland, and “The Girl from Ipanema”, a young lady from Brazil. We ate prosciutto, cheese, and olives, and were serenaded by a guitarist and accordionist, who both sang.

After lunch, we returned to Split.

Split was the retirement home of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, one of the very few emperors to actually retire rather than being murdered. Most of his palace survives, and is now occupied by townspeople. It’s gone from a slum to very desirable lodgings, but with very little privacy. It fronts directly on the water.

An episode of “The Game of Thrones” (Season 5, Episode 3, they tell me) was shot in the ruins of the Emperor’s palace. The below is one such locale. It turns out that our guide Alexa, was an actress who played a part in that episode.

Alexa

A larger-than-life statue of a Bishop Gregory of Nin, just to the north of the palace. You’re supposed to rub his toe to make a wish. His toe has a nine inch nail, pun intended.

We wandered around in our free time, seeing the local sights:

The mural contained plastic objects that had been recovered from the harbour and elsewhere on the coast.

Spectacular mountains (this is a photo from the bus).

Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #6 – Saturday, April 20, 2019: Koper, Slovenia

Our first bus had no A/C, and the windows were painted over with soccer ads. So, I couldn’t get many photos from the bus.

Stuffy, painted bus

We toured Koper a bit, then drove to Izola, then Piran, then Porterose (pink door?) which was the real Riviera of Slovenia. Hotel after Hotel.

Pocket four-valve trumpet for sale at the market in Izola

Piran is the birthplace of Tratini, a famous baroque composer, violinist, and teacher. There is a statue of him in the square, which is named Tratini Square.

Fun fact: that square was originally the harbour and fish market. It became silted up and smelly, so it was filled in and paved over.

Guiseppe Tartini

I shot most of the pictures that day with the exposure compensation set wrong on the camera — I accidentally moved the dial — so that all the photos were too dark. Easy to fix in Affinity Photo. An exposure setting of 4 is about right, but I tried different settings to see which is best for each photo. The sky’s a little dark in this one.

We loved watching the kids play in the squares, in all the towns we visited. They didn’t have parks or playgrounds as in Canada, so it seems.

We eventually got a fresh bus with A/C and unpainted windows.

It looks like there is little poverty in Slovenia, none that we could see anyway.

Slovenia, by the way, is the only country in the world with “love” in its name.

Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #5 – Friday, April 19, 2019: Leaving Venice, Italy

We found an ATM in a square seemingly dedicated to banks. It looked empty at first, but it looked bankish to me, with more modern facades.

The posters we saw around Venice often had little surprises if you looked for them.

On the neck?

Aboard our water taxi on the way to the MSC Opera.

All aboard!

Betty on the walking track

Full Moon taken from phone

Full moon taken with Canon EOS-M5. A bit better.

We did a bit of a pub crawl that night. One band had a robot rhythm section, though the piano player played a little. We wound up in the “piano lounge” where there was a lone guitar player, accompanying himself. It was true live music, at least.

Betty and Ken’s Eastern Mediterranean Adventure #4 – Thursday, April 18: Murano and Burano, Italy

Our hotel, the Palazzo Sant’Angelo.

We took a tour boat to Murano, the glassmaking centre. The glassmakers were banished from Venice to the island of Murano because of the fire risk, but the glassmakers accepted the banishment because it made it easier to keep their processes and methods secret.

A horse, still hot from the furnace.

All the glazing on the glassware we saw had an abstract design. No little flowers or curlicues.

Similarly, the island of Burano is a lace-making centre. The houses are painted brilliant colours, like in St. John’s, and for similar reasons.

Betty on a bridge at Burano.

Laundry day in Burano

Talk about letting it all hang out.

While we were strolling about, a model was on a photo shoot by a canal. While the photographer was changing lenses or whatever, I snapped her from behind. She just happened to turn around the instant I took her picture.

Some of the Burano lace

On the way to and from the islands, the guides pointed out the many abandoned monasteries. Clearly, the heyday of Catholic fervour is gone. We also noticed many shoals and tiny islands, the scene of many a shipwreck, no doubt.

We visited a third island, but didn’t tour the church as suggested by our guide. We did tour the bar, though. It came with a petting zoo and a weird sculpture garden.

On our way back, I spotted a  crane that looked like a crane.

And I took some arty photos of locks on a bridge. Aperture priority is such a gift to photographers.

We ate dinner in a restaurant near the hotel, called Bodega. It was run, seemingly single-handedly, by Andrea, she of the frizzy hair. Everything in Venice seems to come served on a bed of salad greens, instead of them serving the salad separately.