A Travellerspoint blog

Istanbul to Athens - the Photo Album

My photo album is ready!

Click Itstanbul to Athens and enjoy!

Off to Portugal on September 3rd. Stay Tuned

Posted by rpickett 13:29 Archived in Greece Tagged photo album Comments (0)

Istanbul to Athens - Azamara Journey

Athens!!!

sunny 104 °F

Disembarkation from Azamara Journey is among the best there is. We had a 9:00am pickup, so at 8:30am our group just walked off the ship. No announcements were made throughout the process, and our bags were waiting for us. With a smaller ship, getting the bags off is quick and the passengers can pick when they want to get off, within some pretty generous limits.

We arrived at our Athens hotel at about 10:30, and we were all in our rooms by noon. We spent the afternoon wandering or resting and having a nice lunch. That night we went to dinner with one of my high school classmates and her husband - a retired Royal Navy submariner, and the former Secretary of Defense under PM Brian Major. We had a wonderful evening.

The next morning, we departed at 9:00am for our day tour of Athens. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years, and the earliest human presence around the 11th–7th millennium BC. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent. In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece.

Our first stop was the Acropolis and Parthenon. The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.

For me the Acropolis is as amazing as the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, China

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We then headed to the new Acropolis Museum - one of the most remarkable museums that I have been in. It was built to house the original carvings of the Acropolis, and in hopes that the many museums around the world - especially the British Museum - will return the original artwork to its homeland. I hope they are successful.

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The final event on the way back to the hotel was a city tour - so much to see. Because the outside temperature was 104, we decided to not get off the bus. We arrived back at the hotel and packed and relaxed and went to bed early. Eight of us had to leave the hotel at 3:00am to catch a 6:00am flight to Frankfurt.

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The whole trip was amazing, and Azamara is easily one of my few 'go to' cruise lines. Home for a month and then off to Portugal!

Posted by rpickett 08:45 Archived in Greece Tagged athens Comments (0)

Istanbul to Athens - Azamara Journey

Hydra

sunny 95 °F

Our final stop on this adventure is the quaint island of Hydra. There is one main town, known simply as "Hydra port" (pop. 1,900 in 2011). It consists of a crescent-shaped harbour, around which is centered a strand of restaurants, shops, markets, and galleries that cater to tourists and locals (Hydriots). Steep stone streets lead up and outwards from the harbor area. Most of the local residences, as well as the hostelries on the island are located on these streets. We toured a very nice maritime museum, walked through the village and had a nice seaside lunch before heading back to the ship to get ready for departure in the morning! It's another wonderful vacation and day trip for the Greeks.

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Posted by rpickett 08:50 Archived in Greece Tagged hydra Comments (0)

Istanbul to Athens - Azamara Journey

Mykonos

sunny 92 °F

Another day, another wonderful island! Today it's Mykonos.

Archaeological findings suggest the presence of the Neolithic tribe Kares on the island in 3000 BC, but the first real settlers seem to be the Ionians from Athens in the early 11th century BC. There were many people living on the neighbouring island of Delos, just 2 km (1.2 miles) away, which meant that Mykonos became an important place for supplies and transit. It was, however, during ancient times a rather poor island with limited agricultural resources and only two towns. Its inhabitants were pantheists and worshipped many gods. Mykonos came under the control of the Romans during the reign of the great Roman Empire and then became part of the Byzantine Empire until the 12th century. In 1204, with the fall of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade, Mykonos was occupied by Andrea Ghisi, a relative of the Doge of Venice. The island was ravaged by the Catalans at the end of the 13th century and finally given over to direct Venetian rule in 1390. Delos is the legendary birthplace of Apollo.
We did not make the trip to Delos, but wandered around town.

The windmills are the first thing seen when coming into the harbour of Alefkandra, as they stand on a hill overlooking the area. Most windmills face towards the North where the island's climate sources its strongest winds over the largest part of the year. There are currently 16 windmills on Mykonos of which seven are positioned on the famous landmark hill in Chora. 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.

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Posted by rpickett 06:52 Archived in Greece Tagged mykonos Comments (0)

Istanbul to Athens - Azamara Journey

Santorini

sunny 92 °F

Today we anchored off the coast of Santorini, Greece - one of my favorite places!

Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it possible for all but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a fisherman harbour at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast. The island's principal port is Athinias. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. In 1956, the island of Santorini was hit by an earthquake that destroyed a large part of the island but luckily, some of the 18th century buildings were saved. The town of Fira is a typical Cycladic village made of charming white houses with blue windows and doors, separated from each other by small paved streets. Many of its beautiful buildings were constructed back in the times of the Venetian invasion, including some blue domed churches and sun-bathed verandas that offer an incredible view of the volcano and the sunset.

After taking the cable car up to Fira, we wandered around for a while and ate a very upscale lunch at a wonderful out of the way restaurant called 1500 BC. Although pricey, the food was superb!

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Posted by rpickett 06:50 Archived in Greece Tagged santorini Comments (0)

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