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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)

Istanbul to Athens - Azamara Journey

Bodrum

sunny 90 °F

We had a late arrival into Bodrum, Turkey today allowing the group to watch the entrance to port without having to get up early. Bodrum is another yachting and vacation spot on western Turkey famous for the Bodrum Castle.

Bodrum is located on the southern coast of Bodrum Peninsula, at a point that checks the entry into the Gulf of Gökova, and is also the center of the eponymous district. The city was called Halicarnassus of Caria in ancient times and was famous for housing the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Bodrum Castle was built from 1402 onwards, by the Knights of St John as the Castle of St. Peter or Petronium. Confronted with an invasion by the Seljuk Turks, the Knights Hospitaller, whose headquarters were on the island of Rhodes, needed another stronghold on the mainland. Grand Master Philibert de Naillac (1396–1421) identified a suitable site across from the island of Kos, where a castle had already been built of the Order. Its location was the site of a fortification in Doric times (1110 BC) as well as of a small Seljuk castle in the 11th century. The same promontory is also the probable site of the Palace of Mausolos, the famous King of Caria. The construction of the castle began in 1404 under the supervision of the German knight-architect Heinrich Schlegelholt. The first walls were completed in 1437. The chapel was among the first completed inner structures (probably 1406). Fourteen cisterns for collecting rainwater were excavated in the rocks under the castle. Each langue of the Order had its own tower, each in its own style. Each tongue, each headed by a Bailiff, was responsible for the maintenance and defence of a specific portion of the fortress and for manning it with sufficient numbers of knights and soldiers. There were seven gates leading to the inner part of the fortress. The construction of the three-storied English tower was finished in 1413. One door opens to the north, to the inner part of the castle, while the other leads to the western rampart. One could only access this tower via a drawbridge. The western façade shows an antique carved relief of a lion. Because of this relief, the tower was also called "the Lion Tower". Above this lion, one can see the coat of arms of King Henry IV of England.

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Posted by rpickett 07:37 Archived in Turkey Tagged bodrum Comments (0)

Istanbul to Athens - Azamara Journey

Kusadasi and Ephesus

sunny 85 °F

Our stop for today was the seaport of Kusadasi, access point to the ancient seaport of Ephesus. The area has been a center of art and culture since some of the earliest recorded history, and has been settled by many civilizations since being founded by the Leleges people in 3000 BC. Later settlers include the Aeolians in the 11th century BC and Ionians in the 9th. Originally, seamen and traders built a number of settlements along the coastline, including Neopolis. An outpost of Ephesus in ancient Ionia, known as Pygela, the area between the Büyük Menderes (Maeander) and Gediz (Hermos) rivers, the original Neopolis, is thought to have been founded on the nearby point of Yılancı Burnu. Later settlements were probably built on the hillside of Pilavtepe, in the district called Andızkulesi today. Kuşadası was a minor port frequented by vessels trading along the Aegean coast. In antiquity it was overshadowed by Ephesus, until Ephesus' harbor silted up. From the 7th century BC onwards the coast was ruled by Lydians from their capital at Sardis, then from 546 BC the Persians, and from 334 BC, along with all of Anatolia, the coast was conquered by Alexander the Great. From that point on the coastal cities in Anatolia became a centre of Hellenistic culture. During the daytime, I took a stroll through town, a typical vacation seaport in any of the world.
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At 7:00pm, we left the cruise terminal for our Azamazing event - a classical concert in the Odean Theater of Ephesus.
It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. According to estimates, Ephesus had a population of 33,600 to 56,000 people in the Roman period, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia Minor after Sardis and Alexandria Troas. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In 268 AD, the Temple was destroyed or damaged in a raid by the Goths. It may have been rebuilt or repaired but this is uncertain, as its later history is not clear. Emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths. Following the Edict of Thessalonica from Emperor Theodosius I, what remained of the temple was destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom. The town was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD. The city's importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Küçükmenderes River. Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here. The city was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils. It is also the site of a large gladiators' graveyard,
The Odeon theater has the shape of a small theater with the stage building, seating places and the orchestra. It had double function in use. First it was used as a Bouleuterion for the meetings of the Boulea or the Senate. The second fuction was the Odeum as a concert hall for the performances.It was constructed in the 2nd century A.D by the order of Publius Vedius Antonius and his wife Flavia paiana, two wealthy citizens in Ephesus. It had a capacity of 1500 spectators. It had 3 doors opening from the stage to the podium. The podium was narrow and one meter higher than the orchestra section. The stage building was two-storied and embellished with columns.The podium in front of the stage building and some parts of the seating were restored. The Odeon used to be enclosed with a wooden roof.

Our performers tonight were members of the Camerata Izmir Orchestra, and they played works by Handel, Bach, Boccherini, Borodin, Mozart, Gardel and Brahms. It was spectacular and the acoustics of the theater was amazing.

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Posted by rpickett 07:09 Archived in Turkey Tagged and ephesus kusadasi Comments (0)

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