Friday, June 28, 2013

Greece: Kusadasi & Patmos

We left Mykonos and headed to our next destination - Kusadasi, Turkey.  It's a cute little island that thrives on the tourist traffic and has a really fun Bazaar area with shops and cafes.  We did a lot of shopping here, and just walked around and enjoyed the environment.

Welcome to Turkey!!

I loved the Turkish eyes in the sidewalk.
The host at a cafe saw me taking a picture and told all of us to
put our feet in, and he took a picture...

... and then he took a picture the other direction.
He reminded me of Fes from "That 70s Show"

Yes - there is McDonald's everywhere!!

There were a number of women making rugs around the city.

After a few hours in Kusadasi, we got back on the boat, enjoyed some time at the pool and then stopped in Patmos, Greece.  We walked around a little, but really just wanted to sit at a cafe on the beach and relax.  Patmos is a small island with not a lot of stuff to see, but it was a relaxing afternoon!

We were back on the boat in time for dinner, and set sail again for an overnight voyage to our next destination.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Greece: First Day at Sea - Mykonos

We boarded the ship...

... and got settled in our room...

Yep - it was TINY!!!
After a short trip on the boat, we arrived at our first destination - Mykonos.  We were there for a few hours in the evening, but it was the perfect amount of time to explore and have an amazing dinner!

So, somewhere between the time that I gave my mom her passport at the hotel, and when we were about to get off the boat, she figured out that she had lost her credit card.  We know for sure that it was in her passport when I gave it back to her, but from there... who knows.  We tried to call the credit card company from the boat and that didn't work (and they were not helpful) so we decided we would find a pay phone when we docked.  WELL, that was not the easiest thing.  We walked by a guy who was standing outside a restaurant (which he owned) and he spoke very good English, so we asked him if he knew where we could find a phone.  He handed us his phone and said she could use his.  My mom got the card cancelled and because of his friendliness, we decided we would eat at his restaurant.  GOOD CHOICE!!!!

House wine - now THAT is how you pour wine

Mom's smoked salmon salad

Grilled feta - recommended by the owner - did not disappoint

Fried calamari - IT WAS AMAZING!!!
Way better than any I've had in the US

Dad's Greek salad - can't go wrong  :)
After we ate, we walked around and explored before we had to head back to the boat.
Welcome to Mykonos!

Little Venice
It had amazing shops, restaurants and cafes - so cute!!

Pete - the (un)official mascot of Mykonos
They had another pelican that died, so they people
in the town got another one.  He's pretty tame.

Goodnight Mykonos!

We boarded the boat and sailed through the night to our next destination...


Monday, June 24, 2013

Greece: Day 2 in Athens

Our second and last full day in Athens was a free day for us to explore!  We took full advantage, but our means of transportation was slightly different than we originally anticipated.  We were planning to walk around the city, but as we embarked for our first tourist stop, we found out that it was HOT out!!!

We first stopped at The Temple of Zeus and The Arch of Hadrian.  It was a cool opportunity to get up close and personal with some marble pillars  :)

Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus

Arch of Hadrian
Once we were done there, we decided we would hop on one of the open bus tours around Athens rather than walking - GOOD CHOICE and totally worth the money we spent!!!  Here are the places that we stopped and visited:

Parliament Building

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament Building

Me with the Parliament Guard
They are only selected for this position if they are tall
and good looking - same as our White House guards  :)

Changing of the Guards

University of Athens

After we hit those spots, we went up to the old Flea Market area, which is still where you can find a number of different artists and vendors with a lot of cute crafts.  Before we got started with our memento shopping, we had to stop for some lunch - what else could you POSSIBLY want to eat in Greece than Gyro souvlaki?

The Coke in Greece is better than the USA
We did some shopping and my mom and I grabbed some worry beads for ourselves and others and then we headed down to the old Roman Agora and visited the Temple of Hephaestus.

We took the bus the rest of the way around and relaxed and listened to the audio tour.  We went back to the hotel, took a nap and then got up and got showered for a night out.  We decided that since we needed to get packed and had to get up early, we would go to a wine bar and get some wine and a light dinner and call it a night.  We got SOOOO lucky with the wine bar that we chose.

We went to "By the Glass" wine bar.  We were served by Marietta and she was AMAZING!  We told her what we liked in wine, and she brought us glasses (well, half glasses) and what she brought us was always great!!  She provided us with such great service and we could not have asked for a better night!  If you're ever in Athens, you HAVE to find this wine bar... you can find them on Facebook.

By the Glass Wine Bar

I loved the wine so much, I drank it and forgot to take a picture

Cold platter - meat, cheese, bread, fruit and nuts

Greek sliders - way better than American
We went back to the hotel and packed up and got ready to embark on our next adventure - at sea!!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Greece: Day 1 in Athens

OK, technically it was day 2 in Athens, but we didn't leave our hotel on the day that we got there.  Our first day started with breakfast at the hotel.  It was SO much more than I could have imagined!!!  They had amazing options, and it was so much more than an American continental breakfast!

See that orange juice?  They had a juicer that had a thing in the middle that spun.  You took an orange, cut it in half and the spinny thing juiced your orange for you - super fresh, super delicious - hard to explain!!!!

After breakfast, we got picked up for a tour of the city, the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum.  We started at the Olympic stadium, which is the old stadium.  It's still used once a year for the marathon - you know, the one that starts in the city of Marathon?  It's made of marble and it's beautiful!  Marble in Greece is like plastic here in the US - it's EVERYWHERE, and obviously prettier that plastic.

We then moved on to the Acropolis, which is the hill where you'll find The Parthenon.  Most people use the names interchangeably and incorrectly.  Also on The Acropolis, you'll find the Old Temple of Athena (where she fought Poseidon to be the patron of the city) and the Temple of Nike.

The Parthenon

The Old Temple of Athena

The Temple of Nike
From there, we went on to The New Acropolis Museum.  It was opened in 2009 and while it's very modern and somewhat industrial, it does a great job of keeping the attention on the contents of the museum.  They are also excavating what is essentially a city that has been found under the museum and you can see it through Plexiglas floors in various places throughout the museum.

One of the coolest things that you were able to see in the museum is the artistry and skill of the sculptors during the time.  The details and the movement of the statues is amazing.  One example is the level of detail used to show things like the way a dress drapes, or the veins in a hand.

After the museum, we went to have lunch at the Plaka.  It's an area of Athens where you'll find shops, restaurants and cafes and it's a great area to just sit and relax.  We stopped at a restaurant and each got a beer (Mythos Greek beer), and we shared Greek salads and an appetizer platter.  Greeks put a lot of emphasis on eating while you're drinking - they don't like drunk people  :)

After lunch, we took a long route back to the hotel and walked through some of the botanical gardens and through the Zappeion Hall grounds.  It was built as a facility that was used for the revival of the Olympic games (the modern Olympics) and was used for press during the 2004 Olympics.

After a long, hot day of walking around (and sweating a lot) we went back to the hotel and showered and went to dinner at a restaurant that also has a Greek dancing show.  The wine was great, the food was good, and the dancers were entertaining.

When the show was over, we went back to the hotel to rest up for another day of sight seeing!!