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Athens, Volos, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Alexandria, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Trieste, Katakolon, Gibraltar, Madeira, Bermuda, and The Bahamas
George and Barbara Perkins 1
Cruising the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Copyright 2012 George and Barbara Perkins Illustrations copyright 2012 George and Barbara Perkins www.georgeperkins.net All rights reserved
CRUISING THE MEDITTERRANEAN AND THE ATLANTIC We began in Athens. To get there, we hired a limousine to pick us up in Ann Arbor and drive us to the Delta terminal at Detroit Metropolitan airport. Check-in was done by a self-service e-ticket that assured us that our two big bags would be automatically transferred and be sent straight through to Athens. We flew First Class from Detroit to New York and from there flew Business Class to Athens. Changing planes in New York·s J. F. Kennedy Airport was a bit of a hassle, but it was the only way we could get from a domestic flight to an international one. Our way was eased by the use of the Skyclub Lounges that make the waiting between flights a bit easier. Not much substantial food to be had there, however--mostly cheese and crackers, soft drinks, and a bit of fruit. We hadn·t counted on the general unpleasantness of Kennedy. Leaving the plane by a steep stairway, we walked a mile or so to the terminal and then more miles within it (or so it seemed), moving walkways practically nonexistent, and our carry-on bags getting heavier with every step until, when we reached the boarding gate, we were literally staggering. Once on board, our lives became easier (note for the future: get carry-on bags with wheels). We 3
were now flying Business Class, which gave us ample room for our carry-on bags, reasonably decent food, and very solicitous flight attendants. It was a ten-hour flight to Athens. We tried to sleep in reclining seats that allowed a little exhausted dozing, but no real rest (a few years earlier, on a Business Class flight on United Airlines the seats were much better). Homer·s ´rosy fingers of dawnµ take on new meaning when viewed from 33,000 feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea, where we were greeted with beautiful pink and salmon swatches spread across a bank of whipped cream clouds. Moving at perhaps 500 miles per hour, we enjoyed a fine view of a landscape that we knew from maps and globes, but saw from flight as the real thing, a panorama of rugged mountains and small villages and islands as we crossed over the instep of Italy and then the western islands of Greece. When we landed we were met by a Cunard representative and a chartered bus that took about forty minutes to get to the Athens Hilton hotel. We saw no Greek temples in the midst of the city, but a hotel that was almost empty because of street demonstrations and general disorder that were making international news. The newsmakers and cameras were nowhere in sight where we were, however.
The Athens Hilton has a multi-story marble façade. Nap time. gave advice. The traffic in the city--a combination of buses. and scooters in a mad mélange of racing. Within the hotel. to move a quarter of a mile ahead. answered questions and helped us check in. some of them apparently not designed for vehicular traffic. bicycles. a modern take on classic Greek architecture. taxis. few private cars. Our long flight had been almost sleepless. motorcycles. ducking in and out. but a 5 . and cutting off³moves briskly apart from the occasional massive tieup where only a few astute taxi drivers know how to use side streets and alleys. another Cunard rep met us. It stands across the street from a gigantic ´running manµ sculpture that is constructed of thin layers of a glass-like material that looks green in daylight but catches the lights of passing cars when night falls.
Inside. Awake again.couple of hours in a bed helped a lot. artifacts. classically columned building approached through a parklike setting of grass and trees and flowers. and jewels. 6 . we took a taxi to the National Museum of Archaeology. a beautiful. we marveled at the exhibited sculptures.
The police had arrived and were taking notes. And outside. the view behind us was still splendid as the shadows began to fall. outside of the hotel the streets were crowded with traffic as our tour bus made its way up the hill to the Acropolis parking lot. bus. we came upon a three-vehicle accident (private car. and no traffic moved. before it was time to leave. We had been to the Parthenon before. but caught in our own afternoon time-frame. ATHENS. and taxi). the remaining figures on the 7 .The exhibits were arranged generally in an order of time. and noticed that this time the approach was eased by wooden steps over the slippery marble near the top. we saw only a small portion of what was there. and some cement over the gravel pathway around the temple. It¶s a fairly long walk to the top. The taxi-driver saw our plight and took a moment to hail a taxi for us from a nearby street. We dined in the snack bar and were again struck by the almost total absence of guests. Meanwhile. and we were back at the hotel before full dark. went down for breakfast. on the street where we had expected to hail a taxi. THE PARTHENON In the morning we put our bags in the hall for pick up. but in front of us. Work continues on restoration. and found that Queen Victoria guests seemed still the only people present. Even so.
New material. and the restoration within the temple moves forward with the help of various organizations outside of Greece. A crowd of mostly young people were unfurling banners. On our way back down we ran into the protesters we had heard about before our arrival in Greece. obviously whiter than the original. Newly available sonic assessment devices help to monitor the work. The crowd was large.pediments and the small temple to Athena have been removed to the new museum at the base of the hill and replaced with plaster replicas. has begun to fill in parts of the columns that were previously missing. 8 . but not unruly. and they came back down the hill before we had left our meeting place in order to walk to the new Acropolis Museum. Police had arrived on motorcycles and appeared to be merely observing.
The top floor is built in accordance with the actual proportions of the Parthenon. It is apparent that. It¶s an eerie experience. was found along the pedestrian way championed by the Greek actress Melina Mercouri during her years as a member of the Greek Parliament. still with glass floors except for the stairway and elevators. no two are alike. less than two years old. Because it is quite far below your feet. They show how the early mysterious uniform smiles of the male figures give way over time to more individualized expressions and how the costumes and hairstyles of the females become more elaborate and the faces more beautiful. Exhibits around the perimeter of each floor display figures that were once in the outdoor sculpture park at the top of Acropolis hill. like the Xian warriors in China.The museum. hoping the glass won·t break. Inside the building. The existing pieces of the Parthenon friezes are placed where they would fit. allow you to see both up (to the feet of people walking on floors high above you) and down (into the continuing dig below). The caryatids from the small temple to Athena have been placed there and they are being individually cleaned by laser beams. and 9 . And what a museum it is. the different levels. It is approached by a glass walkway through which you can see the ongoing work on an archeological dig of a Roman settlement and earlier Greek settlement. you walk gingerly.
fruit. We discovered that the strike of Greek air traffic controllers that we had worried about had in fact happened very soon after we arrived. These replicas were very impressive. In the meantime we went upstairs for dinner in the Princess Grill. our chartered bus took us and the other Queen Victoria passengers to the dock at Pireaus. and Gavin. Table mates Denise and Joe McWilliams. From Athens. and funny. from Durban. and pastries from Cunard. where we boarded the ship and happily found that the heavy luggage we had checked in Detroit had arrived in our stateroom. Our waiters. introduced themselves.missing pieces (many of them in the Elgin marble collection in the British Museum) are filled in with white material. Many people who had waited until the sailing date to fly were held up. South Africa. from Croatia. and chocolate covered strawberries and bottles of red and white wine that had been sent by our Conlin travel agent in Ann Arbor. There was also champagne. Horses· heads filled in the acute angles at the edges. courteous. from Atlanta. and their buses continued to arrive until well past the time we were scheduled to sail. with Zeus and Athena in the center and the other Olympians at their sides. Alan. and they have since proved efficient. Scholars have built miniatures to show what the east and west pediments would have looked like originally. arrived soon after (and 10 .
facing forward on the starboard side with big windows all around.in a day or two. and in the evening we saw the stars and moon over our shoulders. Margaret and David Whincup. In the morning we could preview the weather we were heading into. from Yorkshire. England).µ as the tour book labeled it. We thoroughly enjoyed the food. the service. The mountains are almost worth the trip in themselves. 11 . They are riddled with mysterious caves that in the early days were inhabited by Christian hermits. We had secured the best table in the Princess Grill. and the company. Our bus drove through Thessaly to Larissa and then into an area of high. VOLOS Our first shore excursion took us to ´Magical Meteora. steep mountains crowned by almost inaccessible monasteries.
in the 14th or 15th centuries. We visited two of them. The chandelier features pendant ostrich eggs at the bottom--this is symbolic of the church·s role in developing the individual·s spiritual side. This was after a bus ride on a switchback road of twenty miles or more. The dome in the middle of the altar room has a painting of the Almighty in the center and the four gospel writers at the corners. but allows the chicks to make their own way into the world. 12 . many of the hermits abandoned their loneliness by building monasteries on or near the tops of the mountains.Later. We visited first the Varlaam monastery. Of the twenty or so that were built. The small church consists of a narthex and an altar room with chair stalls for perhaps a dozen chanting monks. one of them inhabited by one sole monk. The walls are elaborately painted with scenes from the life of Christ and the martyrdom of saints. about a half-dozen remain. one with monks in residence. since the ostrich does not hatch its eggs. reached by several flights totaling more than 100 steps and a wooden bridge over an incredibly deep chasm. There is an inner room closed off by curtains. the second with nuns.
This was situated lower down and was much easier to get to. It had been bombed by the Nazis in World War II and the dome in the altar room and the narthex were completely destroyed. 13 . Stephanos. The grounds that now surround it have been carefully planted and maintained with a result both pleasing and restful.The second site we visited was the nunnery dedicated to St.
lamb. the grisly suffering of the Saints leaps out with particular clarity. we stopped for a delicious Greek luncheon. roasted peppers. and rice. yogurt. the building has now been rebuilt and is being repainted. salad. stuffed rolls. we went in by tender (a small motorboat 14 . our visiting Barbara selected an icon with the Saint contemplating her own head on a platter. Our guide. TURKEY Because the port for Dikili was too small for the Queen Victoria. stuffed grape leaves. stood as reminders of accidents by the sides of the roads as we drove safely back to our ship. agreed to accompany Barbara to the gift shop where a nun pointed the way to two iconic souvenirs of St. as well as the fairly steep sheep pastures that rose upwards toward the higher hills and mountains that we were now leaving behind. and then embarked on a two-hour ride through Thessaly·s reasonably flat cotton fields and wheat fields. More than a few shrines. Barbara. DIKILI.Within. Barbara was a Queen who was martyred by losing her head. with wine. After the visit. Georges icons on the living room wall. with the result that among many images. named Kiki. small church-like structures topped with crosses and adorned with ribbons or flowers. We were thinking of placing it at home next to our Greek and Russian St. After it was explained that St.
TURKEY 15 . for use in abandoning ship if such a calamity should ever occur). waved and smiled enthusiastically as our bus went by. There is an acropolis featuring a theater. and a museum with gravestones outside and mosaics in and out. When reached the shore and boarded the tour bus. The flag was lowered to half mast. ISTANBUL. Romans. School children had been assembled on the square for the event. Bergama or Pergamum (a nearby town) was inhabited early. of course. that we had come upon a commemoration of the exact moment of the death in 1938 of Mustafa Kamel Ataturk. We also visited the Red Basilica. we had to sit for a while for what we first thought was either an emergency or a silent prayer for the victims of the previous day·s earthquake. although not much evidence of their tenure remains. a brick structure once intended for the worship of the Egyptian gods Serapis. and Isis. as well. This was turning out to be the behavior of groups and individuals of all ages almost everywhere we went in Turkey. however.for 40 or so passengers carried by the ship for just such usage. though we couldn·t hear them from the bus. lined up in their uniforms to return to school. The statuary inside seemed to be mostly Roman. and the Greeks. and Arabs all went through in succession. Afterward the children. We soon found. and we assumed that speeches were given.
16 . Later. In 1923 it became a republic The city is full of mosques. It is also the only city in the world that spans two continents (Europe and Asia Minor). under the Romans. the fourth or fifth largest city in the world. Then the Crusaders sacked it at the beginning of the 13th century. the glass fronts make it clear what they are selling. With or without English. hundreds of them. There is a lot of water traffic back and forth between the two parts. crowded sidewalks. It was once a Greek country called Byzantium. Two hundred years later it was conquered by the Muslims and under them became the fabulous wealthy Istanbul. The few Christian churches that have not been converted to mosques seem almost not to count. and everyone seemed to have some knowledge of English. it became Constantinople.500 years and various cultural pasts. crowded fronts with inscriptions in Arabic or occasional English (Starbuck·s Coffee is one of these). with nearly 13 million inhabitants. Istanbul has a history of 2.On the next day we traveled through the Bosporus to visit Istanbul. and eventually the center of the gigantic Ottoman Empire. The narrow roads are hemmed in by tall buildings. bright neon signs.
designed to keep our group apart from the many other tour groups with other colors and numbers. As is usual. but having just risen from the breakfast table.The major sites--Hagia Sophia. our tour bus dropped us at the main gate. and from the groups of Turkish school children who were being led through one of the great places of their country. we saw only the Topkapi Palace. Limited by time. we were not tempted. the Blue Mosque. the only time we saw such a military presence in Turkey. It smelled delicious. 17 . yellow paste-on tag with the number 4. The gate guarded by soldiers with automatic rifles. each wearing a circular. The streets near the gate were filled with food carts selling roasted meats and corn. We were thirty or so people. and Topkapi Palace--are all clustered together.
We were led through the palace and grounds by a gregarious Turkish guide, shown below with his ´harem,µ who jocularly insisted that we respond to his instructions with a chorus of ´Yes, Sultan.µ
Much of the palace is not open to the public, but we were allowed to wander around the grounds and look into the rooms of the treasury, where thrones, weapons, and jewels are displayed in cases inset in the walls. Within the same wing there is a display of clothes worn by various sultans. They looked huge, particularly the trousers, but we were assured the size was intended to communicate the monarch·s greatness as he sat on his outsized throne and was not necessarily indicative of his own bulk. We also walked through an archway and tunnel into a garden overlooking the Bosporus, where, on the opposite shore we could see the hospital where Florence Nightingale served during the Crimean War. Topkapi was the home of Sultans and the center of the Ottoman Empire for more 18
than three centuries, and the surrounding monumental buildings such as the Hagia Sophia have been converted to mosques despite their earlier Christian history.
Within the walls of the Topkopi Palace, there was no crowding, apart from the tourists. Although nobody lives there now, there is room on the grounds to accommodate quite a large city. In fact, the only people who ever lived there were the Sultan, his wives, his concubines, and his staff. The grounds have huge lawns, tree-shaded walkways, the palace itself, the mosques, and buildings that once housed the staff. One giant building with half a dozen huge chimneys was set aside for preparing food for the several thousand who once inhabited the enclave: the Sultan, his four wives, his three hundred concubines (most of the concubines were from Eastern Europe), his emasculated male attendants, his palace guards, his groundskeepers, and other attendants. Turkey has become a republic now. Still we saw remnants of its storied past in the extensive museum that now takes some space from one small corner of the grounds. After we left the palace, our bus took us to a large Turkish Rug emporium, where we watched a woman handweaving a silk rug and then sat down for the traditional apple tea while dozens of rug types were spread out on the 19
floor and the sizes and designs were shown to us. We are not sure that any of our crowd bought any, but they may have. Turkish rugs are beautiful and we were tempted, but we had succumbed to temptation a few years ago in Kusadasi, and have no use for more of them (says George, Barbara thinks we could squeeze in a small one in our entry way). KUSADASI AND EPHESUS, TURKEY On the next day, November 12, our ship docked at Kusadasi, a charming coastal town. When we visited there some years ago on the QE2, our guide pointed out the lovely coastal beaches and many seaside houses and condos, which, he suggested, would make excellent vacation homes or investments. Mostly white, they made a very pretty contrast with the deep blue of the water below, and the complementary white hulls and sails of the yachts that lay at anchor there. We were in no financial shape to follow up on that advice, of course, but it sounded attractive. Not far away lies the Greek island of Samos, celebrated in the poem ´Samosµ by the American poet James Merrill, who had a house there. It is worth reading for the fine mixture of East and West that it describes.
´Voices from Sweden or Somaliland Tell how this or that one crossed the water To Ephesus, came back with toilet water,
And a two kilo box of Turkish delightµ
Lovely, as the island may be, however, most of us lack the income of Merrill, whose father was Charles Merrill of the American investment firm, Merrill, Lynch. Our bus turned its back on Samos and drove for about ten miles, just as the earlier one had, to visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus. There the temple of Artemis (or Diana) was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The city had been first settled in the 11th century B.C. It was conquered by Croesus of Lydia and Cyrus the Persian before Alexander the Great established a democracy there in 334 A.D. Two hundred years later, it became a Roman city, and in another couple of centuries St Paul founded the first Christian community there. St. John is believed to have written his gospel there, and some of the locals believe it to have been the last home of the Virgin Mary. Soon it was the largest city in the East after Alexandria, but within a very few more centuries it had become little more than a village. The ruins of this history now spill down a steep hillside, branching out in places from side to side. They include Roman aqueducts, baths, toilets and brothels, the Basilica of St. John, and the Mosque of Isabey. The remains of the Double Church of the Virgin Mary spread nearly a thousand feet in length and nearly one hundred in breadth. 21
steel canopy. however. a large main reading room. The archeological digs under way to unearth terrace houses that had begun before the time of our previous visit continue now under a very large. 135. seating 24. verses 23-41.The Great Theatre. built A. 22 . the most impressive site is perhaps the ruins of the Library of Celsus. chapter 19.000 people. Its remains feature columns reaching two stories high. is referred to in Acts of the Apostles. and a yard paved with marble. As a visitor today follows the main path down the hill. We would like to have examined the progress. statues and sculptured reliefs. D. but this time the area was closed to the public.
The friendly proprietors offered still more. The Queen·s Grill and the Princess Grill (where we eat) can be reached by elevators activated by room cards that allow only the passengers in those grills access to the 11th deck. The Queen Victoria is about the length of the QE2 (which is out of service now and rusting in a berth in Dubai). A DAY AT SEA Days at Sea on the Queen Victoria are often formal dress days. with a vacuum toilet system and its own sewage treatment plant. with the place where on an earlier visit we had purchased Turkish rugs for ourselves and our children. of course. we returned to Harem Rugs to renew contact. Stairs are 23 . Built in an Italian shipyard and launched by Camilla. who is the first female captain in Cunard history. there may be no others on other lines. Inger Klein Olsen. There. For all that we know. in 2007. we first met the Captain of the Queen Victoria. On one of these occasions. featuring cocktail parties and special dinner menus. but this time we refused. while others looked into some of the shops. the wife of Prince Charles. briefly. There were not many formal nights on this leg of our journey because the places we visited were mostly quite close to one another.We returned by bus to Kusadasi. the ship is designed to be ecologically sound.
from Yorkshire. you need to reserve grill suites. England. We shared our table on this first part of our voyage with Denise and Joe McWilliams. Our table. and Gavin (from Durban.possible. Our waiters. 24 . from Atlanta. The food and service are presumably better than in the other. The Grill staterooms are referred to as suites. and ample luggage storage. Alan (from Croatia). because they are larger than the others. South Africa) were very efficient as well as good company. and Margaret and David Whincup. All of this may cost more. outside balconies. more crowded. one of the few that sat as many as six. but a sign at the bottom of the stairway to deck 11 warns that the area is reserved for Grill passengers. have hidea-bed sofas. for maximum enjoyment of the Cunard ships. restaurant which accommodates over 1700 diners in two sittings. but.
had a prime location next to a curved window facing the front of the ship. In the mornings we had only to turn our heads to get a good view of the weather that we were approaching and the condition of the seas we were passing through. Food was excellent (although desserts were not as elaborate as we remembered them on the QE2). The entertainment, mostly in a giant theater, and presented by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers, was generally enjoyable and often very fine. ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT The weather forecast had said warm and cloudy, but it actually poured for most of the next two days. On the first, the Corniche road by the seashore of Alexandria was badly flooded. In King Farouk·s Salaamlek Palace (now a five star hotel), the large front windows were leaking. As we sat and sipped a small cup of six dollar tea, we watched the water run down the inside of the window and puddle on the floor, where towels had been piled in a vain attempt to keep the floor dry. Was it pouring in the desert as well? It was tempting to wonder. Was it undermining the pyramids? Were camels sinking into the sands? Certainly not? The desert was about a two hour drive south of where we were. Still the deluge on the coast was historic. As our tour bus continued its way along the seashore and around the harbors, it ran into places where the water was up to the 25
hubcaps. Traffic was at times tied up for a couple of miles. At one point we drove up onto the sidewalk in order to move forward. The electricity for the city·s trolley cars shorted out, leaving riders stranded. Crowds that seemed to number in the hundreds swarmed the streets, waving for taxis that were already full, attempting to hitchhike or walking toward homes that were almost certainly miles away. Still, we managed to get to the Archeology Museum. There we discovered that because of a different water problem many of the artifacts found under water from the Cleopatra-era civilization that had flourished here could not be displayed. Exposure to air causes decomposition of the ancient materials. The first objects to be brought to the surface had decayed almost immediately, so to see the remaining objects you must get a permit from the Bureau of Archeology and scuba dive in the harbor. Those problems did not apply to other sites we saw, including the Roman theater where we were able to step over huge puddles to see the baths and meeting rooms that are still being excavated. In a different development, we found that after the revolution that had toppled the Mubarak government, a new parliamentary election was soon to take place. Political 26
posters lined the streets, with logos symbolizing different kinds of political goals and promises: rocket ships, compact disks, cell phones, and crocodiles. Individuals who had been forbidden any part in politics by the Mubarak regime were now free to compete. It was expected that the Presidential election in 2012 would draw a very large field. What we saw was peaceful, but a few days after we left Egypt, serious disturbances in Tahrir Square in Cairo were broken up by the Army with significant loss of life. Despite the water problems, our tour bus driver managed to show us the sites in the city that were on our schedule. These included a drive-by of the new Four Seasons Hotel that is being constructed to replace an older one. The former owner of the hotel, we were told, is now in prison, convicted of hiring a killer to murder his former wife. His brother is one of the candidates for parliament. We stopped to see the private palace of King Farouk, the last King of Egypt, who died in 1952. It is called Haremlek and is surrounded by an elaborate garden that we couldn·t explore because of the rain. There were many stray cats in the garden and on the beaches along the Corniche. We drove by the University of Alexandria, the new Bibliotheca, an old mosque, and the Citadel built on the site of the old lighthouse on Pharos Island (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, destroyed by earthquake).
We returned to the ship for dinner, and finished the day by attending a Dixieland concert at the ship·s Royal Court Theater. Unfortunately, we were not yet done with the rain. After the concert Captain Olsen announced that the port of Alexandria had been closed because of the storm on the Mediterranean, and we could not leave until the port authorities opened it again. STALLED IN ALEXANDRIA, AND THEN ON TO CORFU In the morning, we discovered that the port was still closed and that the low pressure area causing the problem was still lying directly athwart our path to the western coast of Greece. Less sturdy souls might have been wondering how close we were to Turkey·s Mount Ararat, should we find ourselves in need of a mountain to anchor our ship. We would not be able to move until the low pressure moved east. Meanwhile, our next shore visit in Greece had been canceled because of time constraints. From the dining room window, the sea looked calm. The line of ships on the horizon waiting to enter the Suez Canal seemed undisturbed, just as it had looked on the previous day, before the lightning arrived. We still don·t know if our problems were of historic proportions, but we had never been delayed that way at sea before. In all, we 28
Keith Maynard. some of the performers seriously talented in portions they chose to present. The first part presented a singer from London·s West End. after our four days in Venice. Our new schedule made us miss our stop at Katakolon. but our ship is larger. Wearing ridiculous costumes (huge balloons under the women·s dresses to enlarge their breasts. That was followed by the crew·s talent show. but it was 29 . Extra entertainment was laid on in the ship·s theater to ease the regret for what we had missed. augmented crotches for the men). prominently displayed over his crotch. The Fred Olson ship Boudicca that had been tied up on the neighboring quay. who sang songs she had performed in musicals on shore. and the captain chose--as Cunard captains do--to be cautious about the safety of her ship. As part of the finale the ship·s cruise director. sign of a novice driver. and left more than 24 hours later than our schedule had called for. The next day.spent more than 36 hours in the port of Alexandria. slipped away before midnight. defying the port authorities. November 16. was a day at sea. but we expected to get there on the next leg of our journey. The show was not for children. came on stage wearing a blond wig on his head and a large red letter L. they banged and grabbed each other suggestively. and then a hilarious ending in which seven staff members sang about what they would be doing if they were not at sea. Greece.
30 . it mimics the building style of Pompeii.very funny. where we chose a tour that took us out into the countryside. It features several styles of statuary from fake classical to more recent styled depictions of figures from Greek mythology. Built at the end of the 19th century for the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Standing at the top of a hill. it is now listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. and surrounded by gardens and statues of Achilles and other figures of Greek mythology. Our bus stopped first at the Achilleion Palace in the village of Gastouri. We docked next at Greek island of CORFU.
a building that is more of a Manor House than a palace.000 year old olive tree that has been continually cut down and keeps growing upward from the stump (apparently a habit with olive trees. overlooking the bay and the International Airport. So the granddaughter of King George V of Great Britain married the grandson of King George I of Greece. having been replaced by a communist regime that was then replaced by the present parliamentary system. a facility so small that its runway 31 . The Greek royal family is no longer in power.Not far away. is surrounded by the less formal gardens of a public park. which are in that way nearly immortal). Bon Repose. Pink cyclamen bloomed beside the walkways and there is also a 1. We stopped for a snack in a hillside taverna. Bon Repose is the house where Britain·s Prince Phillip was born. Classical statues stand on the grounds and invite entry into the interior.
than we were likely to have found in a taverna in downtown Corfu. along with lovely reliquaries. Our tour bus dropped us outside the Pile or western gate. cabinets. Jacques and chocolate mousse. various abandoned houses and farms still remain in their shattered and burned states. we think. a walled city on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic. The collection also includes medieval pharmacy counters.extends out over the water. we visited the Franciscan Monastery. still exists in the monastery·s cloister. a better and certainly cheaper meal. and equipment. with landing lights on pilings above the water·s surface. Most of that damage has been repaired within the one and a quarter miles inside of the city wall. Outside the wall. 32 . where an operating pharmacy. Inside. the situation is quite different. This building was bombed. but fortunately not with the phosphorus bombs that caused the fires that destroyed so many other town buildings. including some containing bones of St. There. CROATIA Dubrovnik. where we were served Coquille St. the city·s patron saint. was heavily bombed by Serbian troops during the war of 1991-1992. first founded in the Middle Ages. We chose to return to the ship for lunch. Blaise. DUBROVNIK.
Next. The side aisles boast ornate altars in inlaid marble of various hues and colorful. It seeks to assure visiting merchants that the shopkeepers and weavers of the city will provide accurate measurement of their products. a room to the left of the main altar. built on the site of earlier churches that had been destroyed. we visited the Cathedral. The most recent building is very severe in architectural style. so it was the most crowded place in the small area. is filled with hundreds of elaborate reliquaries made of gold and silver and studded with jewels. 33 . traditional religious paintings. The importance of trade to the early city is shown by the meter measure engraved at the base of a statue of Rolande in front of the Sponza Palace. The Treasury. Street performers gather there as well. Because it was near the main gate and provided water for the town. where the Sponza Palace remains as one of the few places to withstand the earthquake of 1667. it was from the beginning and remains a gathering place for the townspeople and visitors. but inside there are incongruous examples of Baroque features. We wandered along the Placa (main street) to the trading center near the city·s east gate.In front of the Monastery there is an octagonal covered fountain dating to medieval times.
and the only one not looking up at the ascending Mary. is a triptych painting in the school of Titian. He is the central figure of a group on the ground. He is. in which Titian himself is depicted as a participant in the Ascension. instead. an unadorned marble slab.Behind the austere main altar. The 34 . looking down at his own tomb. Mother of Christ.
Many of these properties have not been reconstructed and remain as a visual reminder of the war.painting--like the contemporary Stations of the Cross on the aisle pillars--is unframed and seems itself to be floating in air. it is raked aside and the pot is placed on the heated surface. Many of the residents of that area emigrated and left damaged homes and farms behind. our waiter on the ship. First a charcoal fire is lit in a large tray. Then. Away from the city. ´To die for. the menu consisted of chicken noodle soup.µ he said. in a garden by the water. and a handmade table cloth featuring ribbon work and crochet. who is from Dubrovnik. Peka is the dish raved about by Alan. and peka. Because of the value of the Titian painting. this part of the Cathedral may not be photographed by tourists. outside the walls. but the guide book sold by ladies of the church is well illustrated. we boarded our bus for a trip farther down the coast. destruction remaining from the 1991-1992 war is more apparent. Thirty kilometers to the south we visited a country restaurant by an old mill on a flowing stream. When the charcoal is hot. Potatoes and 35 . There we lunched. green salad. The dish is cooked in a deep metal pan with a domed lid. Given free time after the visit to the Cathedral we walked to a market area where we purchased an alarm clock (made in China) for our stateroom.
hot peppers. and the meal is served with a relish called Ajvar (Iver). back to the ship so we could sample some with our beef in the Princess Grille. In Alan·s favorite restaurant in Dubrovnik. and other vegetables. AT SEA APPROACHING VENICE We awoke to dense fog and the fog horn blaring every few minutes to warn away smaller craft as the ship continued toward Venice. we left the winding road to go more directly down to the coastal town of Cavtat. with the result that the meat juices permeate the potatoes and the meat itself is fully cooked. On the way back. it is now popular with celebrity yacht owners. The food is left to cook in this manner for two or three hours. containing a marina and palm-lined avenues. which would be the end of the 36 . built on the site of the Roman settlement of Epidaurus. Alan brought several bottles of ajvar. It proved to be a nice alternative to the English mustard and horseradish usually offered on Cunard ships. varying from mild to super-hot. After a brief walk in the shopping area. The domed lid is placed on top and hot coals are piled on the top. Peka is served with wine or beer.meat--usually veal and lamb--are placed in the pot. a combination of eggplant. A quaint place. an octopus tops the meat. we returned to Dubrovnik and boarded our ship. Venice was to be our next stop.
At first it was expected that we would arrive a few hours late. which we had enjoyed in the past. TRIESTE Trieste was chosen as our substitute stop. with a little water to 37 . see other sites we knew well. and discover new ones. Many passengers. We were being rerouted to Trieste. but the time of arrival kept being pushed back until at about 4:30 the Captain announced that the port of Venice was closed. get back to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. This development created major complications for our tablemates from Yorkshire and Atlanta. including our tablemates would be leaving the ship and another new group would come aboard. who had booked flights home from Venice and had suddenly to scramble to make other arrangements. further east on the Italian coast. The fog continued. We had only the disappointment of missing four days in Venice. By dawn we had tied up at a heavily industrial pier where the view from our balcony was mostly of scaffolding. where we had expected to do some Christmas shopping. The ship·s failed stop on this occasion also greatly complicated the lives of the many new passengers who had expected to come on board in Venice.first part of our voyage. where he and his wife had begun their train journey to reach the ship. One German passenger we met later reported that the fog extended to Stuttgart.
with ornate facades. we went on shore for a short walk. dogs of every size and breed. Many of the buildings were impressive. and the small ones sporting colorful sweaters and bows on their heads. As soon as it seemed practical.our right. had been diverted from Venice). and surrounding areas. all on leashes. not much was open except for flea markets selling used and hand-crafted items. Because it was a Sunday morning. too. Very soon. and nearby statuary. 38 . Small children were also out walking with their parents. pillars. Everyone in the neighborhood seemed to be exercising their dogs. the stock market street. the Captain announced that we would be backing out and coming in on the other side to make room for a gigantic Costa cruise ship that was arriving (probably it. where we explored the Piazza Unita d¶Italia.
reservations only. It features leather-banqueted booths and large windows that. and the library and shops are closed. extra-charge venue off the Grand Lobby on Deck 2. The food was fine. At first. even the computer connection wouldn·t work. but we didn·t know it at the time and didn·t find time to return later. but the dining experience we had already paid for in the Princess Grill was equally good. Meals are the only diversion. due to the low deck. with none of the usual advantages of extra daytime concerts or other entertainment. a master magician. so we never felt the need to splurge at the Todd English. The evening·s entertainment featured Brett Sherwood. have a very close view of the waves and harbor. but we soon sorted that out.There was also a castle in the area. it is very like a day at sea. beef tenderloin. We were discovering that when you arrive in a port you didn·t expect to visit and no interesting tours are available. This is an alternative. We were later to have another complimentary lunch there as a perquisite of our World Club status. and crème caramel). and sat down to an ´In Transit Lunchµ at the Todd English Restaurant (tomato soup. We got back on board just before the gangplank was pulled up to allow the ship·s repositioning. Because we·d seen him perform in the 39 .
and then turning the box upside down and toward the audience to show that it remained empty. he hands a deck of cards with a rubber band around it to someone sitting in the audience. but wildly. flips through it to assure the rest of the people in the audience that it is (or appears to be) an ordinary deck. In one of the best. asking each of them in turn to open the top of the deck with their fingers and look inside to see and memorize the card they have seen. Sherwood had amazed us with his disappearing bird in a cage. at Sherwood·s request. Sherwood also does card tricks. does not open it. by the way. clink. We still find it impossible to figure out how he does them. We can guess. Then he hands the same deck. At the next 40 . center.smaller theater on the QE2. is repeated after its first demonstration with volunteers from the audience holding the cage top and bottom and side to side³and suddenly finding that the cage has disappeared despite their vigilance. On the QE2 he had asked Barbara to participate in a trick. but correctly names the cards that each person has just seen. until he had deposited some forty or fifty coins. we had a pretty good idea what was coming. In the prior show. so we made a point of going down early to secure seats in the second row. The bird in the cage. clink. This time it was George who did the honors. clink. who. his pulling coins out of the air and dropping them into a box. Then he takes the deck back. rubber band still in place. to three or four people in the audience.
All Cunard ships have a ballroom that also doubles as a theater called a Queen·s Room. there are photos of the namesake queen and her husband and children as well as the initials V and A for Victoria and Albert in the stained glass above the dance floor. On the Queen Victoria. having given up on the two we brought with us. but here. George got a book out of the library. Because the collection was heavily British. but perhaps that is because the Royal Court Theatre on this ship is larger and more elaborate than the Theatre on the older vessel. with its two stories of glass covered shelves connected by a wooden spiral staircase such as you might expect to find in an English manor house. After lunch. The smaller venue is not perfect for classical music. There is also a shop where books are on sale. we were able to read some authors we would have found hard to get at Nicola·s Books in Ann Arbor. too. we made a point of telling the Cruise Director. we went to a classical concert in the Queen·s Room. the selection is heavily weighted to British writers. The library on this ship is one of its most striking features. This Queen·s Room is smaller than its counterpart on the QE2. Its acoustics are not great and 41 . how pleased we were to see again one of the acts we had most enjoyed on the QE2. On the QE2 the room featured a bust of the current Queen. The next day at sea.Captain·s gala. Keith.
have had classical ballet tutelage as 42 . This theatre is one of Queen Victoria·s most impressive features. and costume changes amazingly fast. When they are not reserved. Later when we heard Warren Mailley-Smith. they are available on a first-come. We did sit in one for a performance. we were able to appreciate how the Theatre·s excellent equipment enhanced the presentation of occasional performers as well as the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers. but it has superior lighting and special effects equipment. who in the course of a voyage do a half dozen different shows. These boxes seat two to four and can be reserved for an extra charge. a virtuoso pianist playing difficult and long pieces. Obviously these eight young people.the air conditioning is noisy around the perimeter. Still. The resident troupe was especially impressive in the show where they demonstrated dance styles from the Polish mazurka to Cossack folk dancing. we came to appreciate how much better he sounded in the superior acoustics of The Royal Court Theatre. we enjoyed the performance of short. it is not only excellent acoustically. familiar pieces by the string quartet and piano that performed on this occasion. and the view from behind the curved glass is very nice. first-served basis. The costumes were very lavish. There are two tiers of comfortable seats on the main floor and several boxes in the balcony. From any seat in the house.
but because of the delay from the massive rains that kept us in Alexandria for 36 hours. we passed that port in order to get back on schedule in Corfu. the site of the original Olympic Games. Katakolon is situated in the western Peloponnesus. we were given another chance and booked a tour to what proved to be a very interesting place. because the ship was moving quite markedly while pirouettes and somersaults were being executed. Recent excavations at the site and the construction of a small but 43 . Nearby are the remains of the Temple of Zeus. on the second half of our voyage. A village of about 600 inhabitants. modern dance. and voice training. KATAKOLON. at the gateway that leads from the Ionian Sea to Olympia. The dance numbers were especially impressive. it was until recently a small fishing community. where the earliest Olympic competitions were held. GREECE. SITE OF THE FIRST OLYMPIC GAMES We had been scheduled to stop in Katakolon after we left Alexandria. Then. It is now Greece·s second busiest cruise port (Piraeus is first).well as folk.
µ During the thirty or forty minute drive to the site. pretending to be a coach. a woman disguised herself in a toga. The fifth was called ´Vintage Greece--Olives and Wine. Instead. She told us. and the history of the Olympic Games. what we would see when we got to the museum. however. but the judges spared her life because she was related to so 44 . boxing. there were five tours offered. she became so excited she ran onto the field to embrace him. four of them having to do in some way with the Olympics. When he was declared the winner of those games. but her toga fell away from her shoulders. No women were allowed. in these early days. There was only one winner. and cafes designed primarily for visitors. The competitors were all nude and all men. which usually has an assortment of shops. that the first games featured running. whose name was the inscribed in marble. to watch her son compete. jumping.very fine archeological museum have created a large tourist trade. our local tour guide lectured (in very good English) on the small towns and landscapes along the way. At Cunard tour stops. restaurants. and discus throwing. revealing a bosom that was not a man·s. for example. however. it is generally possible to walk off the ship and stroll around the town.µ We had chosen ´Olympia Museum and Folkloric Show. Few people did this here. Once. The penalty for this was supposed to be death.
completed in 1975. The two major exhibits. with a dozen display places. His head is perfectly preserved--even his classic nose is unharmed. who is shown carrying the infant Dionysus to the Nymphs. weapons. 45 .many Olympic champions. can be seen from all angles. well-lit. and uncrowded building. in a classically simple. Kallipateira. was then inscribed on the stele with those of her winning relatives. The museum. is small. This is particularly helpful with Hermes. painted terracotta. Within it. the statuary. and small carvings can be seen without obstruction. often with natural light. Her name. statues of Hermes and Nike (each a little over seven feet high).
C. She is clearly running to award the victors· wreath to the champion athletes. the original 46 . but the rest of his torso and is unharmed. It was carved in the 4th century B. Although an image of the great statue of Zeus. probably by Praxiteles. to whom the complex is dedicated. The Nike is broken in several places. is displayed.. Her face is gone and parts of her arms have been replaced by iron rods.The statue has lost its right arm (which probably held a bunch of grapes) and part of a leg.
preserved at the site.no longer exists. tzatziki. England. gold. where we were served spanakopita. but of wood. the flame that dominates all Olympic venues is kindled with a parabolic mirror that focuses the sun·s rays on the altar of Hera. From Olympia. In modern times. the statue was made not of marble. feta. 47 . Distinguished at one time as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. it was destroyed by fire. runners take the torch containing the sun·s fire in relay. olive oil and bread. which in 2012 will be London. and then to the site of the current competition. a short bus ride took us to a hillside building called Tourist Club. first to Athens. and after its removal to Byzantium. After the visit to the museum and a stop at the roadside stand selling Olympic Games memorabilia. and wax.
kicking and flips. The four showed several kinds of line dances. wine. George captured her picture--she was clearly the star among the audience participants. they invited audience participation. Then they changed to fisherman outfits. Barbara volunteered. The women began with long black skirts and head scarves. where we were hustled aboard so she could get underway. Of course she had the advantage of learning Greek folk-dancing as a teenager in the heavily ethnic neighborhood where she went to high school in Cleveland. and ouzo.olives and oranges. and then they. Finally. and got to dance with the lead dancer. Ohio. changed to pants and fishermen·s hats. The weather was so warm. We enjoyed the food and dancing so much that we were late getting back to the ship. that 48 . and then switched to athletic feats. After the meal we were treated to a folkloristic dance show performed by two blond women and two black-haired men. too. At first the two men wore the traditional white skirts with 400 pleats to commemorate the 400 years of Turkish domination.
books and gifts from Harrod·s. and bridge playing. such as the Golden Lion Pub. but with the one on our deck out of order. clothing. with no port stops. movies. A day at sea is also a good time to use the launderette. and concerts. Other possibilities include lessons in fencing. reading. a table for six facing forward on the starboard side. with big windows all around. we ended by sending khaki trousers and underwear to the ship·s laundry. a feature of all Cunard ships. live stage shows. TWO DAYS AT SEA. dance. On this second part of our trip we continued in the best seats for eating in the Princess Grille. are filled with eating.for the first time of this voyage. the famous London department store. we were able to watch from our balcony as the ship backed out of the lovely harbor of Katakolon. There are lectures--unfortunately soporific for the most part. NOVEMBER 24 AND 25 Days at sea. A deck full of shops sell jewelry. so that we would have enough clean clothes to last until we landed in Fort Lauderdale. cosmetics and perfumes. where pub lunches are available for those who like fish and chips with mushy peas and Plowman·s lunches with Branston pickle. A lot of people hang out in the many bars. Our new tablemates Hella Buch (born and educated in 49 .
The pianist. Carol and Steve from Buffalo. malfeasance. It seems odd that a businessman who can regale you with stories of guile. we enjoyed talking sometimes about the good old days there and what remains. wise and companionable. His performance in the Queen·s room was fine. and stupidity among his colleagues can still be convinced that the best candidate for public office is a person with business experience. whose Christmas concert is scheduled for the Royal Albert Hall in London. and the other solo piano--in the Queen·s Room. GIBRALTAR 50 . Because Ron was born in Ann Arbor. they took a lot of their meals there or in the Todd English Restaurant. Warren MailleySmith. but a later concert in the Royal Court Theatre was even better. and what has been lost. and the floor seating not very well suited for seeing or listening. what has been added. and talks knowledgeably and pleasantly about the ins and outs of merchandising. is a promising young performer. were retired school teachers. Since their son was traveling with them. though we find the acoustics in that room poor. but eating in the Britannia dining room. The other two diners at our table. has lived in Japan.Germany) and her husband Ron were intelligent and witty. In these two days we attended two fine afternoon concerts--one piano and string quartet. He became a K-Mart executive.
Instead. This time we would stop. with its towering rock. and reaching back to the earliest Greek and Roman times. and a 5. And Gibraltar. What we found was not simply a big rock with a narrow shoreline. a long road and walkway into town.At the Strait of Gibraltar the Mediterranean Sea narrows dramatically before it enters the wide Atlantic Ocean. bringing Rome to Great Britain. before railroads and automobiles and airplanes. a place that deserves attention.000 foot airport 51 . it could almost be said that landscape east of the rock contained all the world there was. going north or south from the Straits. This same narrowing brings Europe and Africa within sight of one another. with berths for many ships. In the many centuries of civilized human existence before the building of the Suez Canal. and opening trade between Europe and Africa. we docked far from shore and looked across a busy seaport. We had passed it on sea voyages before. they hugged the shore. When the first ships (well before Columbus) left Europe to explore the wider world. looks still like one of earth·s giant markers. keeping the land in sight. Sailors still feared the whirlpools and sea monsters that might beset them on the open seas or the possibility of falling off the edge of the earth if they ventured out of sight of land.
we walked down to St. There we found a souvenir shop. a road runs across the middle of this runway (air traffic controllers can stop the road traffic). a concession to the steep.µ Our tour was done in a much smaller vehicle than we had become accustomed to. makes it even now the most important shipping nexus in this part of the world. We had selected a tour called ´Secrets of the Rock. From the top. with many freighters going and coming and many others standing empty while they awaited orders for what cargo they should pick up and where they should take it. even after so many battles and occupations. and it abuts a soccer field and a cemetery. All the new condos and shopping areas are also in this area. shaking as it went. a café. seating perhaps twenty passengers instead of forty. and a grand view over the shipping lanes below. Beyond it lie the old walls of the city. and winding roads we would travel on. This new Gibraltar was made possible by thirty years of massive dredging and filling. The ancient geographically strategic location.runway where jet airliners and smaller airplanes regularly land and take off. and within them the Rock still looms against the sky. Our first stop was for a transfer to the cable car that took us in three stages to the top of the rock. narrow. passing more and more of the tailless monkeys properly 52 . Curiously. Michael·s Cave.
53 . we saw none that seemed very threatening. vaulted sometimes to peoples· heads and shoulders and then jumped quickly onward. we should hide them because the monkeys might snatch them.called Barbary Macaques (but often called apes. although they leaped back and forth over our heads. though they are not apes). for they are wild animals. In fact. but at least one woman in our group suddenly looked pregnant as a result of the bundle hidden under her coat. thinking there could be food in them. If we were carrying bags. landed on the tops of cars that were sometimes on the road we walked (drivers generally had sense enough to keep the windows closed). We should not attempt to feed them. Not everyone listened. We were warned again and again to be careful with them.
first constructed during the war between England and Spain at the end of the 18th century. An amphitheater has been constructed there to accommodate several hundred spectators. At one spot there is a natural stage where concerts and ballets are presented in summertime. From the caves our bus took us across the island to the Siege Tunnels.St. it became important to enlarge these tunnels and to add gun ports and windows for ventilation. There were very impressive stalactites and stalagmites and enough dripping to suggest that they are still being formed. This area was supposed to have been the last home of the Neanderthals (although the skull tucked into a niche along the path was almost certainly fake). 54 . When the British developed cannon that could shoot down from the heights onto Spanish attackers below. Michael·s Cave is said to have been inhabited since prehistoric times.
They were made to house soldiers in the tunnels to resist a Nazi seizure. All of the blasting was done by gunpowder since this was prior to the invention of dynamite and TNT.There were also powder magazines cut into the inner walls. In some parts of the 18th century tunnels. George had to duck his head to avoid bumping into the jagged rock ceilings. but the extensions built by Canadian miners and others during World War II were much more spacious. because the only illumination was by open torches. Stringing the fuses for gunpowder in these tunnels was very dangerous. but the Nazis never got there. The rock that was removed during these excavations was used to fill in 55 .
land to support the airport runway, which at that time ended where the road crosses it today. German and Italian prisoners of war supplied the labor. FUNCHAL, MADEIRA Madeira lies in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Morocco and north of the Canary Islands. It is a beautiful island that from the angle of our southeastern approach threw its steep, green, wooded mountains and rocky hillsides upward into the clouds. This landscape continued for many miles before we reached Funchal and tied up in Portugal·s busiest harbor after Lisbon. Founded in 1421, Funchal quite early became an important trading port. Christopher Columbus lived there in 1478, well before his discovery of America, and today a replica of his ship, the Santa Maria, sails on cruises along the shore (in fact, when Columbus finally sailed, it was under the flag of Spain, Portugal having refused to support him). By the time he left he had accumulated many years of sailing in the Atlantic Ocean, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and from that experience he perhaps acquired the courage to venture still further. Tied up in port in Funchal, we looked across a wide harbor, busy with cruise ships coming and going. Nearby was a jetty that holds many sailboats. Four large catamarans sat at 56
anchor nearby. The beach was not in use--perhaps because it was late November (the temperature was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and perhaps because the sand is the black color that suggests an ancient volcanic deposit. The trees high up on the hills are mostly pines. The city rises up to meet them as a study in white and red, white for the sides of the buildings, red for their tiled roofs. We chose a tour called ´Colours of Madeira.µ Among the other possibilities were ´Famous Toboggan Rideµ (skidding down a steep track in a wicker basket, similar to a ride we had taken in Tenerife on an earlier cruise), ´Evening with Folkloreµ (reminiscent of the folk dancing at Katakolon), and ´Drive a Vintage Carµ (interesting, but not for us, particularly when we considered the perils of navigating the steep and narrow roads with a manual transmission and no power steering). Our tour bus was smaller than we had become accustomed to at our other stops, probably as a concession to the driving hazards. After boarding it on the pier, we headed immediately for the top of the island, passing through five tunnels on the way. These were either cut through the sides of mountains or situated at the edges, where it would be difficult to support a conventional road. Our ears popped on the way up and when we reached the top we were among clouds and about a mile above the sea. 57
From there we descended a short way to reach a flat area with a small town that was our destination. There we visited a wicker factory with not many workers (wicker work may be seasonal) but multi-level work areas and showrooms with wicker chairs, tables, baskets of all sizes, and even a wicker sailboat (probably for show, not for sale). We did the tour, walked briefly through the town square and photographed the local chapel of Saint Joseph with its traditional Portuguese blue and white ceramic trim before heading down again.
Back in Funchal we visited an embroidery factory that was clearly a cottage industry, with a few people showing us the different patterns and techniques, but with most of the work done by women in their own homes. The samples on 58
tables and on the walls were beautiful but, because they were handmade, they were hugely expensive. A tablecloth to cover our dining room table would have cost $2,000. From the factory, we walked to the farmers· market, a municipal building with three stories surrounding a large atrium with flowers and trees in the middle, and another story lower down that housed a very large fish market. After walking back to the embroidery factory, we met the bus, and were driven to the Blandy Cave, a wine merchant, where we sampled Madeira (a fortified wine). We were each served a sample in a small snifter-type glass. After one small sip, Barbara decided it was not for her. George drank hers and his, but didn·t ask for more. From there it was back to the ship and on to the next port. ACROSS THE ATLANTIC TO BERMUDA By December first, our third day at sea, we began to understand that crossing the Atlantic in winter is not necessarily a bad idea. Earlier portions of our trip had frequently been cold, and sometimes very cold. It was a mistake to have expected that the ocean would suddenly be even colder. In fact, with generally good weather it was mostly quite warm, and frequently the air temperature rose to between 60 and 75 degrees at noontime. In the morning, 59
we read and sunned ourselves on deck. Twice at noontime we ate outdoors in a courtyard shaded from the wind, under umbrellas to protect us from the sun, with a gurgling fountain nearby, and served by our usual waiters on this stage of the voyage, Alan and Pasha, who by now can anticipate most of our wishes. On the tables, our new placemats were inscribed with a quotation from Sir Francis Drake, saying, in effect, ´Life on shore can be good, but life at sea is better.µ After four days at sea, we reached Bermuda, which consists of 138 volcanic islands (capped with limestone). Seven of them are now linked by bridges to form a large and frequently beautiful set of communities. The whole is a British Overseas Territory, with a population of close to 70,000.
The first settling was accidental. Spanish sailors saw the islands in 1503, but passed them by. They were more interested in the wonders of the new world a little further on. Not until a century later did the first English people arrive, and then only as the result of a shipwreck. Fifty members of the crew and colonists from an English ship were driven by storm onto the rocks in 1609. Shakespeare is supposed to have been inspired by this accident to write ´The Tempest.µ The mystery and magic of ´The Bermuda 60
´Triangleµ had begun. Despite the bright rainbow over the Heritage Wharf, our ship encountered trouble in getting to the dock because of high winds and choppy seas. The same conditions forced the cancellation of the tour we had signed up for, ´Bermuda Glass Bottom Boat.µ In its place we accepted ´South Shore Scenery and Shopping,µ which proved a lot more interesting then it sounded.
What we discovered was a landscape of extraordinary beauty. We traveled in a van that carried six passengers, over narrow, winding roads, bordered by green or flowering hedges, shaded by palm trees, and Norfolk Island Pines, with spectacular views of beaches, sailboat and power boat marinas, golf courses, parks, hotels, country clubs, and homes, sometimes small and crowded, sometimes mansions with huge and landscaped grounds. We glimpsed the palatial residence of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, but theirs may not have been the most magnificent house in Bermuda. Prices? They ranged from hundreds of thousands of dollars into many millions. There were smaller houses, as well. These are sometimes only one story, with one or two bedrooms, a small living room, a smaller kitchen and bath, and almost no yard. 61
More often, however, the small houses consist of two stories, with the owner living on the top story, and the bottom a rental house. How do poor people manage? That didn·t seem clear, but somehow they get along. One of the most interesting structures we saw was a small chapel, still in use, that dates back to the 17th century. The ceiling was supported by rough hewn logs of Bermuda cedar. Some of the most expensive houses had exterior woodwork of the same tree, but polished to a high sheen. All of these buildings have rain collecting roofs that send the runoff into water tanks or cisterns, because the island is completely dependent on rain water. The brightlycolored exteriors are another distinctive feature. Most choose soft shades, but we saw royal purple, hot pink, turquoise, and burnt orange. As our driver Robert observed, you have to wonder if the paint store had some of those colors on sale. Again, as at Gibraltar there was a cannon situated to fire from a height to repel attackers arriving by sea below, and we were reminded again that ´The sun never sets on the Union Jack.µ
Perhaps of more contemporary interest was the ´smallest drawbridge in the worldµ situated to interrupt vehicular traffic to allow the tall masts of the many local yachts to pass through.
for the time we found to at least get our feet wet at a beach with reasonably warm turquoise water. 64 . South Carolina had been scrubbed.THE BAHAMAS Something had gone wrong with the ship·s plans for the Bahamas. We saw a pleasant island. much like the ones we had seen in Bermuda. they had often made day trips there for cheap shopping and fishing. Perhaps the main point was that we needed to pass some time before going to Fort Lauderdale. On this occasion there were three other ships³all bigger than ours³in port. We were thankful. Nassau is a frequent stop for cruise ships. nevertheless. Because the planned stop in Charleston. government buildings. crowded tour buses took varied routes to avoid getting in each others· way. we were to visit Nassau instead. and our tablemates Ron and Hella assured us that from their home in South Florida. and houses of varied colors. and the small. churches. where we would need to go through United States Customs before going ashore. the tours from our ship were hastily put together. For reasons that were not clear to us.
we were well prepared to go through Passport and Customs procedures. 65 . and answer questions that might arise (none did). We had a long wait until our afternoon plane. have our forms inspected. in order to have them transported to the customs area where we would pick them up. and the fast food venues were not particularly appealing. Buses to take two thousand passengers to two different airports³Miami and Fort Lauderdale³were lined up right outside and took us and our luggage to the proper places with a minimum of confusion.FLIGHT HOME Because the ship had supplied passengers with Customs forms well in advance of docking. We had packed and placed our luggage bags outside our stateroom the evening before.
66 . and grandchildren Aidan and Eliza to our arrival time. Because Air Canada and Delta shared the same gate wing.but we had had a good breakfast on the ship before disembarking. Finally our own plane was called and we boarded and headed for home. so we were content to sit in the lounge and people watch. and were able to use our cell phone for the first time to alert our daughter Suzanne. we saw a lot of our fellow passengers getting onto two crowded planes to Toronto.
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