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Thread: Eastern mediterranean cruise tr

  1. #21
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    wow, awesome report and pictures!
    all star movies for 10! jun 15-21. what a nightmare of a vacation.

  2. #22
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    Pat

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. Just love all the pictures.......I sure hope the weather decided to cooperate!

    Keep the report coming!!
    Pamela


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    spring is offline Hey, there is no traffic better than all of us! They need to get a grip!
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbangel View Post
    Your pics are making me think of my trips there. Did they keep shushing people in the Sistine Chapel when you were there? They were more annoying than the people talking.

    Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip.
    Yup, nothing has changed in the Sistine Chapel. I agree, the "shushing" was annoying. I really wish I could have taken pics there, at least without flash, but I understand that these priceless works of art have to be saved at all costs. If cameras were allowed, some "bozo" would use their flash either accidentally or not.
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  4. #24
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    spring is offline Hey, there is no traffic better than all of us! They need to get a grip!
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    Friday, Jan. 30th, we pulled into Izmir, Turkey. It is located on the western coast of Turkey, the second largest port. Istanbul is the only one larger. I was expecting a poor, backwards country. Boy, was I ever surprised! I expected it to be all muslim, but I found out their was a wealth of Christian history in this country. The Blessed Mother, Mary, lived there when she died, plus St. John the Baptist also lived and preached there. St. Paul not only taught there, but is said to have written the Apocalypse there.

    The first thing I noticed was the modern, clean tour buses that were provided for us. In each seat pocket was an ice cold bottle of water and a small bag of gifts. We were welcomed with open arms. I think Turkey has a lot to offer but has not promoted themselves well enough to attract more tourists.

    Our guide spoke clear and fluent English, so much so that I thought he must have been educated in the US. However, he said he never set foot out of the country until 3 years ago. Since then, he has spoken at Universities worldwide, including the US. What a smart guy! I was totally taken off guard when his phone rang and he pulled out an i phone. Too funny!

    The weather was sunny, low to mid 50's, but a little bit breezy - just enough for a light sweater or jacket. The day was starting out much more to my liking. We had a city tour of Izmir, passing by McDonald's golden arches and Coca Cola signs in both English and Arabic. We even went by an Ikea store. The architecture mixed the old with the new, providing a striking contrast.

    Our tour this day was to the ancient city of Ephesus (Efes), a settlement over 3,000 years old and presently being dug out. Although it only was perhaps 10% excavated so far, it appeared to have been a jewel of a city. Back then, it was right on the Mediterranean Sea, but I think it was probably abandoned as the Sea receded. Currently, the water is over 5 miles away!


    As you can see from the above picture, the place was lined with ancient columns, doric, ionic and corinthian. It must have really been something. They had a sewer and water system as evidence by the pipes in the ground, as well as a public toilet system, as pictured below:
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  5. #25
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    The funny thing is, even back then, everyone had to pay to use the public toilets.

    One of the most striking buildings uncovered and reassembled is the library:

    The library was connected to another building, believed to be a brothel, by a tunnel. The joke was that the husband could tell his wife he was going to the library, but sneak off somewhere else. As we made our way past this area, there were even ancient signs directed the men to the brothel, LOL.
    Another striking building excavated was the ampitheater, at which there are still occasional concerts held.

    Elton John was reported to have played there, singing "Candle in the Wind" while the audience held onto lit candles. It must have been incredibly moving.


    Once through Ephesus, we had 30 minutes free time to do what we want. What did we do? Shopped, of course! I managed to pick up the cutest belly dancing outfits for my granddaughters, and got a great price after a great deal of haggling. Pashmina's were also in abundance, as well as a candy called "Turkish Delight," a kind of soft gel fruited cubes coated in powder sugar. I was delighted to have the free shopping time as our tours so far didn't allow time for this. I just couldn't go away and not bring back any baubles, you know!

    We all got back on the bus, only to realize an elderly Asian man was missing. His wife was on board, but there was no sign of him. Plus, he didn't speak or understand English, so perhaps he didn't know the plan. We waited for almost 1/2 hour, but finally had to leave without him. The guide notified Ephesus security and the other bus drivers. The plan was that they would bring him to our next stop once found.

    Our last stop prior to going back to port was at a Carpet Store, where we were served hot apple tea and Turkish pastries, all very good. They put on a show about how Turkish Carpets are made. Obviously, their point was to sell us a carpet or two. That's not why we went on a cruise, but some people did buy a carpet. The prices were good compared to the States. The sad part was, our little Asian man had not yet joined us, but someone had spotted him walking down the hill in Ephesus. Our bus turned back to try to find him. His poor wife looked like she wanted to cry. I'm not sure that she spoke English, either.

    As we were driving back to Ephesus, our guide's i phone suddenly rang informing him that a man fitting his description had been taken by taxi back to the port and would be waiting for us there. Yay! Everyone was really happy about the outcome.

    After we got back to the ship and stowed all our souvies, we went for a walk along the seacoast. The vendors tried to sell their wares to us, but were able to take "no, thank you" for an answer. At one point, we were peacefully walking on a sidewalk when a car suddenly deliberately joined us there. I don't know if he was trying to scare us or what, but I noticed he drove back off and went on his merry way. Very strange.

    Next.....our long trek to Alexandria, Egypt. I was very excited about going there. Would it meet my expectations?
    Last edited by spring; 02-09-2009 at 10:45 AM.
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    Finally, the port I was most interested in was here, after 1-1/2 days at sea. I first realized we had arrived in Alexandria when I noticed a strange, acrid odor coming into our cabin. At first I thought it was smoke, but my DH assured me that it smelled like hydrogen sulfite from the oil refineries in port. We quickly showered, dressed and ate, then ran down with shining eyes to wait for our tour to the pyramids of Giza, a tour of Cairo, and a Nile river cruise.

    With high expectations, we climbed into our bus and met our tour guide, Muhamed, our bus driver, Asaraf, and our ARMED GUARD, Ayyat. Yep, you heard right, all bus tours came equipped with an armed guard. Plus, our bus had a motorcycle escort anytime we were in the city.

    Our bus took off promptly for a 3 hour ride to Giza/Cairo. Once we got out of Alexandria, we saw a lot of farmlands with occasional stores, like this mall:
    [IMG][/IMG]

    After what seemed like "forever," we finally arrived in Giza, where the largest pyramid, that of Cheops (or Khufu) is located, plus those of Khafre and Menkaure. There are also small pyramids which were for each Pharoah's wife or wives.

    The above is the pyramid of Khafre. It still has the top on it, and on the other side (not shown) is some of the limestone rock that made it smooth looking when it was first built.


    The above is the pyramid of Cheops. It used to be the largest, but it lost 9 meters off the top from an earthquake.
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  7. #27
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    More pics:
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Photo of me taken by DH.


    Me and DH in a traditional hat. We were invited to that spot by an Antiquities Police Officer. He told us it would be a great spot for us to take pics. Trusting the police, we climbed up to that spot. The next thing we know, two vendors, better described as "extortionists" grabbed DH's camera and started taking pics of us. While the one guy was wrapping the hat on DH, he was bumping up against his body trying to feel where his money was. DH had a flat pouch under his half-zipped fleece pullover. It was in the 70's, but thank goodness DH wore the pullover. After the two photos, they brought over a camel. Catching on to what was happening (Yeah, the police officer had mysteriously disappeared by this point), I pretende to be very scared of the camel. I made such a ruckous, they had to lead the poor creature away. They then asked for payment. DH reached into his front pocket and pulled out all his Euro's. He had about $4 Euros in coins. They started yelling at us and stating they needed "paper" money. Many of you know that the first paper Euro is a 5. DH told them that was all he had, so one of the men tried to reach down his half-zipped pullover. DH warned him off. Then they turned on me and my small purse. I told them I had no money at all. They got very angry so I mentioned calling the police. DH offered the coins to them again, they refused, so we walked away. There were tons of people around, so there wasn't too much they could do. They fnally accepted the change, but demanded me to give them back a small cheap scarab they had given to me as "a gift."

    After we walked away, we were literally badgered by multiple vendors, which was the case since stepping off the bus. At no time had we been warned by our guide the extent of harrassment we would endure. It spoiled the whole experience. I've been to Mexico and many other countries. Vendors are everywhere, but none can hold a candle to the persistence of the Egyptian ones. While trying to get away from one of them, I almost got run over by a small Egyptian boy galloping on his camel. The whole place was total chaos!

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  8. #28
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    More pics:
    [IMG][/IMG]
    The above was one of the ones taken by the nasty vendors.


    Of course, our granddaughter's brown bear had to be photographed there!


    Most of the people in the background were vendors praying on the tourists. Also, you can just see a few of the many buses that were there.

    Next...........on to the Sphinx! Will the vendors there be less aggressive?
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  9. #29
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    After we got on the bus to drive to the Sphinx, our tour guide finally made mention of the aggressiveness of the vendors. Yeah, too little, too late, we were all thinking. Everyone on the bus had a vendor story. Our guide told us if we wanted a camel ride to see him and he would help us with the negotiations. Apparently, one of the tricks is to set a price for the camel ride, but once you are up on the camel, another price is set, like 40 Euros or more to get back down. The guide told us of one practice of taking the "victim" 20 miles out into the Sahara desert, robbing him, then leaving him out there. Nicccccccceeeeeeeeeee! Not unpredictably, no one on the bus was interested in riding a camel after these stories.

    We arrived at the Sphinx and, this time, we were more prepared for the vendors. They were still aggressive, but we now expected it and could deflect them more easily. One of our best tactics was to stick with another tactic. When they got especially obnoxious, we'd simply start talking amongst ourselves and ignoring the vendors. It worked like a charm. One little boy came up to me selling fake papyrus bookmarks. I told him "no thank you, I don't have any money." It was too dangerous to open your purse. So he said, no money, you can have them as a gift. I said no, but his insisted and wouldn't take them back. Now, when an Egyptian vendor offers you a "gift," it is NEVER free. We all walked away, but a few minutes later he came back and demanded money from me. I told him it was a gift, so it shouldn't cost money. After toying with him a little longer, I handed it back. Thank goodness I didn't open my purse. One guy on our ship opened his wallet to get $2 for a vendor and the vendor reached into his wallet and took all his money. He reflexively smacked her hand and he thinks most, if not all of the money fell to the sand. He crouched to pick it up and called her a thief. She ran off (this woman was about 40yrs old, he said). About 5 minutes later, he found her close to an Antiquities Police Officer. He reported her attempted theft. She didn't deny it but said she wouldn't do it again. The police officer asked if he wanted to press charges, but since he had only ten minutes to get back on the bus, he didn't have time. As he walked away, he saw the police officer beating the woman with a stick. Totally different culture!



    The town was build almost up to the Sphinx. Right behind us was KFC, fondly called "Kentucky Fried Camel" by our tour guide.
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  10. #30
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    bbangel is offline Those of us on the fun coast can party some more!

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    Wow, your guides should have done a better job of protecting you from the "vendors" in Egypt! When I was there we were given a few simple words (like imshi) to say to them and our guide would speak to the more persistant ones and make them go away. Of course we were there for two weeks so had time to get good at it. The strangest hassling I got was on a plane from Luxor to Cairo. The man sitting next to me wanted to send his car for me so we could have lunch at his home in Alexandria. Yikes!
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