Saturday, October 26, 2013

Med Cruise: Athens, Part 1

Ok, I'm back and ready to tackle the first half of the pictures from Athens.  The cruise port is actually Piraeus, but it's more nuance than anything else since there's no empty space between Piraeus and Athens so it just looks like one big city.  So here's what the port looks like:

We got off the ship pretty early in the morning, hopped on a bus to Athens, and then a subway, and then started hoofing it for the Acropolis.

Lee found this to take pictures of on the way.

And there it is!  They're in the middle of a huge restoration project, hence the crane.  And also it's Europe, there are cranes everywhere (especially Italy).

Mosaic floor we apparently saw somewhere on the way up to the top of the Acropolis.

I think that's near the Propylaea, the entrance to the Acropolis.  I could be wrong.

Theater of Dionysus, which is on the side of the Acropolis hill.

I don't know what this is called, it's off to the southeast of the Acropolis a good bit away and it's driving me bonkers that I can't figure out what it is and I wanted to go there but we didn't have time.  I keep wanting to say Areopagus but I looked at the picture and that's definitely not it.  I think when we were there Lee had a brochure about the Acropolis and it said this had something to do with nymphs, but now I can't find that brochure anywhere.

And this is what the Acropolis looks like on any given day in the summertime:  hordes of people.

Looking up from the Propylaea.

Proof that we were there!

Pretty sure this is a corner of the Erechtheion, a temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.  Both gods wanted to be the patron of Athens, so they had a contest:  each gave a gift to the city and the citizens voted.  Athena gave them the olive tree, while Poseidon struck his trident to the rock and gave them a saltwater spring.  The citizens voted for Athena since the olive tree was much more useful than saltwater, and that's how Athens got its name.

Cool perspective shot by Lee.  You can see the much lighter colored stone in the upper left corner--part of the current Acropolis restoration project is to replace damaged/missing bits of marble with new marble quarried from the same site as the ancient stone.  On the one hand, it's really awesome to see these ancient buildings looking closer to the way they did in antiquity, but on the other hand, they are adding new material, especially on the Parthenon.  However, Wikipedia says that the restoration efforts (much of which has to be done to correct previous restoration efforts) are designed to be completely reversible if they want to take the new stone out at some point.

There's a wider shot of the Erechtheion, along with my favorite bit:

The porch of the Caryatids.  I love those, they're gorgeous!  They're also fakes.  The REAL Caryatids are in the Acropolis Museum, so these are exact replicas.  I can't complain though--the originals are protected in a museum and getting cleaned up all pretty, while the replicas are exposed to the elements and you wouldn't know they were fakes just looking at them.

Yes, the sky really was that blue.

More shots of the Caryatids because I love them.  I want some Caryatids in my house.  Of course, my house isn't large or grand enough to need columns anywhere, but these would look awesome in my house...and possibly freak out the doglets.  Teehee!

I just realized that the way I divided up the pictures in half, I haven't gotten to *any* Parthenon pictures yet.  Guess you'll just have to wait till next time to see those!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Lee thought I was magical on Friday morning, when he got up before I did and yet I still had an anniversary blog post up and ready.  Then I had to tell him that I scheduled it the night before : )

So we spent the weekend on a road trip to Liverpool!  The Med cruise was our anniversary present to ourselves, but we still wanted to do something ON our anniversary weekend and since I'm a Beatles fan Lee said okay when I suggested Liverpool.  Now, I'm not one of those crazy people who wants to have four sons and name them John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but I do have quite a bit of Beatles music on my iPod (and I might be filling in some gaps buying some music on iTunes...sorry sweetie).  So we picked a hotel at the Albert Dock that was right next to this:

AWE. SOME.  I wonder how Paul and Ringo feel about being in a museum?  It was set up chronologically, so it starts out with how the Fab 4 all grew up in Liverpool and how they first met.

"Strawberry Fields Forever" is the most-played song on my iPod, though occasionally it gets bumped by the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian".  The Bangles are my favorite band, and they cite the Beatles as a major influence on their music.  Anyway, as a kid, John used to steal his aunt's clotheslines to build a tree house Fortress of Solitude in the backyard, so that's what this lyric refers to.

The museum went on to show the Cavern Club, where they played over 200 shows before they hit the big time with "Love Me Do".  The original Cavern Club got bulldozed in the '70s, but there's a replica of it close to the original site (which we saw later).  The museum audioguide talked about how the original Cavern Club stank like crazy because there was no ventilation, and I swear the guy who walked into that part of the museum right in front of me tried to lend the museum exhibit some verisimilitude (translation:  I'm pretty sure he passed gas right in front of me.  Pee-yooo!)

They had a replica of the Abbey Road studio where the Beatles recorded quite a few songs, and a wall mural of the Abbey Road album cover art.

I thought this was hilarious.  Boys, be a hit!

The Eleanor Rigby gravestone was a prop in one of their movies.  I have not seen any of the Beatles movies so I don't remember which one it was.

They had a replica of the Yellow Submarine with this mural near it.  Groovy!

I don't know what an Uggle Guggle Gauge is, but it sounds fun.

The museum takes you up to 1970, when the Beatles officially disbanded, and then at the very end there are four small sections that highlight each Beatle's solo career post-Beatles.

Proof that not all of our selfies come out perfectly; we're not in focus but you can kinda see Ringo's autograph behind us.

There's the autograph of Mom's favorite Beatle--Paul.

George had several snort-laugh-inducing quotes.

Another one:  "As far as I'm concerned, there will be no Beatles reunion so long as John Lennon remains dead."

So after we finished the Beatles Experience, we ate a quick bite in Starbucks--the exit of the museum is in a Starbucks.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Then you go upstairs to the obligatory Beatles shop.

You could rent the Yellow Submarine apartment boat, which is docked between the Titanic and the Joker's houseboat.

We did the Magical Mystery Tour in the afternoon.  The weather was very kind to us; it started out kind of cloudy, but was sunny and gorgeous for a good part of the tour, and didn't start pouring down rain until we were through with the tour.  Yay!

Ringo's childhood home is down the street to the right here.  Sorry it's crooked, but a.) I took it and b.) I took it from a moving bus.  The pub here was pictured on Ringo's first solo album after the Beatles breakup.

I was so excited to have my picture taken on Penny Lane, I squeed.  Lee laughed.  (FYI, in case you do not speak Christy, a "squee" is akin to a dolphin squeal of excitement.  I don't want you to think I wet my pants.)

Paul was a choir boy in this church at the end of Penny Lane.

Look, it's the shelter in the middle of the roundabout!  The pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray must have been on a coffee break.  Our tour guide, Paul (not *that* Paul, but he assured us it is his real name) told us that work just started to turn that building on the roundabout into a cafe.

This is where the barber shaves another customer!  I also took a pic of the bank on the corner but it wasn't anything fabulous so you'll have to take my word for it that there is a bank on the corner.

George's childhood home is one of those doors behind the minivan.

That building in the back (the orangey one) is the building where John Lennon first met Paul McCartney.

Me in front of Strawberry Field!  I squeed again.  Lee laughed again.  That sign back there says that you can order your very own replica Strawberry Field gates; let me know if you want that email address.  FYI:  Strawberry Field was a children's home run by the Salvation Army.  John added the S when he wrote the song, but the real place is only one field.

Graffiti to the right of the Strawberry Field gate.  They come through periodically and clean it all off, but I liked that last bit, think "She Loves You" and you know you shoooooooulllld be GLAAAAAAAAAD!

John Lennon grew up in this house in the care of his aunt and uncle.  John's dad left the family when John was a wee lad, and Paul-the-tour-guide said it was a different thing to be a single mum in the 1940s and 50s, so she gave John to her sister Mimi to raise.  Aunt Mimi often told John that he'd never make a living with his guitar; when the Beatles hit it big, John had the quote printed and framed and gave it to Mimi as a boy-I-showed-you.

Childhood home of Paul McCartney, and where many of the Beatles' early songs were written.  Paul's dad had had a jazz band in the '30s, so he was much more supportive of a musical career for Paul than Aunt Mimi was for John, and so they wrote a lot of songs at Paul's house.  This one doesn't have the blue plaque because to get one of those in England, you have to have been dead for at least 20 years or have passed the 100th anniversary of your birth.  John was murdered in 1980, so he has a plaque at his house, but Paul is still with us and he's not 100 yet.  The National Trust now owns both of these houses (Yoko bought John's and gave it to the National Trust a while back; NT bought Paul's when it came up for sale even though usually they stick to centuries-old manor houses and castles), but people still live in the houses to either side of them.  Bet they get kind of tired of tourists.

Who's that handsome devil?

There's the shelter in the middle of the roundabout from the other side, and you can see the barber shop to the right.

At the end of the tour, we went to the replica Cavern Club for just a few minutes.

This guy is not an Oompa-Loompa in real life, it's just hard to get good pics in the club with the colored lights.  Anyway, he was performing my favorite George Harrison-penned song, "Here Comes the Sun".  (I lovelovelove "Got My Mind Set On You" but George didn't write that one.)

There's a photo gallery of rare behind-the-scenes Beatles pics further down the dock from where we were staying, so we checked that out too.  Notice the stairs each have the name of a Beatles song on them.

You know you've made it big when you have your portrait done in Jelly Bellies.

Some buildings in downtown Liverpool, right before it started raining cats and dogs.  I took all the Beatles-related photos, but Lee's responsible for all the rest of them in this post.

A beautiful rainbow after it quit raining.

Love the reflections in those photos, great job Lee!