Saturday, November 30, 2013

Med Cruise: Santorini, Part 2

I hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving, everyone.  Lee and I went to Karyn and Scott's house; Karyn did the turkey and I did the baking and we both thought the other one had the "hard" job so I think we did it right : )  We ate SO. MUCH. FOOD. on Thursday that I said I didn't want to eat again until Christmas at least, but I have to say that Friday's lunch o' leftovers was AWE.SOME.  Lee already killed off the rest of the apple pie so I may have to make another one for Christmas, but I've got a bit of sweet potato casserole left (YUM) and some pumpkin pie and Mississippi Mud, so yay for leftovers!  The only bad part of this Thanksgiving was that we did not take ANY photos.  Dang.  Mom would have laughed had we gotten a picture of me holding a baby...actually I did hold both of the twins at different times and I haven't broken out into hives yet.  Lee won't touch them.  They're kinda cute when they're not screaming, but I get to hand them right back when that happens.

So here I sit eating leftover bacon cheese muffins for breakfast, which we hadn't had in a long time and we should definitely make more often because they're yummy and pretty easy to make.  And now I'm ready to go with the second bit of Santorini pictures!  Well, starting with Nea Kameni still.


I just love that blue, blue water, isn't it gorgeous?


And speaking of gorgeous ; )  Rawr!  Hey look, he matches the landscape--gray shirt and blue tour sticker!  Almost like he planned it.




Ok, so, that's it for Nea Kameni; we took a bazillion pictures and then hiked back down to our boat:


Ours is the one on the far right, so to get back on our boat we had to climb through the other two boats first which I thought was pretty funny.  After that, we were taken to another small island (sorry, I have no idea which one, maybe it was even just a different spot on Nea Kameni, I don't know) for the opportunity to swim in one of the hot springs.


The sulfur content in the spring turns the water brown, and we were warned that it might discolor swimsuits too.  I didn't go swimming (I'm not a strong swimmer, unlike my waterbaby husband), but Lee did.


We spent maybe a half hour here while nineteen of Mama Hara's "babies" went swimming; the rest of us stayed on the boat and chatted and I took some more pictures.  Afterwards, we got a good laugh--this one guy was wearing light blue swim trunks, and he swam up to the shore where the water is really brown and then sat on one of the rocks there, and it stained his swim trunks so that it looked like he'd had an accident.  And we laughed because potty humor.


I like the reflection in this one.  Anyway, after the swim break, we went back to Santorini and then Lee and I decided to go back to the ship so he could clean up and change out of his swimsuit, and we had lunch on the ship.  Then we took the tender boat back to Santorini and took the cable car up to the top of the island.


It actually goes really fast, and it's a pretty steep ascent, so I took a bunch of pictures in quick succession and flipping through them almost looks like a stop-motion movie.


The other option is to take a donkey ride or else walk up the path, but you walk on the same path the donkeys do and you could smell it from the cable car.  And I felt kinda sad for the poor donkeys dragging fat, lazy tourists up and down the hill all day long.




Here is Fira, up on top of the cliffs.



I think maybe Lee took this shot?  I took all the pics while we were hiking around the volcano, but he took quite a few on Santorini.


I just thought this sign looked really cool : )


And there's the bay with all the cruise ships.  We totally lucked out; our ship was the last one to leave for the day, and since we'd done the hike in the morning we weren't fighting crowds to get on the cable car after lunch--there was no line at all to go up, in fact.  We did have to wait in line to go back down in the cable car, but it wasn't so bad since the other three ships had already departed, and the line moves pretty quickly.


One of the famous Cycladic churches.


And here's another one, off the back side of the island away from the cruise ships where there's a bit of a plain.  We walked around Fira a bit and then rented an ATV and drove out to the other end of the island to Oia, which you'll see next time.  Cheers, peeps!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Med Cruise: Santorini, Part 1

Well folks, we're up to the part of the cruise that Lee and I were looking forward to the most (and the pictures that my mom has been waiting to see)--Santorini, which used to be known as Thera.  Reminder:  click on any photo to see it larger.


The cruise ships anchor in the middle of the bay, which is the underwater caldera of a giant volcano (more on that in a bit).  This was the second port where we booked an excursion, which was a trip to the smaller island of Nea Kameni and hiking around the volcanic crater.


I channeled Mom and took a butt shot : )


Check out the lens flare.  I'm all artsy and stuff.



The black rock terrain and lack of vegetation make it look like it should be in a sci-fi movie set on an alien planet, right?  (OH funny story!  At least, I thought it was funny.  So Saturday was the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who (which Lee still thinks is the weirdest show ever, duh that's why I like it) and after that, there was a live after-party thing on TV.  They did a clip of "Doctor Who by the numbers", like he's had 12 faces we've seen so far, how many times the Ninth Doctor said "Fantastic!" or the Tenth Doctor said "Allons-y!", and my favorite bit, the Doctor has visited 26 planets which resemble a rock quarry on Earth when in reality they filmed them all at ONE rock quarry.  I thought that was really, really funny.)



Soooooo I took a lot of pictures (yep, the pictures on this post are all by ME, not Lee, everyone says what a good photographer Lee is but I'm no slouch either, right?!) and this time I'll have to do three posts to get through them all because I couldn't decide which ones were my favorite.


I like the teeny tiny people on the far side of the crater in this shot.


If Star Trek had had an unlimited budget for location shots, then I think they would have come to Santorini.  Or maybe Hawaii, they have volcanoes there and it's closer to California, but I didn't visit any Hawaiian volcanoes so I don't know what they look like compared to this.  (Another funny story:  one night last week, I had a dream that I was arguing with this woman that I don't like, and then she turned into a Gorn and attacked me.  What's *that* about?)


Isn't that blue water just gorgeous?


There's Lee, checking out the steam issuing from a small sulfur vent.  Our tour guide was named Hara (which means "joy") but she said we could call her Mama Hara as she was our Greek mother for the duration of the tour.  So when we got to the steam vent she said we could feel the steam but do NOT touch the rocks because they're HOT and will burn you.  Yep, definitely a mom ; )


The discoloration is from a bigger sulfur vent.  Wonder if CLR would take care of that.


So here's our most excellent tour guide Mama Hara, telling us all about the volcano upon which we were standing.  It's a bit of a hike to get to the top of the crater, but she's done it over 4,000 times, starting when she was three years old and her grandfather took her.  So in the upper left you can see how Santorini (Thera then) used to be a lot bigger, and how the island changed shape with successive eruptions.  Then there was the giant eruption somewhere around 1600 BC, which was FORTY TIMES the size of Krakatoa and one of the biggest eruptions in Earth's history.  Scholars think that the eruption contributed greatly to the downfall of the Minoan civilization on Crete since it probably caused a pretty serious tsunami, and that might be the factual basis for the myth of Atlantis.  (Or IS IT a myth?  I like to think that there's much left to be discovered, and I totally believe Atlantis might still be out there.  And fairies and unicorns and dragons, but maybe not manticores.)



Think the moon looks like this?  Only, ya know, white and without water and air?


I like how you can see the strata on the cliffs.  And that blue water!!  Man, now I want to go live in Greece.  Only maybe not on top of a giant and hugely destructive volcano.



Again, I just couldn't decide which pictures were my faves.


The paths around the island with a cruise ship in the background.  I don't even know if that was our ship, there were like three or four anchored at Santorini at the same time.


So that's it for Santorini, Part 1.  Stay tuned for more later and cheers, peeps!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Med Cruise: Ephesus, Part 2

It's getting kinda late and I'm tired but I don't think I can get to sleep just yet so I'm going to post these pictures before I go to bed.  Here's the rest of the Ephesus pics.


I have NO idea what this building is (is it a building, or just an arch or a ruin or what?  I don't know, I'm tired) but apparently Lee thought it was really cool because he took a bunch of pictures of it.


I do like the colors in this pic.



Nice textures in this one.  Anyway, this thing was about halfway down the avenue and at the end of the avenue (bottom of the hill), there's this:


The Library of Celsus.  (Not the temperature guy, that's Celsius.)  You know what, having a library built is a cooler way to commemorate someone's life than just a gravestone or something.  But I guess memorial libraries are a thing, aren't they?


One of the statues in the niches along the front of the facade.


So the cruise ship had some kind of photo...thing...(words escape me at the moment so this post might make absolutely no sense if I try to read it again later) where you could buy prints of attractions at the cruise ports, and they had this neat perspective one of the Library of Celsus, so we had to try to do it ourselves.


So our tour guide was all like, "And here's the Library of Celsus, like one of the most notable things in Ephesus and we're just gonna keep going" so Lee and I went and took our pictures as the guide went merrily along his way and then we beat feet to catch up.  Sure, he spends 20 seconds at the library and then we sat on some steps looking at nothing for 15 minutes later on.  Tour guide fail.


More ruins of indeterminate usage.


Umm, it looked cool?


Ok, so giant open-air theater and don't ask me if it's an amphitheater or what because I don't know all the nuances and there's different words for ones that are only a semicircle and ones that are more than a semicircle.  Heck, there's probably another word for one where the audience part is a smaller-than-half sliver of the circle (like "ran out of money to build the rest of the seating theater").  But on the stage part, do you see those two people on the right that are kind of standing by themselves?  It was a proposal.  The girl said yes and then a bunch of people started yelling "Kiss!  Kiss!  Kiss!" in Italian and then everyone applauded.


So one of the other cruise lines does some kind of pageant thing here, which you have to go past to get to the exit from the archaeological site and this is when we ended up sitting on some steps for like 15 minutes waiting for them to quit pageant-ing so we could leave (time we *should* have been spending getting cool photos at the Library of Celsus).


The theater (amphi or otherwise) as we were leaving...


And again...


And here's our selife at the Library of Celsus.  So after we exited the site, there's a gauntlet of souvenir shops that you have to go through to get to your bus and Turkish shop owners are RIDICULOUSLY pushy.  Like, a lot.  We didn't buy anything but some postcards I think, and then got on the bus to go back to Kusadasi but we have no pictures from there so you'll have to take my word for it.  Any tour you go on in Turkey will end with a rug-weaving demonstration and they will try mighty hard to get you to spend several thousand dollars on a Turkish rug (because you have all this money to spare since you just spent it all on a cruise, right?).  We saw some really beautiful carpets and we entertained the notion of getting one, but in the end we decided that neither one of us had ever grown up thinking, "Man, my life will be so awesome if I can get a Turkish carpet!" so we decided to save that money and instead I got an evil eye keychain which Lee bargained down from three euro to two.  I like it, it's a glass disk about the same diameter as a normal drinking glass, and it's blue, white, and darker blue like a bull's eye and it's supposed to ward off evil.  Mine has some orange beads on it too and had I been thinking, I would have taken a picture of it for this post because that would have been easier than trying to describe it.  But for now I'm going to bed.

Next time on Snapdragon:  Santorini!

ETA:  Here's my evil eye keychain:


This keychain is like 8 inches long, so I think it's a bit too large to be practical as a keychain and it's hanging up on a random nail in our bedroom (we never removed all the random nails and stuff and repainted our bedroom).  Though if I did use it as a keychain, it would be easy to find my keys in the bottom of my purse...