Lunching with “Sea Friends” and Remembering the Joys of Cruising to European Ruins

 

Monday, September 7, 2020

We were in our 20s when we took our first cruise in 1974; our second in 1975.  But it took us nearly 20 years before we cruised again.  Since none of us were getting any younger, we began re-uniting with family for frequent get-togethers on board cruise ships destined to marvelous and interesting places.  But not until retirement, did we fully appreciate and embrace the joys of Grand Cruising.  Once we switched from 7-10-day cruises to months-long cruising, we were hooked!!!

“Why,” you may ask?  Well, we wondered about that, too.  And it was an overheard comment that helped put it into perspective:  a long-time cruiser said, “I have more sea friends than land friends!”  And that’s the answer:  it’s the camaraderie.  The new friends you make along the way.  The feeling of “home-away-from-home!”  You board the ship and unpack, putting your things away in closets; drawers; cupboards.  You make yourself “at home.”  You have “neighbors” and you see them frequently in the library, lectures, shops, lounges, and dining rooms.  You have a “community” where you can work and play.  Your primary job is to tour, explore, and learn about new and exciting places.  But in addition, you attend lectures, and view films pertaining to those ports-of-call coming up.  You have opportunities to volunteer and contribute to charitable causes.  You can take classes such as cooking or computers or gaming among many offered.  You’ll establish a routine and find that even on “sea days,” you have a remarkably busy schedule!  You get haircuts and manicures.  You visit the gym for workouts, and you may indulge in spa treatments.  Maybe you’ll just hang out at the pool.  And if you have business to attend to, or perhaps a blog to write and publish, well that too, is easy to accomplish.  Internet access is available—and Elon Musk is making it even better with his Starlink program of satellites!!! 

This particular blog post was inspired, last week, while we enjoyed lunch with some of our “sea friends.”  Once a month, some of us living in Florida have started traveling to centrally located restaurants (yes, always socially-distanced!)  We talk about cruises and destinations.  We share experiences and exchange details about excursions and sight-seeing.  Last week, we found ourselves talking about European ruins.  The memories flowed.  Here’s an armchair tour of our favorites:

THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS  Greece

The word ACROPOLIS is generic and simply means “a high fortified area.”  But the Acropolis of Athens is special and is understood, without qualification, to be The Acropolis.   The significance of The Acropolis comes from its age, size, history, and architecture.  It embodies the legacy and glory of Classical Greece.  Located atop a 7.4-acre flat rock rising nearly 500 feet above the city of Athens, this ground has been inhabited since the Early Neolithic period, but the ruins we see today date to the Periclean Period (named for Pericles [495-429 BC] the prominent statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age of Athens [460-430 BC.])

The Acropolis as seen from the base of Hadrian’s Arch
The Temple of Zeus at the base of The Acropolis
Theatre of Herodes Atticus (161 AD) at the base of the Acropolis Rock
Original entrance to the Acropolis
Front of the Propylaia, the “new” entrance to the Acropolis built 437-432 BC.
The Parthenon
The Erechtheion was designed with two porches, one supported by female figures and the other by Ionic columns. The Eastern part is dedicated to Athena Polias while the Western side is deicated to Poseidon.
Erechtheion Temple, where Poseidon left Trident marks in the Acropolis Rock
Hadrian’s Gate, Temple of Zeus, and the 1896 Olympic Stadium as viewed from atop the Acropolis
These photos were taken several years ago. The ruins seem to always be under some kind of construction!

EPHESUS  Turkey

Located in what is today modern Turkey, Ephesus was an ancient Greek city built on the Ionian coast in the 10th century BC.  It was considered the greatest trading center in the Mediterranean.  Eventually, the harbor silted up and the city declined.  Its excavated remains now reveal the centuries of history ranging from Classical Greek to the Roman Empire to the spread of Christianity.       

Temple of Hadrian (2nd Century AD), is one of the best preserved structures in Ephesus.
This detail on the arch of the Temple of Hadrian is of Fortuna, the Goddess of Fortune.
This is the Agora where merchants engaged in business and bankers changed money.
This is the Upper Agora. There were two–one for commerce and trade; the other for state business.
A mosaic floor viewed within one of the “terrace houses” where the wealthy lived during the Roman period.
The Great Theater is believed to be the largest in the ancient world with an estimated seating capacity of 25,000.
The Library of Celsus was destroyed by the Goths in 265 AD. It was built in 125 AD in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus who is buried beneath it. The library once held 12000 scrools.
You can probably tell from the size of the crowd that Ephesus is a favorite international attraction!!!

POMPEII  Italy

Pompeii was an ancient city near Naples in the Campania region of Italy.  The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD buried the city under 13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice.  That ash acted as a preservative.  Thus, a unique snapshot of Roman life was frozen in time when Pompeii was buried.  This was a wealthy town with many fine public buildings and luxurious private homes all with lavish decorations, furnishings and works of art.  Unfortunately, early excavators found and plundered the site.  Over the centuries, more serious, but none-the-less haphazard, archaeology was conducted.  UNESCO declared Pompeii a World Heritage Site in 1997.  And since then, conservation has been the main goal.

A Pompeii street
On the way to the forum
The Forum of Pompeii with Vesuvius behind
The basilica of Pompeii (Court of Justice)
Pompeii is less accessible to tourists than in the past. Many buildings once open to the public are now closed. Excavation has halted and conservation is now the primary goal.

Next month, we’ll be congregating on the Treasure Coast.

Can’t wait to talk travel!!!

4 thoughts on “Lunching with “Sea Friends” and Remembering the Joys of Cruising to European Ruins”

  1. Hi! Another super post 🙂 We were hooked, too! HAL got us early and we’ve been travelling the world with them since. Right now, the answer to every problem, every negative in life would easily be take care of by a CRUISE! To the extent that we are considering a river cruise and 2 night hotel package and tour on the Danube before (this!) Christmas. You must have a Canadian passport and reside in Canada, so we’re good. Looking into the conditions and cancellation policies if Canada still has a “no essential travel” advisory in effect then. Never done a river cruise and have always wanted to do a Christmas one! Not sure about you and river cruises but would love to hear some ideas.

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    1. Patricia, your Danube River Cruise sounds wonderful! The Christmas Markets will be interesting at this time of pandemic; hope you’ll let us know what you see and what you buy!! The only river cruise we’ve been on was the Delta Queen on the Mississippi just before she was pulled from service. It was a marvelous experience–small ship, sponsored excursions; great lectures, and a casual atmosphere. We hear she is coming back into service–you may have provided us the inspiration for a new blog post!!! Thank you!!!

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  2. That post was terrific! Very memorable when I was there in 1974 during our Mediterranean deployment.

    Heading to our place in the New Mexico mountains for awhile. Finally able to get out of Houston with it’s heat and humidity.

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