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Mykonos to Piraeus

  O n board, at the dining room, our table number 42 was the United Nations.  This lady and her husband were from Beijing, China, there was also a South-Africa couple, she from British and German extraction, he a Flemish from Belgium, two Floridian American women, Thérèse and I.  We had a great time.

After the first formal dinner, between Corfou and Mykonos, one of the head waiters took our picture before the main panel in the King and I dining room.  Don’t we look great?

Sunsets over the sea are always most spectacular…but I can not show them all, can I?.  This one occured between Kerkyra and Mykonos.

On Mykonos, we visited the Pangia Tourlani monastery built in the 16th century and still guarded by two venerable 80 something monks.  One of them sat by the door greating the visitors.  Despite warnings about the dress code, nobody was chased away.

His excellency the monastery cat sat reclined amongst the visitors quite imbued of his importance and sure nobody would walk over him.  Admire his calm.

The water at Mykonos beaches is cristal clear.  In Athens, our guide, somewhat sadly, told us: “We have been praised by UNESCO for having the cleanest waters in all of Europe.  We do have pristine waters but we have lost all our industries and after Spain we have the highest unemployment rate.”  Nonetheless Mykonos beaches are wonderful.

  They are everywhere on Kerkyra and also here on Mykonos.  Private family chapels; they are used for baptism, weddings and funerals, the left hand side picture is the family burial plot just abutting the church wall.

Some other structure that we saw on Kerkyra and Mykonos are less romantic or mystical:  concrete skeletons of buildings abandoned while being built because of the economic crisis, at least on Mykonos they painted most of them green so they look less forlorne.  Not so on Kerkyra.

In Athens this is the closest we could get to the Acropolis because of ongoing work up there.  (And both times I used the zoom on my camera).  My archaelogist son doubts the authoriies will ever reopen it to the general public.

Otherwise, our visit of Athens, a short one at that, the stopover was brief docking at 6am amd leaving at 4:30 pm, was somewhat disappointing.  On the traffic clogged streets we saw so many empty shops and nondescript buildings, some alsmost soviet in style, that there was nothing much to bring back and brag about.  I did manage to get a komboloi though and I enjoy it very much.  Mine had broken years ago and they do not come easily in Montreal.

From our three stops in Greece, the Piraeus and Athens ended up being the least interesting.  Kerkyra and Mykonos were quite something else but there also you had that gloominess oozing from the guides about the economic situation and the future.  They all, everywhere, begged the tourists to come back for longer stays , strongly underlining the vital tourism industry as the only hope to maintain some economic health, or what is left of it, in the country.

That a people with such a proud past, the cradle of our civilization and of our political systems is down to that, the land of my father, makes me so sad.  But it is a beautiful country, it does have wonderful skies and that blue water…It makes one one want to go back…but not in Athens.


Just wandering

Hello out there, some friends have asked for details about my last trip to the Mediterranean.  I have chosen WordPress to do so.  so Here is hoping that it will work.


Here, I will wander and dream, but mostly wander.  For a beginning, I will take you on my recent trip to the Mediterranean.   Here, you have our first view of Venice and the causeway leading to the port where our ship, somewhere in the fog at top right, is berthed.

Here is the ship that will be home for the next 8 days.  All 70 000 tons of her.  We will be on deck 7, estate room 512, with balcony, no less, near the prow.  It is on the other side of the ship.

Ahead of us, the MSC Divina is sailing away on the canals leading to the open sea.  We sail up those canals like any city bus along a wide boulevard.  Almost unbelievable

Just coming to a street corner.

A vaporetto in front of a “road side” church.

Just to show that we are on a ship.

Feels as we could just walk in.  I never saw as  many churches as we saw on this trip.  Italians, Greeks and Croatians seem to be most devout peoples.

The Divina is on another street, ahead of us.

Thérèse on our balcony adding to my travel log.

The side screws pushing us againts the pier in Bari.

The land of taste is not just a slogan, we really tasted the food and wine.

See by yourself and these tidbits were delicious.

This is a trullo.  Legend has it that they were built with a large rock at the top.  Remove the rock and it crumbles.  A 12th century baron reportedly had them built that way to save is peasants from paying the king’s taxes on dwellings.  Whenever the tax collector came around they removed the rock and could prove that they had no dwelling.  When he had left, they just reassembled the shelter and they were allright for another year.  Tax evasion is nothing new in  these parts, just evermore sophisticated.

Inside a trullo.

We visited the place and tasted it’s food and wine and went into their trulli.  beware the low entrances to the trulli.  People must have been real short in 1300 something.

Back on the ship.  The Centrum is the activity hub where everybody congregates for a drink, to shop and just to know what is going on.

Sunset between Bari and Kerkyra (Corfou).

I thought this was a first glimpse of Kerkyra until I learned it was the Albanian coast.  OH well!

This is Kerkyra, the palaiokastritsa or old fortress.  We are sailing into port.

No, we are not in China.  The first British Governor of the Corfou Protectorate imported koum quats from China and the culture has held fast since 1825.  Koum quat products are now one of the main Kerkyrian industries with olive oil and tourism.  Kerkyra is really a green island and very fertile.

A koum quat tree with fruits.

Landscapes on Kerkyra.

When Napoleon’s empire crumbled, the French army abandoned this Russian canon on Kerkyra…of all places.

Well, folks, this all for today.  I’m tired and will come back with another installment on another day.  Next will be Mykonos and Athens.

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