Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year

Auld Lang Syne  
"Times gone by" 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For days of auld lang syne.

Auld lang syne means "times gone by"
So we we'll drink a cup of kindness yet for times gone by. 

 Please click on the below link to share with us our friends, good times, and now "for times gone by". 
May you have a Happy New Year,
 and may you have friends such as we are fortunate to have.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kusadasi, Turkey (Ephesus) Part 1

 Kusadasi, Turkey
Tourist gateway to Ephesus
July 2012 
 Our last port, Santorini, was in the Sea of Crete. Now we were sailing in the Aegean Sea and about to dock at Kusadasi, Turkey. Right off the coast was Pigeon Island where a small fort is restored as a restaurant. A paved jetty (extreme left) links it to the mainland. The fort (Pirate Castle) was used against pirates.
 Kusadasi has grown from a tiny fishing village to a sprawling resort center attracting a large number of tourists. Along side the dock, Turkey rolls out its welcome mat to cruise ships.
 Still along the dock, this structure is called a Caravanserai. In the older days, caravanserais served as inns for traders. The doors were large enough to allow camels and other beasts of burden into the interior. Traders could feed their animals and obtain lodgings while at the city.
 The now sprawling city.
High upon a hill is the prominent statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, an Ottoman and Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey and his surname, Ataturk (meaning "Father of the Turks") was granted to him by the Turkish parliament; the name is forbidden to any other person.  
Finally it was time for our tour of Ephesus. Note the tree lined entrance to the ruins. This is mentioned as it is the last shade available until the end of the tour.
There is so much to say about Ephesus that it would take up too much space to adequately portray the reconstructed city.
Ephesus is one of the best preserved classical cities of the Eastern Mediterranean, and is considered one of the gread outdoor museums of Turkey. One will understand this statement shortly.
Ephesus was once a seaport but is now 6 miles away from the sea due to silt build-up and other factors. In the Roman period, Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world.
Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the Book of Revelation. It is thought that the Gospel of John may have been written here. What is known is that from AD 52-54, St. Paul lived in Ephesus working with the congregation. One of Christine's greatest thrills was to know that she was walking where St. Paul once walked.  
While we tourists marvel at the remains of the Temple of Artemis, Paul became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose livelihood depended upon selling the statuettes of Artemis.   

Vendors still abound outside of Ephesus, however, I will give them high credit for truth in advertisement--Genuine Fake Watches!! While the guide procured our tickets, we had 10 minutes to visit the vendors or use the bathrooms one more time. Needless to say, this was as close to the vendors as I got, so I can't report on the quality of the fake watches.
Immediately upon entering the city, the vistas began. On the right are the Varius Baths, and on the left is the State Agora and the Odeum. 
The Varius Baths
This large stucture was built of cut blocks of marble. Its north and east walls are carved from natural outcroppings of rock in the 2nd Century A.D. Although Ephesus had several bath houses, this structure is thought to be a gymnasium.
The State Agora (foreground).
An agora in ancient Greece was a public square or marketplace of a city.
  In early Greek history the agora was primarily used as a place for public assembly; later it functioned mainly as a center of commerce. Usually in a readily accessible part of the city, it was often surrounded by public buildings, in this case, the Odium. A favorite architectural device was the colonnade surrounding the agora. Note the numerous colonades.
The Odeum
This building in the form of a small theater was built in the 2nd century at around the same time and by the same people, namely Varius Antonius and his wife Flavia Papiona, as the baths beside it.
Built into the slope of the hill, it could seat 2,200 people. The upper closed part of the building was entered by two side doors.
The Odeum was used for poetry-readings, small concerts, plays, and prize-giving ceremonies. It could also be used for meetings of the municipal council.
A Prytaneion was the seat of the Prytaneis (executive), and so the seat of government. The Prytaneion normally stood in the center of the city, hence near the agora we visited earlier.  
 The Prytaneion was constructed in the 3rd century B.C. and attained its final shape during the reign of Emperor Augustus. After it was destroyed for various reasons, its columns and some of its other architectural elements were used in the construction of the Scholatika Baths.
In the course of excavations they were brought back to the Prytaneion.
The function of the seat of government is comparable to that of our town hall. In addition to public functions, it housed important events, receptions, and banquets.
  In the immediate vicinity of the Prytaneion is the triangular-shaped architectural element coming from the Door of Heracles which rises at the start of Curetes Street (we will get there in a moment). The sculptural figure represents Winged Nike, the Goddess of Victory, while she holds a plaited crown in her left hand.
 Temples Dea Roma
Temples of the Goddess Rome and of Divine Caesar
(take your pick of titles)
In this temple a devotee could celebrate the Goddess Rome together with Julius Caesar. It was erected by Octavius (Augustus) during a visit in 29 B.C.
Building the temple in the vicinity of the Prytaneion verified the important role played by Ephesus within the political and administrative organization of this important part of the Roman Empire.
 Pollio Fountain
The Pollio Fountain is located to the east of Domitian Square (we will visit the Temple of Domitian also), next to the western side of the Agora. The wide and high arch supports the triangular pediment and its small pool. Water fell into the pool through the semi-circular apsidal wall (remember apsidal buildings from Olympia?).

The fountain was built by C.S. Pollio in 97 A.D. and provided the water distribution for the city.
 These statutes are often associated with the Pollio Fountain. The top of the Celsus Library can be seen in the background.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece
July 2012
Entering the caldera (collapsed part of a volcano) of the island of Santorini, one sees the seemingly snow capped mountains. The city is probably Imerovioli, just north of the Fira port. It is the first glimpse of the predominent theme of brightly painted structures all in white.

Santorini is essentially what remains of a volcanic explosion some 3,600 years ago. Simply, a volcano can erupt, and then collapse creating what is called a geological caldera. The "hole" in the center is the result of the collapse. Marked in yellow is the port of Fira where we anchored. 

Mediterranean blue.
The Mediterranean connects with the Atlantic Ocean which is mostly green in color. The green is caused by decaying plants on the ocean bed which produces a green effect. When the plants decay, yellow pigments are released which get dissolved in the water. This does not occur in the Mediterranean Sea. There is little phosphate in the water to support plankton. The nearly land locked waters are heated by the sun causing evaporation; the water grows more saline and denser until it sinks. Now the color of seas depends on the amount of sunlight scattered from the surface. The color of the scattered light depends upon the substances dissolved in seawater and as mentioned, there are few substances in the Mediterranean. Of the seven colors of sunlight, blue is scattered most--and that is why the Mediterranean is so blue. (Don't ask again). 

Prior to our beginning the cruise, Christine and I decided that we didn't need to go on a tour or even go ashore at every port. We had already stayed on board at Corfu. We were going to stay on board at Santorini also. However, on reading the hype of Santorini, I suggested to Christine that we just go ashore, ride the donkeys up to the city, and then come back down on the cable car. That sounded fun so we hopped on a tender (one of the rescue boats that doubles as a water taxi when a ship can not dock at a pier).
Right before arriving at the pier, one is impressed by the use of the cliff space. Some of the structures were built into the cliff.
Our donkey choices.
One can walk up to the city but the "struggle" of the donkeys was enough to convince us that we made a good choice. 
Great view from the donkey stairs. Our ship is the far dark boat.
 End of the ride. Christine is still well rested. 
Which was a good deal. Just as soon as we looked around at the top of the donkey ride, the view was so inticing, we just had to visit the city.
Fira and the views were just outstanding.
Two happy tourists.
The views just kept appearing.
If one studies the commerical images of Fira, this shot will be seen. And we couldn't resist either.
Every thing was so neat and clean. Yet, we had a hard time finding a waste disposal to throw away our trash.
Blue domed churches were breath-taking.
Want another spectacular sight? Turn the corner.
Part of the village center. The Atlantis hotel on the right gets great reviews.
I can read Christine's thoughts, "Ah, Santorini!!"
Mural above the door of a museum in the square.
Whereas we were just going ashore to ride the donkeys and come down on the cable car--three hours later we boarded the cable car. 
Tenders in the harbor are still carrying people to the pier.
Apparently, many choose to ride up the cable cars rather than the donkeys.
Close to the end of the cable car ride. On the far left are more donkeys going up.
We may have just spent hours visiting the city on top, Christine still has energy to shop at the pier level. Hard to keep up with her when she is on a quest.
View from our return tender of the various layers of volcanic eruptions. 

 End of our adventure that started out as a planned relaxed day on board just lounging around the pool and napping in lounge chairs on the deck. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Katakolon, Greece Olympia

Olympia, Site of the First Olympic Games
Katakolon, Greece
The site of the first Olympic games is a sprawling area with different structures and functional areas. Artist's reproductions of the various buildings and structures are easy to visualize.
On the ground, sometimes fabulous structures are a jumbled pile of rocks. Now Christine would look at the various areas and see the exact structure in her mind. I would see a pile of broken rocks.
However, I will try to make as much sense of an area as possible as the Olympic games are as significant today as back in 776 B.C.
Foundation of the Temple of Hera. The temple of Hera is one of the oldest monumental temples in Greece. According to Greek mythology, Hera was married to Zeus. Hera was the queen of the Olympic people and Zeus was the chief of their gods. Hera provided aid to Jason and the Argonauts, helping them find the golden fleece. For the rest of the story, see the movie.
For the Olympic fans, the torch is lit just in front of the Temple of Hera. The area was roped off to keep tourists out of the space. A woman dressed in the garb of an ancient Greek priestess lights the torch and recites a monologue signaling the start of the summer games. (If anyone saw the lighting of the torch, then you know there were a lot of women dressed like priestesses who danced around). The torch is lit is the same way it was in the olden days. A mirror, in the shape of a parabola, focuses the sun's rays to a single point. The generated heat ignites the fuel and the torch is carried into the Olympic Stadium where the games first took place.
 The gate to the Olympic Stadium. The athletes would march through the gate to enter the games area.
The original stadium.
The spectators would sit on the embankments. The rocks in the middle were the area reserved for the judges. It was a big thrill for tourists to run or walk the distance on the arena.
Even Christine got caught up in the thrill of competitive sports. However, we will have to move Christine to the next area for her to flex her muscle.
We will move Christine to the Doric colonnade of Palaestra. The palaestra was built in the third century B.C. as part of the gymnasium complex, used to practice boxing, wrestling, and jumping. At its center was an open court surrounded by a Doric (a style of column associated with strength and masculinity) colonnade of 72 columns and laid with fine sand on which the athletes trained.
 The Temple of Zeus site. The site is close to the temple of Hera, the wife of Zeus.
 The temple contained the statue of Zeus, about 13m (42 ft) tall, made of ivory and gold, so elaborate that it was proclaimed to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
 Although Zeus was married to Hera, his consorting with Dione resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Perseus, Heracles, and Helen of Troy. Some of his offspring will be featured in future tours of our Mediterranean cruise. 
The Roman Emperor Constantine ordered gold to be removed from all statues. In 426 A.D., Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the temple. The statue had been moved to Constantinople. Earthquakes in 522 and 551 devastated the ruin and left the Temple of Zeus partially buried.
This circular building has Ionic columns (one would have to study to note the differences from the Doric columns earlier). It was donated by Philip II after the battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.). It was completed by Alexander the Great (Philip II's son), and its interior was decorated with Alexander's ancestors' busts and other works of art.
Continuing excavation.
Just a nice shot of something.
 Nymphaion Fountain
In A.D. 160, Herodes Atticus, a rich Roman Senator, built the magnificent fountain Nymphaion. As may be seen, it took the form of a semicircle with a circular naiskos at each of the two ends (only far left can be seen).
The walls were of brick faced with polychrome marble (only brick can be seen now).  Above the wall were 20 statues of Antoninus Pius and his family as well as the family of Herodes Atticus. 
  The space between the two naiskoi was occupied by two basins, one in front of the semicircular wall and the other on a lower platform. The water, brought from a spring 4 km W of Olympia, ran first into the upper, semicircular basin, next into the lower rectangular one, and then, via a network of conduits, throughout the whole sanctuary.
Far left circular naiskos.
Prehistoric Building
(2150-2000 B.C.)
In 1908, a number of buildings belonging to a prehistoric settlement were uncovered. The apsidal houses had stone foundations and date to an advanced to late phase of the Early Helladic II period.
The apsidal buildings are freestanding or built in groups and have stone foundations and a superstructure of mud bricks.
Workshop of Pheidias
(3rd quarter of the 5th century B.C.)
Building where the renowned Athenian sculptor Pheidias fashioned the colossal gold and ivory statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
In the 5th century A.D. the building was converted into an Early Christian church (basilica).
One just cannot take in all of the site during a structured tour. However, on the bright side of a "short tour", one is less likely to suffer from information overload to the point that one temple starts to look like the last temple. : )