Friday, May 4, 2012

Patmos, Greece

At noon on May 4th, the Pacific Princess arrived at Patmos Greece.  Patmos was declared a sacred island by the Greek Parliament in 1981.  It is second only to Mount Athos in religious standing.  It is the island’s connection with Saint John and the writing of the Book of Revelation which prompted this unusual step. 

Patmos is only 13 square miles in size and has a very beautiful coastline.  The highest elevation is about 800 feet.  Here you will encounter a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fortified 11th century Monastery of St. John the Theologian.  The monastery features elaborate and colorful frescoes, and is the purported site where St. John received his visions.
The ship will leave Patmos at approximately 7:00pm and will spend another day at sea before we arrive at Haifa, Israel.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ravenna, Italy

Tuesday, May 1, Ravenna, Italy and Labor Day, a very big holiday in Italy.  All shops and everyday businesses are closed.

Most tours visited several of the 7 or 8 different World Heritage sites in the city.  Also, the area is known for the fine Byzantine mosaics, Dante’s Tomb, and some delicious wines.   Nearby, are the towns and villages of Bologna, San Marino, Modena and Faenza – all within the gorgeous area of Emilia Romagna.

Ravenna definitely warrants a return visit!

5PM was sail away – it had started to rain – no open deck party tonight……..
Tomorrow at 1PM we will return to Dubrovnik, hopefully we will not share the town with 5 other cruise ships on this visit.

Venice, Italy

Monday, April 30, early in the morning we began the approach into Venice and the end of the World Cruise.  What a wonderful 107 days and a truly great experience we have been through.  The ship arrived at the San Basilio Pier a little before 7AM.  A beautiful sail in as the sun rose.

Venice spans 118 islands, a web of 150 canals and 400 bridges.  Although the motorboat or vaporetto is widely used, the gondola is the more traditional means of transportation.  Each gondola is lovingly built like a piece of very fine furniture sometimes requiring more than a year to complete.  Gondoliers are quite adept at moving their boats with a single oar.  The tall mooring poles with distinctive spiral striping are the original models for barber poles.

The heart of Venice centers on St. Mark’s Square.  The piazza is very large with galleries, shops and cafes all around.  Also found in the in the square is the Basilica San Marco, built to accommodate St. Mark’s tomb, the Campanile (bell tower), the Clock Tower and Doge’s Palace.  Opening onto the square is one of the most famously photographed icons; the 17th century covered stone bridge, Bridge of Sighs.

Many passengers made sure they either travelled on the Grand Canal or walked over the Rialto Bridge, another very famous Venetian bridge.   An interesting note:  the term “ghetto” for a Jewish quarter originated in Venice.

We departed Venice at 11PM heading for Ravenna and the 2nd port of the Holy Land cruise.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Venice, Italy

Here is a photo of our arrival a few minutes ago (5:50am) in the Grand Canal, Venice, Italy.  What a beautiful view!!!

Koper, Slovenia

Koper, Slovenia our last port of call, on Sunday, April 29.  This will be the last day of these 107 days on the 2012 World Cruise.  A wonderful adventure and it will be hard to say good bye to many friends.  We have been told there will be 13 passengers continuing on to the Holy Land segment.

Now Koper is a very small city with a little over 23,000 in habitants and very much in the European style.  It, too, along with Croatia was a significant part of Yugoslavia prior to the war.   The old core of Koper retains the look of the 15th and 16th centuries.  There is an old bell that dates from 1333, one of the oldest in the country.  Across the square are the Praetorian Palace and a Venetian style Loggia.

One of the popular tours was to see the Lipica Stud Farm founded in 1580 and has bred famed Lipizzaner horses for over four centuries.  Most people know or have seen these horses perform in Vienna, Austria.

Tonight we will depart at 7PM for a quick trip across the Adriatic Sea to Venice, Italy. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Saturday, April 28 a glorious sunny warm spring day in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  The Old City of Dubrovnik is s UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the Adriatic Coast and as lovely as we expected.  The walled city is small and very historical, featuring cobbled streets and a Franciscan Monastery that was built in the early 14th century.

Most first time visitors walk along the 13th century mile and a half protective barrier walls of Dubrovnik to see the spectacular views. View the 15th century Onofrio Fountain after passing through the traditional entrance, the Pile Gate, and explore the Rectors Palace.

The sail into and out of the Dalmatian Coast provided stunning panoramas of charming red-roofed villages and the beautiful sapphire waters of the bay.  We can’t wait for our return visit to see more of this spectacular area next week as we begin our Holy Land cruise venture.
With everyone onboard early, sail away was shortly after 3:30PM and we were headed for Koper, Slovenia.

Cindy was allowed to “ditch” her crutches today and begin to put weight on her foot but it has not healed completely, another two or three weeks to go – so it seems.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria, Egypt, Wednesday, April 25 the day dawned bright and crisp as we entered the harbor and remained a cool day with the high temperature of approximately 80 degrees.

Alexandria was founded around a small pharaonic town circa 331 BC by Alexander the Great, although he never lived in Alexandria, his body was brought back there for burial.  It remained Egypt’s capital for nearly a thousand years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641.  Alexandria was known because of its Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, its library and the Catacombs.  The city is also the gateway to the last existing Wonders of the Ancient World – the Pyramids of Giza.

Most passengers departed the ship shortly after docking for the 3 ½ hour drive to Cairo and the iconic Great Pyramids.    Some tours took in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities and a delicious luncheon on a Nile River Cruise.  Those choosing to stay in Alexandria had their choice of the Library, visiting medieval Fort Qaitbey built on the ruins of the Pharos lighthouse, or touring the roman Amphitheater.  Dating back to the 1st century AD, some people toured the Roman Catacombs, the ancient burial grounds 115 deep in solid rock.  Or a nice walk along the Corniche provided views of the blue Mediterranean, street markets, a plethora of mosques and local people.

All told, Alexandria provided a stark contrast between the “modern” day living and the “old” city.

The next two days we will be at sea enroute to Dubrovnik, Croatia.