Monday, December 30, 2013

Cruise Past Time

 I brought Lincoln three paperback books and three kindle books.  The boy read them all in 8 days.  Thankfully, I found wi-fi and downloaded him some more!  
 He brought three new books and devoured them in about two days.  
He just reread them over and over!
They read at restaurants!

 They read in lounges.  
 The read at breakfast.
They read in theaters.  Lincoln found a series of books and he fell in love.  
I think it was just the kick start he needed to move on to more advanced chapter books.  
This cruise was fantastic on so many levels!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


I read that Athens has a lot of stray cats and dogs.  They have so many that local agencies are feeding them and have started spaying and neutering them.  We had not been off of the bus for five minutes before I started seeing the dogs.  
 This guy followed us all the way to the Acropolis entrance.  As you looked to the left and right you would see three or four dogs down each street.  
 Different dog at the Acropolis.  
 Cats at the Acropolis.
The boys started counting them. 
Acropolis dog.  

As we entered Ephesus, our tour guide asked if any of us were allergic to cats. She said that the archaeologists started feeding the stray cats years ago and now they are everywhere.  She was not kidding.  They recently started spaying and neutering them too. 
Ephesus cat
Cat posing at Ephesus.

 Things got crazy in Istanbul.  Stray spray-painted goat!
 Four males and one female....not good odds for this turkish female dog!
 SIX cats on the steps in Istanbul. Ethan counted 44 stray dogs and cats in Istanbul.
We only saw one stray sweetie in Pompeii/Naples!

Naples, Italy

Naples was our last port.  Pompeii is about a 30 minute train ride away.  
It was super easy to get to on our own. This city is thought to have been founded in the 6th century BC.
 The people of Pompeii used to wash their streets each evening, so they built these stepping stones so people could cross the street and not get their feet wet.  
 Mount Vesuvius in the background.  
We learned when it blew, ash was hurled into the sky 12 miles high!
 The artifacts they found intact from the excavation were amazing!
 They found bodies entombed in ash.  The bodies were decayed inside the ash, so they filled it in with plaster.  This is exactly how they found the bodies.  
 Another body.  It looks like he was praying!
 Of course there were Roman baths.  This is the "locker room" to the baths.  Elaborate!!
 This city was much larger than I had imagined.  
At the time of Vesuvius' eruption (79 AD), 22,000 people lived in Pompeii.  
20,000 people escaped and 2,000 stayed behind. 
This is a bakery.  
Most people in Pompeii ate out.  Their kitchens were very small.  Around every corner, you would see these marble bars with terra cotta pots.  These were "fast food joints."  The pots held soup or wine.  
 The boys were on some super hero mission the entire time we were in Pompeii.  They didn't even speak to us.  They talked about their mission the whole time!
 Old mosaic tile floor.  
 Grooves from the chariot's wheels.  
 Pompeii was so huge that the crowds were really dispersed.  
It was fun exploring little streets and alleys all by ourselves!  
Thankfully, we had a Rick Steve's guidebook to show us what we were looking at!
We were so excited to head back into Naples for some pizza.  
 We had three pizzas, one spaghetti, and a bottle of water and it was only 27 Euro.  CHEAP!
 After a late lunch, we decided to walk back to the boat.  We thought we would walk through Naples.  Unfortunately, this was the nastiest city I have ever seen!!!  We sped through!

 The buildings were not kept up.  
Trash was everywhere!!! 
 Graffiti was literally on every surface!

 Fry burger????
We jumped back on the boat and sat at the back deck to look at the city.  It is much prettier far away!  Pompeii was amazing....Naples-I could do without!

Istanbul, Turkey

We had two fun filled days in Istanbul.  Our boat docked about 1:00 (giving us time to sleep in).  
 We headed over to the Blue Mosque.  On the way, we saw the Egyptian Obelisks at the Hippodrome.  Chariots raced here centuries ago.  
 I had to cover my head and we all had to take our shoes off at the mosque.  
 My pictures did not do justice to the magnitude of this place.  
 The boys loved going barefoot in here.  The Turkish carpets were very soft.
 The blue tiles covering the walls were gorgeous.  
 We only had about ten minutes in here before the 2:00 prayer started.  The entire mosque was used for the men's praying area.  The women got a tiny corner.

Next stop was Topkapi Palace.  This was the palace for the Ottoman sultans for about 400 years.  

We noticed our boat from the deck of the palace.  

This palace was really impressive.  One room had lots of jewels and crowns.   They also boasted that they had Moses' staff (it looked like they chopped it off of the tree outside) and Joseph's turban (it was bleach white and spotless).  I had to laugh.  

Taken from the Sultan's harem. 
Grand Bazaar!!!  This place is massive.  It has over 3000 shops and was built in 1460 AD.  
The boys got souvenirs.
Nate and I did some haggling and scored a nice scarf! 
I did not have high expectations for this place but it was so fun!  
Dinner was the highlight of the day.  We ate at a traditional Turkish restaurant.  
The boys had a blast sitting on the floor pillows (so did Nate and I).  
They also had free wi-fi!  :)
Next door we stopped for some baklava.  OH MY!!  
 It was nice being in a place overnight.  Istanbul was so fun at night!
We woke up early and headed back into town.  We made our first stop at Hagia Sofia.
 This museum started out as a Greek Orthodox church and then became a 
mosque and a Catholic cathedral.  
This large urn was carved from a single block of marble.  
This place was massive, and the scaffolding and sun ruined many of my pictures.  
These mosaics date back to the 9th century.  
 We had a busy day, so we hustled off to the Basillica Cistern.  Nate read about these in Dan Brown's Inferno.  These are the largest underground cisterns in Istanbul.  
 This cistern provided a water filtration system for the Great Palace of Constantinople.  
 There were two Medusa heads in the corner.  They have no clue the origins.  
 We read about an archaeological museum that had many sarcophagi and 
I thought the boys would love it.  
 We were all a little disappointed.  After seeing the mummies in the British museum, it's hard to get excited about a few sarcophagi.  
 We walked through the streets of Istanbul and stopped at the Spice Market.  
 The place was busy.  
 The spices were so pretty!
 Lincoln fell in love with Turkish Apple Tea.  It's an instant drink, 
so we bought him some to take home.  
 We stopped for doners!!
 Lincoln ordered some apple tea!
Our restaurant overlooked the spice market, a mosque, and our cruise ship in the distance.  
 We enjoyed the sunshine a bit before we headed back to the boat.  

We mostly trammed it around the city, but I had the boys get off a stop early to get a picture in front of these cool stairs.  (We also saw a Starbucks)!!!  
Istanbul was FANTASTIC!!  I love this country.