Reliving the Trip

I’m currently in the process of putting my pictures in photo albums. I love this part because it makes me relive the experience. Although I was in Greece a month ago, it feels like a lifetime away. Time is beginning to feel that way quite a bit. It’s like once time is gone, that is it. There is no getting it back. My mortality is in the forefront of my mind, and I can’t help but keep pondering that the time of innocence is over.

I actually put the pictures in the albums once. There are three. I got towards the end of the last one, and I realized I still had more pictures to go. For a minute, I thought I had done a miscalculation. I have more pictures than space, so I took some pictures out that would not be included in the album. Other pictures would be “doubled up” in the same spot. I went back and behold I had missed pages in the previous two albums. Note to self; next time around check this before moving on to the next album.

Anyway, I initially just moved some pictures forward, but then the order of the trip starting getting mixed up and it would mess up my commentary. So, last night, I painstakingly removed all the pictures. Tonight or sometime in the near future, I need to put them back in the correct order. Luckily, I can sort them by location. I then have to separate the pictures that didn’t make the album. The final step is my running commentary so I can remember just what exactly everything is!

I know I say this a lot, but if only money wasn’t an issue!

Santorini

I forgot to mention one story from Rhodes. I was walking around and restaurant workers were trying to entice me and everyone else into their restaurants. So, this one guy asks me where I was from. I said Seattle. He said, ah Seattle! In Africa? I was like, um no USA. LOL.

Yesterday morning, we arrived in Crete at 7:30. The departure was 11:00. So, what happened was, I intended to get up at 8:00 then 9:00…long story short, I missed Crete. Bummed, but a sister was tired! I already plan on coming back to Greece, so it’s all good. LOL.

I feel I should mention that it has been raining a lot, but when the sun clears for a few, it’s very nice and warm. So, in Rhodes, after the rain, it was gorgeous ;).

I love Santorini. The weather was fantastic and made for a lovely sunset. That would be a great spot to have a vacation home. To borrow a line from my friend Dreeny, “A message to the one.” Well my message is that I want to honeymoon in Greece. Actually, I had always wanted to save Greece for my honeymoon. I keep seeing all these gorgeous rings so I feel like marrying myself. LOLLOL.

I rode this crazy cable car ride up to the top, which reminded me of the crazy cable car ride in Singapore. This one was much shorter! I rode it with the couple from California, Steve and Sarah. We parted ways, then I found them and we hung out some more.

When it was time to head back, the line to return to the ship via cable car was SO long. Luckily our tour guide, Vassiliki, had told us to find her and she would help us. When we found her, she told us to relax some more. We would be okay. So the friends from Australia, Margaret and Linday, were there as well. We ended up entering through the exit and bypassing the line. It was so fun and the six of us rode down together (each car holds six people). I had mentioned I hate stuff like that so we all kept screaming and Steve was shaking the car. It was the funniest three minutes ever.

Then us minus Vassiliki had dinner and that was fun too!

So got up and checked out. Bit of a mishap as I lost my sneakers! Long story, but they are gone. Note to Stephanie: If you are reading this, it is the pair I bought from Brooks Sports during their friends and family discount!

Anyway, traffic in Athens was so bad. The Turkish Prime Minister is here and traffic was a mess! Driving in Athens reminds me of driving in India. Not sure of the system, but the locals seem to know what they are doing. Craziest driving outside of Bangalore. The motor bikes make their were to the front and people don’t obey traffic lights. They don’t obey the police directing traffic either. It’s organized confusion! I thought people were in a hurry just because the morning traffic job but discovered it’s just crazy here.

Athens feels so huge, dense, and hectic.

When we finally got to our hotel, our rooms weren’t ready. I had tea with the couple from Australia, Helen and Steve. We were going to take the shuttle to the city center with Margaret and Linday, but it was full so we walked. I went to the Acropolis with Helen and Steve and I am so excited to have gone there!

We parted ways, and I took some pictures and went in search of some new sneakers. I found a pair so that’s all good.

Now, I am going to find some food and then organize and go to bed early.

My flight to Amsterdam leaves at 6:35 a.m. My wake up call is at 2:50. Lawd help! I will take the train from Amsterdam to Brugge. You may wonder why I’m not flying directly to Belgium? When I booked the ticket, I had planned on making Amsterdam my home base and taking day trips. Belgium was added on later and the change fee and new ticket price was more than just taking the train. It all works out. I might stop in Brussels on the way to Brugge. Depends on how tired and motivated I am!

Miss You!

P.S. Congrats to my friend and sister, Desiree (and Jason) on the safe arrival of Maxwell “Max” Herbert Anderson on October 19. Another nephew!

Rhodes

I visited Rhodes today. Last night, I kept waking up, but I kept going back to sleep! So I decided to sleep in. I missed breakfast and was going to go back for lunch but decided today would be my weekly fast day.

I basically have been walking around all day. Again, it poured. I was soaked. I keep praying I don’t get sick. I’ve been down poured on too many times this trip. My shoes are still wet from Monday.

I felt like a peeping tom because I would look into each house when the doors were open. Normally an older woman sitting doing something. I am so curious about the lives of the people in the countries I visit. I saw clothes drying outside, and when you are seeing some one’s underwear and clothes, you wonder who are they? What is their name? What is their age? Do they have a family? What do they do? Are they happy? I heard a couple arguing when I was walking. I don’t know Greek, but I can hear anger.

This place is pretty old are some homes in the old city seem really cramped. I can’t imagine families living there together without being cramped! This from a single woman who likes her space.

I saw the Knights of St. John Castle that was built during the crusades. The wall surrounding the city is pretty formidable and reminded me of Wales. I saw the spot were the Colossus of Rhodes once was.

I’ve been thinking maybe I can sell some stories of my travels to Essence or Oprah. Like have a section about traveling by yourself. I could either use an angle as a single, black woman or just a single woman, which could open up my options. Another angle would be traveling to smaller places and getting in the heads of locals. Like people who have lived there all their lives. Do they travel? When they were growing up, did they ever want to leave? That sort of thing.

I also visited a mosque. I realized that I have no idea how a Muslim service is ran or what anything means. I know some of the movements but not what the movements mean.

Well, tomorrow is the last stop on the cruise. Then back to Athens. Then off to Belgium.

Oh. I bought these wash clothes from REI, apparently wash clothes are considered a personal item. Anyway, there are two in package for $2. I am a believer. They dry fast, and they can be washed! They are the truth.

Patmos

2500 people live in Patmos. It is pretty rocky. I wonder how it would be to live there. How many of the people growing up there leave? I imagine with the cruise ships coming it could be fun for to be a teenager there.

The cruise ship offered an excursion for 49 euros to see the Monastery of St. John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse. I saw it all for 10.50 euro.

I was determined to walk to the monastery, but discovered a bus for 1.50 euro. The further up the hill the bus went the more I realized I would have been passed out somewhere along the way if I had tried to walk. It was at the top! The monastery was founded in 1088. Again, think of the people who have lived an walked there throughout the ages.

The monastery was pretty cool. It was built 900 years ago. Throughout the ages, monks have been attracted to come there. It had a museum that had a lot of artifacts. There were books, manuscripts, mosaics, icons, textiles, and jewelry. There was a really cool crown with precious stones created for one of the church patriarchs. There were some cool crosses and some were made of wood. There were some cool paintings of the Archangel Michael. Some of the books dated back to the 6th Century!!! One of the pieces of jewelry was a chest cross donated by Catherine II, Empress of Russia.

The Cave, also called St. John’s Grotto was pretty intense for me. They have a spot marked where he is believed to have slept. Another where he prayed. There is also the crack in the rock made by the voice of God. I sat in there for a while. There was a mean faced monk who kept mean mugging me and coughing. I may have overstayed my welcome with him. LOL! In the museum, there was a nice monk who talked with me about some of the artifacts.

John was pretty old when he died. I heard 90, but I’m not sure if that is true. Keep in mind that most people lived to be 45-50. He was banished to Patmos in 95 AD. He stayed there for two years. It was here that he heard a voice like a trumpet commanding him to write a book to send to the seven churches. Tradition tells that he wrote it in the cave I visited.

There are times when I think of the Bible, and I’m like really. Then there are times when I am acutely aware of my beliefs. I am acutely aware of how important and sacred they are to me. Going to that cave symbolizes a lot to me. It meant a lot. It reinforced my belief that I need to go to Israel and soon.

There was a group of Korean tourists who came when I was there. I was watching them and they keep touching things and praying. I kept marveling about how many people I have met this trip who share my faith. It’s actually pretty cool to see.

I was waiting for four o’ clock tea the day before the Ephesus/Patmos calls, and there was a group doing Bible Study there in preparation for their trip to Ephesus. The leader was talking about Paul. They sang hymnals afterward. I felt honored to have witnessed that.

It’s actually refreshing to be in a country where people respect religion, and I mean relationship with God. There are somethings that are sacred and should be treated with respect.

Cruise Ship/Mykonos

I went to bed at 7:30, and I woke up around 12 and so when my 6 o’clock wake up call came, I had been up for some time.

To test out my fellow travelers, I sat a big table, but no one joined me. LOL. Sometimes I wouldn’t mind the company.

We left the hotel around 7 a.m. to go to our cruise ship.

We finally departed, and I missed the departure from Athens picture because of the lifeboat drill. Their are many excursions, which add up. I had to remember I was on vacation, and I had a budget to keep so I just signed up for the Ephesus one. I felt somewhat pressured, but when I realized that most of them involved getting up at six, I was like, um no. I’m on vacation. I need to rest. I will come back again! Plus with cruising, not enough time at each port. I know, I’m on my soapbox about non-Rick Steve tours and cruising. Pray for me.

I took a three hour nap, and I missed lunch. Just couldn’t get up.

I did get up to meet our group, and we did a walking tour of Mykonos together. The city is basically a maze. I enjoyed wandering in it. It started pouring like torrential rain. I was very soaked and wet. I almost went back to the ship several times, but kept pressing my way through.

It’s pretty cramped, and they have a gossip square for “constructive observations.” Old grandmothers used to sit and watch their neighbors and report what they saw. This is pre KOMO, ABC, and CNN. LOL! You can basically see and hear everything about your neighbors. Hard to imagine whole families living together under one roof but still true today in some parts of the world. Just not my reality. I love and need my privacy. Wow. How could parents be intimate living like that. I am such a prude. LOL

Mykonos was primarily a fishing town and quite poor. During the 50s it became trendy and attracted the jet set so it became popular because people stopped there en route to Delos, which is where Apollo and Artemis are “revered to have been born.” Now, it’s a hot tourist spot. There are over 400 churches on the island. Mothers and wives used to pledge to God that they would build a church if their loved ones came back from fishing safely. So, they honored their pledge by building a church. After a while, people started building them as a way to show they were well to do.

I read that the population for Mykonos Town is around 6000 but then the cruise ships come. I keep wondering about people’s life who actually live there. This now applies to Patmos and Rhodes as well. It’s tough having to rely on tourism. I imagine the world recession made their lives miserable!

There is an area called Little Venice, which I don’t really see why they call it that, but that’s just my opinion. There are windmills that were once used for grinding wheat and barley. They were pretty cool.

I could imagine coming back and having a good time there before going somewhere to actually rest. LOL

The mascot there is a pelican named Petros. He got left behind by a group of migrating pelicans. Poor guy. I think I got a shot of him. Then again, I don’t remember if I ever had a clean shot or not. Hmmm. I guess I will find out.

I just enjoyed walking around, despite the rain. I realize that I like to wander aimlessly. Sometimes I come across dark, unbeaten places and I realize I am traveling alone and may want to go back to the familiar path, but I like walking from areas where the tourist are and seeing where the locals live. I got some good shots.

Then I went to bed, and woke up in the middle of night again and was up when my 5:45 wake up call came. Sigh!

Athens

When I arrived in Athens, I went in search of the Globus rep. I didn’t see her right away. I started to panic, but I was pretty sure I was in the right place so I just chilled and kept watching for someone. Before a mental breakdown, I saw the Globus sign! So, I waited for the rest of the people who would be riding to me.

I discovered we were making two stops. One stop was for the people doing a three-day cruise and the next for the people who were going to do the four-day, which I am on. I met some really cool people who were doing the three-day. There were from Minnesota and part of a Lutheran church group. They were very nice, and I know I would have had a good time with them. I’m glad to have crossed their paths in this journey of life.

So, I checked in and found a cash machine. Then, I walked around my neighborhood, which is nice. Then I did the blog saying I was safe. After that, I met with my group. We had a briefing and made introductions. There are four couples and a pair of friends traveling together for a total of eleven. I now know this about the couples:

The friends traveling are from Australia. One of them is very well traveled and a teacher, and they were in Italy before Greece.

One of the couples are boyfriend/girlfriend, and they are from St. Louis. They flew through Atlanta and his luggage went missing. They actually just got it today.

One couple is from California. They are on a two and half month vacation. She quit her job, and he is taking time off unpaid. They drove across the U.S. for 2 1/2 weeks. Then, they went to Italy, now Greece. After Greece, they head back to the U.S. and will drive back across the county on their return. They are going to start a family soon.

Another couple is from Australia. They are both professors. She in law and he in philosophy. They are celebrating their 30th anniversary! They are both very smart and well traveled.

The final couple is from Wisconsin. He is a retired Methodist preacher and she is a pediatric nurse. We had a long talk about the times and we are not quite sure what God is doing, but something is about to happen. It’s getting “dark” but that is when the light will shine all the brighter. I actually felt very comforted by our conversation.

Our tour guide is interesting. She can be very nice, and she can be short with people, which I find funny. It could be cultural, but you can tell when she doesn’t like what she is hearing. No one has come out and called her rude, but people keep saying she isn’t helpful. LOL

After the meeting, I went to bed. This was around 7:30.

LTB, Paul, and John Oh My

Today was the most amazing day. I will record a long blog for the record books when I have better rates. Began the morning in Asia in Turkey and finished the day in Europe in Patmos. Both totally amazing! The cave in Patmos was very amazing. I can’t explain the feeling. Just awe, but more on that later.

The weather goes from rain to sunshine to rain again. I got soaked last night in Mykonos. I’ve never been so wet that even my underwear were soaked. I know, I know TMI. The rain that came reminded me of how I expected the monsoons to be in India, but they didn’t come when we were there. There was a river running down the streets. I liked Mykonos. The city was designed as a maze to confuse pirates. I enjoyed wandering the backstreets.

I wish we had more time to stay in each port, but as I may or may not have mentioned, I’m over cruising. I need time to linger and wander. I can totally see coming back to Greece and island hopping every two nights. Also totally want to check out Turkey. Was amazed at what I saw. Maybe that is next year?

Anyway I need to sit down and spend like a few logging my notes. I may have a chance tomorrow when we land in Rhodes. We will be at port most of the day, and I saw an Internet cafe on the map. They have to have better rates than the boat.

XOXO