Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 18, 2017

40 World Cruise–Casablanca, Morocco–Apr.16, 2017

I WAS ABLE TO POST THIS AND 39 CADIZ TODAY, SO PLEASE READ 39 BELOW FIRST.  LOVE YOU ALL

Hi All, (Written Apr. 17, 2017)

This will probably be the shortest post of the cruise.  Susy and I last visited Casablanca 13 Nov. 2011.  We saw the three major sites you want to see,  Hassan II Mosque (third largest Mosque in the world), the local Bazaar, and the famous replica of “Rick’s Café” from the movie “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. I did not want to go ashore, but Susy decided she wanted to visit the local Bazaar again.  She spent a few hours there and came out without anything.  It shows how successful she had been at visiting the local markets.

Let’s go through the local history, a few photos I took from the ship, and call it a day.

The port that was once used by the Phoenicians and later the Romans now serves as Morocco’s chief harbor and the largest of North Africa.  It is a major industrial and commercial center for the kingdom of Morocco. Destroyed by Portuguese forces in 1468 because of its reputation for harboring pirates, it came to be known as Casa Branca (white house) at the beginning of the second Portuguese occupation in 1515.  The Muslim invasion of the area in the 7th century converted the local Berber tribes to Islam, still the official religion today.  Backed by the local sultans Casablanca became the center of operation for the Barbary Coast pirates in the 15th century, thus the Portuguese raids.  It gained it’s independence from France in 1956 and today is a Kingdom, with a King.

Here’s a few photos of the port today:

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The Hassan II Mosque up close:

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That’s all for Casablanca, but it was Easter Sunday, so we celebrated at dinner and here are our photos for the evening:

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Happy Easter To You All!!

If I was able to post this with Cadiz in Funchal, it means I will only have to post the Funchal port post and my cruise wrap-up post sometime after Apr. 26th.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ship’s Port Sign:

DSC05154

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 18, 2017

39 World Cruise – Cadiz, Spain–Apr. 15, 2017

Hi All, (Written Apr. 16, 2017)

Cadiz, is one of Spain’s most beautiful ports, and one of our favorites. This is our third visit and probably our best, although the first two were in 2011 and 2012, and we remember great experiences then.

First the history.  This city/port is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western world.  It sits on a peninsula on the southwestern tip of Spain and is almost entirely surrounded by water.  It’s history began in 1100 BC when the Phoenicians founded a trading post there.  It later was controlled by the Carthaginians, until it became a thriving Roman port.  It is best known, however, as a launching point for the journey to the newly discovered lands of the Americas.  Christopher Columbus left from Cadiz on his second voyage.  In recent years it has become a port of entry into the south of Spain, some fishing industry, and a long memory of ancient times when it was a port of entry for the Conquistadors bringing back their hordes of gold.  It is the gateway from the ocean to Seville and Jerez el la Frontera (the center of the sherry industry).

Why do we believe this was our best visit?  It was Good Friday and after a stroll through the streets we got a sidewalk café table right across from the main cathedral.  We hadn’t been there long when we were told the Good Friday procession would be passing right in front of us as they entered the cathedral. As you will see it was beautiful, and that plus Susy’s shopping MADE OUR DAY.

Let’s look at this great day in Cadiz, first the port:

DSC04995 Stitch

Look up close at the old cathedrals, churches, forts, etc..:

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As we walked through the streets to the cathedral plaza I took these shots:

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We finally arrived at the cathedral plaza:

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Sitting at our table across from the cathedral, Susy started talking to two young ladies, because she heard their Argentina accent.  It turns out that one of the girls was born in General Roca, Rio Negro, the same city as Susy (what a small world).  Here’s the two:

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Finally the Good Friday procession, which started and ended with bands playing religious music.  Here’s just a few photos to give you and idea of what we saw over about and hour of the procession filing into the cathedral:

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The procession was mostly many hundreds of men, women, and children dressed in the ancient costumes of "penitents" (someone looking for forgiveness from God for their sins). 

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And the carriage of Our Lords body:

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And the scene of the Virgin Mary

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This was a beautiful procession and the ceremony that followed within the cathedral I’m sure was just as beautiful.

That was it for this wonderful day in Cadiz.  The skies were clear and the temperature in the low 70’s, a perfect day for a perfect port.  Here’s one last photo of Susy as we headed back to the ship, so you can see how happy she is with what we experienced:

DSC05135 

Next is Casablanca, Morocco.  If I’m able to post this in Funchal the next and last port before we reach home, I want you all to know that I will post these last two ports and my cruise wrap-up sometime after Apr. 26th.  Until then,

I Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port Sign:

DSC05029

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 15, 2017

38 World Cruise – Barcelona, Spain–Apr. 12-13, 2017

Hi All, (Written Apr. 14, 2017)

For those of you who recently have joined my Blog, this is quote from my Nov.18, 2011 post the last time we visited Barcelona:

“Everyone knows Barcelona, but a lot of you haven’t heard of the history and culture of the region, Catalunya.  I won’t go into it in depth, but you should know that Catalunya, whose civilization, language, and character have been distinct for almost 2,000 years, extends across the Spanish-French border and centers around Barcelona.  Its borders are set by the people who are Catalan, not by any lines set by kings or governments (this is the same for the Basques, whose center is Bilbao, and extends into France).  Catalunya is the industrial center of Spain and the port of Barcelona is one of the major ports of the Mediterranean.  With a population of over 3 million, Barcelona is a city of contrasts.  It has long been a intellectual and artistic community and it is home to many artists and architects, the most well known, Antoni Gaudi.  Gaudi’s works and style is found everywhere in the region, but none are as famous as his design of the “Sagrada Familia”, a Catholic church that he began construction on in 1883.  The project was stopped in 1926 when Gaudi was hit by a tram and died.  The construction was started again by his disciples and still today is not completed.  It is one of the most beautiful churches in the world, and is a must see if you ever visit Barcelona.”

If you want to view my post on our last visit to Barcelona go to:

16 & 17 Nov. 2011;

Post 10. Atlantic/N. Africa/W. Med Cruise-Port#9 Barcelona, Spain – Day 1

Post 11. Atlantic/N. Africa/W. Med Cruise-Port#9 Barcelona, Spain – Day 2

As to the two days we were in Barcelona, this year, just like in 2011, Marisa took the high speed electric train from Zaragoza and met us on the major boulevard in Barcelona; “Las Ramblas”.  Here is Susy and Marisa in the side walk café ““Café del L’Opera”:

DSC04933

If you scroll down to the last time we met Marisa you will find these two lovely ladies haven’t aged in 6 years.  We spent a long time chatting about the old times with Pepe (Marisa’s late husband) .  From the sidewalk café we decided to move to a “tapas” café, El National.  Here’s the three of us enjoying Spanish tapas:

DSC04938

And the girls again in front of another café entrance:

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For those of you who don’t know Marisa and Pepe,  they were our landlords and more importantly our best friends during the five years we lived in Zaragoza.  We were so close that when Gigi got married the first time they flew to Detroit from Spain to be at her wedding.  We spent the entire afternoon with Marisa and she wanted to say hello and give a big “beso” to all of you who knew her and Pepe in Zaragoza.

Here are a few pictures of “Las Ramblas” as we walked to and from meeting Marisa:

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DSC04927

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DSC04950

As the evening approached, I felt a little heavy headed, not well, so we headed back to the ship.  When we got back to the ship, we found I had a high temperature.  We visited Medical and I was told I had a flu, got medicated up, and headed for bed.  Needless to say I wasn’t in shape to go ashore on Day 2 in Barcelona and Susy was (as usual) a saint and stayed aboard to take care of me.  Don’t worry about me because it must have been a one or two day flu, because as I’m writing this post my temperature is normal, and I feel great.

Before I close I do want to show you a picture of a famous fort that overlooks the port and has protected it for centuries:

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A Lighthouse:

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And a look at the harbor opening:

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Well it’s on to Cadiz, Spain, Saturday, Apr. 15, 2017.  We only have Cadiz, Casablanca, and Funchal left and then it’s on to the Atlantic and home.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S.  No Port signs for Barcelona because I was going to take it on Day 2.

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 12, 2017

37 World Cruise–Palma de Mallorca–Apr. 11, 2017

Hi All, (Written Apr. 11, 2017)

Susy and I last visited Palma Nov. 18, 2011.  If you want to read that post you have to scroll way down to our 11th cruise, Atlantic, N. Africa, W. Med..  Today Susy was under the weather, so I went ashore just to do some internet, and take some photos of how Palma has changed.  I’m going to copy some of the history from my 2011 post, but all the photos are from today.

Palma is the largest city and administrative center of the Spanish province of the Balearic Islands.  The Balearic’s consist of five islands: Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera, and Cabrera (in order of size).  If we look at the history of the Balearic Islands, we see first the influence of the Moors who occupied them during their reign over the Iberian Peninsular from the 8th century until about the 13th century.  They were retaken by King Jaume II in the 13th century, and for a brief era formed an independent kingdom, the Mallorcan Kings known throughout southern Europe.

We’ll start with a panoramic view of the port:

DSC04828 Stitch 

The Terminal:

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Here’s some close-ups of various interesting structures taken from our ship, starting with a lighthouse:

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A Fort:

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A Castle:

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Gun placements (looks like WWII vintage):

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Yachts and boats moored in the harbor by the hundreds:

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A look at some of the streets:

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The city has a wall and here is a look at a small section:

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One of the highlights of Palm is the Palace and Cathedral. From far off you will see the former residence of the Arab kings called the “Palacio de la Almudaina” which later became the royal house of Mallorca when the Balearics gained independence.  Behind it is Palma’s gothic “Seo Cathedral”, which was begun in the 13th century and took 300 years to build.

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Finally on the way back to the ship; several views of the Palma landscape and coastline:

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Palm and the Balearic Islands are another one of the Mediterranean jewels.  These islands are the playgrounds for Europe’s rich and famous.  There are beautiful beaches of all kinds and the weather is good most of the year.

On to Barcelona, Spain, tomorrow and the next day, Apr. 12 & 13, 2017.  Until then:

Love You All,

Gary (Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port Signs:

DSC04844

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 11, 2017

36 World Cruise–Valletta, Malta–Apr. 9, 2017

Hi All, (Written Apr. 10, 2017)

As I begin to write this post, I am truly lost in how to provide you with a good review of Valletta. I took no less than 260 photos of this port, one of the most beautiful in the world.  It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.  It now has hit me, that we can visit hundreds of ports and there still will be one more beautiful port to see.  As you can tell, this again is a place Susy and I would love to return to a spend a week or two exploring Valletta and the entire Malta country/island.

Briefly, Malta lies in the middle of the Mediterranean about halfway between Sicily and the north coast of Africa.  Due to its location it has been a strategic island for centuries.  It was developed by the Hospitallers (Knights of St. John of Jerusalem) who were forced out by the French in 1798.  A Maltese revolt in 1800 led to a seizure by the British.  During WWII it was a strategic base for the British and was heavily bombed by the Germans.  It later became an independent country/island.

Now for the photos.  The city is built almost entirely from a golden stone which it seems is cut out of Mount Sceberras, the site of Valletta. Here’s the side of the rock up close:

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A few photos of the overall port of Valletta in it’s Grand Harbor:

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DSC04738

As you can see there is a promenade (those tents are one sidewalk café after another) along the harbor, with the city built up high, surrounded by a solid wall, making the whole port a well fortified fort.  We had to walk up the promenade and take a elevator up to the city level.  Let’s look at the city in segments:

First the entrance coming out of the elevator:

DSC04626 

To the right one of the canon installations defending the city:

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To the left the entrance gate to the city:

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Now a few streets:

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The churches, for it seemed as if there was one in every block:

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The main cathedral, St. John’s Cathedral, was completely covered in scaffolds being renovated so I couldn’t get photos of Malta’s most beautiful church.

There were plazas everywhere.  Here’s a few, including first a plaza that has  outdoor tables for one of Valletta’s  oldest cafes famous for their pastries (which Susy and I had to taste):

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Some doors that were unbelievable:

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Susy and I had a great time enjoying this beautiful city.  Here’s a few of ourselves:

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Lastly, Susy with a local policeman, in front of one of the major government buildings:

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Well, that’s the best I can do to give you a look at Valletta, Malta (Malta’s capital).  Everyone we have talked to on the ship praised this port.  It has to be one of the most beautiful in the world. If you want to see more you know you all have an open invitation to view the other 200+ photos I have on this port, plus any other one once we get home (which is coming up soon).

Next it is on to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port Sign:

DSC04605

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 9, 2017

35 World Cruise–Mykonos, Greece–Apr. 7, 2017

I’M MAKING TWO POSTS TODAY, SO PLEASE READ 34. HERKLION BELOW FIRST.

Hi All, (Written Apr. 8, 2017)

Mykonos is one of the smallest islands of the eastern Cyclades group of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.  This is another of the Greek islands that looks like it was taken off a movie set of a Greek island.  All white buildings, both commercial and residential, on the slopes of hills/mountains surrounding beautiful blue Mediterranean waters.  We have arrived at another Greek paradise.  Before we go ashore look at the port from the ship:

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Up close, the houses:

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Again, in a port like this there is only one thing to do; get off the ship and walk the promenade along the harbor and wander through the lovely side streets with there many different shops, sidewalk cafes, and churches.  So, off we go with Susy welcoming us to Mykonos:

DSC04484 

From the ship we walk along the promenade toward the city center:

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We encounter a welcome to the city center:

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An information map of the port:

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A small square as we enter the central promenade:

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The promenade:

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One outdoor café after another:

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More promenade:

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The city is famous for it’s windmills, it’s sign has four of them on top of a mountain.  Susy and I were not up to climbing up a mountain to see them so I took this photo of a photo them in a store window:

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With my telephoto lens, one up close:

DSC04528 

Here’s Susy resting at the entrance to one of the side streets off the promenade:

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And one of the many churches:

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And, of course, Susy lighting a candle and praying for us:

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Down every side street outdoor cafes and shops:

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How do you like my new hat?

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Susy says I look like her "Marlboro" man????lol. 

Churches everywhere:

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We took a water bus back to the ship.  Here’s Susy enjoying the open air aboard even though it’s a little cold:

DSC04549 

As is usual on all these islands there are ruins everywhere reminding us of the history of this great area:

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And lastly we can’t forget the beautiful water that surrounds these islands:

DSC04446

I want to close Mykonos by saying that Susy and I are running out of superlatives to describe these Greek island ports.  We though Rhodes was amazing, but Mykonos seams to equal it in beauty.  These islands are worth returning to and spending a week or two on each one to really enjoy the life and sites that we are just quickly passing by.

Next is another island/country, this time Valletta, Malta on Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ship’s Port Sign:

DSC04473

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 9, 2017

34 Heraklion (Iraklion), Crete, Greece–Apr. 6, 2017

Hi All, (Written Apr. 7, 2017)

Heraklion is the administrative center of the Greek island of Crete. Crete is the largest island and one of the 13 administrative regions (perifereies) 0f Greece.  The first European civilization was the "Minoan".  Crete was one of the centers of the Minoan civilization (as is Greece) and contains many remains and sites of those times.

Susy and I decided to just go into the town and walk around, but before that let’s look at the port from the ship: 

DSC04383

As you can see this is not a typical Greek port where the city is built next to the port.  It’s flat for a mile or two around the port and we had to take a shuttle bus to the center of Heraklion.  The two photos below give you a since of how far out we were:

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As we headed out from the port we encountered this port sign:

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A look out to the bay gave us a look at one of the forts to defend the town:

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The first thing we found as we walked into the town was the local McDonalds:

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Susy stopped to rest at one of the first ruins we encountered:

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Now, some of the street scenes:

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A plaza:

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A lot of outdoor cafes (typical Greek:

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The Town Hall and it’s entrance:

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Another street:

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And now what Susy and I believe is the jewel of Heraklion, an old fort along side a lovely marina:

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We had to end our day by sitting at an outdoor café and having a Greek beer, while looking at this lovely marina:

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Now it’s on to Mikonos, Greece, another beautiful Greek island, Apr. 7, 2017.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu),

P.S. Ships Port Sign:

DSC04389

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 6, 2017

33 World Cruise–Nafplion, Greece–Apr. 5, 2017

Hi All, (Written Apr. 5, 2017)

Today was our first (and I believe only) tender port.  For those of you who don’t know what that means, it is when the ships lifeboats are used to get you to the main port pier. Here is a tender:

DSC04315

Each one of these tenders (life boats) holds 120 passengers.

There isn’t much I can tell you about Nafplion except it is located in the east of the island of Peloponnese (which was a peninsula until the Corinth Canal was built between the Saronic Gulf and the Aegean Sea effectively cutting off Peloponnese from the Greek mainland).  Nafplion is just a small Greek port with its ruins from ancient times, mostly forts to defend it in the past.  It was a cloudy, chilly day, so Susy and I decided to just go in and walk around the port.

From the ship at anchor here is a few shots of what you could see:

DSC04320 Stitch

DSC04312 Stitch

A closer look at one of the mountains and its fort ruins:

DSC04322 Stitch

A fort ruins in the middle of the bay we passed going in on the tender:

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Some ruins above the port:

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From far back:

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A look along the promenade:

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Some typical street scenes:

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Don’t worry Susy got a good day of shopping:

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And lastly a large plaza where there were  many outdoor restaurants:

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The other side:

DSC04364

That’s it for Nafplion and it’s off to the next island port, Iraklion, Greece, tomorrow, Apr. 6, 2017.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port Sign:

DSC04343

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 5, 2017

32 World Cruise–Piraeus (Athens), Greece–Apr. 3&4, 2017

Hi All, (Written Apr. 4, 2017)

Athens is a city the Guertin’s know well.  When Gigi was young we stayed in Athens for over a week, and apart from seeing all the ruins, spent New Years Eve in a Greek Tavern, breaking dishes with the locals at midnight.

Most of you know Athens, but I’ll just say it is the capital of Greece, and one oldest cities in the world, dating back 7000 years.  It’s also commonly known as the birthplace of democracy.

Susy and I spent both days riding the Hop-on, Hop-off Tour buses.  I’ll just go through a few of the sites beginning with a church named after one of our family, St. Nicholas Church:

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This one we all know, the Acropolis, (under restoration) with many buildings dating back to the fourth century B.C.:

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Susy waiting for the Hop-On Bus:

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Now this is a bunch of photos as we went along.  I won’t name them all (because I’m not sure of the names), but this will give you a good idea of this beautiful, historic city: (Gigi, we think this first photo of ruins is were we got the souvenir)

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The changing of the guards at this government building:

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The original Olympic Stadium, completely restored, and the only stadium in the world made entirely of white marble:

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Many, many, sidewalk cafes:

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More ruins atop a hill:

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Returning to the ship we pass along the beautiful shore line with these small bays:

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That’s Athens, so now it’s back to the Greek Islands, the first Nafplion, Greece, tomorrow, Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2017. Until then:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port Sign:

DSC04188

Posted by: Gary Guertin | April 4, 2017

31 World Cruise–Rhodes, Greece–Apr. 2, 2017

I’M POSTING THREE POSTS TODAY, SO PLEASE START READING AT 29-2 PETRA BELOW.

Hi All, (Written Apr. 2, 2017)

As I said in the last post we’re in the Mediterranean and this week is Greek week, with Rhodes today, Athens the next two days, and one Greek island after the other in the following days.  All I can say is we started with one of the most beautiful islands in the Greek nation.  Rhodes is one of the largest of the Greek islands and often considered the most beautiful.  Most of the island’s character is owed to the 213 years (starting about 1291 AD) when it was occupied by the Knights of the Order of St. John, who were responsible for its nearly impregnable walls and gates, along with its hospitals and churches. Rhodes is a World Heritage City.

From the ship let’s look at the walled city:DSC04062

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One of the many marinas:

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Susy and I welcome you to take a walk inside the City walls:

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We go through the city gate:

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And were do we find Susy?

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You got it, outside the first shop inside the gate.  When you pass into the city you see one of the most beautiful streets of historic ruins mixed in with the finest outdoor restaurants and shops.  I’m just going to let a few photos give you an idea of this main thoroughfare (I took 130 photos):

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Restaurants everywhere, at and above the main street:

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Susy at one of the many fountains along the way:

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and I was there:

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One last look at a street of shops:

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Finally we returned to the ship only because we were out of time.  We could stroll through these streets for days and would love to come back some time and do just that.

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I haven’t showed you the Amsterdam in a long time, so here it is ready to take us on to the next port, Piraeus (Athens), Greece, Monday and Tuesday, Apr. 3 & 4, 2017:

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Until then, Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port Sign:

DSC04076

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