25 Sep 2014 At sea; 27 Sep Athens, Greece; 28 Sep Kusadasi, Turkey

26 Sep 2014
At sea. Full day today. Breakfast then first session of my free boot camp class. Only 5 people showed up. Alex, the trainer, nearly killed us but we certainly needed a hard session after the food and drink we’ve all consumed!

Went to a GoPro session and met Peter there. He was doing a digital camera talk before it. Learnt a few things. Pity I didn’t bring it to try them out!

Saw a short acrobatic display then on to pilates. Not as hard as the boot camp but I will be sore tomorrow!

Formal night tonight. We got prettied up and schmmoozed with the other passengers. Some weird and wonderful outfits out tonight. Lined up for a plethora of formal portraits. Hope they turn out okay. One couple before us in the queue had a little dog with them! Thought that was unusual until the photographer said it was a companion dog and alert to when its owner is having a fit. Had at least half a dozen portraits done then moved on to dinner in the Symphony Restaurant. No bookings but you get an alert when you can get in. Food was great. Took my free bottle of wine voucher. If you don’t use it all they keep it for when you come back. Nice service. Also got a free voucher for a photo of our choice with a frame from the travel agent.

After dinner it was on to the Soul Show which was really good. Motown tunes that we know. Pretty spectacular. Peter wanted to watch the Irish comedian around 11pm but we didn’t stay the whole show. Been a big day. Off to bed around midnight.

27 Sep 2014
In Athens today. Our tour took us to the Acropolis, where the Pantheon is crumbling into ruins even though they are trying to restore it. Also the Sacred Erectheum and the Porch of the Caryatids. Views of Athens below are spectacular. The place was crawling with tourists and we were there by 10am. The number of buses in the place is horrendous.

On to the old town of Plaka shopping district. A short walk around showed that it is very touristy. Apart from a few leather handbag shops we didn’t look at much. And we didn’t buy anything except a cup of coffee in a cafe (and some Greek yogurt with fruit) to kill time before going to Tabepna Karokepinos restaurant for traditional Greek food and dancing. Zorba dancing optional!

Back to the ship to watch it struggle to get out of the port while I read my book. Then on to check tons of portrait photos and be present for the raffle. We didn’t win anything! Late dinner at Symphony Restaurant again. The food is excellent.

28 Sep 2014
Kusadasi, Turkey. Another looong wait to get out of the ship and onto a bus for our tour of Ephesis and Terrace Houses from the 2nd Century! The wind was very strong and the ship had trouble docking. Another ship came in as well.

Fatih was a great guide, very knowledgeable and very respectful. He studied for 5 years to be a guide and is also an inspector of tour groups. We travelled a short distance to the ancient city of Ephesis. It was a slow, downhill walk on rocky ground seeing ruins on the way. The Celsus library has a large entrance and looked like it played an important role in the area. The Great Theatre had seating for around 20,000 and is massive. Fatih showed us a shopping area with logo of a shop as a heart on the front entrance and also in the mosaic floor.

The Terrace Houses are the most recent to have been excavated and contain 6 self-contained dwellings with room for families with servants (they traded slaves in the marketplace). The mosaic floors and wall frescos are very detailed, some are still complete. Only about 10-15 percent of the area has been unearthed. If it ever is all uncovered it will be a massive area.

After the tour we went to a cottage industry shop (Artisan) to see how they hand weave carpets. It is painfully slow and they use wool, cashmere and silk. They are absolutely beautiful. We got to walk on them barefoot to feel the difference. If you turn them around the pile changes like velvet to different shades. I was mesmerised! Of course, I picked a carpet for our hall in green colours. Peter was not keen but I was insistent!

Our 4-hour tour turned into 6 hours. We got back to the ship just before it sailed at 5.30pm after looking at some of the other market stalls and stopping for apple tea and a doner kebab (we missed lunch) at a cafe. It is a fascinating place and I could have spent a lot more time exploring if we were here longer.

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