We were absolutely amazed by the traffic in Athens. We only traveled 7 miles, but it took almost an hour. Our tour guide told us that the government has made rules to try to decrease traffic – on even days, only cars with even numbers at the end of their license plate are allowed to drive; on odd days, odd numbers. Our guide laughed and said she thinks everyone now owns two cars one of each, odd and even. Gas is about $8 a gallon (we saw as high as $10, and the lowest was $6.50 in the countries we visited) so there are a lot of mopeds and motorcycles. We were aghast at how the motorcyles are driven. They dash in and out weaving between cars and trucks often going 60 or more mph!! yikes! And it seemed very common for the motorcycles to drive in between the lanes.
We visited the Acropolis. How amazing to walk around these ruins and try to wrap your head around how old these stones really are and what kind of people walked here hundreds of years ago.
Here is a typical street in what’s called the Plaka in Athens. It’s a several block square of town where no vehicles are allowed – the entire area is pedestrian only. Lots of shops, street vendors, and places to eat. We found a tiny restaurant off the beaten path where we were the only people who were not local. Had an excellent lunch of pork pita platter while we watched people go by.
Leaving Athens, we spent one day at sea while traveling to Turkey:
This is the view from our bus looking back on the harbour where our ship is docked.
The highlight of Turkey was our visit to Ephesus. This ancient town is the one Paul wrote his letter to in Ephesians in the New Testament. They had a hospital, a library, temples, shops, homes with heat and plumbing….. amazing.
I was struck endlessly by the beauty we found — this is a floor made of tile. I’d love to have seen it when it was newly installed!
This is the stadium where Paul preached to the people of Ephesus.
We were actually docked in a small town called Kusadasi, about 30 miles from Ephesus. It was a quaint town very dependent on tourism. We walked up beyond the tourist area to see how the people really live. Very simply would be an appropriate answer.
Rug weaving is a dying art in Turkey according to what we were told. The government is working with the University to teach women to weave. The patterns they use are handed down from mother to daughter and each family has their own patterns with very little exchanging between families. If you look at this picture, you’ll see the pattern sitting on a ledge about eye level to the woman. It looks like a cross stitch pattern. The white area is thousands of very thin strong warp strings. The woman looks at the pattern, chooses the right color of thread and two of those thousands of strings, and knots the thread onto 2 warp strings. It was amazing to watch.
A woman, if skilled, can complete 9 square yards of carpet in her lifetime. Think about that….. It is slow tedious work. The wool rugs have about 500 knots per square inch; the silk rugs can easily have over 1100 knots per square inch. The rugs are breathtakingly beautiful.
And here is Steve, back on board our ship. We’re preparing to leave Turkey on our way back to Italy.
We spent the next day at sea, and then we arrived in Naples:
It was really cool to stand there and see the castle and the train station and the ferry landing where I spent time when I was 16 years old. I did not have the time to explore the area as we had two tours to do that day:
A street in Pompeii
Standing in a plaza, looking up another street in Pompeii.
This is a long shot of Herculaneum. It’s hard to see in this picture, but if you look closely, you can see where they’ve built new buildings on top of ruins. The experts speculate that most of the ancient town of Herculaneum actually lies underneath the new town….
a mosaic of thousands of tiny tiles – a decoration inside one of the homes of Herculaneum.
Steve and me standing on what would have been inside a home in Herculaneum.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more pictures and stories. Four more towns to visit…….