Med Cruise 2010

Our Trip to the French Riviera and Cruise of Mediterranean in 2010

Marguerite sometimes feels life is passing her by and has a need to go someplace. This was one of those occasions. We looked for a cruise we wanted to do and we eventually picked a Greek Isle/et al. cruise to places we mostly have visited before. For this reason George decided to add on the French Riviera since he had never been there but forgot how old we were and, as usual, we ended up over doing it. George is not interested in going anyplace for a long time after this trip, we have a mini-vacation schedule in October, but that is it for "the Georgie". Marguerite on the other hand is going back to Turkey in September for a land tour with some friends of hers.

Nice, France

Our first stop was Nice, France. We decided to use this city, developed by rich British and Russian aristocracy during the 1800s, as a base of operations. Anybody who was anybody had a minor mansion in Nice back then and as a result Nice is covered with old mansions used mostly as apartments today. In this photo Marguerite is in front of the City Opera House which is located on their boardwalk. The beach is not that nice since there is very little natural sand on the Riviera. But they import it when needed.


With Nice as our base of operations we could take the train anyplace. So one day we took the train to the Principality of Monaco. Only problem was May is Gran Prix season so Monte Carlo is a mess with tons of blocked streets. The day we were there was the day of the Classics. Classic race cars from the 1950s and earlier were racing the circuit with amateur drivers for the most part. They were spinning out and creating one hell of a lot of noise given the reverberation off the tall condominiums. In this photo you see Marguerite's head observing the race from a hill. There is no flat place in Monaco.

While in Monaco we visited the Palace and the Aquarium. If somebody forced us to live here, we would accept. Very clean, very organized, very together city, and pretty beautiful too. This is one of three places on this trip we would live.


We then got a guided tour of Cannes. In this photo you see Marguerite on the Cannes beach in front of the auditorium where they hold the Cannes Film Festival. The festival started the following week so we were there during the set up. Cannes is a beautiful commercial, imported sand, Gucci Beverly Hills type place with crowded streets and beautiful everything. This is not where we would want to live.

12th Century Village

On the way to Cannes, we stopped at this beautiful 12th century village up in the hills. Small streets and very quaint. The surrounding valley looked so much like Escondido - I was shocked, ok it was greener. Beautiful area.


It was now time to go to Venice, Italy, to pick up our cruise ship. But that was an 8 hour train ride so we decided to stop off in Genoa, Italy, the capital of the Italian Riviera. We left Nice at 8 AM and by 2 PM we were checked into our Genoa hotel and touring Genoa. Genoa and Venice used to fight each other in the middle ages as they were the leading European traders in the Mediterranean. Venice eventually won. In the photo you see Marguerite standing in front of what is proported to be Columbus' home. We toured the home and the adjoining old town. The old town of Genoa has very narrow streets with winding cobble stone streets. One could get lost forever.

Our Ship

The next day we got on the train again and ended up in Venice with tons of luggage looking for our ship. Well George checked this out with Google Earth before we left and knew exactly where to go, without luggage and a wife. With luggage and a wife, it got too complex so we got a taxi to drive us 1.5 miles, or 1200 yards as the crow flies, to our ship waiting for us in the harbor. The Holland American Westerdam is a very large ship with over 2000 passengers and was built in Venice in 2004. It was to be our home for the next 12 days.

Our Cruise

Our trip started in Venice and ended in Venice. From Venice we went to Split, Croatia, founded by Emperor Diocletian in circa 300 AD. We then went to Athens and toured the Parthenon. On to Istanbul to tour Mosques, Churches, and Palaces. Then to Mykonos and Delos for some Greek history and then to Ephesus for some Roman history. Then to Santorini for some Minoan history (rather the destruction thereof). Back to Greece and Olympia. This is where they had the Olympics and religious services to the Greek Gods. Finally, back to Venice for more touring of that city. The Venice Lido island was a very pleasant surprise. By the end of the trip we could get around Venice via water bus better than Escondido.

Venice & Murano & Burano

Marguerite and I have been to Venice before so we had no need to tour. However on our first full day we took a tour of Murano and the famous glass works plus Marguerite wanted to buy some handmade lace at the lace island near Murano. The first three photos below show a Murano glass blowing demo, the leaning tower of Murano, and Marguerite shopping for lace on the lace island (Burano).

After the cruise we spent a night in Venice and below you can see our hotel along the canal, Marguerite having lunch near our hotel (one could see the snow covered alps in the background), George near the gondola rides, St. Marks Square under high tide and flooded, and finally Marguerite, with bad leg, sitting on a park bench on lovely Lido Island.

Split, Croatia

Split (got its name from a local yellow flowering bush) was founded by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 305 AD. This was to be his retirement home and he was buried here. However he persecuted the Christians so when they took over they dug him up from his grave and put in some Christian martyrs in his place. His temple became a Christian Church and is the same today. The city is coming out of communist rule and becoming more a modern city of the west.

The first picture below shows a mural depicting the original castle/city, the second is George in the castle (they were having a flower festival), the third photo shows Marguerite out back looking at a giant statue of a middle ages leader, then two photos of Marguerite enjoying an old fashioned Croatian lunch, and finally a photo of Split from our ship.

Athens, Greece

We had both been to Athens before so this was a visit reliving our youth (MJ in '64, GD in '83). Because of the strikes by government workers we were expecting the worst, but because it was a weekend, we saw no problems. Athens is a large city with a nice atmosphere.

The first picture below shows Marguerite in front of the new outdoor stadium built for the 2004 Olympics. The remaining photos shows us at the Acropolis.

Istanbul, Turkey

George had been to Istanbul before so he knew what to expect. This city is like no other. We started with a dinner cruise on the Bosporus. We had some Turkish delights and a view of mega-million dollar homes on the river. We did not realize how luxurious this area was. The next day we had tours of the Blue Mosque, Topkopi Palace, and we walked all over the old city (got a McDonalds burger too).

The first picture below shows us on our dinner cruise on the Bosporus, second shows the Bosporus shore line, third shows Marguerite at the Blue Mosque, the fourth shows our cruise ship as seen from the old city, next is entrance to Topkopi Palace, and finally we see George on the deck of our ship with the Blue Mosque in the distance.

Mykonos and Delos, Greece

George and Marguerite had been to Mykonos before so were not too excited about this stop. However, Delos is a historic place George was excited to go (an island near Mykonos was a Greek history holy place where Apollo was born (not our dog but the big guy Apollo) and where thousands of years of settlements are preserved by the Greek government).

The first pictures show us on Delos looking at history that goes back 3000+ years. The last photo shows Marguerite getting ready to shop on Mykonos.

Ephesus, Turkey

George had been to Ephesus before but Marguerite had not. However it was much more hot and crowded than 27 years before. We started off with a tour of the Virgin Mary's House. According to local legend Mary lived her final years here. Then we toured Ephesus. The big deal about Ephesus is this large Roman city had its harbor silt up, therefore everyone left leaving a great Roman City pretty much as it was in about 200 AD. This city is where Paul spoke to the Ephesians and Mark Anthony and Cleopatra honeymooned and the Temple of Diana (a wonder of the world) existed. See info on Temple of Artemis/Diana.

The first picture shows a a statue of the Virgin Mary and the second picture shows a reconstruction of her house. Marguerite got some holy water from this site to give to Debbie Martin. The next four pictures show us touring Ephesus.

Santorini and Olympia, Greece

George was sick and under quarantine when we arrived at Santorini. Flu or food poising? Anyway we stayed on the ship and did not see Santorini other than from our balcony. Olympia was a sacred city with many many monuments to the Greek gods and locations for the original Greek Olympic Games. There also was a great museum here.

The first picture shows the cable ride at Santorini. Santorini is nothing more than a volcano with the lips of the caldera showing. The following pictures are in Olympia, Greece, and inside their museum.

Marguerite & George

Our trip was most enlightening and most exhausting. We are not spring chickens anymore and three weeks is more than we can handle, especially with luggage. The most pleasant cities we would live in for part of the year, given the millions of dollars required for a small place would be: Monte Carlo, Istanbul on the Bosporus Waterfront, and the Venice Lido.

Below you can see photos of us enjoying our stay on the Holland America Westerdam.

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