The next morning, we drove from Athens to the nearby port of Piraeus, where we boarded our wee little ship, the Aegean Pearl, and set sail on a three-day island-hopping cruise of the Greek isles.
That first evening, we visited the island of Mykonos, which is largely known as “the party island.” Maybe it’s because it was a gray evening with some scattered light rain, but I found it to be a very quiet, peaceful place. For dinner, I bought a vegetarian gyro (tomatoes, red onions, peppers, and lettuce, hold the tzatziki) from a crowded little order-at-the-counter place. Now, what I’m about to tell you may shock you: in Greece, gyros are topped with “chips.” That’s right—all true, “authentic” Greek gyros have a big handful of french fries inside. Strange but true! It was really alien to me, but I found it to be a surprisingly tasty addition.
I wandered the ultra-narrow streets from dusk to nightfall, then enjoyed a relaxing and scenic walk back to the ship, admiring the cubic white-and-blue buildings dotting the landscape.
The next morning, we arrived at our one non-Greek stop on the cruise: TURKEY! We docked at the port city of Kusadasi, south of Istanbul.
I left the group and took an excursion by bus into the countryside and up a small mountain, to the house where the Virgin Mary supposedly died. I have a scholarly interest in such things.
After that, I visited the ancient city of Ephesus. We had all thought Pompeii was pretty cool, but it can’t even hold a candle to Ephesus. It was huge, and densely littered with ruins.
Some of them were downright majestic, such as the library…
…and the mammoth amphitheatre.
Epic! I loved it. It was thrilling to stroll the very streets on which Anthony and Cleopatra once tread.
After Ephesus, I had just enough time to do a little bit of browsing at the bazaar.
The sellers at these markets are pushy and rather in-your-face to begin with, but the Turks seemed to take a particular liking to me. I suppose a pale-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl is exotic to them in some way? I was stopped several times and told I was “beautiful,” “an angel,” “a Barbie,” etc. Many of them also enthusiastically pointed out that my eyes resemble the Eye of Medusa, a talisman widely used in Greece and Turkey to ward off evil. It’s everywhere over there—you see it in jewelry, décor, artwork, pottery, carpets, on front doors, even embedded into sidewalks.
The bazaar was quite an experience, to say the least! I returned to the ship with apple tea and Turkish delight in tow. Turkish delight is a chewy, jelly-like candy made of starch and sugar and flavored with such things as rosewater, nuts, fruit flavors, and more. I picked up a small box of the chocolate-coconut kind, which wasn’t available to try a bite of in the shops. It was ok, but I wished I had bought the classic mixed-fruit-with-pistachio variety that I’d sampled. If you can ever get your hands on some, that’s the one I’d recommend.
I know this entry was light on food, but that will soon be made up for. More Greece is up next!