Windmills and Whitewashed Homes of the Greek Isles

Trip Start Apr 03, 2007
Trip End Jun 16, 2007

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Flag of Greece  ,
Monday, May 21, 2007

I've entered the second phase of my trip: Cruising the Med!  I met up with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law at the airport in Rome, and we set sail about 5:30 PM on the 19th.  First stop: the beautiful Greek island of Mykonos.
I got up quite early to catch the airport shuttle from Rome Termini station in order to meet up at the airport.  Their plane (coming via Newark on Alitalia) got in around 8:00 AM, but it took about an hour to get their bags and make it through passport control and customs.  They were quite tired from the back-to-back flights, so we just plopped down in a café in the airport for a couple hours and talked, catching up on their travels and my recent ones in Rome (while I was out taking in the city, they were sitting on planes).  Luckily, their flights went relatively smoothly (slight delay out of Portland, but they and their bags made the connection just fine in Newark).  Around noon we caught a taxi to the port in Civitavecchia, about an hour's drive from the airport.  It was a nice spacious van, and the taxi driver got us right to the port entrance, where we got our bags tagged, , got checked in for the cruise, and were onboard within 30 minutes.  We're cruising on Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas.  It's a nice ship, with 11 decks and around 2,000 passengers (half of which are Americans).  Before pulling out of port, we walked around to get familiar with the ship.  As with all RC ships, it has a rock climbing wall, minigolf, ping pong tables, a library with good selection of books and games, and wireless Internet access (not very cheap, unfortunately, though).
We watched from the upper deck as the ship pulled away from the dock and was turned around (with some assistance from a tugboat), and then pulled out into the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean.  We were out to sea!  It's a 12-night cruise, sailing to Mykonos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Limassol, Alexandria, Pireus, Naples, and finally back to Rome.  I'm really excited about the itinerary, since so many of these places are important historically or culturally.  Plus, trying all the different foods in the countries we're visiting is going to be great.  The food onboard is excellent as well.  The dinners are sit down, 4-course meals, with great selections of meat, seafood, pastas, and of course, dessert!  It's really way too easy to eat way too much on a cruise.  It seems like you're eating all the time, but the food is so good you just can't help filling up.
The "Welcome Aboard" show was a plate spinner/balancing act, followed by a pair of adagio dancers.  Pretty impressive balancing skills, and the male dancer must have been very strong to do the lifts he did.  After the show, the other 3 of us were so tired from the low sleep flight that we crashed out and slept in the next morning until 10:00.  That day was a day at sea (no port calls), so we just relaxed (and ate, of course).  We got in a fun game of Trivial Pursuit in the library, and then got on our tuxes for the first formal dinner of the cruise (there's one more later on).  I felt a bit like James Bond 007 after getting the whole thing put together (cuff links, studs and all), but the dinner was very elegant and delicious (tried the escargot, not bad at all).  The show afterwards featured Domenick Allen (from rock group Foreigner among others), and was quite entertaining.  He played 3 instruments (sax, guitar, and clarinet), and the musical selection ranged from swing to country rock (The Eagles), to several of Foreigner's hits.  For the finale, he did an all-out Michael J Fox "Back to the Future"-style guitar jam, including playing behind his back and with his mouth.  It was energetic to say the least.
The third day of the cruise, we pulled into the harbor of Mykonos around 1:00 PM.  Mykonos is an island in the center of the Aegean Sea.  The buildings there are the typical Greek Isle whitewashed style, with the blue trim color that the Greek Isles are famous for (blue and white are the colors of the Greek flag).  We rode a tender boat from our ship to the shore, and walked around the main town on the island (Chora).  The old windmills are the most noticeable feature, up on top of the hill overlooking the town.  We ducked in and out of the narrow cobblestone streets, looking at the various wares in the shops.  Most of the shops were small little places, with the owner sitting inside waiting for someone to come along.  We climbed up a lot of stairs to a great overlook point of the whole town, with several cruise ships visible in the harbor.  With the sun shining off the white buildings, it looked very warm and exotic.  We stopped in for lunch at an outdoor café that served all kinds of Greek food.  We sampled the Moussaka, sipped on Ouzo, and finished it off with a wonderful Baklava.  Mykonos is definitely a neat place, a bit touristy, but it was offset by the neat buildings and fun shops, and great Greek food.
Tomorrow: Ancient Greek Ruins of Ephesus (in Turkey!)
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