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Trip Start Oct 10, 2011
Trip End Oct 19, 2011

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Flag of Turkey  , Izmir,
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

it was a long but good 21 hours of travel! No major incidents - well except for the Turkish guy in the Schiphol Airport who those of us with no medical training whatsoever diagnosed with kidney stones!. This poor man was in serious pain; ,fortunately airport authorities took him off the flight and got him to a hospital; hope all is well with him. Istanbul is a pretty city - by night. We pulled out of port at 7:00pm heading for Dikili and the archaeological sit of Pergamon to be explored today. Enjoyed a lovely dinner with the 10 members of our group, a nice way to met everyone at the same time! Dinner was superb and now I am ready for a good sleep. Stay tuned for my update on our first excursion of the tour!

I awoke at 3:30am to the sound of a loud engine and rubber squeaking like a boat pulling alongside. To my sleep deprived and already overly imaginative mind it was clear that we were being boarded by pirates!

Fortunately, I was in the best position to witness this event, my cabin being located next to Reception and the main access doors to the ship. As I peered carefully from the excellent vantage point of my verandah, I realized it was simply the tug boat picking up the local pilot (not a pirate after all) who had guided the L'Austral through the Strait of Dardanelles. I can rest easy.

Not so fast! Wide awake, I thought it might be a good time to catch up on news from home by email and phone.

I slept in later than usual as a result and after enjoying a hot shower went in search of a spot of tea and another vantage place to watch the coastline of Turkey pass by. The Main Lounge was the perfect place with a covered outdoor observation deck with comfy chairs and tables.

Uh Oh! It's Muster time! My aren't we all pretty and glowing in our orange life preservers! A well orchestrated manouevre (despite those guests who put their preservers on backwards!) I  guess we are all set for an emergency.

Not quite ready for mambo lessons, I toured the ship to get familiar with the layout. Most outside decks were still sparse of guests; I think everyone is getting rested up. Plus the ship is only half full, so plenty of room everywhere. It's a nice atmosphere on board already; people are quick to make new acquaintances. Following mambo lessons there is a wii golf game in progress; fun to see guests trying out this interactive technology for the first time.

Lunch will be early today to accommodate our afternoon excursion to Pergamon. I chose to dine at the outdoor grill but stuck to a light menu knowing we'd be climbing a lot of steps. Temperatures and a little sun - perfect weather for the afternoon.

After a 40 min drive we arrived at Pergamon, ascended by funicular, and began out tour. Our guide Shebby was wonderful and her descriptions and stories of wealth of history were enlightening. Next stop was the Asklepion and Shebby gave us a tremendous sense of the 'modernity' of the treatment of psychological disorders from water pools to sleeping quarters and 'whisperers'. Finally we visited a carpet weaving centre and enjoyed demonstrations of all the components from extracting silk to double knotted carpets to the final products. All in all a great educational experience.

This evening was the Captain's welcome reception. There I met Maxine, another Canadian who had thought she was the only one aboard. We enjoyed a lovely and lively dinner with new friends from LSU and Emory, followed by after dinner drinks in the  bar.

Tomorrow promises to be another exciting day with our stop at Gythion, Greece to visit Mystras. Now to bed for a good night's sleep!
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Judy Griffiths on

Hey Mel,
So glad you made it safe and sound...was thinking you might get stuck in Toronto with the work slow down by security staff. I can't wait to hear about your exciting adventures.


Daphne Tao on

Have a great trip Mel. Enjoy the beautiful L'Austral.

Liz Gorman on

You're there! Have a wonderful time. An Oil Thigh at the ruins, perhaps? :)

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