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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby judgegeoff » 30 Oct 2020 08:30

Day 6 - Monday 28th September 2015 – Antalya, Turkey


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When we woke up this morning we were already berthed in our penultimate Turkish port, the ancient city of Antalya. After another excellent breakfast, we left the ship at 9:20 am to catch the 9:30 shuttle into the town. As we walked down the gangplank we saw a white minibus, full of passengers, leaving the quay. We were told that a much bigger blue bus would be coming at 10:00 am, so sat on a shaded bench to await it. By the time the bus appeared a large crowd had gathered, but by sly manoeuvring we made sure that we were amongst the first to get on the bus. It seemed that there was only one bus doing the shuttle journey and so some of that crowd would have had a long wait.

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A taxi to the city centre, for 4 passengers, would cost 15 Euros. Had we known this we would not have waited for the bus.

The bus dropped us in the city centre, near a park, after a 20 minute journey (so it would have been at least 45 minutes round trip before the bus returned to the ship). We stopped for coffees at a restaurant with outdoor shaded seating overlooking the harbour and the owner, Ali, seemed delighted when he found out that we were from England. His brother lived in Hartlepool where he told us the 'Monkey hangers' lived and was over the moon when we told him we knew all about this. During the Napoleonic Wars a French warship had foundered off the coast of Hartlepool and the only survivor was the ship's mascot, a monkey dressed in an officer's uniform. The local people had never seen a Frenchman but had been told that they were demonish, so held a trial, found the Frenchman (monkey) guilty of being a spy and had hung him. Thereafter the residents of Hartlepool have been known as 'Monkey hangers'!. I had attended many meetings at Hartlepool Power Station and so was aware of this rather amusing (but not for the monkey) story. We very nearly, but not quite, got free coffees!

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Chris enjoying her coffee, overlooking the harbour.

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The Hartlepool Monkeyhangers.

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The harbour.

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Looking out to sea.

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We watched this pirate ship sail out.

The picturesque harbour was accessed via a modern elevator that was free to use. It was very pleasant walking around the harbour with its enticing restaurants and the numerous charter and tour boats, many of them decorated to resemble pirate ships.

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Down in the harbour – it looked more 18th century than 21st century!

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This vessel must belong to Captain Davy Jones (from the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films).

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Chris and I love walking around harbours and marinas.

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A pretzel seller in the harbour.


We returned to the town via the elevator and visited some of the local sights, the Broken and Fluted Minarets and the Clock Tower. We visited a couple of bazaars, but found the sellers too persistent in their salesmanship. We tried to find 'Hadrian's Gate' but were unable to locate it so decided to return to the Harbour area, but this time by foot down through the old town with its interesting buildings.

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The fluted minaret of the Alaadin Mosque, originally built in 1230, but rebuilt in 1373.

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The Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower).

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Interesting roofs.

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House for sale, needs a little modernisation and TLC.

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Antalya’s colourful trams were hard to miss!

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Walking back down to the harbour ……

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….. was a very enjoyable stroll.

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This building needed a bit of TLC. We hoped it wasn’t the Tuvana Hotel!

Back down at the Harbour we selected a nice looking restaurant and had a really excellent lunch. Chris had a dish of giant prawn peri peri with olives and brown bread, whilst I had a delicious fillet steak, washed down with a couple of glasses of nice wine each, made from grapes grown on the hillsides above the town. As we ate a cat came and sat by our table and, by the time we had finished there were no less than four cats sat watching us!

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We had lunch in this harbourside restaurant.

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Cheers! The meal was excellent and the wine too.

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This little cat joined us at our table …..

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….. but was soon joined by three others!

After lunch we made our way back to the town via the elevator and, as we approached our shuttle stop, saw that the blue bus was already there. Soon after we boarded it the bus left to take us back to the ship. The bus dropped us by the ship's gangway which was fortunate as it had just started to spot with rain.

Back in the cabin, Chris had a nap while I read one of my books, we found out later that we had missed a terrific storm (sometimes it is better to have an inside cabin!). When Chris awoke we showered, dressed and then went for dinner. We were shown to a table for 6 and I was sat next to an elderly lady named Brenda and the waiters were making a big fuss of her. It turned out that Brenda had completed over 40 cruises with the Line and so was well known on board. We asked Brenda what she had done in Antalya and she told us that she had gone to look for a particular park. This park had been a great favourite of her and her late husband and she had planned to spread his ashes in the park. Unfortunately, there were 3 parks and Brenda was unable to find their 'special' spot, so had returned to the ship with the ashes intact. She was very philosophical about her day and joked. that her husband would have to wait another year before being laid to rest in their special park. An amazing lady! We enjoyed dining with different people every night and we had some very good company during our meals on the ship.

We had dined a bit later than usual this evening and so missed the Trivia Quiz. We did, however, go to see a classical piano recital by talented pianist Anton Kondus in the 'Darwin Lounge'. The ship wasn't leaving Antalya until 11:00 pm, so we went up to the pool area where a 'sailaway' party was in full swing. The Entertainments Crew were well represented and one of the ship's singers, Stacey Rae, sang a medley of popular songs with everybody dancing and clapping. Stacey had her parents on board for this cruise. We were quite late getting to bed that night, but the next day was a sea day, our last one, thereafter it was non-stop port visits.


=======================================


Continued tomorrow …………...
Geoff

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"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby Gillzajoker » 30 Oct 2020 11:25

Antalya looks a delightful place, Geoff, and your lovely photos certainly brought it to life. I, too, am
a fan of harbours, and I liked the pirate ships. Loved the story of the 'Monkey Hangers' as, to my shame,
I hadn't heard it before. As usual, you dropped lucky for your lunches, and was pleased to hear you had
another nice dining companion. :D
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Re: MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby Camela » 30 Oct 2020 18:02

Meeting new dining companions is definitely one thing we really enjoy on cruises and have made lasting friendships this way.
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby judgegeoff » 31 Oct 2020 08:13

Tuesday 29th September 2015 – At sea

After breakfasting in the 'Discovery restaurant' we made our way to 'Scott's Lounge' to sign up for a tour of the ship's bridge. At 9:15 am we went to the 'Darwin Lounge' to attend a lecture “The Life, Legend and Labours of Hercules”, delivered by Major General Stephen Carr-Smith. Again, an excellent lecture, well received by a packed audience.

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Major General Stephen Carr-Smith was an excellent lecturer. He was on board with his wife.

After the lecture we had speciality coffees in Scott's Lounge' and then went up to the pool deck to sunbathe and read the ship's British newspaper excerpts that were available on a sheet at the 'Guest Relations/Reception' desk. It was very hot in the sun and rather windy, so we moved to a more shaded and sheltered spot after a while.

We had an early lunch at the 'Veranda Buffet Restaurant', sat outside under a canopy. We passed quite close to islands on both sides and there were quite a few yachts sailing in the same waters.

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It was a lovely day, with blue skies (and seas).

At 1:15 pm we met Cruise Director Emma in 'Scott's Lounge' and she escorted us through to the ship's bridge where we were welcomed by the Captain. The wide windows on the bridge gave fantastic panoramic views of the seas around us and Captain Kaminski explained all the equipment on the bridge and answered all our questions. It was interesting for me to see that the fire detection and fighting equipment installed was very similar to that I was familiar with from my old Power station days. Besides the Captain, there were two other people on the bridge, a female Navigation Officer and a 'lookout man', they do shifts of 4 hours each before being replaced.

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The bridge of the “Voyager”.

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Our young master, captain Tomasz Kaminski…..

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….. Lord of all he surveys.

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The view from the bridge.

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The ship’s identification details.

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Captain Kaminski explaining the bridge’s equipment.

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One of the radar screens.

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The ship’s fire alarm panels. I was very familiar with these from my time in the nuclear power industry.

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Chris on the bridge.

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The map/plotting table.

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This weird cat was above the table (?).

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Perhaps Captain Kaminski's new hobby was taxidermy?

After the most interesting bridge visit we tried to sit on deck, but it was too windy for comfort, so we went down to our cabin to read our books. At 3:30 pm we went to the 'Darwin Lounge' to attend another port lecture by John Coventry, “Kavala and Thessaloniki”. as usual it was excellent. Leaving the port lecture we made our way up to the 'Veranda Buffet Restaurant' where we had afternoon tea and then collected a map of Kusadasi to plan our movements for tomorrow. We then visited the shop.

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Visiting the shop.

After showering and dressing we had dinner in the 'Discovery restaurant' and then made our way to the 'Lookout Lounge for the Trivia Quiz and were joined by Barbara and Paul. We came second but the winners had already won a few times and were all 'penned out', so gracefully asked Emma to give us the pen prizes. The pens were much better quality than we have won on other ships.

At 9:30 pm we went back to the 'Darwin Lounge' to watch another show, “Musical Mania” performed by the ship's singers and dancers, with songs from 'hairspray', 'Chicago', 'Sister Act' and 'Fame' etc. As usual, it was excellent and the performer's talent and enthusiasm more than made up for the simplicity of the stage and the lack of special effects seen on bigger ships. After the show, we had our usual walk on the Promenade deck although it was very windy and there was a bit of movement from the sea. I always sleep well with a bit of motion from the ship! Tomorrow would find us visiting Kusadasi.


========================================


Continued tomorrow …………………….
Geoff

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"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby Gillzajoker » 31 Oct 2020 12:05

I'm in full agreement about table companions becoming good friends, Geoff - I am still in regular contact
with friends from Uruguay, Brazil, Australia, South Africa and the USA (apart from those in the UK as well).
Friends from Seattle came to visit when they were doing a tour of Spain and it was lovely to actually meet
in the flesh again.

Good lectures are so satisfying, aren't they? I've only been on one Bridge Tour - and it was lovely to see
all the comprehensive photos you took - but I was disappointed that the steering was not a huge spoked
wheel as a la Capt. Birdseye, but rather an insignificant 'gear stick'.
On the only cruise during which OH joined me, the Captain was very approachable so I asked him if Fred
could tour the Engine Room (he's a mechanical engineer so knew that would interest him). Sadly, for
security reasons we were told if was not possible. However, a couple of days later we received an
invitation to visit the Engine Control Room, which was very kind of him. Fred was interested, me not so
much.
That cat was something else again!!!!

I agree about the pens - I still have one, which I have saved 'among my souvenirs', the others long gone.
And certainly beats the poxy lapel pin you get from Celebrity! Likewise, I have found the smaller ships;
entertainers put their heart and soul into their performances.
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby judgegeoff » 01 Nov 2020 08:11

Day 8 - Wednesday 30th September 2015 – Kusadasi, Turkey


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Kusadasi.

Kusadasi, our last Turkish port, was another port where the ship ties up just a hop skip and jump from the town. After another good breakfast, we left the ship having decided to walk along the promenade until we reached the causeway to Pigeon Island as we had been told that it housed a Byzantine fortress, nice gardens and a tea room with splendid views. It was quite a long hot walk but, when we finally reached the end of the causeway we found that the island was closed for renovation work to the fortress, sometimes called 'Pirate Castle'. It was very disappointing but we could see that the renovation work was being carried out to a very high standard and we would like to return there sometime in the future *. On the walk back to the town we stopped off at a roadside cafe for coffees.

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Our ship was berthed near to this small Turkish Navy warship.

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‘Welcome to Kusadasi’. The town is just at the end of the jetty, so no transport needed.

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‘Pigeon Island’, accessed via a causeway.

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Assorted boats were tied up to the causeway ……

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….. including “Meander Express”, which we considered a contradiction of terms.

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As close as we got to the castle, very disappointing.

* We did however return to the island, aboard “Voyager” again in 2016 and by then the work had been completed and the castle was open.

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The cafe we stopped at to rest our feet and enjoy coffees. It was a blisteringly hot day.

After refreshing ourselves with coffee we strolled back into the town and looked at the shops and bazaars, although the persistence of the shopkeepers was somewhat wearing. One put me into a sort of chokehold and dragged me into his shop, proudly pointing out a big sign that said “No Hassling”. We were amused by the “Genuine Fake Rolex Watch” shops and found a very interesting fish market.

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One of the bazaars.

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Inside the bazaar.

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‘Genuine Fake Watches’! Well, you wouldn’t be able to complain, would you?

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‘Replica Del Boy’ – seems cushty enough!

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At last, a fishing tackle shop! But do they sell genuine fake rods and reels?

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We visited a fish market but, as usual, I got annoyed at so many undersized fish. Does anybody check their net sizes?

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The local Mosque. The small domed building is for the washing of hands and feet.

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This street was very wide…..

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…..but off it there were some interesting and attractive lanes……

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….many being used to display wares.

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This stall was selling fruit juice, freshly pressed whilst you watched.

Eventually we stopped at a restaurant/bar named “Carpe Diem” for glasses of wine, but we liked the look of the place and the waiter was good fun, so decided to order pizzas and have lunch there.

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We stopped off at this restaurant …..

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…...for a drink of wine …..

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…..but the waiter persuaded us to stay for a wood-fired pizza each…

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The pizzas were delightful. We returned to the restaurant in 2016 and they were still as good!

October 2020 – I have just taken delivery of a wood-fired pizza oven for my garden. The first pizza was a disaster but the second one was much better. Practice makes perfect!

Rather full, we decided to walk it off, so started walking along the promenade in the opposite direction. We came across a statue of a huge hand, with birds flying from it, it was very popular with photographers. Nearby was a nice looking ice cream parlour, so we called in and ate some delicious ice creams, washed down with some excellent coffees, before returning to the ship where Chris had a swim in the pool.

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The hand with birds statue.

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The cafe on the promenade.

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The little swimming pool on “Voyager”.

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Looking down on the Turkish gunboat.

After dinner, we went up to the pool deck where there was a sail away party in full swing (the ship sailed at 11:00 pm). Rene was singing and playing the electronic keyboard and then the ship's singers and dancers performed an outdoor show “A Hint of Latin”. It was a great evening and all overseen by a big illuminated statue of Ataturk on the hillside above us.

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The Kusadasi Sailaway party…..

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…..enjoyed by everybody that attended.

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The party was overseen by Kemel Attaturk (sorry about the focus!).

And so to bed after another great day – when we awoke in the morning we would be in Greek waters for the first time.


=========================================


Continued tomorrow …………..
Geoff

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"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby Gillzajoker » 01 Nov 2020 10:44

Lovely photos giving a 'feel' of the place, Geoff. I visited there in 1973 but didn't have time to explore
as we had booke an excursion to Ephesus, which was absolutely fantastic, and remains one of my favourite
'ancient ruins'. :D
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby judgegeoff » 02 Nov 2020 08:16

Day 9 - Thursday 1st October 2015 – Isle of Patmos, Greece


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Patmos is in the white circle on this map. The island is just 14 square miles in area.

This morning we had arrived at our first Greek destination – Patmos, an island in the Dodecanese group. Due to rather strong winds, the Captain informed us that we would be tendering at Patmos, instead of berthing as intended. However, instead of using the lifeboats, Patmos had its own tender boats and these were much bigger and more comfortable than the ship's lifeboats. We had booked the “Patmos Panoramic” excursion tour and so were one of the first boats to go ashore.

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In one of the Island’s tender, pulling away from the “Voyager”.

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Disembarking from the tender at Patmos.

Once ashore we boarded our tour coach and our guide, Carolyn, introduced herself and our driver, Marinos. She was a British national, an artist, who had lived on Patmos for around 30 years, so knew the place really well. We were soon on our way and were enchanted by the beautiful island with its hilly terrain and beautiful coastline.

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Beautiful Patmos.

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Simply stunning. We would love to return for a land holiday.

Our first stop was the Grotto of the Apocalypse the cave where, after being exiled in 95AD, Saint John the Theologian received his visions from God that recorded in the Bible's Book of Revelations'. It was made a joint UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, together with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. When God spoke to Saint John large cracks appeared in the cave's walls, although they looked millions of years old to me. There were very steep steps down to the cave and no handrails in some places, so Chris did not go down, although I did. There was a church service being held in the cave, on the first day of each month the water in the cave is blessed and, whilst Carolyn had obtained permission for us to enter during the service, I did feel that we were being rather obtrusive.

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At the Grotto of the Apocalypse.

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A mosaic above the entrance to the Grotto. I chose not to take photographs inside as I would have needed to use a flash and a service was in progress.

Patmos has a population of just around 3,000 people but has 400 chapels (most of them are tiny), a flock of 200 goats and just 1 cow, so don't ask for beef in the restaurants! There are 3 Primary schools and just one Ecumenical High School, for any further education the residents have to leave the island. There is little water on Patmos so most of the houses collect rainwater from their roofs which is stored in large tanks. Potable water is brought in by water tanker ships every week from the Greek mainland.

Our next stop was to view the Monastery of Saint John that looked more like a castle than a religious building, with high defensive walls and castellated ramparts. Near the Monastery we saw 3 old windmills, two dating to 1588 and the other one to 1863. When flour production ceased in the 1950s the windmills, like most in Europe, were abandoned and fell into disrepair. One windmill has been fully restored as a flour grinding mill, a second one now drives a generator to produce electricity and the third one, once adapted will pump water.

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The Monastery of Saint John looks more like a defensive castle!

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The three windmills.

Towards the end of our tour we were driven to a beachside restaurant at the villlage of Kambos where we were given complimentary wine, beer or cold or hot drinks. It was a very pleasant end to a very enjoyable tour with some stunning island scenery.

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At the restaurant on the beach.

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Chatting to our guide Carolyn.

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It was quite a big restaurant…..

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….right on the beach.

Our coach dropped us very close to the tender point but we explored the town, did a little shopping and had some wine sat in the town's little main square. The town was famous for its cheese pies and these were for sale at various shops in the little town. We caught a tender back to our ship after having thoroughly enjoyed our limited time there, but would be very happy to return there some time in the future.

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It was an interesting town to amble around.

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Plenty of shops for retail therapy.

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We stopped for a glass of wine and were sat by this planter with a pomegranate bush.

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Cheese and onion pies. I will do (almost) anything for a cheese and onion pie! Chris makes the best I have ever tasted, using vintage cheddar cheese.

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If Chris and I return to Patmos we might try this hotel!!! :lol:

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On the island’s big tender, returning to the “Voyager”.

Back on the ship, we had lunch in the 'Discovery Restaurant' and then, at 2:15 pm, went to the 'Darwin Lounge' to attend John Coventry's port lecture “Volos and Piraeus", as usual it was very interesting and informative. After the lecture, we went up to the pool deck to swim and sunbathe but the pool had been drained as some adverse weather had been forecast.

At 5:00 pm we returned to the 'Darwin Lounge' to listen to the lecture 'Alexander the Great' given by Major General Stephen Carr-Smith and it was a superb presentation. Because we attended the lecture we were a little bit later than usual in going for dinner and, because we spent much time talking to our table companions, were too late for the Trivia Quiz. We also missed the start of the evening show, “Showstoppers”, bits from 'Miss Saigon', 'Phantom of the Opera' and 'Les Miserables' etc., performed by the ship's singers and dancers.

Tonight the sea was a little rough and we had to walk around the ship holding onto the handrails where possible. We finally went up to the 'Sunset Club' nightclub where ship's singer Jack Clarkson was performing mainly old rock and roll songs…. Elvis, Cliff, Billy Fury, Queen, Manfred Mann etc. The other ship's performers were also up there supporting him and dancing, it was a great atmosphere. The weather was still rough and we saw a lady walk into the club, the ship pitched and the lady went backwards out of the club, only to reappear when the ship pitched again – hilarious. Every night the singers and dancers went up to the ‘Sunset Club’ nightclub and one of the singers performed some songs. The club had a lovely ambience, everybody (crew and passengers) were very friendly, and Chris and I went there almost every night.

We eventually retired to our cabin and slept very well – we always do when there is a bit of motion.


=====================================


Continued tomorrow ………...
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby grannyM » 02 Nov 2020 11:27

A lovely catch up for me this morning of the last few days' posts Geoff. Once again thank you for sharing your experiences on this delightful cruise with your words and photographs. Many ports have familiar names but now I have a pictorial idea of them. :clap: :D

We have only visited Izmir in Turkey and so our thoughts are very much with the people who live there at this time in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. :cry:
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MEMORIES (No. 9) - AEGEAN CRUISE - 2015

Postby Gillzajoker » 02 Nov 2020 11:38

Wonderful pics. of a stunning island, Geoff. The Monastery certainly does look more like a castle, and I
loved the windmills and was pleased they were back in action again. Tut tut, missing the start of the show! :D
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