Sunday, September 30, 2007

We're leaving on a jet plane!!!

All packed and ready to head out in the morning. Home sounds mighty good, especially getting to see tall and short kids:-) We've missed them!

Our adventure today took us by tram to the Charles Bridge, famous for its unique combination of gothic construcion and baroque statues, spanning the Vltava River. Of course there were the hundreds of tourists sharing the bridge with us, along with artists selling their wares of pictures, prints, and crafts. We got to view Prague Venice from the top of the bridge, but didn't wind up going on the river after all. We continued walking on to Old Town Square, with the famous Astronomical Clock adorning the Old Town Hall, and saw other Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo Classical, and Art Noveau styles everywhere. Street musicians were in abundance on this beautiful day, and were delightful to see and hear. Oh yes, the cathedral at the top of the hill that I couldn't think of yesterday was the St. Vitus Cathedral.

I hope y'all have enjoyed this journey with us. Check in again for updated pictures. Another adventure is in the works. Ciao for now!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Exploring Prague

We rode the subway and tram systems today, covering lots 'n lots of miles and seeing lots of beautiful scenery. Will have pics to post later on. Of course we went up the hill to the Prague Castle and saw it (along with several thousand folks), the gothic church, and sorta saw the changing of the guards over the heads of the above several thousand folks. This is a city worth seeing again. The architecture is outstanding, except for the graffiti on a lot of it. Idiots!

Back to the hotel and a bit of a siesta. Dick was determined to get the wi-fi to work after our nap, so he put a suitcase out the window (to get above all the lovely copper surrounding it) and put the puter on its side and found a signal strong enuf to download our messages so that we could read them, complete with picture of moi standing on the chair managing the downloads! I am now down in the hotel lobby to respond to messages, still unable to connect to my server. Sigh. We are determined, as y'all can see, to stay in touch.

Tomorrow will find us at the famous Charles Bridge, Old Town, and perhaps a boat ride. Stay tuned as this adventure winds down. Ciao!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cool Prague

Today was a travel day...2 1/2 hr. flight from Athens to Prague, where it has been raining and is much cooler than the warm temps of Athens. That's fine by us. Can't jump on anyone's wifi here, and the (free) puter in the lobby is slower than slow, plus it won't let me retrieve my normal email account...urrggh, so anyone needing me will have to write to my hotmail account. Oh well...

Hopefully we'll have something interesting to tell y'all tomorrow night. Sorry to be so boring. Ciao for now!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Final day in Athens

MOS...we climbed up from the base of the Acropolis and found today was a free day, no entry fee. Nice surprise. It was nice seeing the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena; the temple of Athena Nike; and a couple of amphitheaters and other ‘old stuff.’ Amazing construction, done with NO equipment to speak of back then. Lots of restoration going on, some to try to ‘fix’ previous fixes. We ran into several of our "Monaco" friends from the ship who are staying at other hotels. Small world. Pics will be posted after we get home next week, since we don't have the cable for that particular camera with us.

We four took a train ride down the coast just to watch the scenery; hopped off and enjoyed a nice lunch, and then headed back to the hotel to rest up a bit before dinner. Tuff life. I am enjoying someone’s free wifi, although the strength is pretty low--the price is right, though:-)

The Privens have a noon flight back home tomorrow (Friday). We leave at 4p for Prague. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Athens, Greece

Bus transfer from the ship to the hotel didn’t take too long, then we took a short walk to a nearby restaurant for a bit of Greek food for lunch, followed by the hotel shuttle to the old town. We four walked around a bit, wandered through the huge park behind the parliament building, then decided to take the subway to ride and look. Athens is a large city of 4.5 mil, a bit big for our tastes. We did see several additions of stadiums and buildings built for the ‘04 Olympics, as well as several old ruins visible from the bus and/or subway. There is old stuff everywhere.

Dinner back at the same restaurant...hey, it was a known, close, and reasonable. No pictures to post today...maybe tomorrow night:-)...Ciao!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Olympic Village

It was a thrill visiting the birthplace of the Olympic games this morning. The first games took place in 776 BC, in honor of Zeus. The track for the chariot races held around 45,000 spectators on the grass. We saw the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, which held the gold and ivory statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (statue no longer there). We saw the Temple of Hera, wife of Zeus, which lies next to the site where the Olympic flame is lit every four years to begin its journey to the site of the Olympic Games. This was especially meaningful to me, since I had the honor of being a torch bearer back in ‘96 prior to the Atlanta games. The statue of Nike could be viewed at the museum, but we didn’t have time to tour the museum. Fires did a lot of damage here three weeks ago, all the way up to the museum. Chain saws were busy making firewood of some of the damaged trees.
The chilled apricot and peach soup at lunch was outstanding, Miss Bee. You would have loved it. Our dinner celebration for the Priven’s anniversary was held at the Japanese Steakhouse, party of 10. Happy #37 to Mike and Jennie! Food was good; chef’s performance was excellent! We are now all packed; bags are out in the hallway. Heading to a hotel in Athens tomorrow (Tuesday). Stay tuned.

Birthplace of the Olympic Games

The Griswolds
Fallen columns
Race track for chariots, runners
Light the torch; let the games begin!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Corfu, Greece

Corfu is by far the best spot we’ve visited. It is green, hilly, quaint, has a couple of castles that enclose the city, affording spectacular views of turquoise waters reaching out over the Ionian Sea towards Albania, and breathing hard on the heel of Italy. What’s not to like? We’d definitely come back here. We did the ‘Colorful Towns’ tour today, driving through the countryside dotted with olive and lemon trees, stopping at the beautiful Achilleion Palace. A huge statue of Achilles dominates the garden. We had a brief stop at the town center, where we walked around the old town, enjoyed Coke Light (actually it was Pepsi...yuck), beer and coffee, then back to the ship to set sail for Katakolon, Tuesday’s port of call.
Dinner tonight for the six Mousketeers was at Le Bistro French Restaurant, one of the 8 specialty restaurants onboard (translation: extra charge!). French onion soup was better here, but still not great. The entertainment was "Cirque Bijou" and was very well done, complete with a Riverdance rendition. So that’s about it for today. It was fun, but it is time to chill out and four, I think. Pictures from today will appear soon:-)

Corfu palace gardens

Griswold's and Loyal/Margie

Corfu harbor, NCL ship in background

Corfu cafe, beer thirty!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Out of Egypt

Cairo was pretty much what we expected yesterday–lots of old, run-down buildings. There are some attractive structures, of course, but mostly we saw unfinished boxy condos (less taxes if not finished), but sporting lots of satellite dishes. Egypt is 95% desert, so in our 3 hr. bus ride from Alexandria to Cairo, we saw miles of sand, boulders and lots of trash/litter. The pyramids are the only draw to this place, in our humble opinion. The Sphinx is much smaller than assumed by the pictures we’ve seen in books. Vendors everywhere hawking their ‘wares,’ along with camel jockeys wanting to charge us for pictures. It is difficult passing by the children wanting to sell their junk. Our ‘Nile in Style’ lunch cruise was fine...typical ‘talent’ onboard:-) pretty good. It was a looong day, with everyone arriving back at the ship tired and ready for dinner, then bed. Soup: tomato bisque with balsamic, and chilled avocado–both good.
We are docked at the port of Alexandria, known as the "Pearl of the Mediterranean." All we see from the ship is a working port, but that has its own fascination, especially for Dick. We saw enough of the city on the bus yesterday, so today we walked outside to the souvenir hawkers just to look around. This is the month of Islamic holiday, so most shops are closed anyway until fasting ends at 7:30.
Chilled pumpkin soup at dinner tonight, followed by a comedy show. We are sailing north now, heading to Corfu, Greece, kicking up the speed a bit, since it is a long way up there.

Now it is Sunday and we are at sea all day. Stay tuned for the next Griswold adventure:-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Iraklion, Crete

To continue the geography lesson, this is the island that was destroyed by the volcano, now fully recovered and developed. This is the largest city in Crete. We four opted for a cab ride to see part of the island, and we got to view lots of olive trees and vineyards on the hilly outskirts of the villages. We skipped the long lines to get into the palace...ruins, that is. We could see the standing stones from the road, but there was not a good photo op stopping place, so the memory will only be in our minds...probably for only a short duration! MOS...more old, hmm, ‘stuff.’ We did stop at a beautiful church and took pics inside there.
We were six for dinner tonight to celebrate Margie’s birthday in style, then on to see the juggler for the evening show (our second show). Oh yes, the onion soup wasn’t good. Miss Bee wants to know about that. Tomorrow is a sea day, enroute to Alexandria. We’ll do the ‘Pyramids and Nile in Style’ 12-hr. excursion to/from Cairo on Friday. Just so y’all know what is coming up. And, we'll download some pics to send to B to upload on the blog for us while we are at sea 'tomowwoh.' Cheers!

Santorini, the lava island

Yep, there is an active volcano here, a level 8 (out of 10). Glad today wasn’t the day for it to blow off steam! We four rode the tender over to the island, got on the cable car (rather than ride the donkeys or...horrors...walk up about 500+ steps) to get up to the top of the hill to one of the 13 villages on this piece of lava. It sports the largest caldera on earth (7x14 mi.). The whole island is only 132 sq. meters, and nary a tree to be found. Lots of bougainvillea and other pretty flowering plants/vines, but mostly what it consists of is red, brown and some greenish volcanic cliffs, and again the whitewashed houses but with mainly blue roofs/doors here. The entire center of the circular island sank into the sea during a tremendous volcanic explosion 3,500 years ago, wiping out the entire civilization of Crete, 70 mi. to the south. It is now a crescent-shaped island, with mighty pretty waters surrounding it. Our afternoon departure is now taking us to Iraklion for our next adventure, whatever that may be.
Soup at lunch today was stones fruit soup...pineapple, mango and I don’t know what else in a yogurt base....yummmm. And chocolate creme brulee for dessert, in Joy’s honor. It was tough to fill your request, Joy, but I managed:-) And at dinner tonight, I had chilled apple soup with a touch of curry...again yummy.
Y’all leave me a message now, ya hear? I read all of them. Oh yes, Happy Birthday, Miss Judy in OK!!! May you be blessed with many more.

OK...that was yesterday’s blog that couldn’t get posted as we had intermittent satellite coverage last night. Thanks, Bri, for tweaking my blog...good job!
Today we are in Iraklion, Crete, the island that got wiped out by the volcanic eruption. It has recovered. The four of us took a taxi ride as our tour; now we are taking it easy...chilled wild berry soup at lunch, Miss Bee...wonder what kind they'll offer tonight? Stay tuned...cheers...and happy bday today to Miss Dinah in Mayberry!

New features

Hi everyone, it's Sandy's son Brian! I have added a Guestbook and an "email notifier" to mom and dad's blog. For the email notifier, I had errors saying it could not add my address but that was using Safari web browser on a Mac. I used Mozilla and I was able to enter my address without a problem. Most of you use Internet Explorer and hopefully that won't be a problem. So just wanted to let everyone know I have seen technical difficulties with it but hopefully you won't have the same. Enjoy the blog and my parent's spending our "inheritance"! Everyone should enjoy traveling, just make the time and do it! Ciao. -B

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mykonos Monday

Lazy day today. Took the shuttle to town, and window shopped–us, Privens, Agnews. Big expense was a T-shirt for Dick and a cord to hold sunglasses...that he instead used to hold his hat on. Sunny, but very windy. Back to the ship for lunch (was that anise in the potato soup?), Dick to play with the camcorder (apparently it also takes ‘stills,’ so he is trying to figger that one out), and then a nap. Ahhh, life is good. Dinner onboard (Privens went ashore to try the local cuisine) Hmmm, rhubarb and strawberry soup; us and Agnews went ashore to sit and watch the bay activity and try a local beer after dinner. Mykonos is typical of what we’ve seen in the movies, with whitewashed houses cascading down rocky, mostly treeless hills toward the beautiful sea...not too shabby a sight, by day and by night! Did I mention that life is good?
The Griswold's

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday in Ephesus

Today’s tour began at 10 and ended back at the ship at 5:30. It was about a 45 min. bus ride to Ephesus where we had a downhill walk of 1.7 miles through all the beautiful ruins, incurring no disasters enroute. We saw where St. Paul preached to the unwilling Ephesians, the distant hill where he was imprisoned, and the necessary tourist attraction of a gladiator fight:-) Gotta please the touristas! Next stop we got to watch the ladies typing knots (double knots here in Turkey, just so you know), making beautiful carpets. We resisted the urge to purchase any. On to an outdoor (nice) buffet of local cuisine and a stop at a museum displaying lots of "old shit" hubby said! Gotta love him. We also got to walk through the House of the Virgin Mary, where she supposedly spent her last days.
After our late lunch, none of us were particularly hungry by dinnertime, so we just went up to the casual grill and were joined by a young man sailing alone on his first cruise (his gf couldn’t join him). He just finished an iron man...pretty amazing! Hmmm, now who did he remind me of??? He was on the bus with three other couples from "our" group, so we just adopted him. Everyone went on down for the evening show, but Andy didn’t want to go and Dick and I were enjoying talking with him, so we stayed and chatted some more. They have shows every night. He even hugged ME when we departed, and he’s not from the south where we hug any time someone just leaves the room! Hope to see that sweet boy again.
Currency is lire, but Euro and greenbacks are accepted, along with universal 'plastic.' We are not good tourists when it comes to buying STUFF.
We are back motoring along, heading to Mykonis tomorrow. No tours set up; we’ll just wing it. Our plan for the rest of the evening involves chilling and reading, a perfect vacation! TTFN
Many touristas
Double knotting carpetAmphitheater

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sailing away...

Left the Bosphorus and are in the Sea of Marmora now on our way to Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey, after a leisurely stroll of the local area around the port this morning. Of course we had to be back in time for lunch and to enjoy the balcony view as we departed Istanbul. Our "Monaco" group of 40 met at 5p on the upper aft deck for a get-acquainted gathering. The four of us decided to join up with the group doing an independent four-wheeling trip in Corfu, which should be fun.
Our stop for Sunday is in Izmir, where we’ll do a tour to Ephesus and see all the old ruins there. This was a Greek city founded in 10th century BC. Ship’s entertainment was pretty good (skipped last night’s show, opting to read instead)...and the chilled soup was carrot and orange; strange combination, but good.
So, that is life on our floating city, sitting here in the lobby listening to a trio of guys on guitars. Ciao for now!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Onboard the ship

Dinner last night with the locals was great. Murat picked us up at the hotel and took us to his flat overlooking the Bosphorus. Beautiful view; great hospitality. Tamer and his wife joined us, before we ventured on to a waterside, seafood restaurant for an outstanding meal and enjoyable company.
We had trouble with our room key when we got back, and again this morning...urrrgghhh. We were nicely surprised upon checkout that the Conrad comped our room service meal. Nice gesture and we didn’t even ask. They knew we weren’t happy campers after waiting an hour last night and a half hour this morning outside our door! They fixed the lock.
Tamer picked us up at the hotel for our morning tour of the Rotary assisted school. Mike will have lots to report to the Mayberry Rotary Club, complete with photos. Interesting project.
We are onboard the NCL Jewel; have met fellow Monaco travelers. The couple we met on the French cruise joined us for dinner, so we are looking forward to spending time with them on this trip. Miss Bee, I had chilled peach soup for dinner tonight in your honor...yummmm. Thanks to all who have left comments...hey Liz!...hugs to all...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday good news!

Another beautiful day for our tour. We began at Topkapi Palace, now Museum, which during the Ottoman Empire was a city within a city, feeding 5K folks a day...shudder at that cooking thought! National treasury stuff on display...jeweled this ‘n that as the royalty had back then, along with lots of china, silver, and thrones on display. Next was St. Sophia...Greek church turned mosque, at which time the icons of Jesus, Mary, etc., were painted over, as there are no Islamic icons allowed, much less any Christian ones. It is a museum these days, so they have ‘unpainted’ the beautiful icons for current viewing.
The Turks are great about recycling...if a column or large urn is lying around and not being used, they erect them on or in another building. A good example was at our next stop, the Basilica Cistern. Way back when built in 6 BC, they just used any old derelict column to build the cistern, after all, it was gonna be flooded with water and no one would see it was all mix and not much match. Wrong, and us tourists paid for that view. Water level is now low and stocked with fish, just for interest and getting the public to pay to see:-)
Next came the Hippodrome (not much left there) and Blue Mosque, famous for all the beautiful, predominately blue mosaics inside, then the Grand of the world’s largest, original flea markets and a mecca for a true shopaholic, which we are not. We didn’t do much damage there...and came back to the hotel early, tired after all the walking.
Good news: Priven’s suitcase was in the room when we arrived AND dtr #2 got activation on my phone (I am using for texting only), so AT&T is back in my good graces.
Tonight we are being picked up by a driver and taken to the home of a Rotary local, and will be met by another local couple for dinner. Should be interesting. Tomorrow we’ll tour the school that the local Rotary club back home is sponsoring here for the street children to learn computer skills, then head to our ship, which is already docked. Yaaayyyy! Life is good...hugs!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wed. in Turkey

Our tour guide/driver arrived promptly at 9 and we picked up the other couple in old town and had a lovely day. Weather perfect. Visited the spice market first, which is mainly what is sold there and used by the locals. Resisted all temptations, except to sample a Turkish Delight, a bit too sweet for our tastes. The driver dropped us off at the ferry landing, and we cruised for an hour up to the third stop just to see the Bosporas and all the real estate around it...$$$$$$$. Ship was quite old, and we don’t even want to talk about the ‘head’ on it...slit in floor! Driver met us at the appointed stop and then we went over to the Asian side of Istanbul...who knew one side is European and the other is Asian??? Looks pretty much the same. Drove the short distance to the top of the highest point to view down below...very nice...and watched the ladies ‘make pastry.’ Well, they were making flour tortillas, in my opinion, and then throwing them over a big mushroom thingie that cooked them a bit, brushed with olive oil, and then various items could be inserted, kinda like an omelet. We tried a spinach one and a cheese one. Good, but not something you’d want every day...and we wouldn’t have called them a pastry. But that reminds me, our b’fast buffet here at the hotel is outstanding!!! Lots of fresh fruit, various cheeses ‘n breads, and even a wooden box with a dripping honeycomb mounted on it. Pretty neat.
OK...back to the minibus and on to the Sultan’s Palace, name of which we didn’t recognize. Lots of flashy stuff, even a 4 ½ TON chandelier in a main salon. All the rest of them were smaller:-) Lots of uneven walking throughout the palace. Carpet runners were placed over the parquet floors to preserve them, but each section of the palace was sorta built by this carpenter crew and that one built by another, so none of the sections inside really lined up. There were always steps or ramps to get from one room to the other...kinda annoying and we really had to ‘mind our step.’
Our guide called the ‘lost and found’ for us...our two suitcases have apparently arrived and are on their way up! word on the Priven’s suitcase:-( Maybe tomorrow’s flight will have it. The Privens just left to walk over to the small bazaar that is nearby to make some purchases while D and I rest knees. Mike is fearful his suitcase won’t appear!
We have a big day planned back with our guide and minus the couple we had with us today (they are trying out the Turkish baths and getting massages). We have been warned we’ll be walking quite a bit...going to the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, St. Sophia, and I’m not sure where else. Stay tuned...Ciao!

Gladen Horn harbor

Istanbul Palace

St. Sophia

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Istanbul, Turkey

Well what an adventure we have had! Our flight to JFK got delayed for 2 hrs. due to weather–translation: we would miss our connecting flight to Istanbul! Dick quickly huddled with the Delta agent, who managed to route us directly from ATL to Amsterdam, connecting to Istanbul, arriving a couple of hours later than originally planned. NBD...however, the Turkish Airlines flight left an hour late. The past 24 hrs. has lasted a week, our bodies are saying.
We got a taxi to the hotel, rather than riding the subway, arriving tired, hungry, and not entirely happy campers at 8p! Oh yes, all our luggage is vacationing somewhere else...can you believe that!!! Hopefully it went to JFK w/o us, and will arrive on a flight tomorrow and be delivered to the hotel. Yeah, right! My phone charger and Euro converters are in that suitcase. I’ll plan ahead differently next time for sure. And my Cingular phone is not working over here...again!!! Funny, Jennie’s phone works. AT&T be hearing from me and they won’t like it. Screw the cost...we ordered room serviced and drank the wine/beer in the mini-fridge. The kids' inheritance just got a wee bit smaller!
Did meet up at the Istanbul Airport with another cruise couple, who may join us for our local tour tomorrow if our minibus will hold an extra two folks. Tomorrow will be a better day, Miz Scarlett. TTFN...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ready to go!!!

OK, mostly ready to go. Got to throw in the last minute stuff, check the list again, do a last load of laundry. Normal departure procedure. Meeting #1 dtr at 4:45a...groan...for a ride to a MARTA station drop off. Flight to JFK (said we'd never do that again, but oh well...), then a long night over the big pond. We have a local guide set up in Istanbul for Wed. & Thurs. through Rotary connections, so that will be very informative. I'll let y'all know about it when I can. Our son is in Prague right now, so he'll have good tips for us for when we get there at the end of the month. And nephew Jeff has sent good info, too. So...y'all be good while we are gone, ya hear?

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Friday, September 7, 2007


What to take? What to leave behind? We know we have to 'tote' everything we take, so we want to keep weight to a minimum. List is made; we'll check it twice. Leaving on a jet plane on Monday, 9/10, for Istanbul. Us and the Privens. We'll get on an NCL ship on Friday, heading to a stop in Cairo, then off to the Greek Isles. Afterward, two nights in Athens on shore, then Dick and I fly to Prague for three nights before heading back to the GA Alps. These are all previously 'unvisited' destinations, so we'll be seeing new sights, eating lots of strange food, but having a blast. Stay tuned!