Travel

Cruise across the Mediterranean Sea

... A trip that I will never forget!

Ella Letterie

In 1983, five other people and I left Logan Airport, East Boston Ma. and flew to Athens, Greece. We toured Greece for a week, seeing the magnificent Parthenon built on top of the Acropolis, the original Olympic stadium, and the 17,000 seat Theater of Dionysos. We shopped at the Plaka, and bought a multitude of "worry beads". We went to the Parthenon in the evening and saw a show called 'Light and Sound" which was all about the beginning of Athens. The colored lights flashed on and around the Parthenon and the narration was done by Richard Burton and Sir Laurence Olivier. We took a tour to Delphi which is the seat of the oracle of Apollo, and saw the Arena, and the Temple of Apollo. We then went to a city named Piraeus which is a coastal city and we boarded the ship called the City of Andros for the cruise.



Painting by James Beveridge


We cruised across Mediterranean with the sea being very calm. We anchored at Port Said in Egypt, and saw ships in line waiting to cross the Suez Canal. We disembarked and got on a mini bus for the trip across the desert to the pyramids at Giza.Made a stop in Cairo to go to the Museum where we saw the entire exhibit of King Tutankhamen. The picture of King Tutankhamen that you see here, was painted by a personal friend of mine. His name is James Beveridge and his wife Virginia and I went to high school together many moons ago. I had not been able to see the partial exhibit when it was at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, but now I was looking at the entire exhibit. Gold Mask and all. We visited the site of Anwar Sadat's death and his monument. On the way, our guide told us that Cairo was so over-populated that people were actully living in the cemeteries.

We finally arrived at the Pyramids at Giza. I do not exaggerate when I say that the 3 pyramids are awesome in size and structure. They are a 50 story structure, requiring 23 million blocks of stone. One has to wonder how they were built 4500 years ago without the tools that we enjoy today. The Egyptians certainly had the manpower. This picture should give a person an idea of the immensity and weight of each stone. The guide told us that we could go into the Pyramid, but everything had been removed, so the interior trip would be worthless. While there, we, of course, had to take a ride on a camel around the Pyramid.

Then there was a very short ride to see the Sphinx. As we all know the Sphinx is a monument of a crouching lion, with the head and bust of a woman, eagle wings, and a serpents tail. The Sphinx was built about 2600 BC. The Sphinx measures 200 feet from paw to tail; her human head soars 60 feet high. As my grandchildren would say, "WOW." We had just seen two of the ancient wonders of the world, the Pyramids and the Sphinx.

We then cruised to Port Ashdod in Israel. Ashdod is the city where the Ark of the Covenant supposedly lay after it was stolen by the Israelites. We were advised to dress properly as we would be going into churches. As in no shorts, bare arms, or revealing tops.

From the port, we drove over the Judean desert and mountains until we reached Jerusalem. The first stop was the Mount of Olives where we could see both the Old and New Jerusalem. At that time in the Old Jerusalem, we could see the Arabs peddling their goods on donkeys, pilgrims in procession to their monuments of faith, and Israeli scholars as they continue their work and study. It was a blend of peoples and religion, and I was reminded of home where we are the "melting pot" of the world.

Apparently, the city had been conquered 28 times, and each victor had built a new city on top of the old. For example, the spot where Jesus was judged by Pontius Pilate was then the highest point in the city. Today, it is marked by a stone slab in the cellar of a Greek Orthodox Church of Ecce Homo. We saw the Dome of the Rock, which was originally built in 691. Now we take the walking tour, and within one square mile, we visit the Via Dolarosa. This is believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to Calvary. This is also known as the Way of the Cross. The walk ends with The Church of The Holy Sepulchre, where the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection occurred, and The Wailing Wallwhich is all that remains of Solomon's Temple and is considered the holiest place by the Jewish people. The sexes are separated at The Wailing Wall. The men pray on one side and the women on the other. I prayed and inserted a prayer (written on paper) into the crevice between the cracks of the stones. Some of these stones are more than 2000 years old, and supposedly our prayers go directly to God. That's a comforting thought isn't it? While we were praying at the wall, we heard the chanting of the Moslems. I could not help but think that I was there as a Catholic, praying at the Jewish Wailing Wall, and listening to the Moslem Chant.

Did I mention that in Israel, practically every soldier carries a gun, whether small or large, on duty or not. It is a means of protection and destruction of life.

We than cruised to the Island Of Rhodes. Instead of going on the guided tour, we rented a taxi cab with an English speaking driver. At the harbour of Rhodes there are two columns with a deer on top of each. The deer is the symbol of Rhodes. Rhodes is a magnificent Island, and if and when I go on another vacation, I would select Rhodes. Rhodes has history, culture, ideal weather, and the most friendly and honest people that I ever met. The legend is that Zeus made the Islands and awarded them to twelve of his favorite gods. He overlooked Apollo, but Apollo agreed to take the next island that arose from the sea. That island was Rhodes. We rode across the Island to Lindos which is the Old Section. On the way, we stopped at a rug weaving factory and observed the ladies weaving and knotting the rugs. We stopped at a porcelain factory and watched the making and painting of porcelain. I bought a coffee set which consisted of a pot, creamer, sugar bowl, and 8 saucers and cups.  I selected a pure white, with beautiful gold leaf Greek trim. We went to the beach to swim and learned that in Rhodes you can be fully clothed, half clothed, or "The Full Monty". We went to the half clothed, after the swim, we had a most refreshing lunch on a terrace overlooking the beach. Sculpture played a large part also. The Colossus of Rhodes was considered one of the seven Ancient Wonders of the World. It was destroyed in the earthquake of 226 B.C.

In Egypt, as we had ridden on camels, so at Lindos we had to ride a donkey in order to go to reach the acropolis. On the way we saw the narrow streets, the spotless houses with courtyards covered with pebbles, and shops selling articles of art, and the medieval walls built by the Knights of St. John who captured Rhodes in the 14th century. At the summit of the acropolis, there was an amphitheatre and a stadium that seated over 3000 people. Close by there are temples to Athena and Apollo. We now say goodbye to the beautiful Island of Rhodes.

We now cruise to Kusadasi, Turkey. The highlight of being in Turkey is to see Ephesus, which, according to legend was build by the Amazons in the second millennium B. C. As you enter Ephesus, you see ruins dating back to Roman Times, although some structures were first erected before human history began. The most famous of these was the Temple of Artemis. The temple was a focal point for the entire city for at least 3500 years. It was destroyed seven times in natural and man-made disasters. The final Temple, which was desecrated by the Goths in 263, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Some claim that this Temple was the most beautiful structure ever built by man. As you walk the streets of Ephesus, you realize that at one time Alexander The Great, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, St. John, the apostle St. Paul who went to Ephesus in 53 A. D.and also The Virgin Mary walked there. In the Great Theatre, St. John spoke to 24,000 people at once in his attempt to convert them to Christianity...



All too soon we had to return to the cruise ship for the next destination, Mykonos, which is one of the many Greek Islands. Although I purchased many things during my tours of the different countries, I saved the last stop for the best shopping. Need I say that the Mediterranean decided to act up while we were cruising toward the island. It was determined that the "big" ship couldn't make it into port, so the Captain cruised towards a different port and the passengers would be taken off and placed into smaller "dinghys". Well, you guessed it, the sea was just as bad at that port. So no Mykonos. We then cruised back to Piraeus and I had to complete my shopping in Athens. My children were not disappointed with the gifts that I brought back.

After one more week touring in Greece following the cruise, we all were very anxious to be back in our own homes. Even after the new sight and sounds, I still have to say-

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME



Picture of Deer, Colossus, and Great Theatre taken from travel program. Other photos taken by author.

August 5, 2000





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