October 28, 2009

The rest of the story

Oct 18 - 21, 2009

We are all back onboard and will be enjoying a day at sea tomorrow. Most of the passengers went to see the Pyramids of Giza and stayed overnight in Cairo. Our group was delighted to find themselves staying in the brand new Fairmont Hotel that only opened 2 weeks ago. Reports were that the staff could not do enough for them! And that the rooms were stunning! Proof is that everyone took photos of the bathrooms!!

The Pyramids of Giza - During Egypt's Old Kingdom the pharaohs established a stable central government in the fertile Nile Valley. Perhaps the greatest testaments to their power were the pyramids and other tombs built to shelter them in the afterlife. Many of our group went into one of the chambers of one of the Pyramids – not for those who are claustrophobic. You cannot stand upright, you have to bend at the waste or even crouch down. Everyone was thrilled at visiting these marvels...and THRILLED at riding on a camel! The group also visited the Cairo Museum where the remains of King Tut are housed. And many thousands of other artifacts dating back thousands of years – everyone agreed a full day or more is what is really needed to do it justice. In Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt, there is an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern. My favorite view was across the Eastern Harbor to the Mediterranean. Lots of great looking beaches for people to visit – unfortunately there was not enough time for sunbathing on this excursion. What really blew my mind is the new Alexandria Library. There are over 8 million books housed there and they have stored over 70 BILLION web pages! The layout of the building is 11 stories, however, they do not reside one floor upon another, instead, they are terraced. You can stand in the viewing point and see the entire library – quite fantastic!! There is so much more to Egypt, but not enough space here. Anyone wanting to visit should email us and let us give you our take on the best possible holiday that includes Cairo, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings.

Kataklon, Crete - We took a tour from the port to the Ancient Olympia - where the original Olympics were held. Along with the original Olympic field, we saw the Temples of Zeus and Hera. After our tour of ancient Olympia, we went to the town for lunch, and a leisurely shopping stroll through town before returning to our ship. Then it was on to Naufplion, the original capitol of Greece. This is a very cosmopolitan small city with lots of winding streets filled with shops and restaurants. After the assault on our senses in Egypt (18 million people in Cairo alone! THIS is the city that never sleeps!), all agreed that this quaint seaside town was one of the favorite stops.

Athens. The city with the most glorious history in the world, a city worshipped by gods and people, a magical city. It is the city where democracy was born and most of the wise men of ancient times. The most important civilization of ancient world flourished in Athens and relives through some of the world's most formidable edifices. Many of our group elected to stay a day or two in this fantastic city to visit the antiquities, mainly the imposing Parthenon, and eat and shop around the famous historic triangle called the Plaka.

I must mention the people in all of these destinations – they were all quite wonderful to us. The Turkish with their carpets; the Egyptians selling us camel rides and the Greeks just being Greek! Someone said ‘people get along, it is our governments that fight’. Other than a bit of extra jostling from the illegal vendors at the Pyramids, everyone agreed that in each country they felt welcomed. All in all, another great cruise!!

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