February brings the Toronto car show

2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show33

If you’re finding February is dragging and you are looking for Toronto Car Show program025something interesting to do, take in the Toronto Auto Show.  While I was in the city on the relatively new provincial holiday – Family Day – I did just that.  The theme of the show is ‘Life is in Motion’ but on this holiday Monday, life at the car show was in a crowded slow motion.  I guess everyone decided this day off would be a great time to go to the car show, and many had their families in tow, being their day.  Toronto Car Show map  024As cold as it was outside on this bright, sunny day, the temperature inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was tropical.  The coat check was a good idea.   Every auto manufacturer from Acura to Volvo was represented.  Make sure you pick up the official site map, because you will need it to find your way around the many displays on various floors in the south and north buildings.  Literature on all the new models  was available along with many free-to-enter contests by merely filling in an Toronto Car Show map  023electronic form and thereby giving away your email address to possible future solicitation.  If you do go, be sure to pick up the free information-packed souvenir program in english and not the Chinese version as I did.  The International Auto Show in Toronto runs from 2015 February 13-22.  Adult admission is $23 and senior discounts for $11 are available only on a couple of select days.

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2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show462015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show29 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show49 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show14 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show092015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show13 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show21 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show34 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show38 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show16 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show172015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show102015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show40 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show51 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show302015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show26 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show19 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show53 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show45 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show522015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show422015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show082015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show04

2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show15 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show37 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show52 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show41 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show39 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show28 2015 Feb 16 - Toronto Car Show23

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2014 The Year in Pictures

…and a few words.  After all a word is 1/1000th of a picture.

JANUARY

Grandchildren, lots of cold and snow, Toronto outdoor rink, Sunway Pyramid Mall indoor rink, teacher training, KL skyline, Hanoi, Halong Bay

2014 Jan 06 - McKay & Josie 2014 Jan 07 - McKay3 2014 Jan 07 - John Deere1 2014 Jan 07 - bluejay7 2014 Jan 04 - ice surface at City Hall1 2014 Jan 12 - CNY at Sunway Pyramid Mall1 2014 Jan 11 - SMK Subang Jaya Teacher Training06 2014 Jan 11 - SMK Subang Jaya92 2014 Jan 11 - SMK Subang Jaya Teacher Training68 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Thursday - Hanoi47 2014 Jan - Suecam03

FEBRUARY

Sydney, Bruce Springsteen, the three sisters, Bangkok, visitors from Canada, driving in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, Taylor’s College Apple room

Feb 19 - Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band46 Feb 20 - Blue Mountains25  DSC06318 Feb 27 - canal walk11  Feb 26 - canal47 2014 Feb 11 - streets of Subang Jaya1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Feb 25 - River Cruise33 Feb 25 - River Cruise102014 Feb 12 - driving to Singapore Feb 25 - Bangkok06 BJ7A4405 2014 Feb 06 - the Apple room1

MARCH

Rolling Stones in Singapore, Irish Ambassador on St Patrick’s Day no less, KL Tower, Jalan Alor, chicken fish, Flight MH370, Chow Kit Market

Rolling Stones concert08 2014 Mar 17 - Irish Reception53 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 Mar 11 - Chow Kit Market69

APRIL

Reclining Buddha, Palm Oil Plantation, walking friends, Amaya sunset, Dutch Ambassador, Malaysian railroad author, my poor hip, Kellie’s Castle, Sue & Fong, tin mine dredger, Ipoh

2014 Apr 15 - Buddhist Maha Vihara15 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 Apr 07 - Firefly flying over Saujana lowres OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 Apr 15 - Buddhist Maha Vihara44 2014 Apr 15 - Zion Lutheran Church08 2014 Apr 17 - IDEAS reception at Dutch Ambassador's Res5 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 Apr 23 - Railway talk8 2014 Apr 25 - my hip x-ray 2014 Apr 27 - A Sitar's Journey41 2014 Apr 28 - Kellie's Castle12 2014 Apr 28 - Kellie's Castle43 2014 Apr 28 - Kellie's Castle58 2014 Apr 28 - Tin Dredge Heritage09 2014 Apr 29 - Ipoh Old Town31 2014 Apr 29 - Ipoh Old Town83 2014 Apr 29 - Ipoh Old Town99

MAY

Tennis at Amaya, hockey in Malaysia, Sultan & Sultana on their 34th anniversary in Sumatra, mosque, market, normal adult, KL Zoo, Ng family, Ho Chi Minh City, dinner at KL tower, 1st birthday

2014 May 11 - tennis19 2014 May 12 - the hockey game42 2014 May 17 - Arlene & Dennis at Istana Maimoon5 2014 May 17 - mosque21 2014 May 17 - mosque14 2014 May 17 - market20 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 May 19 - Zoo Negara08 2014 May 19 - Zoo Negara16 2014 May 20 - roast duck restoran27 2014 May 20 - roast duck restoran28 2014 May 22 - people19 2014 May 22 - people05 2014 May 22 - Frank & Dennis do Saigon 2014 May 23 - Frankcam03 2014 May 24 - people05 2014 May 24 - people07 2014 May 29 - KL Tower26 2014 May 29 - KL Tower24 2014 May 30 - Arcadia's birthday

JUNE

Subang traffic jam, Pat’s big birthday party, Oasis Square, muslim men at Amaya, Jane Goodall at Green School in Bali, McCrindes back in Canada, bullet train, Mt Fuji, Tokyo, visit from Lexi, A & D underwater, Chiniah family, Arlene’s last day at Taylor’s College, walking friends, old bus at CPU

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 June 07 - party06 2014 June 13 - Oasis Square6 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 June 15 - Green School111 2014 June 15 June 09 - bullet train04 June 09 - Mt Fuji Tour09 June 09 - Mt Fuji13 June 10 - Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden392014 June 16 - lunch at the club4 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 June 28 - Arlene, Rathika, Kana & Gaia1lowres 2014 June 30 - Arlene's last day9 2014 June 30 - Subang Ria03 2014 June 02 - Bas Sekolah at CPU

JULY

Ng sub family, farewell to our condo at Amaya, Hani & Yazid our landlady & landlord, friends from Taylor’s, Subang picture framer, Dave’s Lambo, Fort William, Ottawa River, cottage life, Cato, Josie, newborn, new hot tub, Kane’s last days, painting, roofing

2014 July 05 - Good Friends Restaurant36 2014 July 02 - final pics of Amaya Saujana04 2014 July 06 - Arlene, Hani & Yazid1 2014 July 03 - friends1 2014 July 03 - SJ picture framer 2014 July 02 - Amaya parking garage55 2014 July 17 - Fort William08 2014 July 17 - Fort William99 2014 July 11 - at the cottage15 2014 July 08 - Josie07 2014 July 20 - Cato1 2014 July 19 - Thea Arlene Corrigan14 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 July 31 - Maple Avenue neighbourhood16 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 July 24 - house painting02 2014 July 31 - shingling32

AUGUST

Father & daughter, roofers, landscapers, flowers on the bridge, new paint, old Chevy in Killaloe, music in the park, memorial for a friend at the ‘bog’, Fr Bill’s pig roast, sawmill ruins at Barry’s Bay, double Baptism, Josie & her grandmother, Roy brothers and their families, Ralph having a drink, ‘rice-capades’, live music in the evening

2014 Aug 03 - Michael & Arcadia1 2014 Aug 01 - Shingling3 (Levesque brothers) 2014 Aug 06 - slab removal2 2014 Aug 03 - Pembroke St Bridge1 2014 Aug 08 - our home2 2014 Aug 08 - our home9 2014 Aug 08 - Killaloe Music in the Park01 2014 Aug 08 - Killaloe music in the park24 2014 Aug 09 - bog memorial for Cherry37 2014 Aug 09 - bog memorial for Cherry77 2014 Aug 09 - Liam, Stephanie, Lexi & Oscar1 2014 Aug 10 - Fr Bill's Pig Roast19 2014 Aug 10 - Fr Bill's Pig Roast25 2014 Aug 10 - Arcadia01 2014 Aug 12 - site of Armstrong Mill6 2014 Aug 13 - McKay6

2014 Aug 16 - Baptism46 2014 Aug 16 - Baptism42 2014 Aug 16 - Baptism14 2014 Aug 16 - Baptism56 2014 Aug 16 - Baptism09 2014 Aug 16 - Baptism77 2014 Aug 18 - McKay3 2014 Aug 23 - McKay, Josie & the dry pool25 2014 Aug 18 - Ralph at the Thirsty Beaver3 2014 Aug 29 - Jay Martin & Friends20

SEPTEMBER

First day at school, 1st Birthday, newest granddaughter, fall colours, wooden church near Deep River, St Hedwig’s church turns 100, sky tracks, Kamaniskeg Lake

2014 Sept 03 - going to the bus stop09 2014 Sept 03 - going to the bus stop04 2014 Sept 02 - first day of school12 2014 Sept 07 - Josie's 1st birthday party50 2014 Sept 07 - Thea, Arcadia & Gram2 2014 Sept 08 - walk from the bus stop07 2014 Sept 09 - Josie & Kane9 2014 Sept 27 - Flinton colour 2014 Sept 08 - Arcadia & Josie2 2014 Sept 18 - Pt Alexander Presbyterian Church3 2014 Sept 25 - St Hedwig's3 2014 Sept 25 - sky over Raven Pines1 2014 Sept 25 - Raven Pines3 2014 Sept 25 - Kaminiskeg Lake1

OCTOBER

Aya Sophia, Istanbul, Bucharest, cruising, Trabzon, Mikonos, Athens, Ephesus, laughing granddaughters, Maple Avenue, Orville, chocolate face, Ron the bus driver, bath time, Jack’s Lake, Ralph at the door, Shampoo Room lady with cigarette and curlers, Hallowe’en

Oct 01 - Aya Sophia46 Oct 02 - group at Sultania Hotel1 Oct 05 - Bucharest restaurant12 Oct 07 - on board Constellation33 Oct 07 - Trabzon21 Oct 10 - Mykonos04 Oct 10 - Mykonos62 Oct 11 - Athens53 Oct 11 - on board Constellation13 Oct 12 - Ephesus39lowres2014 Oct 16 - Josie & McKay5 2014 Oct 16 - Maple Ave looking south 2014 Oct 17 - Orville Rollins 2014 Oct 18 - chocolate fondue experiment2 2014 Oct 20 - Ron Resmer & school bus2 2014 Oct 21 - Thea bath time b:w7lowres 2014 Oct 22 - Jack's Lake11 2014 Oct 23 - Ralph at Heritage Pembroke 2014 Oct 23 - Thea6 2014 Oct 25 - Shampoo Rm lady 2014 Oct 30 - Miss Adie's Hallowe'en Parade6lowres 2014 Oct 30 - Miss Adie's Hallowe'en Parade7lowres 2014 Oct 31 - Hallowe'en02 2014 Oct 31 - Hallowe'en10

NOVEMBER

Remembrance Day, Uncle Art and his great granddaughter, turning 99, 10 stitches, John Fogerty, R & D in Barrie, the snow comes, the snow goes

2014 Nov 04 - Mary Yarascavitch & 1942 cadet picture 2014 Rembrance Day02lowres 2014 Rembrance Day03 2014 Nov 08 - Uncle Art's birthday34  2014 Nov 08 - Uncle Art's birthday40 2014 Nov 08 - Uncle Art's birthday44 2014 Nov 12 - Ralph at Heritage Pembroke 2014 Nov 13 - John Fogerty77 2014 Nov 15 - Ralph & Diane, Barrie1 2014 Nov 20 - Josie7 2014 Nov 26 - Josie & McKay1

DECEMBER

Wylie Road horses, Canadian Parliament Building, Peace Tower, War Memorial, turning 4, turning 65, annual family Christmas portrait

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 Dec 10 - Parliament Hill6 2014 Dec 10 - Parliament Hill19 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 Dec 12 - Mike & Joan Miller1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2014 Dec 29 - Thea4 2014 Dec 20 - Christmas Family Portrait

And did I mention grandchildren?

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Port of call – Istanbul

Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City83This is the city from which we started and ended our Black Sea & Aegean Sea cruise.  We Oct 02 - Taksim Sq09arrived from Toronto a few days early so we would have plenty of time to explore this interesting city which straddles two continents.  The city is divided by the Bosphorus Strait which puts Asia on the east side and Europe on the west.  The strait flows from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and can lead through the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea and eventually to the Mediterranean Sea.  Our hotel was in the Oct 01 - Istanbul Old City08Old City on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait.  From here you can walk to such tourist venues as the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Park, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian or Spice Market and many more attractions.

Oct 02 - on the street by the hotel04Oct 01 - on the street by the hotel13Oct 01 - Bosphorus cruise26Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City118Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City108

Sept 29 - Istanbul Old City18The drive from the Ataturk International Airport takes about an hour but probably doesn’t cover that much distance.  Inside the old city, the streets are cobblestone, narrow and winding.  Suddenly our driver pulled the van over, and without saying anythingOct 02 - Taksim Sq07 disappeared down an alleyway.  He returned about 15 minutes later with a porter who then took our bags and led us through an even narrower street lined with restaurants and shops to our hotel.

Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City104Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City101Oct 01 - on the street by the hotel17Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City74Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City105Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City44Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City41

Oct 02 - Istanbul02Despite the city being old, the transit system is modern and efficient with its tracks embedded in the cobblestone and powered by the overhead electric wires.  On one excursion Oct 01 - on the street by the hotel07we took the train to the area of the Dolmabahce Palace.  Built between 1843 and 1856 this palace has the largest ballroom in the world and is still intact with all its inner decoration, furniture, silk carpets and curtains.

Oct 02 - Dolmabahce Palace16Oct 02 - Dolmabahce Palace11Oct 01 - Bosphorus cruise03Oct 01 - Bosphorus cruise38Oct 01 - Bosphorus cruise21Oct 01 - Bosphorus cruise13Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City90Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City60Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City35Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City30Sept 30 - restaurant4lowres

Oct 01 - Beyoglu Area24A short walk from the palace is where we took the funicular up cliffside to Taksim Square, a commercial area of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.  The cobble stone continues from the square down a wide lane packed shoulder to shoulder with shoppers, vendors and tourists.  You could easily be mistaken in thinking this was aOct 01 - Beyoglu Area01 pedestrian walkway, until the toot of a horn warns you of an oncoming vehicle, usually motorbikes or commercial trucks taking wares to the various shops.  Just before you head downhill back to the Golden Horn (a flooded river valley), stands the Galata Tower which provides exceptional views of the waterfront and city below.

Oct 01 - St Anthony of Padua Church01Oct 01 - St Anthony of Padua Church10Oct 02 - Istanbul06

Oct 01 - Galata Tower1Oct 01 - Galata Bridge11Oct 01 - St Anthony of Padua Church06Oct 01 - Galata Bridge09Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City30Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City37Oct 01 - Galata Bridge08

Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City138The heart of Old Istanbul is Sultanahmet which borders Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque.  Hagia Sophia is one of the most amazing religious monuments built in 537 AD during the Byzantine era that still survives.  In his novel Inferno, Dan Brown describes the Hagia Sophia; “Not so much a building…as a Oct 01 - Aya Sophia28mountain.”  …”the colossal silhouette of Hagia Sophia appeared to be a city unto itself.  It’s central dome – impossibly broad and ribbed in silver fray – seemed to rest upon a conglomeration of other domed buildings that had been piled up around it.  Four towering Oct 01 - Aya Sophia45minarets – each with a single balcony and a silver-gray spire – rose from the corners of the building, so far from the central dome that one could barely determine that they were part of a single structure.”  He continues, “For nearly a thousand years, it had been the largest church in the world, and even now it was hard to imagine anything larger.”  “The emperor Justinian, upon the completion of HagiaOct 01 - Aya Sophia08 Sophia, had stepped back and proudly proclaimed, “Soloman, I have outdone thee!”  “The walkways were lined with the ancient cannonballs used by the forces of Mehmet the Conquerer – a decorative reminder that the history of this building had been filled with violence as it was conquered and then re-tasked to serve the spirtual needs of assorted victoris powers.”

Oct 01 - Aga Sophia38

“The mosaic was a ninth-century image of the Pantocrator Christ – iconic image of Christ holding the New Testament in his left hand while making a blessing with his right.”Sept 29 - Aya Sophia1

“The building is seven hundred years older than Notre-Dame.”

Oct 01 - Aya Sophia47

…”more than a hundred and fifty feet overhead, to the the sprawling golden dome that crowned the room.  From it’s central point, forty ribs radiated outward like rays of the sun extending to a circular arcade of forty arched windows.  During the daylight hours, the light that streamed through these windows reflected and re-reflected off glass shards embedded in the golden tile work, creating the “mystical light” for which Hagia Sophia was most famous.”

Oct 01 - Aya Sophia40Oct 01 - Aga Sophia35Oct 01 - Aya Sophia19Oct 01 - Blue Mosque18 Oct 01 - Blue Mosque19 Oct 01 - Aya Sophia29Sept 29 - Blue Mosque06

Across the square and facing Hagia Sophia is the Blue Mosque, built between 1609 and Oct 01 - Blue Mosque061616.  Again in Inferno, Dan Brown talks of the building’s “six fluted, pencil-shaped minarets, which had multiple serefe balconies and the exotic, fairy-tale quality of the Blue Mosque’s balconied minarets had inspired the design for Cinderella’s iconic castle at Disney World.  The Blue Mosque drew its name from the dazzling sea of blue tiles that adorned the interior walls.”

Oct 01 - Egyptian (Spice) Market04The Grand Bazaar is also nearby as is the Egyptian or Spice Market.  Both worthy of a walk through although it was not a short walk and crowded at the best of times.

 

Oct 01 - Egyptian (Spice) Market08Oct 01 - Egyptian (Spice) Market05Oct 01 - Beyoglu Area17

Oct 01 - Egyptian (Spice) Market01Oct 01 - Beyoglu Area06Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City136Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City102Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City86Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City76

Sept 30 - Basilica Cistern02

Also off of Sultaahmet Park is the Basilica Cistern which Sept 30 - Basilica Cistern01was begun by Constantine and then expanded by Justinian in 532 AD for storing the imperial water supply.  Again in Dan Brown’s Inferno it is described.  “The cistern is enormous.”  …”a cathedral-size subterranean room – nearly two football fields in length with a ceiling spanning more than a hundred thousand square feet and supported by a forest of 336 marble columns.”  “Rising out of the water, meticulously Sept 29 - Basilica Cistern01arranged in seemingly endless rows, were hundreds upon hundreds of thick Doric columns, each climbing thirty feet to support the cavern’s vaulted ceiling.  The columns were lit from below by a series of individual red spotlights, creating a surreal forest of illuminated trunks that telescoped off into the darkness like some kind of mirrored illusion.”

Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City33lowresSept 30 - Istanbul Old City46Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City70Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City71Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City52Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City48Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City68Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City12

Istanbul is a city of diversity in religion, architecture, history, people, and even geography with part of the city being European and part Asian.  Two long bridges cross the Bosphorus Strait to connect the two continents.

Oct 02 - Taksim Sq04Oct 01 - Beyoglu Area04  Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City113 Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City121 Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City111Sept 30 - Istanbul Old City125

Note:  Text in quotation marks describing Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern, are from the novel, Inferno by Dan Brown.  Doubleday Press, 2013. 

 

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Ports of call – Kusadasi, Turkey

Oct 12 - Kusadasi32

unnamed-3Kusadasi on the Southern Aegean Sea coast is one of the most important tourist centres of Turkey.  Tourists arrive here mainly to visit the many historical sitesMap - Athens to Kusadasi such as Ephesus, Priene, Miletus and Didim, as well as some of the Turkey’s best beaches.  Kusadasi is a major harbour in Anatolia that leads to the Mediterranean Sea.  Remains of ancientOct 12 - Kusadasi36 cities are still visible underwater.  The name Kusadasi meaning ‘island of birds’ named after Pigeon Island in the harbour, now connected to Oct 12 - Constellation at Kusadasi4the city by a breakwater.  The fortress on Pigeon Island built in the Byzantine era, and restored in 1834 is one of the first sights you see from the ship as you approach the pier.

Oct 12 - Kusadasi04 Oct 12 - Kusadasi09Oct 12 - Kusadasi01

The route into the city from the piers are arranged so that cruise ship passengers pass through the markets where hawkers hassle you trying to sell their carpets, leather goods, watches and knick-knacks.

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Oct 12 - Kusadasi11

Oct 12 - Ephesus11

Oct 12 - Ephesus10Oct 12 - Ephesus52

 

We were advised that passengers wanting to go on to Ephesus should be prepared for unnamed-2about 2 km of walking on uneven surfaces and hilly conditions.  Because I had walked quite a bit in Athens and Mykonos, I decided to stay on board the Constellation in port.  However Arlene along with Frank and Cathy were up to the task and when they returned a few hours later they raved about how great this shore excursion was.  Here are some pictures that Arlene took at the ruins of Ephesus.

Oct 12 - Ephesus57Oct 12 - Ephesus49Oct 12 - Ephesus34Oct 12 - Ephesus42

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Oct 12 - Ephesus68lowresOct 12 - Ephesus62

Oct 12 - Ephesus37Oct 12 - Ephesus51Oct 12 - Ephesus24Oct 12 - Ephesus35Oct 12 - Ephesus16

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Ports of call – Athens

Oct 11 - on board Constellation08

Oct 11 - on board Constellation48Oct 11 - on board Constellation04

Oct 11 - on board Constellation02After a short sail from Mykonos, we entered the port of Piraeus, the largest passenger port in Europe and the third largest in the world.  It is the sea entrance to the city of Athens, capital of Greece, with a population of over 4 million people.  It is also one of the world’s oldest cities and theOct 11 - Athens66 southern most capital on the European mainland.  It has been called the ‘birthplace of civilization’ and this is where democracy was born.

Oct 11 - Athens11

Oct 11 - Athens60Touring around Athens is like being in a living museum of civilisation with so many ruins that date back to the 5th century BC.  One suchOct 11 - Athens58 ruin is the Acropolis, the most famous archaelogical monument in Europe, which consists of the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and the Propylaea.  Throughout history it has served as a military fortress and religious centre.

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Oct 11 - Athens53Oct 11 - Athens19

Oct 11 - Athens70Plaka is the older area of the city located on the north slope of the Acropolis.  Oct 11 - Athens72We spent a couple hours here walking the narrow cobblestone streets with winding staircases and old mansions.  There Oct 11 - Athens63are many Oct 11 - Athens71eateries and taverns here to take a break and rest from the heat of the city.  The climate is one of the best in Europe with mild winters and very hot summers.  The sun shines over Athens all year long.  The mid-October day we were in Athens was 24 degrees Celsius with sunny skies.

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Oct 11 - Athens28The Greek Parliament Building had a changing of the guard every hour on the hour.  The guards protect the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and were dressed in pom-pom laden clogs, short pleated skirts and red berets.

Oct 11 - Athens29

Oct 11 - Athens05The Panathenaic Stadium was built from the remains of the original stadium of the 19th century.  It was renovated in 1869, 1895-96 for the 1896 Olympics and again from 2000 to 2004 for the 2004 Olympics.  It can accommodate up to 60,000 spectators for special events and Oct 11 - Athens06athletics.  This is where the Olympic flame hand-over ceremony takes place before every Olympic Games.  It is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble.  It was used recently in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

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There is certainly no shortage of marble in this city.  Marble is evident in many buildings, walkways, signage and even curbs.

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Oct 11 - Athens15

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Oct 11 - Athens51Oct 11 - on board Constellation05

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Ports of call – Mykonos, Greece

Oct 10 - Mykonos87The Greek island of Mykonos is part of the Cylades lying approximately 150 kilometres east of Athens in the Aegean Sea.  The largest town on the island is also called Mykonos, so it is common for towns that have the same name as the island to take a second name and it is known as Chora (‘the town’ in Greek).  There are just over 10,000 inhabitants on the island most of whom live in Mykonos.

Oct 10 - Mykonos126The Greek flag is blue and white so many of the white buildings are trimmed in blue.  The streets in the townOct 10 - Mykonos25 are narrow, with a smooth stone surface and wind their way like a maze all through the commercial area not far from the port.  Despite the streets being crowded, vehicular traffic still makes it’s way through the maze.  A toot of the horn lets people know they are coming through.  Mykonos claims to have 300 days of sunshine a year with the only rain coming in February and March.  Despite being October and the end of the tourist season most shops were open and it was pleasant sitting outside at the corner bistro.

Oct 10 - Mykonos113Oct 10 - Mykonos51Oct 10 - Mykonos34Oct 10 - Mykonos38Oct 10 - Mykonos75Oct 10 - Mykonos39Oct 10 - Mykonos50Oct 10 - Mykonos36Oct 10 - Mykonos68Oct 10 - Mykonos69Oct 10 - Mykonos70Oct 10 - Mykonos112

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Oct 10 - Mykonos11The famous ‘Kato Mili’ windmills were built on a hill above the town to catch the strong northern winds.  The windmills are capped with wood and straw and were built by the VenetiansOct 10 - Mykonos10 in the 16th century to mill flour and they remained in use until the early 20th century.  Some of the windmills have been renovated and serve as homes.

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There are rows of fishing houses with balconies hanging over the sea in an area called Little Venice.  Originally homes, many have been converted into bars, cafes, shops and galleries.

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Everywhere you can see the steeples and bells of small white churches that look like they have been plastered and painted, sometimes two on the same street.  There is one Catholic church on the island but most are of the Greek Orthodox faith.

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Mykonos is accessible by boat and ferries with daily service from the surrounding islands and from Athens.  Other than by water, there is a small international airport on the island which is open during the summer.  A flight to Athens takes 25 minutes.

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Ports of call – Sinop, Turkey

Oct 08 - Sinop15

Oct 08 - Sinop68Our fourth port of call on this cruise is the town of Sinop in northern Turkey on the Black Sea.  A small city with a population of about 37,000 people, Sinop is also the provincial capital.  Industries here include fishing, boat building and embroidering cotton cloth.

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We wandered the streets checking out the friendly people and the shops.  We walked onOct 08 - Sinop88 narrow, cobblestone stress as we made our way to the 13th century Alaaddin Mosque.  Afterwards a short walk further down the street took us to the Sinop Fortress Prison, one of the oldest prisons of Turkey established in 1887.  It was closed in 1997 and the prisoners relocated.

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Our ship sailed out of port at dusk and headed for the Bosphorus Straits.  Next stop, Mykonos, Greece.

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