Tuesday, 28 October 2014


This is where the Olympic Torch is LIT!

This was a greatly anticipated day because we were booked onto a trip (with Cruise Excursions) to Olympia, a sanctuary of ancient Greece, known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times. Like today, the Games were held every 4 years,the very first Olympic Games being held in honour of Zeus.

A combination of earthquakes, floods and vandalism caused so much damage that only ruins remain, however we could see just how impressive this site would have been in ancient times. Plus, we bought the book!

The Gymnasium was the first place we saw. 

There would have been changing rooms and areas to train for wrestling and boxing. 
Athletes have been exfoliating for years- here athletes rubbed  oil the body (eleothession) and then sand and dust to smooth the skin (conisterion)

The Prytaneion had the banqueting room for the victorious athletes...

and would have looked like this...

The Temple of Hera is the oldest temple of the Sanctuary and a good example of Doric architecture, columns are wider at the bottom than the top. 
All six columns (short side) by sixteen columns (long side)  were different in design and decoration.

This is how it looked...

We then walked through to the stadium itself where the main events took place.

There was room for about 40,000 spectators on the grassy slopes surrounding the track.
Legend has it that Hercules place heel to toe 600  times to measure out the track...200 yards.
The starting line and finishing line were marked out with marble slabs and there was enough room for 20 runners.
Competition was poor the day we went.

As you can see...
I WON :)

And if there was any doubt, this was the photo finish.
The chappie in shorts had conceded victory!

Evidence of an earthquake,sending the pillars tumbling down.

This was me standing in a top VIP  hotel.

The colours were stunning, all the different greens against an intense blue sky.
Whoever said "Blue and green should never be seen"?

It may only be a pile of stones and ruins now but the Olympic Torch is lit here to this day.

The guide left us to mozy round the village of Olympia so we bought a couple of teeshirts and a couple of mugs (mugs? Surely not?) and a book of the "Then" and the "Now".

Nike looking victorious.

Katakolon, where the QE was waiting for us, was just a main street with the usual tourist ware, but I managed to get a red Mulberry purse which went down well at dinner time.

The Mulberry purse!

The following day was a sea day, travelling to Naples. We passed through the Messina Straits between Italy and Scicily ...

...famous for its many different currents.

and dinner was hilarious as usual with  Alex, Andy, Georgina and Annette,

Nigel and Sheila,

Stewart and Mary.

Friday, 24 October 2014


I think we have just about recovered from our day in Santorini.
What a crazy day.
Everyone on the ship was buzzing when we arrived. We had all seen the brochures with the stunning photographs of the blue and white houses on the hilltops of the cadera, and having had the disappointment of missing Mykonos, we couldn't wait to get off the ship and see Santorini for ourselves.
We looked over our balcony and saw the tender ships were ready. 
We also saw waves.
Choppy choppy choppy.

The shuttle boat pilots weren't concerned though, they needed to get the cruise ship passengers on to their beautiful island to buy some crafts, so we boarded the boats and oh dear Lordy,it was choppy.

We had 2 choices to get up to the town of Fira. The cablecar? Or the zigzag footpath?
The cable car queue was ridiculous so we went for the energetic option.

Husb was feeling decidedly ill and seasick after being bounced about in the shuttle boat and I wasn't feeling too grand either, so it didn't help that when we started climbing up the zigzag path, we came face to face with a herd of smelly donkeys hurtling back down. I couldn't risk a photo of them as there were tens of hundreds of them all thundering towards us as well as the next lot of donkeys coming back up again.
Thighs were being squashed, we were flattened against the wall, there were donkeys everywhere. Add to this some little old men urging the donkeys down.
At one point, no, at several points,  gusts of wind blew dried donkey poo into our faces, along with hay and straw and all I could think about were my eyes. 
MY EYES!  :/
and Husb was getting sqwiffier by the minute.

This gives NO INDICATION WHATSOEVER of how fast the donkeys were running down.

After about 45 minutes of being sandwiched in the middle of a donkey derby we got to the top.

And to be fair it was stunning.

An enormous volcanic explosion created this current geological caldera. 
The explosion caused the entire centre of the island to sink leaving a giant central lagoon, surrounded on 3 sides by steep cliffs, 300m high. The cliffs are topped with gleaming white houses and churches, it looks like icing sugar has been sprinkled all over the top of the volcanic rock.It is quite spectacular, and even more so against an intensely blue sky.

The entire center of the circular island sank into the sea during the tremendous volcanic explosion of 3.500 years ago. The eruption caused tidal waves which virtually wiped out the advanced Minoan civilization of Crete 70 miles to the south. Some scholars believe that the island is part of the legendary lost continent of Atlantis which supposedly slipped underwater during the disaster.
What remains today of Santorini is a large cresent-shaped island enclosing a vast bay, the largest caldera on earth (7X14 miles). 

Santorini from the air. I didn't take this.  :)

We went straight to the bus stop to Oia and just as we were beginning to feel better, we were faced with a bus journey like never before, windy roads, bottle necks, sheer cliff drops and drivers who wouldn't give way :)

There were arty shops, crafts, handmade goods, the usual tourist fayre but so much more classy, almost designer goods.
You could see the houses with swimming pools from miles away.

Oia was fabulous, but with time pressing we returned to Fira. The shuttle boats were still doing their job. The Santorini coastguards weren't going to let a few waves stop the shuttle boats bringing cruise passengers on to their island.

There was time for a Greek yoghurt with nuts, nuts and more nuts, and a beer in Murphy's Irish pub on a seat SO HAIRY it MUST have been sat on by a donkey handler...

...and then the walk back down the zigzag path. The donkeys had, by now, done their day's work so were being fed (well fed) and watered and rested so the walk back down was a little less alarming, thank goodness.

It is a unique place. 
I know I wrote it in my A level Art exam but it really DOES look like someone has sprinkled icing sugar along the top of the cliffs on the horizon.

We had loads to talk about at dinner but before that came the hilarious entertainer 
with his juggling skills and fast humour. He was a natural. Very funny.
He was a cross between Aled Jones and Jim Gillson.
It was, all in all. a lovely day. Now we have recovered haha :)