Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mexico & Europe Cruises - 2009

Back before the creation of this travel focused blog we shared a lot of photos and stories from 2009 - which was a great travel year for us. Started 2009 in Mexico on a cruise and were actually blessed with a second cruise over the summer to Europe! Both cruises with the majority of the Jones family - great to have so much family time with them.

Most of this post is focused on Europe - which tended to outshine Mexico somehow...  =)
So may need to come back with a Mexico post sometime.

Until then - enjoy...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

2010 Mediterranean Trip – Greece (part 2 of 6)

After leaving Athens we were aboard our ship and heading for Mykonos (Greece) then Rhodes (Greece).

Nov 4, 2010 – Mykonos island, Greece
Tim just off the Tender

Mykonos beach
Mykonos has a total land mass of about 33 square miles. There is a population of 5,000, but they have around 900,000 visitors each year! A large portion of the islands economy is from fishing. First inhabited by the Kares in 3,000 BC, then by Egyptians, then the Cretes. Franks and Venetians ruled the island from 1207-1390. In 1537 the island was looted by the pirate Barbarossa. It was then under Turkish domain until the Greek War of Independence broke out in 1821 – the island people were not happy with the Turks, so quickly seized the chance to raise the revolutionary flag.
Homes & Shops of Mykonos
We dropped anchor about 7 AM – just when we got up (love vacations!). We had decided the night before we didn’t have to rush breakfast and run into town – and we didn’t have a planned excursion, so no worries. Scheduled to leave port at 9 PM.
So off to the dining room for breakfast. Not as good as we had hoped for. Have to order bacon well done or it comes undercooked, the french toast is soggy, skip it. Request your omelet well done and it comes cooked through. 
Port City of Mykonos
We all cleaned up and headed to the tender and into town. Nice little town with local fishermen and lots of little shops along the windy streets. We wandered in and out of shops for about an hour then headed back to the ship. Mom was running out of energy and we were getting hungry since we didn’t eat a big breakfast.
We packed up our stuff and moved to a new stateroom before heading to the buffet for lunch. The plan being to eat and then for Tim & Jen to take the shuttle boat over to Delos Island, the birth place of Apollo.
The Windmills of Mykonos
Well, we all know that plans change. Jen has been having an allergic reaction to something on ship already. We think this is a food allergy, but haven’t been able to nail it down. The pills she took hit her hard and she was out for the count. So Tim went back into town on his own to wander the streets and take photos. He found that most of the streets have little touristy shops on them, but did actually get away from those and deeper into town. Passed an elementary school where some kids were out playing a game with the teacher watching over them, local restaurant stands, etc. Overall a very clean town.

Streets of Mykonos
Turning back towards the coast Tim found himself behind the windmills on the coast. The windmills are not in use any more, but used to be used to grind flour. So swung back that way for some photos. More cats too. We have seen a lot of cats on the island.
Wandered around many streets, up and down hills. It became obvious that the streets are all angled to collect water, and all sloped towards the coast for drainage. Our info sheet on the island also told us that the streets were designed to be windy and take lots of odd turns to slow down and confuse pirate attackers and allow the locals to get the upper hand when protecting their homes.

November 5th, Rhodes, Greece (very close to Turkey, but still a Greek Island)
Better breakfast today – we now know to order everything well done.
Church of the Virgin of the Burgh
Mom wasn’t feeling great, so Dad went with us to look around the old town within the fortified wall a bit. No surprise, inside the walls were a ton of shops for the tourists to wander through and spend their money. We walked around, took photos and investigated the architectural details from this area that was built up by the Knights of Loannites back in the 1300’s. After WWII this island, along with the other Dodecanese islands were incorporated into Greece. Nothing left to see of Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Church of St. Panteleimon
Homes in the walled city
Some nice shops in the walled city. Jen found a nice table cloth that would fit our dinning room table, so we got that with plans to use it for Christmas. We walked around the inside of the wall a bit. Turns out we went the way that took us away from the touristy parts and into a local neighborhood - with I always find interesting. It also gave us a chance to pop into the Church of St. Panteleimon - such a small little church, but some very interesting and colorful paintings inside. Quite a sight.
Interior wall of Church
We headed back to the ship to check in on mom and drop off dad. We decided to grab lunch before heading back out.
After lunch we headed back into town. After changing plans a few times we decided to take a taxi over to the Palace of the Knights of St John. Interesting architecture – moat, watch towers, drawbridges & battlements. Also some really old mosques. We were bummed to see that everything (except the shopping) closed up at 3 PM. So we just missed going inside the palace.
Tim in Rhodes
All four of us crashed for naps until just before dinner. Jen had duck breast (it was OK), and the others all had “surf and turf” – although mom & dad just got the “surf” (which worked well for them – they each got a full lobster tail), versus the half that Tim got with his fillet.
Jen & Tim hit the casino for a bit. Short visit but Tim was up on the slots. Was way up, but of course sunk a bunch back in…but in the end we came out close to even. Tomorrow is a sea day – we plan on sleeping in! Even order in room breakfast…

Up next, travel day at Sea and then Jerusalem, Israel.

For more photos check out my Flickr "Travels" set.