Friday, July 29, 2016

Greece Trip, Sat. 7/23/16 (Cruise)

One nice thing about EF Tours is the ease with which it rearranges or reschedules in light of world events and U.S. State Department recommendations. We were originally scheduled to stop in Kusadasi in Turkey to visit Ephesus, but the State Department has issued travel warnings for U.S. citizens in Turkey since at least March, so EF arranged for an unadvertised stop on the lovely island of Samos, instead. It's located close to Turkey, where Greece defeated the Turks to gain independence in the 1800s. We were impressed that EF could influence the cruise line to make this adjustment for us.

EF Groups skipped Kusadasi in Turkey due to State Department travel advisories

Highlights of our visit to Samos included a tour of the ancient temple of Hera, a tour of a winery museum which included a wine tasting, and ample time on the beach. Samos is the birthplace of the influential Greek mathematician, Pythagoras, so Don was thrilled to be there and to spend time with the island's Pythagoras-monument. Prices were great on the island for those of us who went shopping, and merchants and restaurants were very welcoming. Apparently, business is down due to the migrant crisis that peaked several months ago. We saw no problems when we were there.

Monument to Pythagoras of Samos

A sailor treats his pet goats on Samos
The wine-tasting was the most popular part of the museum tour. Samos makes some famous wines, including the official communion wine of the Greek Orthodox Church

The Celestyal Olympia picked ups up on its way back from Ephesus in the afternoon. Apparently there were no problems for the passengers who disembarked there, but better safe than sorry. It took us to the island of Patmos, where St. John wrote the Book of Revelations. Don and I ate ice cream and strolled around the town before returning to the ship for supper.

Patmos is a sacred place with a beautiful harbor and a monastery up on the hill

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