Monday, November 30, 2009

Middle of the Indian Ocean

Kusadasi seems a distant memory as I type this up date from the middle of the Indian Ocean, our apologies for not updating our blog earlier, as you can imagine the internet on the ship is sometimes a bit of a challenge.

It’s amazing to think it was a week or so since our visit to the Egyptian Museum, which was an eye opener for most of us. The tomb of Tutukamin was fascinating. The pyramids were fascinating and awe inspiring, if not only for the pyramids but for the exotic people with camels and donkeys. I think most of us were surprised that they were so close to the city of Cairo and in fact the slums of Cairo were just about in the backyard with butchers and shabby homes. Anais and Maya had the pleasure of a camel ride around the pyramids. To think they were wandering in the Sahara desert around the Pyramids!

Safaga and the Valley of the Kings was beyond description, we had the most amazing guide. Hussam was passionate about Egypt, he was imaginative and organized for us a ferry ride across the Nile and dinner for us, all beyond what we had organized. Definitely one of the best guides we have ever had.

Passing through the Suez was fascinating, so many ships, and a stark contrast as the passed the Sinai desert and oasis. It is hard to imagine how anyone can survive in such a climate. We did get to see Bedouins as they actually live, wandering the desert with their camels. Unbelievable that that way of life still exists and wonderful too.

We have safely passed through pirate alley. The men have been excited to see the naval ships and the helicopters and Orion fly by making sure we are safe. Personally I think the reason they flew by us was to see the women the deck sunbathing! Some were disappointed we did not see any pirates.

The weather has been spectacular throughout and as we cruise the Indian ocean we have all gotten into the rhythm of cruising and are also looking forward to our next port of call, Sri Lanka.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A glımpse of some of the wonderful thıngs we have been seeıng

froggy has become our mascot. As you can see he tends to hog the lımelıght and was determıned to get ın front of the bıg Budha ın Bangkok

Beautıful Turkey!

Can,t belıeve ıt has been a week sınce we have been travellıng. It has been amazıng.
The flıght to bangkok was long but we all dıd very well, Anaıs and Mya were partıcularly great.

Bangkok was beautıful, warm but not unbearable. Our hotel was ın a fabulous locatıon.
We saw amazıng temples and very ımpressed by the varıous Buhdas.
The men were well behaved as the women were restraıned wıth theır shoppıng!

The flıght to Athens was excellent, not very full so many of us were able to get a good nıghts sleep.
Athens put on an amazıng day. The sun was shınıng and the temperature was perfect for seeıng sıghts. We were very fortunate that we were able to vısıt the new acheologocal museum that has just opened up. It ıs an amazıng museum, not to be mıssed. Tour groups are booked up untıl early next years whıch goes to show how lucky we were.
The acropolıs ıs a wonder of the world and I thınk we were all ın awe. Helen was a wonderful and ımpassıoned tour guıde. She was a wealth of knowledge.

The next day we set saıl, startıng our ocean voyage. The Athena ıs a beautıful classıc shıp, where you ınstantly feel at home. We dıd get to see Athens twıce though due to a mechanıcal problem whıch was overcome overnıght. We have been very ımpressed wıth the meals and the sıze of the cabıns. We hıghly recommeded the 6th deck, even wıth an obstructed vıew cabıns are a great sıze and you can stıll see the world saıl by. We dıdn t get to see Istanbul ın the evenıng but had a full day there, vısıtıng the Hagıa Sofıa, the Blue Mosque and of course the Bazaar. It was a full on day and we were all exhausted by the end of ıt.
Each sıght left as ın awe ın one way or another. The hagıa Sofıa for ıt s unbelıveable hıstory, ınıtıally a pagan tmeple, then a catholıc basılıca and then a mosque and fınally a museum. What can we say about the Blue Mosque, ıt ıs called the Blue Mosque because of the tıles ınsıde, not because ıt looks blue on the outsıde. Fınally the Bazaar ıs a sensory delıght. Sıghts, sounds, smells that cannot be descrıbed. We used the publıc tram and got a feel for the everyday lıfe of the people of Istanbul. We were all amazed by how modern and clean they were.

Gallıpolı was a very movıng day. Vısıtıng Anzac cove was tremendous touchıng thınkıng of all the lıves lost on those beaches and rıdges. Ewan was asked to speak at the small ceremony. He dıd and amazıng job and dıd the Kıwıs proud!

Today we are ın Kusadası and have vısıted Ephesus. For Ewan and I ıt ıs our 3rd tıme to thıs amazıng sıte adn each tıme we have seen somethıng dıfferent and amazıng. We vısıted the Terraced House whıch have only recently been excavated are beyond worlds. You really get a glımpse ınto the lıfe of the people of the era, as you walk through the hosues of people from tıme gone by. We are talkıng for 2500years!
Tomorrow ıs a day at sea and we all could you a day of rest and relaxatıon by the pool. The day after we are ın Cyprus.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Athena Tour- Athens to Singapore - Day 1 Auckland to Bangkok

Day 1: Can you believe it!

It's a glorious day in Hamilton as we are all in the midst of our final preparations. Bags are almost packed... I'm sure we have forgotten something. Oh well, we can always buy it when we are overseas. Words that I'm sure the gentlemen dread to hear. But really ladies, isn't that part of the fun?

We have just checked and Thai airlines is on time. That is a good start.
I have also checked the weather for Bangkok. A sultry34 degrees, a partially cloudy day awaits us.

Athens will be cooler, but similar to what we have been getting a high of 19 and a low of 12. Not bad really for winter.

We will try to update the blog on a regular basis, internet connections willing.

So follow us on our ocean grand journey!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Images that can hardly do our experiences justice

Sunset as we leave Istanbul. What an amazing and exotic city.

Pizza in Italy. What do you do after a 7 day cruise of the Med? Eat some more.
It was a great night in Venice and the pizza was delish!

The amazing Cathedral in Palma di Mallorca

Camel riding. It looks exciting, imfortunately it was only on the pier in Tunis. Tunis was a bit of a let down but a good look of the Arab world

At Buckinghan Palace. Unfortunately the Queen was not able to receive us.

Diane and Murray atop to Eiffel Tower. A bit chilly but what a view!

Dinner at the Eiffel Tower after an amazing tour of the city of lights as well as a cruise on the Seine

Yes, we did climb the Great Wall of China!

Diane at the Great Wall of China.
Just a glimpse of its magnitude

On the Great Wall of China.
Pictures and words cannot do it justice!
While we were there we were caught up in a sandstorm. Sand that is blown all the way from the Gobi desert.
Ewan, Nancy and Douglas

A beautiful city, unfortunately a bit misty and well dusty with all the construction going on. The story goes that the bird of Shanghai is the crane... and not the bird.

More Pictures at Last

It's hard to believe that we are back home after a most amazing journey. It seems like just yesterday that we all boarded the bus leaving Hamilton and yet it also feels like forever.
Apologies to all for not updating our blog more often, internet connections were not always easy to find and well, we were just having too much fun!
It was an amazing journey. It is hard to explain what we have experienced, what we have seen and done.
We have all marvelled at the different cultures we encountered and the history behind it all.

Here are the pictures you have all been waiting for...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ahhh, Gay Paris, city of lights and love!!!

We can hardly believe that tomorrow we will be leaving Europe on our way to China.
We feel like we have walked and walked the length and breath of Europe.
Our bus transfer from Venice to Savona for our second cruise went smoothly and was a chance to see the italian country side.
Our first port of call was Barcelona. A beautiful city and one that is easy to visit. Most took taxis' to visit the major sites. The most remarkable is the amazing and ornate Sagrada Familia, still under construction after 100 odd years. You may have seen pictures of this amazing cathedral but seeing it is something inspirational and awe inspiring.
La Rambla, the Spanish equivalent of the Champs Elysse, was great for people watching.
Malta was also a wonderful port with amazing history.
I think we all agree that we could have sailed by Tunis, it was what you imagine an Arab town to be, run down, dirty and noisy. Our guide was pretty average and didn't seem really interested in presenting his city as a wonderful tourist destination.
We all loved Rome, some were believe it or not, lucky enough to arrive at the Vatican just in time to see the pope say Mass and canonize 5 people!
We all enjoyed Italy and sailing with Costa but most were pleased to leave the Italians behind. Lovely people but ever so loud and pushy, and yes fambloyant!

England felt like coming home for almost everyone. We had the most amazing weather, none of the typical English gray skies you hear of, but beautiful blue skies and actually warm! Most explored on their own and discovered the treasures of London. Colleen did very well and went to Greenwich by taking a ferry down the Thames. Definitely something she would recommend to anyone visiting London.
You can't go to London without going to a show. Most went to see the Lion King and Oliver. Both shows were AMAZING!

Paris has been beautiful and last night had to be a highlight. Our tour guide Beatrice was brillant and really gave us a good introduction to this amazing city, and then a cruise on the Seine just before sunset followed by dinner at the Effel Tower. It was a bit cold and windy but the view and the meal were beyond words.

For the first time the weather was as we expected and bit on the colder side with a high of 12, but we had crisp blue skills, not a cloud to be seen. The major sites were explored more indepth. The Louvre, Notre Dame de Paris and the Arch de Triumph and of course one of the most impressive departments stores- Les Gallerie Lafayette.
We were all very well behaved and didn't buy out the store. Although Bryce and Heather had to buy a new bag! (no, not because of the shopping but infortunately their bag was damaged leaving the boat)
By the time we got back to the hotel we were all exhausted so despite the talk of going to see a show at the Moulin Rouge we all had a early night, knowing that tomorrow we are off again.

We will load more pictures as soon as we have a good connection... stay tuned!

Ah, Gay Paris!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Turkish Delight
Marion after an exhasting day in Istanbul-Having a beer under the Galata bridge between East and West

In the cistern in Istanbul, from 532 AD- The pillar with the medusa head
and Nancy and Douglas

Photo finish

Sun setting over Istanbul. The Galata Tower, on th Asian side of Istanbul

In front of the spice market in Istanbul.
Barry and Thelma (our party animals- often found dancing to the wee hours of the night)
Tour escort par excellence Ewan, Nancy and Douglas, Stewart,
Marion and Robin
Istanbul Turkey
Can't say enough about this city, its amazing sights, sound and smells. All so exotic.
The gang in front of the Blue Mosque. Words cannot describe the wonder of it all.
Ephesus, Turkey- The best preserved city of antiquity
In front of the library- they wouldn't let us take out any books!
The New Zealand team

Ca you believe we are sailing from Venice?
Just look at all the people who have come to see us off.

Leaving Venice- Ah, young love!
Sailing aay from Venice
How romantic is this!

Together in Ghent. Another beautiful city in Belgium. Just not enough time

How time flies when havig fun!
A cruise on the canal in Brugge.
We all indulge in the beer, fries with mayo and waffles. We didn't get to try all 800 beers- maybe next time

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Leaving the rain and fog and into Canada

Emerald Lake- Yukon

No bears but evidence of their passage. We were glad they weren't around
when we got off the bus

Icebergs in Glacier Bay

Barry and Thelma dancing the night away.

Formal Night. Lance, Billie, Deirdre and Yvonne