Wednesday, 27 July 2016


What a pleasant surprise. We only spent from 12 midday to 6:00pm at Argostoli and most of that was spent on a tour to Drogarati Cave and Mellisani Lake but it turned out to be more about the journey than the destination.
Argostoli is on Keffalonia Island. All buildings on the island were destroyed in an earthquake in 1953 so there are no old parts and it is very neat. It is also much more vegetated than the other Greek islands we have visited so the overall effect is green.
The destinations for the tour were a bit forced in that the cave was a poorly looked after and presented limestone cave which compares very unfavourably with others we have seen. In fact the photos make it look much better than it is when seen with the naked eye.

The Lake was fascinating in that it is effectively a sink hole in the landscape filled with crystal clear water. Part of the lake goes into a cave complete with bats. Access is by row boat. If you were there with very few other people, it would be fantastic but, in our case, we queued for 45 minutes to spend 10 minutes in the cave!

The best part of the tour was the bus tip in which we saw much of the island including several of its very nice beaches. We could come here again.

That's the last tour. We spend tomorrow on the ship heading for Venice where we arrive on Friday morning We have our disembarkation instructions for 9:15. Our flight leaves at 3:30.

What a fabulous trip we have had. If anything interesting happens, there will be another blog but this may well be the last one until our next adventure. I hope those following the blog have enjoyed following it as much as we have enjoyed providing the material for it.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


It's probably unfair on poor Crete that it followed such a spectacular place as Santorini. Heraklion is a city of contrasts. Some of it is quite tidy but other parts aren't. In particular, it is one of those cities in which there are many partly constructed buildings, some in a state of abandonment, but some being partially used as if it is intended to complete their construction one day.

To its credit however, it is in better shape than Albania and generally appears more prosperous.
The old city is surrounded by a very substantial wall which enabled the Venetians who controlled it at the time to keep the Turks at bay for 21 years back in the 17th century. In Venetian times, it was a substantial ship building and ship repairing port.

We acquired a new neighbour this morning while we were out and about. As far as I can tell externally, the Oosterdam appears to be identical to the Eurodam.

Tomorrow is our last port of call being Argostoli, Nisos Kefallinaia. It is described as a place which has “not succumbed to package tourism”. Sounds like a great place to finish our fabulous trip.

We spend Thursday heading back to Venice where we get off the ship on Friday morning We get back to the Australian cooler weather on Sunday morning.

Monday, 25 July 2016


Santorini is described as the most spectacular of the Greek Islands and you will get no argument from us. It is certainly the most spectacular of those we have seen.

We were neither docked nor anchored in that there is no wharf here capable of taking a ship of any size and, because the town of Santorini and the other towns on the island of Santorini are all perched on the rim of an ancient but active volcano, the water is so deep that ships can't anchor. The ship maintains position electronically in that its thrusters continually operate in such a fashion as to keep it within five feet of a preset position on its navigational system.

This morning we went on a Holland America bus trip and visited the highlights of the island including the beautiful town of Oia and the highest point of the island, the name of which now escapes me and I can't find.

We drove through Santorini but didn't stop there. It wasn't included in the tour. We finished the tour at a local winery where we tasted some very nice wines and enjoyed the spectacular view from yet another angle. Santorini has an extensive wine industry. Grapes are everywhere.

We returned to the ship for lunch and then set out again in the tender to explore Santorini itself.

We had been warned about the queues for the cable car from dockside up the 2,000 foot cliff to the town but there were none. We were also warned about the track which one can walk if one doesn't want to travel up or down the cliff by cable car or donkey but it looked perfectly acceptable to walk down had there been too long a queue for the cable car.
Tomorrow we wake up in Heraklion, Crete. It seems that it will be a considerable let down after the last few days but we are not complaining. We have had many fabulous experiences.


Sunday, 24 July 2016


Rhodes turned out to be really interesting even though it was a replacement port for our inability to go to Istanbul. It has it all, a relatively flat old town easily accessible from the port surrounded by an extensive wall and a beach just a slightly longer walk away. Most of the town was in great shape but some of it was in an advanced state of dilapidation.

The island of Rhodes, on which the town of Rhodes is located at the northern tip, is apparently considered the most beautiful and has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The bit we saw was certainly nice. We have to take the tourism brochure's word for the rest of it.
The island is one of the Greek islands very close to Turkey so has no doubt seen more than its share of controversy about control.

One characteristic of the locals which stands out, perhaps more than anywhere else we have visited so far, is their persistence. Taxi drivers and cafe operators were very keen to try and convince us to use their services.

It's a tough job but somebody has to do it otherwise the tourism economy would grind to a halt (as it perhaps has in Turkey). As you can see, the beach was very popular, which I guess is fair enough for a Sunday, but it is a gravel beach – very hot. Shoes are essential.
Tomorrow we wake up in Santorini, said to be the most spectacular of the Greek Islands. Rhodes is the most beautiful but Santorini is said to be the most spectacular. Work that out.

Saturday, 23 July 2016


We spent today anchored just off the town of Mykonos on the island of Mykonos. We didn't have any tour booked so we just went ashore and went exploring in the quaint old town with streets laid out in such a way as to confuse pirates (and tourists). Unfortunately Trish felt unwell and returned to the ship but the rest of us soldiered on.

Mykonos consists of mainly white concrete buildings with various trim colours, not just blue.

Cars are generally not allowed in the old town but some squeeze in, presumably for delivery purposes. What appear to be streets for pedestrian use also cater for the occasional motor scooter.

The town of Mykonos is on the western side of the island. We caught the “public bus” to Paradise Beach on the southern side of the island where Bernie and I had our first swim in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean!! It was really nice and well worth the effort, not only for the swim, but also for the trip across the island on the steep narrow roads lined with very unforgiving rock walls. The buses appeared to be unscathed.

The background to the beach photo shows the rocky hilly terrain in the background. The whole island is like that.


One of the attractions in the old town is a series of old windmills. History does not relate what they were used for. I am sure Google would tell the story.

Once again, our humble abode was the biggest structure in town.

By late this afternoon, the wind was gusting up to 20 knots and the tenders were encountering a little chop.

Tomorrow we wake up at Rhodes City on Rhodes Island. Apparently the World Heritage listed Old Town is the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe.

Friday, 22 July 2016


Athens today. Very interesting. Not surprisingly, it is not unlike Rome in its general impression. The city is very busy and traffic is a bit chaotic but it seems to flow OK. All residential accommodation in Athens is apartment living with very little car parking so everybody with a car parks on the street, often two cars deep. Cars parked on the street in Rome generally have a battered appearance. They appeared a little tidier in Athens.

The port at which we are docked is actually Piraeus, the port for Athens but the towns are merged into each other with a population of approximately four million, almost half the total population of Greece.

The focus of the day was the Acropolis. We headed off at 8:30 with a very informative guide and, because we were part of a tour, we didn't have to worry about queues. We were warned that they could be very long but they weren't too bad when we arrived.

As we learnt, the Acropolis is the hill on which a building, the Parthenon, is constructed. It has had a very complicated and turbulent history since its original construction in the fifth century BC and is in a constant state of renovation. I suspect it would have been a very long time ago that it existed without construction scaffolding around at least part of it. Given that we didn't have a helicopter, I couldn't get a photo of the complete structure but you get the idea.

After we comprehensively explored the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis, we got back on the tour bus and explored the city.

We elected not to come back to the ship with the tour and stayed in town. We had lunch by the ruins of the Zeus Temple and then spent several comfortable hours in the air conditioned Acropolis Museum viewing the numerous artifacts recovered from the Acropolis since they started giving it some serious archaeological attention in the 1860's. We eventually returned to the ship by taxi.

The museum itself is built over Roman ruins so they have glass panels in the floor through which you can view the exploration which is going on below.

That is the last of our archaeological exploration. From now on, we will be focussed on the scenery of the Greek Islands. We wake up tomorrow in Mykonos followed on successive days by Rhodes, Iraklion, Santorini and Argostolion. I hope they will be good as they sound.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


A short day today. We got under way at 3:00pm and are heading for Piraeus, the port for Athens at which we will arrive tomorrow morning. It must be a far way because we are doing 20 knots which is unusually fast having regard to the pace at which we normally travel. The weather is brilliant and the sea calm.


Katakolon was pleasant enough as a Greek port but had nothing to offer in its own right. It is a 45 minute drive from there to Olympia, the scene of the first Olympic games around 600 BC and numerous games thereafter.

It is a typical archaeological site with lots of old bits of carved rock lying around. The site is located within a village of the same name but the village is relatively modern with no hint of the village which presumably existed when the games venue was originally established.

The excursion was a typically well organized Holland America excursion with one exception. After the guided tour at the olympic venue, we had half an hour of free time to wander. We then walked to the village where we had 50 minutes of free time!! We would have preferred to spend the additional free time in the archaeological site. Fortunately we found a very interesting Archimedes Museum in which to entertain ourselves.

What did make an impression on the way to Olympia was the rubbish – great piles of it dumped by the roadside with no apparent attempt being made to remove it. Hard to believe but it was there. Hopefully we will see no more of that at the iconic Greek islands we will be visiting after Athens.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


We took a Holland America tour today which went first to a fort from which we had an excellent view of the town.

As you would expect, Albania has had a turbulent past and is unfortunately paying the price for it. It is the poorest of the countries we have visited and that shows in the roads and partly constructed but abandoned buildings – shades of South America. Our guide gave us some insight into life under communist rule as it existed when she was growing up and, more recently, a corrupt democracy where many of the politicians are convicted criminals.
From there we travelled 22 kilometres over very ordinary roads to Blue Eye, a national park where cold crystal clear water emerges from the ground at an extraordinary rate and feeds very strongly running streams. Apparently, where the water emerges is in effect an underground cave system having a depth of greater than 60 metres They have tried to assess its depth but the pressure of the water is so great, they can't get down any deeper.

We finished the day with a stroll along the waterfront watching the beach goers enjoying the gravel beach and lovely clear water.

The waterfront is very pleasant but even it has its share of partly constructed buildings.

Tomorrow we wake up in the port of Katakolon from where we visit Olympia.