We met Aldo at the port at 7:45. He is the owner of Your Tour in Italy, the company we also used yesterday for Naples. He whisked us away for our 1.25 hour drive into Rome. As we traveled, we told him how much we enjoyed Adriano yesterday, and relayed our experiences to him. In turn, he filled us in on the history of Rome, and all that we had in store.
As we drew nearer the city, history began to come alive. We passed through beautiful countryside, and then the old city walls began to appear. We crossed through them into the heart of the ancient city, where we made our first stop at the Colosseum. With such a full day ahead of us, we debated about whether or not to actually enter this ancient site. We decided to go for it, so we made a very daring dash across the insanely busy street. (Imagine in your mind a super-speed game of Frogger.) If we weren’t awake before, the adrenaline rush from that mad dash did the trick!
Today brought us to Istanbul, our first “Do it yourself” port. We disembarked the ship at 8 am and intended on catching the tram up to the Sultanahmet area. However, the crowds and congestion were unnerving so we opted to take a taxi instead. That was our first adventure of the day. Our taxi driver was very nice, but caused us to catch our breath a few times as we skirted past trucks and oncoming cars. I’m so glad he lived up to the city’s reputation of crazy driving, and even more glad that we arrived in one piece.
The wake up call at 6 am was a little tough to take this morning. However, the excitement of our journey to Ephesus eased the pain a bit. The Ruby Princess pulled in to port at 6:57 am, right on schedule, and we promptly disembarked to greet our tour guide from Hello Ephesus. We immediately took a liking to Bulent, aka Bill, as he was funny, knowledgeable, and looked remarkably like John Locke. (A character from my favorite TV show of all time, LOST.)
As we drove out to the ruins, about 25 minutes away, Bill filled us in on the history of Turkey and all that we would be seeing out in Ephesus. It was fascinating to hear his account of the many civilizations and cultures that have shaped his country over the centuries. I noticed the countryside as we drove, feeling very much at home amid the citrus trees and farmland of the region.
After 2 days at sea, we docked in the port of Piraeus at 8:55 this morning. We disembarked shortly thereafter and met up with our tour mates in the port arrival hall. We located our driver outside, and were a wee bit concerned as he was not too personable. However, shortly thereafter, our guide, Voula, arrived and kicked things into gear. She was a small woman, with a huge passion for her country and it’s history. The whole drive in to Athens she narrated the history of Greece in general, and Athens in particular. It was like a whole history lesson for dummies, in just 30 minutes. Amazing!
Today we set out for our last adventure in Venice….a visit to St. Mark’s Square and Doge's Palace. We wandered the back streets for about 45 minutes, again oohing and ahhing over the window displays we passed. Then, as we turned a corner, we knew we were in St. Mark’s Square by the mass of people we encountered. Talk about a sea of humanity!
Exquisite, Enthralling Doge's Palace
We wove through to get to our first destination, Doge’s Palace, where we checked in about 20 minutes early for our “Secret Itineraries” Tour. Tickets in hand, we entered the courtyard, and took a step back in time to Venice’s great past. We marveled at the architecture, and took the few minutes before our tour to take some lovely group shots in the majestic setting.
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.