As with most of the ports on this cruise, the approach to Kusadasi gave a breathtaking view, especially because the sun had just begun rising over the mountains, sending bright rays all over the city. We took a tour to the house of the Virgin Mary and along the way the guide gave us the history and background. This serene spot, with many flowered gardens and cypress trees, is said to have been the place that Mary spent her last days. A little chapel is built on top of the original foundation. Outside the chapel is a “wish wall of ribbons” where people write their wishes and tie them together along the wall.
Then we drove to Ephesus where our guide sat us down on some marble platforms and explained the history of this ancient city. It has marble streets and mosaic sidewalks and has the largest amphitheater ever excavated. One of the highlights of our tour, believe it or not, was a visit to a carpet making factory. This is a thoroughly entertaining experience as they unroll one carpet after another in front of you. Back at the port, we sat in a cafe with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean and drank apple tea, a very popular hot drink, served in little tulip-shaped glasses.
The highlight of Messina is the town clock, a must see, which chimes at noon and has a display of gold figures such as lions, roosters, doves and people rotating around the clock. We did a tour to Taormina, a fascinating medieval town built on the top of a hill. The town is very charming with many ancient churches, shops of original work from local artisans, fashionable clothing, sweet treats and lots of cafes featuring gelato and iced coffee. Bring lots of Euros if you go to Taormina. The town’s huge amphitheater is built near the edge of the cliff and offers breathtaking views along the coast.
Rome, Italy – Our Final Adventure
After disembarking the ship in Civitavecchia, we headed to Hotel Victoria which is very lovely and in a great area, right beside the Rome city wall. We had quite the adventure today while trying to get home from a walk, ending up along a highway which had six lanes of cars and not meant for pedestrians. We made the mistake of following some local teens, who then crossed the highway. There was a small sidewalk which ended after about 500 meters. We were all dying of exhaustion and heat stroke and couldn’t bear to walk all the way back. We were right beside the Borghese gardens but there was a six lane highway to cross and a brick wall to climb. My husband David crossed three lanes and I thought ‘forget that,’ so I raised my hand to hail a cab that was zooming by. The lady cab driver, much to our surprise, slammed on her brakes and stopped right on this busy highway and the guy behind her almost crashed into her. We all started running to the cab and David was still across the highway on the median but it was every man for himself so we all ran, including David, to the cab and got a ride to our hotel. What a relief, we gave the cabbie an extra tip.
Janet Bell recently cruised the Mediterranean on board Noordam and sent in Cruise Diaries throughout her voyage.