Cruising the Scenic Mediterranean: The Trip of a Lifetime!
By Sherry Jefferson, Cruise Consultant, The Cruise Web.
In September of last year, I had the pleasure of taking a cruise in the beautiful Mediterranean! This trip was filled with extraordinary beauty and surprising history, so much so, that I had to share it with you! This fabulous Eastern Mediterranean itinerary included the ports of Naples and Messina in Italy, the Greek Islands of Rhodes, Mykonos and Santorini, Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens), and Kusadasi, Turkey.
The Cruise began in Civitevecchia, the closest port to Rome, Italy. If you have never been to Rome, I highly recommend you do not miss the spectacular history and culture that awaits you there! From the Colosseum to Vatican City, there is so much to see and experience in Rome. If you can allow the time, a few days in Rome, either before or after the cruise, is a must.
The first port of call on the cruise was Messina, Italy. We had selected a wine tour through the cruise line which took us to the base of Mt. Etna. The winery itself was a former baronial estate with spectacular view of the lands below. In a shaded area outside we were treated to aperitifs and wine. Then came lunch! Lunch was served in a regal, stone-encased room and included several courses and wine pairings. It was such a beautiful scene; like something from The Godfather! The lunch itself was well worth the cost of the tour.
In Naples, Italy, we took a day long excursion to the coast. The drive along the coast is simply breath-taking! We passed through the famous little towns of Positano and Amalfi. For a few hours you can pretend to be a jet setter. These are the little towns that celebrities frequent and you read about in magazines! This tour ended with a trip to Pompei, a truly incredible experience. One has to marvel at the fact that an advanced civilization once thrived there!
Rhodes was a mixture of old and new – with an entire ancient city walled inside a modern one. Here, we walked around the old city and then hopped on a local tram which made for an easy tour of all the old and new areas. I had to marvel at how simple it was to tour in Europe as public transportation is so easily accessible. Mykonos was well navigated on foot. The narrow alleyways lined with shops and restaurants made for an entertaining afternoon of shopping and absorbing the local culture.
The next morning we awoke to the view of Santorini which was absolutely gorgeous! I felt like I was looking at a postcard while viewing the whitewashed buildings sitting high above the black volcanic rock. The view from above was just as spectacular. Here, we contracted a friendly local tour operator who drove us all around the island. We ended the day with some relaxing time at Black Beach. There the sand was a unique shade of black as it was formed from the surrounding volcanic rocks. What a day!
The next stop was Kusadasi, Turkey. Kusadasi is a very modern city with many local shops famous for their rugs and leathers. Here, we decided to take a tour of Ephesus which is known as the best preserved classical city of the Eastern Mediterranean. In Ephesus you could envision the life lead by the ancients. The same can be said for many of the ports. With each, you are reminded of the history that lies there, and of the people who once walked the same paths we walk now. I was simply caught by the awe of it all!
Athens, Greece is a large, modern city. Yet again, the opportunity for history is available for the taking. Here we selected a tour offered through the cruise line. The highlight of this tour was the Acropolis! Once again, I was awed by the antiquity that surrounded us.
All in all, this was one of the best trips, if not THE best, that I have ever taken! The ability to see so many beautiful places and so much history in one trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And a cruise is by far the best way to see so much! We did not have to worry about packing, unpacking and packing again! Nor did we miss the trouble of dragging our luggage from place to place or worrying about where to sleep or eat. The familiarity and hospitality offered by the cruise ship was a welcome luxury. My only complaint … the trip wasn’t long enough! However, I do have over 500 pictures to remind me of this special trip and help me relive a most excellent adventure!
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