May 10, 2024

May 9 - Ephesus (Kusadasi)

There are three ships in port today, The Odyssey of The Seas, a Seabourne ship and a P&O ship. Ephesus will be crowded. The busses at the pier remind me of the 4 x 4 sliding puzzles we are all familiar with, but the bus puzzle is more like 6 x 6 as the busses are juggled around to load passengers.

The weather again is perfect, about 75 with partly sunny skies.

We are taking a panoramic tour which takes us to view a few of the most popular sights, but not explore them in depth.

The first stops are to the restored Basilica of St John which dates back to the 5th or 6th century. Nearby is the Isa Bay Mosque built in 1375, and the one remaining column of the temple of Diana. All of the other remains are in a museum in London.

We pass by the ancient city of Ephesus which was built under the Ottoman empire in the 6th century, and is one of the largest archeological sites. A tour of the site can take a full day or more, and crowds are large. The city was totally buried by an earthquake and rediscovered in the 1800's.

Our shopping opportunity, every tour has one, was at the Alladin Rug Factory.  The hand made turkish rugs were beautiful. Some of wool, some of cotton and wool, and some of silk. The smallest door mat sized ones started at $1,000. Delivered to your house of course. Larger ones were priced up to $50,000 and more.  With 10 rooms filled with rugs, everyone different, I would guess his inventory easily in excess of 100 million dollars. Yes, they made at least 2 sales that I witnessed.  In reality, if you were in the market for such a rug, you could easily save the cost of the cruise on the price of the rug if you bought it here as opposed to a showroom in the US.

The tour bus drops us off just outside the port so we must walk past another 50 shops before we can reach the ship. A standard tactic of many ports all around the world.

The passenger dynamics are entirely different on this cruise than the previous ones.  Several very obnoxious and drunk passengers by 5pm, but in general a much smaller percentage of passengers drinking in the lounges.

A couple in the coastal kitchen insisting that the wine be poured from the bottle in front of them at the table as they did not trust the server. Yes, they told him so.

Passengers getting on an occupied elevator and cancelling all the buttons so the elevator will go directly to the deck they want. This was a new one for me, as I didn't know you could cancel a floor once activated. You can guess how I learned this one.

On formal night I played the game of counting baseball caps and suits or tuxedos.  Ball caps won 5 to 1. I would have never anticipated this. Makes me happy I am at least dining in the Coastal Kitchen.

The grilled veal chop was excellent. After dinner several sets of The Dukes in Boleros. Again another contrast, there were seats available during all three sets.

The seas remain under 3 feet. For the next day and a half we will be cruising to Limassol, Cypress.

May 8 - Mykonos

Another near perfect day. Temperatures are in the low 70's. We could not find a tour that I was comfortable with the walking requirements, so we plan to go into town on our own. We could walk the mile or so, but the more fun way is to take the "Sea Bus" across the harbor. 

Our ship is docked at the only cruise terminal pier. A ferry boat is docked directly behind us, only feet from our stern. From our balcony it looks like we crashed. Just an illusion.

An MSC ship has the honor of being in the middle of the harbor and tendering passengers to the old pier. It makes sense that the larger ship gets the pier.

The Sea Bus makes a brief stop at the tender boat docks to pick up a few passengers and then to the old part of town.  Some of the buildings date back centuries. Everything is painted white and everything is immaculately clean. Repair and restoration is an ongoing process.

The flagstone streets are very narrow, and in some cases have less than five feet between the buildings. No cars to avoid here, just an occasional daredevil on a motor scooter. Called Little Venice, it is definitely a tourist destination.

We meander along, eventually reaching the old windmills. All in all a very picturesque area, and today very crowded.

Time for a break, baklava, coffee for Lynn and a diet Coke for me, what else. Yes it was as good as any I have had.  We find a slightly different maze of alleyways to wander back to the Sea Bus to get back to the ship.

The manager of the Coastal Kitchen is leaving the ship tomorrow for a few weeks off and then he is headed to the Utopia of The Seas. He did not request the Utopia and is not looking forward to the move, but being the good employee he is, he goes where he is asked.

Obviously well liked by many, most of his evening was spent saying goodbye to guests and fellow workers from the captain and head chef to a few guests that Miami doesn't even want dining in the Coastal Kitchen.

The band plays several jazz sets in Boleros this evening. This venue definitely has become my go to spot on this trip. The piano player in The Schooner Bar is just downright awful, and the acoustics in the music hall are such that they  make good musicians sound bad.

The seas are like glass as we head to our next port of call, Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey.