Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Rock of Gibraltar......An amazing cruise port

As I've said before....8 days is long time at I amused myself with doing a little Etigami I'm not the worlds best artist, but hey.....a gal has to keep herself occupied!

At last! land Ho...

the Infamous Rock of Gibraltar.... 

Getting closer...and I'm soooooo ready to get off the ship!

Joel looking wistfully at approaching land.....I think he kissed the ground as we walked away from the ship!

First order of business was to obtain a tour.....No Problem.....the tour guides and their vehicles, are lined up as you exit the pier....
do not take the first offer you see....the further down the line, the cheaper the price gets...
Try to form a group of 8....better negotiating power, and no waiting...
We paid 25 USD pp for a 2.5 hour trip....They take Euros, Pounds, USD, and of course Gibraltar pounds.  Don't worry if  you don't have Gibraltar isn't necessary, they take most major currencies everywhere in the City!

At the end of the old ancient world!

My Hercules!

Our first stop was the Moorish Castle
6 centuries old!

we marveled at the rock walls

the old Spanish cannons

made beautiful by the addition of wildflowers!

Our cruise buddy Dave, gazing out over the bay.

The crazy airport where a road crosses the runway! Cars have to stop, when planes have to land. The other side is Spain! 
a very uneasy partnership, i am told!

We climbed the tower via narrow stairs....

And finally emerged to the top of the Castle!

We were rewarded with amazing views of our ship in the distance!

You can see our tour vans awaiting our return!

Again, the straits of Gibraltar

Our next stop on the whirlwind tour, was the top of the Rock!

Of course we had to take the obligatory Selfie!

Another one just for good measure!

This is not a selfie....just an FYI..heehee
He wanted our camera though! You have to watch these pesky little devils, They will take anything that isn't nailed down!

looking down was amazing...and a little creepy!

The little guy was sitting atop the Entrance to St Michael's cave....another stop on our tour!

Our crazy and silly cruise buddy's at the entrance to the cave....

Joel keeping a watchful eye.....wonder what he's thinking!!

The caves are a must see!

I wonder what holds them up???

Pictures of course....


 crazy pictures! 

It's a long way down.....but oh so cool and crisp....

I was told that they sometimes have concerts here.

Afterwards we were on the hunt for Cornish pasties, and of course a Pint!

The only place we could find them was in a local mega mart named Morrison.... It was very close to the ship... it has a hot food area, bar and anything else you could possibly want!

The pasties were everything I hoped for...I am shamefully addicted to this British treat!

The walk back to the ship, was full of local, Joel is not mailing his hand!

Or making a long distance call.....

Eventually we returned to the ship, to get ready for the Every night happy hour gathering, with our Buds, and compare stories of our wonderful day in Gibraltar!
Next Stop.... Malaga Spain! 
I wonder what awaits us there!!!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ancient Istanbul......Oh what a time we had!

 Months before we left on our 6 week adventure. we started pricing flights home from Rome.....Turkish air was the most reasonable, and when we found out that we could layover in Istanbul for 3 days for only 60 bucks was a no brainer!  One word to the wise attention to the airport you chose....Istanbul has 2.  One fairly close and one verrrrrry far away!!! Pay attention People.

If Istanbul is a cruise port for you and you are there for just the day, I suggest a taxi to the blue Mosque, Free entrance. From there you can walk to the Hagia Sophia, about 12 USD pp. They take credit cards and Turkish TL ( 40 TL)  only.  No Euros or USD are accepted at the ticket counter.          
Spend some time in the park area...just to get a feel for the life in this beautiful area. Then stroll up to the grand bazaar, a 10 min walk. have a Turkish coffee and a won't regret it!

In Rome,checking flight details.....
On time...check
baggage checked....good to go
right airport? Hell no, I picked the one that was an hour away! 
during rush hour!  NOT

Alas....I can always detect a silver lining.....The airport I picked was in Asia...YES...I said Asia!
How fun is that! our 2 continent trip, now became three....Here we are crossing over to Europe....I was instantly enchanted!

After 2.5 hours on the bumper to bumper freeway, we finally entered Istanbul and were greeted by the most amazing sunset....
Silver lining?...check!

We booked a room in a small hotel on Airbnb....the stairs were a little crazy, but heck...I'm tough! And it was not the first time we encountered stairs in our airbnb lodgings.... If you can't climb stairs...always ask your host before you book!

And look at our room! Complete with balcony, and a view over the sea! We used airbnb all over Europe, and for the most part had wonderful experiences! Plus we never paid more than 60 USD a night. ( this room was only 36 USD a night!)

This room came with an amazing Turkish breakfast!

After breakfast we walked up the street and ran into the Blue Mosque! On airbnb it's Location, Location, Location!

5 minutes away, we walked to the Hagia Sophia Mosque....OMG I was so Impressed! This Mosque was once a Cathedral built in the early days of Constantinople...Almost 1500 years old!  It is now a museum, and is available to visit by anyone. We bought our tickets at the site, early in the day. It is best to go early when it is still cool, and less crowded. 

Amazing architecture that combines early christian art, with Muslim simplicity. I loved our time here. 

I took a zillion pictures.....

This one is from the second level...Just as impressive as the ground floor!

Afterwards we ate corn from a street vendor....Street vendors are everywhere, and the food is oh so yummy!

Walked the old streets to the ancient Grand Bazaar...

Walking into this bazaar was walking back in time....

You could buy anything you wanted!

We stopped for a Turkish coffee, and an iced coffee for me...I was roasting by this time!!!
It was cold.....but no ice! It was delicious, thick and smooth!

Joel loved the coffee....

Coffee and our tickets to the Mosque...

Hagia Sophia is even more beautiful by night. Just behind us is a park, where people are strolling, eating local food from little carts, and just enjoying life.....a block away is a wonderful street with outdoor cafes and coffee places...We loved it here and came back each night just to enjoy watching children and families being together.

a view of the park fountain all lit up.... it dances and changes delightful!

The Blue Mosque is just as beautiful, although not quite as old!

We dressed respectfully, wearing long pants and shirts with sleeves. I brought a scarf to cover my head. we were quiet and filled with the beauty of this place.  

The mosaics are amazing

So beautiful!

It was an amazing experience to visit.....

Just outside the mosque is one side of the park....

If you turn around you can see Hagia Sophia, on the other side. Just to give you an idea how easy it is to walk from one Mosque to the other...I have to say, this area was my favorite!

We bought fried bread with Nutella for Joel and creamy cheese for me....We had these delightful pastries every day! We are hooked!!!  3 TL or 1 Euro! Worth every penny!

Of course we had to try the Baklava and coffee, with Turkish ice cream.....Oh so yummy!
this restaurant was right next to our hotel, and had a beautiful view of the sea!
Oh the luxury! 

Turkish air is a first class airline.....It was a long trip home...10 hours in the air, but we had lots of Movies, food, free wine....( my personal favorite!) So the time passed quickly....
Many people thought we were nuts to go to Turkey....I think they are nuts not to go....It is a beautiful, historical city filled with wonderful and warm people.....