Home Up

Greek Isles 2016 Home Passengers  


2016 Greek Isles Itinerary
   September 08: Day 0   Thursday Rome, Italy 
   September 09: Day 02    Friday Amalfi Coast, Italy 
   September 10: Day 03    Saturday Catania, Sicily 
   September 11: Day 04   Sunday at sea
   September 12: Day 05   Monday Athens, Greece 
   September 13: Day 06   Tuesday Santorini, Greece 
   September 14: Day 07   Wednesday Mykonos, Greece 
   September 15: Day 08     Thursday at sea
   September 16: Day 09    Friday Kotor, Montenegro 
   September 17: Day 10     Saturday Zadar, Croatia 
   September 18: Day 11   Sunday Koper, Slovenia 
   September 19: Day 12   Monday Venice, Italy 
Cruise Pricing
(All rates are per person double occupancy)

    Inside Category Deck 2

 sold out

    Oceanview Category  Deck 2

  sold out

    Veranda Category 2B Deck 9

  sold out

    Veranda Category 2A Deck 7

  sold out


A Note from Marla Archer: 

Dear Travel Friends,

If there ever was a trip that included the most desirable and romantic destinations in the Mediterranean, this adventure would be at the top of the list.  We are planning an 11-night cruise adventure aboard Celebrity's Constellation (Sept 8-19).  This trip will take us to all sorts of beautiful places.  In a way, this is almost like three or four trips in one.  

Part One of our trip is Western Italy. We start the cruise in Rome, then sail to Amalfi Coast (Italy), and Catania (Sicily).  Part Two of our trip is Athens (Greece), Mykonos (Greek Isles), and Santorini (Greek Isles).  Part Three takes us along the Adriatic coastline with stops in Kotor (Montenegro), Zadar (Croatia), and Koper (Slovenia).  

Part Four of our trip is the legendary Venice where will end or trip.   Rick and I definitely will be extending our trip 2, possibly even 3 nights in Venice.  I will be sure to find a suitable hotel for our group stay and maybe we can explore the city together.

In addition to this fabulous itinerary, I have to say this September sailing is the absolute most comfortable time of the year.  We get to visit these destinations with daytime highs in the mid 70's to low 80's; nighttime lows in the mid 60's. 

There are so many places in the world to yet see!  I turned 60 this year.  With all the inevitable aches and pains arriving on cue, I am reminded that youth is fleeting.  I get the message - I need to see every place I can while I am still able. 

High on that list is Venice and the Greek Isles.  Although any trip that includes Rome and Athens will include history and culture galore, the main focus will be romantic venues and natural beauty.  This is a trip that has captured my imagination.  As I watch Mamma Mia for the umpteenth time, I say the sooner the better. 

One note of caution.  Celebrity is receiving a terrific response to this trip and has refused to expand my group space.  Assuming you trust me enough to know I don't play games, a word to the wise - my inexpensive cabins will be gone soon.  Book now.

Marla Archer



Marla's Note: Our cruise ship does not actually dock in Rome.  The port of Civitavecchia is about 40 miles northwest of downtown Rome.

There is transportation readily available from Rome to the cruise ship... I can handle any transfers upon request.

The trip is about an hour long.

Rick and I have visited Rome previously and consider this magnificent city an old friend.  We welcome the opportunity to return again; there is always something exciting to see in Rome.  In my opinion, no other city in the world has so much history standing right in front of your eyes like Rome does.

Whether it's the Forum, the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon or St. Peter's Basilica that sparks your interest and intellect, Rome is home to a lifetime's worth of historical, architectural and spiritual sites. Depending on traffic, the drive from Civitavecchia to Rome takes approximately an hour and a half.

Experience the history of Rome as you wander around the Colosseum, one of the most important monuments of ancient Rome and the Roman forum. A masterpiece of classical architecture, the Colosseum is an enormous amphitheater where gladiators, Christians and wild beasts once battled to the death in front of 55,000 spectators. Upon completion, spectacular 100-day celebrations were organized as part of the opening ceremony in 72 AD. Its name is believed to come from Nero's enormous statue of Colossus that stood close by.
The Forum was designed to be the centre of social, political and economic life in the city. The innumerable remains include the well-conserved triumphal arch of Emperor Septimius Severus, with reliefs depicting his victories and the base of the Temple of Saturn with its eight columns and their splendid Ionic capitals. The 'Rostrum' is the famous platform from which Mark Antony gave his oration in Shakespeare's play after Julius Caesar's assassination. The platform became the setting for many important events in Rome's history. It was named the 'rostrum' after the bows of the ships that form the decorative motif. The Temple of Vesta was the home of the Vestal Virgins, charged with keeping the sacred flame alight. The circular foundations still remain, near to a garden in which traces of the House of the Vestal Virgins can still be seen. The Basilica of Constantine and Massentius was used as the court, and the three remaining barrel-vaulted naves give an idea of its gigantic structure. The Arch of Titus celebrates victories in Judea, and in the reliefs you can see the spoils of war, including an altar and a seven-armed chandelier. Admission is free; guide tours in English cost EUR3.20

Be sure to visit the Vatican Museum, where you can walk through the many rooms that house the largest art collection in the world. The Vatican is among the most important historical sites in the world. The seat of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, The Vatican is also the home of the Pope. As the smallest state in the world, the Vatican has figured in key events throughout history. Occupying about one half kilometer of Rome, The Vatican is further significant because of its fabulous architecture, religious, and artistic treasures.

It was Pope Julius II della Rovere in the 16th century who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the history of creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Among countless other notable events in the history of this important city are the convening of the College of Cardinals, at the death of a reigning Pontiff, for the purposes of electing a new Pope. No visit to Rome is complete without an excursion to The Vatican, a place so steeped in history and tradition that you will never forget it.

Travel through the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. . Construction began in 1452 on the site where St. Peter was buried and took over 100 years to build. It rests on 800 pillars and is littered with 44 altars.   During the next 200 years, such famous masters as Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini worked on its design and created an unparalleled masterpiece.  View Michelangelo's "Pieta" and the 85-foot-high Bernini Pulpit. Admire one of the many masterpieces created by Michelangelo, the famous statue of Moses. This majestic bearded figure is depicted holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments.

If this is your first visit to Rome time, you must take in the Sistine Chapel. It is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art. Dominating the chapel is Michelangelo’s ceiling paining of the “Creation of the World.”. The Sistine Chapel receives 50 million monthly visitors. The Chapel was built somewhere between 1477 and 1481 by Pope Sixtus IV. From 1480 to 1483, famous artists of Renaissance, such as Botticelli, Perugino, and Ghirlandaio, decorated the walls. After twenty years, Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to decorate the ceiling in 1508. Today, after the restoration, tourists can visit the chapel and see Michelangelo's “Last Judgment.” You will invariably find the Sistine Chapel crowded with hundreds of tourists, so be prepared. The best way to see it is to go to the Vatican Museums early, so that you're among the first in line when they open. Silence should be observed and photography is not prohibited.

The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, restored by Domitian, and subsequently rebuilt by Hadrian (who added the dome) before being turned into a church in the early 7th century by Pope Boniface IV. The building's sole source of light is the opening at the dome's apex (the oculus); according to popular legend, this formed the base for the bronze pinecone that is now in the Vatican's 'Pigna' courtyard, where it is used as a fountain. Many famous Italians are buried in the Pantheon, including Renaissance painter Raphael and King Vittorio Emanuele I.

No visit to Rome can be complete without a stop at the Fontana di Trevi. Tradition has it that throwing a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain guarantees a swift return to the world's most beautiful city. Anita Ekberg's dip in it was immortalized in Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita', and Italian actor Toto even sold it to an American, passing himself off as its owner. Earlier it was the setting for the award-winning "Three Coins in the Fountain" motion picture, ensuring its popularity worldwide. Designed by Nicola Salvi for Pope Clemente XII, it was completed in the second half of the 1700s. The statues in the centre represent Neptune supported by Tritons on either side while rococo-style Poli Palace provides the perfect backdrop.

If time permits, take a visit to Trastevere. This area of Rome was originally built to be a city port where storehouses held goods at the time of Augustus and continued to do so until the end of the 19th century. Trastevere then became a downtown market residential quarter and has now developed into a very desirable quarter. The heart of the district is Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere with its lovely church, a 17th century palazzo and a fountain in the middle which is probably Rome's oldest, having been designed by architects such as Bernini, Fontana and Della Porta. There are still some well-conserved medieval houses

If you have the extra time, explore the flavors and history of Etruscan Italy. Pre-dating the Roman Empire, the Tuscia region has been the cradle of the Etruscan civilization and is evident in hilltop Tuscania, with its roots dating from the 9th century B.C., contrasting with the Renaissance gardens, fountains, pavilions and maze of Villa Lante.

Rome isn't the only place to visit Italy.  Hardly.  Leaving the port area and heading north from Civitavecchia, you will view the warm colors of the Etruscan countryside.  If you get the chance, make your way to Bagnaia. Stop by and appreciate a visit to the Renaissance gardens of Villa Lante. To create these beautiful gardens, one of the greatest architects of the time, Vignola, was called upon. Fountains, pavilions and a box-tree maze were all combined to create a peaceful yet playful atmosphere.

Walk through these inspirational and often whimsical gardens, taking time to enjoy the serenity and beauty of the setting. Then proceed to the lake of Bolsena and stop for views of the lake and the islands Bisentina and Martana Standing at the top of a rocky hill overlooking the Maremma region, Tuscania’s Etruscan and Renaissance buildings have been beautifully restored and still reflect the Etruscan history. Walk through the narrow cobblestones lanes of this charming village and take in the views of the surrounding valleys.

Be sure to take plenty of Euros.  The euro is the currency of the European Union and the official currency in Italy. Many stores and restaurants accept major credit cards, which usually offer a good exchange rate. When shopping remember there is a value-added tax to most purchases.

One more thing.  Rick has written two extensive stories about our previous visits to Rome.  If you get the chance to read them, you will come to realize Rome is an unusually fascinating place to visit... and maybe a bit challenging as well.

You will soon learn Rick has gotten into more trouble in Rome than all our other 30 cruises combined.  If you ever want to irritate him, just whisper "Evil Map of Rome".

Fortunately, I think he has the place figured out now, but if he doesn't, I do.  Our previous experience should come in handy in case you have any questions.   M.A.

 Rome Story: Greece 2008  Rome Story: Barcelona 2009

Victor Emanuel Monument

Roman Coliseum, one the new Wonders of the World

Castle Saint Angelo

View from the Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

The Roman Coliseum

The Trevi Fountain



Marla's Note:  The Amalfi Coast is a renowned stretch of mountainous coastline south of Naples, located in an area of Italy known as Campania.

One of Europe's most desirable and romantic destinations, the Amalfi Coast has been seducing visitors with its beauty since antiquity.

There is a roadway covering a 25 miles stretch that connects the hilltop village of Meta, just outside Sorrento, with Vietri sul Mare in the east.  Undoubtedly our bus will take us on a breath-taking tour.

The southern end of the Bay of Naples stretches out in a steep and rocky peninsula that reaches towards the Isle of Capria and Sorrento, another major tourist destination, looks back towards Naples from the north coast of the peninsula.

The southern side of the peninsula is dotted with picturesque villages and towns clinging giddily to cliffs; this is what is known as the Amalfi Coast.

Today, this "road of 1,000 bends" hugs soaring cliffs and weaves tortuously in and out of deep gorges, passing olive groves, lemon terraces and tumbling whitewashed villages, all against a background of a shimmering azure sea.

It is barely wide enough for two lanes of traffic, and is best avoided by visiting off-season in September when the evenings are balmy, the water is still warm and the crowds have all but disappeared.

For decades these fishing villages, stacked precariously above the sea, have been one of Italy's major tourist attractions. Nowadays the area's principal industry is tourism, and a staggering number of hotels have been squeezed into the restricted spaces of the small towns.

Well-accustomed to catering for affluent foreign tourists, the area offers a generous selection of restaurants, bars, boutiques, boat trips. Little boutiques and ceramics shops are a part of the coastline's charm.

The views are undeniably breathtaking, and away from the main road and the tourist hot-spots you can still discover the peace that charmed earlier visitors.




Marla's Note:  Catania is a wonderful combination of ancient and modern.

Her history and character is inextricably linked to the formidable form of Mount Etna, which looms over the city as an ever-present menace.

Given what Vesuvius once did, people notice every Etna rumble to heart.

At the foot of this great volcano, facing the Ionian Sea lies Catania, a Sicilian monument to survival and resilience, defying the ravages of time and nature. Etna has an interesting character, and despite its imposing appearance and destructive potential, is known to many as the "good volcano".

According to historic accounts, it is more likely to damage places than people, as its lava flows tend to be slow, giving town inhabitants time to flee its fury. The main casualties are immovable. Homes and monuments risk damage or annihilation like Castle Ursino, a large proportion of which was buried beneath the flow of slow moving but nonetheless deadly floating lava.

Plucky Catania, despite having been rebuilt seven times due to earthquakes and volcanic damage, is rich in folklore, history and beauty. The obvious hazard of living at the foot of a live volcano has some recompense, as the countryside surrounding Etna is fertile and over the centuries has been coveted and conquered.

If Etna has been the cause of Catania's destruction, it has also been a vital source of the construction of the city, as much of the black volcanic rock which characterises Catania's beautiful Baroque architecture was spewed from the heart of Etna. The way in which these past eruptions have formed the land, gives rise to the origins of the city's name. The historian Plutarch suggested that it came from the word Katane meaning "grated", referring to the uneven surface of the land surrounding Etna, upon which Catania stands.

In the VIII century B.C, Catania was a Greek colony, subject to the Siracusans and later the Romans. The following Byzantine, Arab and Norman epochs each contributed to its characteristics and culture. Though occupied and invaded over the centuries with the rest of Sicily, Catania has a reputation for being a resilient city, tough on unwanted invaders.

Fun things to do:

The Cathedral
- Dedicated to the city's Patron, Santa Agata and reconstructed with the use of material recovered from the buildings of the Roman era.

The Piazza Duomo - Surrounded by the Palazzo Senatoria and elegant noble buildings arranged around the Fontana dell'Elefante, the symbol of the city.

The Collegiata - A magnificent example of the architectonic splendor built during the 18th century, with the interior decorated by Giuseppe Sciuti.

The Noto Valley - Reconstructed following the destructive aftermath of the 17th century earthquake, the Noto Valley is a World Heritage Site due to its stylistic features.  Scuba dive in the ocean beds between the land the the stacks. Hike the narrow trails that run along the high rock walls at the Gole di Alcantara. Discover excellent birdwatching spots including the Simeto Delta

The cuisine of Catania is one of the tastiest in Sicily, where the most typical feature regards the roasts, and the well-known "oranges" made of crunch rice balls stuffed in the middle. Also, one cannot ignore traditional fish dishes that range from sea salads, shells seasoned with a sprinkling of lemon to fish fries of newborn mullets, accompanied by onions. With such pastries as the Sicilian cassata, martorana fruit based on almond paste, monaca buscuits, nougat torroncini and Santa Agata raisins; you'll find yourself instantly hooked.

Taormina, Sicily

Take a tour to the well-known resort community of Taormina renowned for its beautiful setting.  It is perched on a mountainside on the West Coast of Sicily.

Taormina is one of the prettiest spots in Sicily 32 miles (45 minutes) north of Catatania.

Stop below the village of Taormina before proceeding uphill to the village gates. Upon reaching Taormina, you'll walk past the ancient village's many squares and see the small boutiques located along the Corso Umberto.   Here you will find the "essence of Sicily," Taormina. Built in the 3rd century BC, the city was later almost completely renovated by the Romans. Taormina is perched on a terrace overlooking the sea.  It’s medieval character will delight you. Near the center of Taormina, you will find cobblestone streets to Palazzo CORVAIA, a 15th century building adorned with classic double windows. Proceed to the impressive Greek Theater, built in the 3rd century BC. Renowned for its width and for its unique acoustic qualities, it is still used for open-air concerts. Weather permitting; you will have an impressive view of Mt. Etna.

Enjoy the busy main street with its numerous shops and cafes and to savor the charm and atmosphere of this small medieval town with its palaces, squares, staircases and small side alleys.

Idyllically perched on a rocky promontory high above the sea, Taormina has been the most popular tourist destination in Sicily for a couple of hundred of years, ever since it became an integral part of the Grand Tour. Beautifully restored mediaeval buildings, breathtaking views around every corner and a giddy network of winding streets strewn with shops, bars and restaurants make for a perfect holiday spot.

Today, Taormina lives on tourism. Visitors flock from all over the world to see its Greek-Roman theatre, to amble along its perfectly preserved Mediaeval streets, to admire its dramatic views of Mount Etna and to immerse themselves in the archetypal Mediterranean atmosphere.

The main attraction is, without doubt, the theater. Now home to all manner of events, including plays, fashion shows, concerts, and cinema festivals, the Teatro Greco, as its name suggests, started its life in the 3rd Century BC hosting performances of works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes.

Originally quite small, it was enlarged by the Romans to accommodate their own particular brand of theatrical extravaganza. The views from the theater are spectacular, taking in a (usually) smoking Mount Etna and the Bay of Naxos down below.

Taormina is served by its very own cable car which ferries tourists to and from the seaside resorts down along the coast. Extensive beaches, rocky coves, tiny islands (such as the famous Isola Bella) and sea stacks abound, making this enchanting coastline a firm favorite with Sicilians and visitors alike.





Marla's Note:  

While Greece stands as the birthplace of the Western Civilization, it can also be said that Athens is the cradle of democracy.

Athens is a vast city.  When you climb to the top of the Acropolis, a major hill in the center of the city, you can see this city extending as far as the eye can see in every direction.

Athens is situated in the prefecture of Attica and extends to the peninsula that reaches up to Central Greece. Mountains to the north and east, and the Sardonic Gulf to the south and west surround Athens. The sun shines over Athens all year round. The climate is one of the best in Europe. It is located just a few miles from the port of Piraeus, the central commercial port of the capital, and the shores of southern Attica. Piraeus is the main port of Athens, the biggest in Greece, and one of the most important in the Mediterranean Sea.

Piraeus is walking distance from Kastella, a hill strewn with beautiful houses that offers a majestic view of the Saronic Gulf.

Athens has constantly been inhabited since Neolithic Age. The 5th century was the time of its ultimate bloom, when moral values and civilization surpassed city limits and became the motherland of western civilization. In the centuries that followed, many conquerors tried to take over Athens. In 1834 Athens was chosen to be the capital of the newly established Greek State. The city that now hosts more than 4,5 million people was constructed around the Acropolis walls. Today it is the political, social, cultural, financial and commercial center of Greece.

Athens is a city of different aspects. Take a walk around the famous historic triangle (Plaka, Thission, Psyri). This old neighborhood reveals the coexistence of different eras. You will find old mansions, some are well preserved and others are worn down by time. There are also luxurious department stores, small intimate shops, fancy restaurants and traditional taverns. Traditional handicrafts, though sometimes expensive, are the most authentically Greek souvenirs. In Athens, Monastiraki and Plaka are the best places to purchase handcrafted goods. Experience the traditional flea market. You'll find ceramics, brightly colored embroidery and wall hangings, flokati rugs and tapestries.

The heart of Athens beats in Syntagma Square. This is where Parliament and most of the Ministries are. A few miles from the historic center, you can enjoy the sea breeze. Or you can head up north and enjoy the fresh air at the more classy neighborhoods of Marousi, Melissia, Vrilissia and of course Kifisia.

Athens and Attica in general have the most important archaeological monuments (Acropolis, Odeion of Herodes Atticus, Olymbion, Roman Market, Panathinaiko Stadium and The Temple of Poseidon.) The capital has many imposing neoclassic buildings, The Greek Parliament and Athens Academy and University. Don't miss visiting the museums hosting unique treasures of Greece’s cultural inheritance.

Take a visit to The National Archaeological museum . It ranks among the top ten museums in the world. By far the most important museum in Greece, this collection contains artistic highlights from every period of ancient Greek civilization, from Neolithic to Roman times. It houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece.

The exhibitions can be traced to the development of the Art of Greece from the prehistoric days to the golden age of Greek thought, and all the way to the Roman times.

Holdings are grouped in five major collections: prehistoric artifacts (7th millennium BC to 1050 BC), sculptures, bronzes, vases and minor arts, and Egyptian artifacts. The museum's most celebrated display is the Mycenaean Antiquities. Here are the stunning gold treasures from Heinrich Schliemann's 1876 excavations of Mycenae's royal tombs: the funeral mask of a bearded king, once thought to be the image of Agamemnon but now believed to be much older, from about the 15th century BC; a splendid silver bull's-head libation cup; and the 15th-century BC Vaphio Goblets, masterworks in embossed gold. Mycenaeans were famed for their carving in miniature.

Other stars of the museum include the works of Geometric and Archaic art (10th-6th centuries BC), and kouroi and funerary stelae (8th-5th centuries BC), among them the stelae of the warrior Aristion signed by Aristokles, and the unusual Running Hoplite (a hoplite was a Greek infantry soldier).

The collection of Classical art (5th-3rd centuries BC) contains some of the most renowned surviving ancient statues: the bareback Jockey of Artemision, a 2nd-century BC Hellenistic bronze salvaged from the sea; from the same excavation, the bronze Artemision Poseidon (some say Zeus), poised and ready to fling a trident (or thunderbolt?); and the Varvakios Athena, a half-size marble version of the gigantic gold-and-ivory cult statue that Pheidias erected in the Parthenon.

The Parthenon and the Acropolis can get confused because they are in the same spot.  The Acropolis is the name for the imposing hill that dominates the cityscape of Athens.  The Parthenon is the name for the famous temple that rests atop the Acropolis hill.

No visit to Athens would be complete without a visit to the Acropolis. There you'll find the Parthenon, the largest building in the Acropolis and one of the world's most awe-inspiring sights. It was built as a temple to Athena and is still a remarkable structure today.

The Acropolis has been nominated to be one of the 7 wonders of modern world. In fact this trademark of Athens is one of the favorites. The Holy Rock of Acropolis dates back to the 5th BC, the famous Golden Age of Periklis. Acropolis in Greek literally means “the highest point of the town”.

The Acropolis hill, so called the "Sacred Rock" of Athens, is the most important site of the city and constitutes one of the most recognizable monuments of the world. It is the most significant reference point of ancient Greek culture, as well as the symbol of the city of Athens itself as it represents the apogee of artistic development in the 5th century BC.

The Acropolis rock is part of a Late Cretaceous limestone ridge that cuts through the Attica plateau in the northeast to the southwest axis and includes the Likavitos hill, the Philopappos (Museum) hill, the hill of the Nymphs, and the Pnyx. The rock rises from the basin about 70 meters and levels to a flat top 300 meters long by 150 meters wide. Its flat top is due to the numerous landfills that have accommodated construction of fortifications and temples since the Mycenaean era.

With its many shallow caves, the abundant percolating water springs and steep slopes, the Acropolis was a prime location for habitation and worship location for Neolithic man. The Propylaea are the monumental entrances to the sacred area dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of the city. Built by the architect Mnesicles with Pentelic marble, their design was avant-garde. To the south-west of the Propylaea, on a rampart protecting the main entrance to the Acropolis, is the Ionian temple of Apteros Nike, which is now being restored.

The first habitation remains on the Acropolis date from the Neolithic period. Over the centuries, the rocky hill was continuously used either as a cult place or as a residential area or both. The inscriptions on the numerous and precious offerings to the sanctuary of Athena (marble korai, bronze and clay statuettes and vases) indicate that the cult of the city's patron goddess was established as early as the Archaic period (650-480 B.C.).

The Parthenon is the most famous surviving building of Ancient Greece and one of the most famous buildings in the world. The Parthenon has stood atop the Acropolis of Athens for nearly 2,500 years and was built to give thanks to Athena, the city's patron goddess, for the salvation of Athens and Greece in the Persian Wars. The building was officially called the Temple of Athena the Virgin; "Parthenon" comes from the Greek word parthenos, "virgin."

Throughout its long life, the Parthenon has functioned most importantly as a Greek temple, but has also been a treasury, a fortress, a church, and a mosque. Today, it is one of the most recognizable icons and popular tourist attractions in the world.

Athens has always attracted peoples' attention, most notably for being the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

It was the Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the 1st Olympic Games of the modern era, in 1896. However, its history goes way before the 19th century AD. The site of the Panathenaic Stadium was originally a small natural valley, between the two hills of Agra and Ardettos, over Ilissos river. It was transformed into a stadium by Lykourgos in 330-329 BC for the athletic competitions of "Panathinea", the greatest festivities in ancient Athens.

Between 140 and 144 AD, Herodes Atticus restored the Stadium, giving it the form that was found at the 1870 excavation: the horseshoe construction with a track 204.07 meters long and 33.35 meters wide. It is believed that the Stadium had a seating capacity of 50,000 people.

The modern times restoration of the Stadium was conducted at the end of the 19th century, for the first Olympic Games that were reborn in 1896. The Stadium was rebuilt with marble from Mt Penteli, the same kind that was used 2,400 years before, for the construction of the Parthenon on the Acropolis. It could now hold over 60,000 spectators. The total cost was 1 million GrD, a huge amount of money in those days.

A visit to the Stadium is an absolute "must" when in Athens. It is located in the centre of the city, on Vassileos Konstantinou Avenue, on the east side of the National Gardens.

Temple of Zeus

Greek fishing village

Greek coastline

Acropolis close-up


Acropolis in the daytime

Acropolis at night

Temple of Dionysus



Marla's Note:  

Black-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and whitewashed villages carved into volcanic cliffs make the island of Santorini a wonder to behold.

Visitors far and wide come to revel in the mountaintop atmosphere while they enjoy the scenic waters of the Mediterranean below.

Santorini is considered to be the most sought-after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, since there are not many places in the world where you can enjoy exquisitely clear waters while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of the sea!

For those who are in more of an exploratory bent, Plato once wrote about the existence of Atlantis in the middle of the Aegean Sea.  With that in mind, Jacques Cousteau looked for the lost city of Atlantis here.  Indeed many visitors come to Santorini to investigate the mysteries of the lost kingdom of Atlantis. 

Are you a fan of the color blue?  Come to Santorini.  Due to the rich color of the surrounding sea, the Greeks have painted many rooftops a matching blue.  Indeed, royal blue is the color of the national flag of Greece. 

Crescent-shaped Santorini , the precious gem of the Aegean, is actually a group of islands in the southernmost part of Cyclades.

The whole complex of Santorini islands is still an active volcano.  It is probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea.

The islands that form Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic activity; twelve huge eruptions occurred, one every 20,000 years approximately, and each violent eruption caused the collapse of the volcano central part creating a large crater (caldera). The volcano, however, managed to recreate itself over and over again.

The last big eruption occurred 3,600 years ago (during the Minoan Age), when igneous material (mainly ash, pumice and lava stones) covered the three islands (Thíra, Thirassiá and Asproníssi). The eruption destroyed the thriving local prehistoric civilization, evidence of which was found during the excavations of a settlement at Akrotíri.

The solid material and gases emerging from the volcano's interior created a huge "vacuum" underneath, causing the collapse of the central part and the creation of an enormous "pot" -today's Caldera- with a size of 8x4 km and a depth of up to 400m below sea level.

The eruption of the submarine volcano Kolúmbo, located 6.5 km. NE of Santorini, on 27th September 1650, was actually the largest recorded in Eastern Mediterranean during the past millennium! The most recent volcanic activity on the island occurred in 1950. The whole island is actually a huge natural geological/volcanological museum where you can observe a wide range of geological structures and forms!

Santorini's spectacular caldera is a vestige of what was probably the biggest volcanic eruption in recorded history, believed by some to have caused the disappearance of Atlantis. The island's violent volcanic history is visible everywhere you look - in black-sand beaches, earthquake-damaged dwellings and raw cliffs of lava plunging into the sea.

Firá is the picturesque capital of the island; perched high up on the edge of the Caldera, it looks like a marvelous painting. Firá, together with Oia, Imerovígli and Firostefáni located high above on a cliff, make up the so-called "Caldera's eyebrow", the balcony of Santorini, which offers an amazing view of the volcano. Some of the villages are cosmopolitan some more peaceful; they are surrounded by vast vineyards; whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles affording amazing views out over the Aegean. Soaking up the villages' distinctive traditional atmosphere is a very rewarding experience.

Fun things to do:

Volcanic eruptions have created beaches here unlike any you'll see back home.  The Red Sand Beach is one of the most beautiful sites to see. Bring your camera or simply experience and admire this stunning natural phenomenon.

Stop at a Santorini wine producer to enjoy a glass and explore the important role wine has served in the island's growth.

Stroll through the scenic village Oia, a haven for artists and artisans, and explore their shops, enjoy a drink or a traditional dinner while watching the sun sink into the caldera.

A visit to Santorini is the ultimate gastronomic experience, as the island is a true culinary paradise! Treat your taste buds to some famous traditional products like cherry tomatoes, white egg plants, fava, caper and "hloró tyrí", a special kind of fresh goat cheese found on the island, or why not try some of the exceptional wines produced from grapes grown in the volcanic soil of the island!

Assyrtiko, Athyri, Aidani, Mantilaria and Mavrotragano are just some of the distinctive varieties that you can taste at the island's famous wineries (some of them operate as a museum as well) or at restaurants.

Popular main dishes include mousakas (eggplant baked with minced meat and béchamel sauce), stuffed tomatoes and freshly grilled seafood. The mainstay of the Greek diet is the ubiquitous horiatiki salata (country salad), consisting of cucumber, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and olives.

Venture into Santorini seaside treasures and enjoy deep blue waters and beaches with white, red or black sand or volcanic pebbles, spectacular rock formations and impressive lunar landscapes.

Red Sand Beach

Santorini at sunset



Marla's Note:  Mykonos is known as the "Party Island" of Greece.

As this is among the most popular tourist destinations in Greece, most Mykonos beaches are organized with many tourist facilities, from seaside accommodation to restaurants, beach bars, and water sports centers.

The beaches are famous all over the world for their golden sand and the crystal waters. The best organized beaches in Mykonos are found on the southern coast, which get extremely overcrowded during peak season. Paradise Beach and Super Paradise Beach are famous as the best party beaches in Greece.

 In the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean lies one of the most inviting places in all of Greece - Mykonos. Its countless bays and beaches and its quaint cobblestone streets are bound to welcome any visitor.  According to Greek mythology, it was here that Hercules slew the Giants; the large rocks that are scattered about the island are said to be their petrified corpses. True or not, you'll have to judge for yourself. Either way, the Island of Mykonos should not be missed.

Mykonos is famed as a cosmopolitan destination amidst the Greek islands and widely recognized as one of the great travel meccas. It is one of the most visited islands in the Aegean.

This island is famous for the vivid nightlife and the gorgeous beaches. Geographically located on the northern side of the Cyclades, almost in the centre of the Aegean Sea.

Mykonos' nickname is The island of the winds.

Mykonos has two villages, Chora and Ano Mera. Chora is the most popular spot on the island and the center of all activities in summer. It stands out for its picturesque architecture and the tourist facilities. Ano Mera is, however, a small and quiet village that doesn't get that frequented as Chora.

Mykonos' main communities are Chora, the island's port town and capital, and Ano Mera.

Mykonos Town (Chora) is a stunningly picturesque Cycladic town with a maze of tiny streets and whitewashed steps lanes, houses and churches, gathered around its harbour in the middle of a wide bay. It is one of the most cosmopolitan and crowded towns of the Aegean. Although the streets are lined with little shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, stylish bars and restaurants, Mykonos Town has not completely lost its identity.

Despite the island's rapid growth and development, it's traditional Cycladic architectural style and character has remained firmly intact, thanks to the island's strict building regulations. Expect to find shops by Chanel, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and other well known, high-end brands. It would appear that these shops cater more for the tourists that arrive on many of cruise ships that dock nearby.

Ano Mera is a small village on the middle of the island, and the only inland settlement on the whole of Mykonos, about 7 km east of Mykonos Town. Ano Mera is based around a large central square, which is lined on three sides by a series of Greek tavernas. The monastery of Panagia Tourliani, founded in 1542, is Ano Mera's most significant highlight.

Other fun things to do:

Take a tour boat over to Delos Island to visit the birthplace of Apollo on this historic island. Dating back to the third millennium B.C., Delos is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world. Marvel at the ancient ruins from famed architectural sights.

Visit the Archaeological Museum on Mykonos, featuring important finds from the ruins on neighboring Delos.

Spend an enchanting afternoon exploring the charming cobblestone streets and two-story, whitewashed shops and homes of these beautiful islands.



Marla's Note:  

For the final leg of our journey, Kotor begins a highly dramatic change of scenery.  From the sun-kissed beaches of the Aegea Sea, now we visit the moody Balkan cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea

As the Balkan area emerges from the horrors of warfare in the Nineties, the cruise industry has recently opened this striking area to the world at large.

Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro. It is located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor.  The city is very small with a population of 13,000.

The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. Kotor is recessed into the mountains due to a fjord-like river.  As one can see, the surrounding area form an impressive, picturesque Mediterranean landscape.

In recent years, Kotor has seen a steady increase in tourists, many of them coming by cruise ship. Visitors are attracted both by the natural beauty of the Gulf of Kotor and by the old town of Kotor.

The coastal town is located in a most secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor, at the foot of mountain Lovcen. Kotor is a typical Mediterranean travel destination with old narrow streets, romantic bars and restaurants, small shops, antique monuments, churches and picturesque buildings. Famous poets and writers have used the beauty of the Bay of Kotor as inspiration for their works. Listed as UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site, Kotor has become a famous yachting and sailing destination for skippers around the globe.

A person's first look at Kotor, whether from the sea or from the road, always leaves a strong impression. Kotor is unique for several reasons. It is located on the only natural fjord of its kind in the world and in a bay that has made the list of Most Beautiful Bays in the World. But visiting Kotor is about more than beautiful views-it's also about experiencing the cultural heritage of Boka Kotorska Bay.

The Old City of Kotor - Kotor Stari Grad - is one of the best preserved medieval towns in the Adriatic. The Old City is surrounded by an impressive city wall, known as bulwarks, which was built by the Republic of Venice and still retains much of Venetian architectural influence. Explore a great number of monuments of medieval architecture: churches, cathedrals, palaces and museums.

While there is no accurate information regarding the founding of Kotor, archaeologists believe that it rose on the foundations of the ancient city of Acruvium. Legend has it that Alkima, a fairy, advised the Serbian king, Stefan Dusan, not to build his town in the hills "where boats don't have a harbor and where horses run about", but to instead build near the sea. In Phoenician myth, the town was founded after Argonauts' conquest for the Golden Fleece.

Whichever story might be correct, it is believed that the roots of Kotor stretch back before Homer (10-12 BCE), a time when Phoenicians ruled the Mediterranean. This means that Kotor is an ancient city, as old as the sea trade in the Adriatic.

There are three entrances to the Old Town, including the Sea Gate of 1555 which serves as the main door. Huddled underneath the rocks of Mt Loven, bordered from the north by a short but violent river Kurda and to the west by an underwater spring Gurdi. Kotor has all the features of a Baroque town.

Kotor is unique because it is the only town on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea to be located by name in historic and strategic maps. Old Kotor was built like a maze for protective purposes and it is very easy to get lost here. In fact, even the locals get lost. Take on wrong turn and you will wind up far from your destination.

This can happen even with a town map in hand. However, looking for landmarks, such as the 12th century St. Tryphon Cathedral, will help-and these landmarks are listed on nearly every tourist map. What can be more difficult is finding places like the Maritime Museum, which is located inside the Grgurina Palace, or finding public squares with funny names such as the Lattice Square, Flour Square, Milk Square and Cinema Square.

Inside the walls of the Old Kotor lies the largest number of shops and boutiques. You'll also find smaller shops where vendors offer footwear and clothes from renowned European and world designers. Across the Kotor Riva and harbor is the Kotor bazaar. Originally intended for the exchange of various goods and merchandise, the market is mostly used to sell fruits, vegetables and fish.

The cuisine in Kotor is mostly Mediterranean with menus crammed with delectable fish specialties and cooks use a variety of additives to enhance taste and smell. A traditional Montenegro meal includes smoked ham, cheese olives and famous red and white wines. For a taste of Kotor specialties, try the domestic fish thick soup and satisfy your sweet tooth with a frustula, a crunchy, dry sweet cookie of rhombus shape. You won't find many restaurants, open-air terraces or Kotor fiestas that do not offer these scrumptious delicacies.



Marla's Note:  

Zadar has something of a sad history. It seems the city has been conquered by one dynasty after another over the centuries.  Consequently the city has never prospered because it was always under someone's thumb.

Even recently it was attacked during the Yugoslav Wars of the Nineties.  Today it enjoys its free independence.

Zadar currently has a population of 75,000.  Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Zadar's rich history dates from prehistoric times as a Roman colony to present day. An intriguing city full of character, it is the fifth largest city in Croatia boasting a mixture of ancient ruins, Habsburg elegance, historical sights and cosmopolitan cafes. Zadar is a unique location with plenty for visitors to enjoy like the harmonic spectacle of the Sea Organ and the majestic Roman ruins that sprout randomly from the streets.

Visiting Zadar is like peeling back layers of time until you end up in the 9th century BC in ancient Illyria. The Old Town is paved with gleaming white stone and the straight streets were first laid out by the Romans. A high wall remains on the harbour side, built by the Venetians in the 16th century, and an entrance gate still sports the Venetian lion.

Zadar was conquered by the Romans and became the colony of Iadera. Later the Venetians moved in but the port city was repeatedly attacked by the Turks. Venetian rule passed to the Austrians in the 18th century and then to Italy until 1943 when the Germans moved in. Allied bombing destroyed much of the historic centre which was rebuilt after the war only to suffer more attacks by Yugoslav forces in 1991.

In the early 1990s the Yugoslav wars broke out. Zadar became a part of the new Republic of Croatia. Its economy suffered greatly at this time not only because of the war but also due to the shadowy and controversial privatization process, which caused most of its prosperous companies to go under.

During the Croatian War of Independence, Krajina rebels and the Yugoslav People's Army under Slobodan Miloševic converged on the city and subjected it to artillery bombardment. Along with other Croatian towns in the area, Zadar was shelled sporadically for several years, resulting in damage to buildings and homes as well as UNESCO protected sites. A number of nearby towns and villages were also attacked, the most brutal being the Škabrnja massacre in which 86 people were killed.

Land connections with Zagreb were severed for over a year. The only link between the north and south of the country was via the island of Pag. The siege of the city lasted from 1991 until January 1993 when Zadar and the surrounding area came under the control of Croatian forces and the bridge link with the rest of Croatia was reestablished in Operation Maslenica. Attacks on the city continued until the end of the war in 1995.

It's easy to appreciate Zadar sights because the historical center is a compact pedestrian zone, perfect to explore on foot while a walk around Zadar's walls gives a vivid sense of Zadar's history.

Begin your tour of Zadar by admiring the defensive walls that protect the city on three sides. They were built first by the Venetians in the 16th century as a defense against the Turks, then reinforced at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The oldest part of the walls is on the eastern side where a footbridge connects the old town with the newer parts. Opposite the footbridge there are four medieval gates. Notice the 16th century Port Gate where the Venetian lion, the symbol of Venice, still guards the entrance.

Head back in the opposite direction and you'll come to the Trg 5 Bunara (Square of the 5 Wells) which once furnished Zadar with water. Continuing on along the quay, you'll arrive at the beautifully ornamented Town Gate with another Venetian lion and various coats of arms.

Now take a walk along the obala Kresimira IV, the western quay. The tree lined waterfront promenade has wonderful picnic spots. It was here that Alfred Hitchcock once remarked that Zadar's sunsets were among the world's finest.

At the end of the Western Quay is Zadar's newest feature, the Sea Organ. This unusual organ is powered by the wind and the sea. When the sea pushes air through the whistles, a series of melancholy chords are played, with the sound emerging through the perforated stone stairs. You have to hear it to believe it!

Next to the Sea Organ is the Sun Salutation also designed by Nikola Basic. This circle of glass collects the sun's rays by day, stores the energy, and emits it as a flickering light show after dark. Extra energy is used to power the lights along the waterfront.

Here are some other sights to see in Zadar:

Church of Saint Donat

This round pre-Romanesque church dates from around the 9th century and has become a sort of symbol of Zadar. First mentioned by Emperor Constantine in the 10th century, the church was named after the bishop who allegedly instigated its construction. With a round, central building and three semi-circular apses, its features are most unusual. Now unconsecrated, it's largely empty inside but the excellent acoustics have made it Zadar's premier concert hall.

Roman Forum

Right in front of the Church of Saint Donat is the remains of the Roman forum begun in the 1st century BC. Notice the pillar on the north-western side called the "Pillar of Shame". It's where evildoers were chained and humiliated in the Middle Ages.

Museum of Church Art

Located in the Benedictine monastery just opposite Saint Donat, this museum is devoted to all sorts of religious art including reliquaries, paintings, sculpture and embroidery. The collection is truly impressive.
Saint Anastasia's Cathedral (Katedrala Sv. Stosije)

It is the biggest cathedral in Dalmatia, dating mostly from the 12th century and built on the site of an early Christian church. The facade is adorned with rows of blind arcades which stress the three-aisle structure. The large rose-window is Romanesque and the smaller one above it is in the Gothic style. The relics of St Anastasia lie in a marble sarcophagus on the altar in the left apse. Bishop Donat commissioned the repository in the 9th century.
Church of Saint Simeon (Crkva Sv. Sime)

The church was mentioned for the first time in 1190 but most of it dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. The facade was finished in 1632 and the bell tower dates from 1707. Inside is the sarcophagus of St Simeon, a masterpiece of medieval craftsmanship. The tomb was commissioned in 1377 and built by a local goldsmith and his assistants. The coffin is made from cedar and gilded inside and out with pure silver. The scenes depict the legends and miracles of the saint.

Archaeological Museum

Most interesting is the model of Zadar under Roman rule but the prehistoric pottery fragments and remnants of Illyrian Zadar are also worthwhile.
An emerging culinary destination, Zadar is full of old and new restaurants that mingle innovative and traditional Mediterranean fares. Taste the Damatian diet with cuisine from inland Croatia like fresh seafood and blitva, a mixture of mangold and boiled potatoes.

Telascica Nature Park

Telascica Nature Park is a two-hour ferry ride from Zadar.


Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Marla's Note:
 The picture above was taken at the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. 

There are two national parks in Croatia featuring dramatic waterfalls.  These parks are roughly equidistant from Zadar.  One is Plitvice and the other is Krka.

Rick and I will definitely be visiting one of these two parks if there is any way possible way at all.

Our current preference is Plitvice, but whichever one we choose, they are both spectacular.

Considering our trip is a year away, I won't have anything definite for a while, but at least you know where we are headed that day. 

If you want to come along, let me know!

Plitvice National Park

Krka National Park



Marla's Note:  

With Slovenia having a very narrow coastline, Koper is the only port. It is extremely important to the country.

Koper is not only the major tourist entry point by water, it is also a key point where Italy meets Slovenia. Situated just three miles from the border, Koper's identity is half-Slovenian, half-Italian.

Originally built on an island surrounded by swampland that was later drained, Koper was known as "Goat Island" when it was under Venetian rule.  Today the once fortified Old Town of Venetian-influenced Koper has retained much of its grand architecture from the 15th to 18th centuries.

The Praetor's Palace, a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles, proudly rises above the grey limestone main square.  Nearly the Postojna Caves are the most popular underground attraction in Europe. 

Another attraction is the Predjama Castle which was carved out of a limestone cliff.

The largest town on Slovenia's Adriatic coast, Koper was originally founded during the Middle Bronze Age on what was then a rocky island off the shore. Now a modern and attractive destination for visitors, Koper still wears its history on its sleeve, most notably the five centuries of Venetian rule, which has left a distinctive mark on the town.

Strolling along the narrow streets and past the imposing palaces and monumental architecture of the old town, one could be forgiven for thinking they were in Italy, especially given the fact that all street signs are in both Slovene and Italian.

Other fun things to do:

· Koper's small pebble beach, Mestno Kopališe lacks sand, but it is a lovely place to soak up the sun or to swim in the warm water.

You will find it on Kopalisko Nabreze, next to the marina. There are large areas of lawns for sunbathing, and an enclosed swimming area.

· Head to the beach at the seaside resort of Portoroz, just a 25-minute drive from Koper.

· Explore the Slovenian Istra, which includes many villages, traditional inns, vineyards, fruit groves, ethnological museums and the regional park of Secovlje.

· Jog, cycle or walk along the Parenzana Path, which connects all three coastal towns.

The cuisine here also stands in stark contrast to that found in much of the rest of the country, with Mediterranean style dishes typical of the Istrian region having pride of place on most menus, accompanied by fine wine produced in the nearby hills. However, despite its outward appearance, Koper is of course a Slovene town first and foremost, and moreover a quite important economically, given that it is the site of Slovenia's only commercial port.

The town is blessed with some wonderful fish and seafood restaurants. Keep a look out for Koper-style fast food, Okrepcevalnica bars; small, Italian-style places which serve great food of the primo, second, piatti variety at lunchtime. You can usually eat very well here for a fraction of the coast of a restaurant. While not a tourist site in itself, the port area to the north of the town is definitely an impressive sight.

Koper's main sight of interest is its Venetian-era old city, aptly named Old Town. Its main street, Cevljarska is no more than two or three meters wide in some places and is packed from dawn to dusk. Cevljarska will lead you towards the town's main square, Titov Trg (Tito Square), which is dominated by the bell tower of the St. Mary's of the Assumption Cathedral. Perhaps the most astonishing building on the square is the hacienda-like Praetorian Palace, the seat of the city's governor during the Venetian Republic.

Koper, the Old Town at least, is one big sight. From carved grey Istrian limestone to narrow intertwining streets leading to the main square, boasting the largest cathedral in Slovenia, everything in Koper narrates a story of past and present moments.

While wandering and mixing with locals, visitors and hoards of day trippers, you are liable to hear Italian spoken as well as Slovenian, and there are Italian signs everywhere.

Predjama Castle

Postojna Caves

Koper Old Town



Marla's Note:  

No one needs me to explain that Venice is considered one of the most romantic places to visit in the world. 

It doesn't hurt that many parts of Venice are drop-dead beautiful and those canals and gondolas are just too wonderful for words.

Venice is a wanderer's paradise. Its small, traffic-free streets along the winding canals make for leisurely walks to gaze at all the amazing sights.

Indeed, Venice is one of Italy's top travel cities.  It is a beautiful, romantic destination with many attractions.

You'll find many magnificent churches and palaces, lively squares, and interesting shops. Composed of 117 islands in the Venetian Lagoon and held together by a series of canals, Venice is like no other city in the world. Established more than 1,000 years ago by seafarers and Roman refugees, this magnificent city continues to be the heart of Italian culture as well as a mecca for hopeless romantics.

The Grand Canal is like main street, cutting through the center of the city.

The object of admiration of all Europe, for centuries, Venice is a living museum, exuding art from all its pores, inviting you to dream, consider, admire, and respond.
Whether it is her Painters, Musicians, Writers, Sculptors, or artisans of genius, simply everything of the city's soul becomes permanently infused with the exquisite art of the street.

The love of beauty is omnipresent in Venice. Venice is art.  The art of Venice permeates daily life, from the doorbells, to the wardrobe, to speech, thought, and laughter.

The Venetian is an artist and it is no co-incidence that even today, the Biennial, Mostra, as well as the art of the Glass created in Murano still allows Venice to shine with one thousand fires in the eyes of the whole world.

Venice is marvelous for this reason: you can walk for hours, days or years and you will discover something new every time. And this presents a definite problem: where to begin, what to see, when, how? Everything is so picturesque and at the same time it is so easy to get lost in this labyrinth of more than 100 islands united by more than 400 bridges, the whole on barely 7 by 4 kilometers!

Originally, there were not actual bridges in Venice. At best, there were wooden footbridges without steps whose construction and maintenance was the responsibility of the neighbors. During this era, many in Venice moved about on horseback. Then the transportation of goods and people was predominantly made by boat, the result was the beginning of true bridge construction.

Bridges were rounded and high enough so that small boats and gondolas could pass underneath. But at the same time, bridges become more arched and with steps that were not adapted to the horses. The horses were displaced and subsequently disappeared as means of transportation in the heart of Venice.

Small, large, plump, straight or from side to side, stone, wooden and metal, metal, decorated and sculpted or even simple, the diversity of the bridges of Venice adds to the beauty of the city and to its very romantic aspect.

Top Sights to See:

Rialto Bridge: The Rialto Bridge is the most famous of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal. It is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. The Rialto Bridge is an elegant, arched stone bridge lined with arcades on each side. The central archway at its pinnacle, accessed via the wide stairs that rise from either side of the bridge, serves as a lookout perch. Under the arcades are numerous shops, many of which cater to the tourists who flock here to see this famous bridge and its views of the gondola-filled waterway of the Grand Canal. The Rialto Bridge is lined with shops and is a gateway to the Rialto Market.

Bridge of Sighs: Venice's famous Bridge of Sighs was designed by Antonio Contino and was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Spanning the Rio di Palazzo (Palace River), the bridge was intended to connect the Old Prison and interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace to the New Prison, situated directly across the river.

There are a few theories as to how the bridge got its name. The first one involves the prisoners that walked across the bridge on their way to the executioner. The prisoners would "sigh" as they crossed the bridge, probably catching their last glimpse of the outside world, many believed. Another story says that if a couple kisses under the bridge while drifting below on a gondola at sunset, they will enjoy eternal love.
Thus, the "sighs" are said to come from lovers who are overwhelmed by the romance of the whole scene. The Bridge of Sighs is a beautiful sight, stretching high above the canal. It is known as one of the finest examples of bridge architecture in the world.

Doge's Palace: The Doge's Palace sits on a site that was once occupied by a 10th century wooden stockade with watch towers and moat and, later, another similar fort, both eventually destroyed by fire and other disasters. The Palazzo Ducale was constructed in two phases. The eastern wing, which faces the Rio di Palazzo, was built between 1301 and 1340. The western wing, facing the Piazetta San Marco, took an additional 110 years to build and was completed in 1450. The architectural style is generally referred to as Venetian Gothic - a gothic structure with byzantine influences.
The facades include a lower section consisting of a ground floor colonnade beneath an open loggia. Ornamentation is everywhere.

Grand Canal: Known by Venetians as Canalazzo - it is the major water-traffic corridor that sweeps through this amazing city. The Canal Grande snakes through the city of Venice in a large S shape, traveling from the Saint Mark Basin on one end to a lagoon near the Santa Lucia rail station on the other. This ancient waterway measures 2.36 miles long and ranges from about 100-300 feet wide.
In most places, the canal is approximately 16 feet deep. The canal is an ancient waterway, lined with buildings - about 170 in all - that were mostly built from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Most were constructed by wealthy Venetian families. The best way to view the magnificent buildings along the Grand Canal, of course, is to travel by vaporetto (water bus) from one end to the other. (The #1 or #2 both travel from end to end.) Many tourists also take advantage of a romantic gondola ride along the waterway, which is an especially memorable way to experience the Canal Grande. Another option is to take one of the many water taxis.

St Mark's Basilica: (Basilica di San Marco in Italian) is the most famous of the many churches of Venice and one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. Located just off the Grand Canal, the gleaming basilica overlooks the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and adjoins the Doge's Palace. San Marco is a cathedral, but has not always been so: it was the Doge's chapel until it became the seat of the Archbishop of Venice in 1807. St. Mark's Basilica is modeled after Constantine the Great's Church of the Holy Apostles (no longer standing) and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

It has a floor plan in the shape of a Greek cross, with a dome over the crossing and another dome on each of the four arms. Each arm has a central aisle and two side aisles. A narthex wrapped around the west end disguises the cross shape but creates a wide, flat surface for the grand facade.

St Mark's Square: Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square, is the largest and most important square in Venice. Being the widest patch of flat, open land in a waterborne city, St. Mark's Square has long been an important meeting place for the citizens of Venice and the design showcase for Venice's aristocracy. It is most impressive from its sea approach, a legacy from the centuries that Venice was a powerful maritime republic. Venice's principal square is full of history and surrounded by great architecture.

Several of Venice's major sights are located here, so the square is often crowded with tourists. Piazza San Marco has famously been called "the drawing room of Europe," a quote attributed to Napoleon. The square is named after the unusual and stunning Basilica San Marco that sits on the east end of the square. The slender Campanile di San Marco, the basilica's bell tower, is one of the square's most recognizable landmarks.

Take a Gondola Ride: A gondola ride is the one Venetian tourist trap everyone falls into willingly. A long, sleek, black, slightly crooked, looking like a cross between a canoe and a coffin, the single oar is worked by a professional gondoliere.

That's the Venetian gondola, the primary form of transportation in Venice from the 12th century until speedboats roared into the canals in the late 20th. Touristy or not, your visit to Venice isn't complete until you take one of these time-honored water taxis for a spin. The average gondola ride lasts 40 minutes. Make absolutely sure you agree upon the price and the duration of the trip before you step into the boat, write it down, and go by your watch (strangely, the gondoliers' often run fast). The average price is 80 Euros for a 40 minute ride.


Marla's Notes:

Celebrity Cancellation Charges:
1. UNTIL JUNE 25, 2016 -- NONE
2. JUNE 26, 2016 - JULY 13, 2016-- $450 PER GUEST DEPOSIT
3. JULY 14, 2016 - AUGUST 10, 2016 -- 50% OF TOTAL FARE
4. AUGUST 11, 2016 -- 100% OF TOTAL FARE

SSQQ Travel Service Charges:
1. $50 Charge for any Change
2. $100 Per Person for cancellation of trip

Marla Archer
"SSQQ Travel"/West University Travel
713 862-4428 (direct line)



Greek Isles 2016 Home Passengers  


SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ