I have been to Europe many times.  The first time I literally traveled on $5 a Day which covered my hotel and three meals.  Oh, the Good Old Days!  Now $5 for a tip would be an insult.  So with today's high prices, I swore I'd never go back then my sister Sue asked me to go and I found an incredible 14 day cruise from Venice around the Greek Isles to Istanbul for $799 so off we went.  Since we were there anyway, I decided we should see Rome and Paris too.  It was another fantastic trip and I think it best that I never say never again.
I took nearly 4,000 photos but only a few are shown here.
 

ROME
We flew from Mexico City to Amsterdam then on to the Eternal City.  We spent four days and I saw things I had never seen before.  Enrique and I covered the city on foot and we were among the first to enter St. Peter's when it opened. 


Rome was crowded but worth it.

The Vatican was so clean and beautiful.

The Colosseum is still standing.

"The glory that was Rome is from another day."

Magnificent fountains all over the city.
 

VENICE
Wow! Venice is very expensive so we stayed at a lovely hotel across the causeway that connects it to the mainland.  We had only one full day in Venice but squeezed in a lot including a trip to a couple of the islands.  The next day when we began our cruise, our ship passed through the Grand Canal and the views were super from 10 floors up.


St. Mark's Square is the main plaza.

Postcard views are everywhere.

Sunset paints the palaces golden.

The Rialto Bridge is the best known.

View from our ship on the Grand Canal
 

OUR CRUISE SHIP - RYNDAM
Holland America is my favorite cruise line.  Their ships aren't too large and they have everything we could ask for.  Our 14 day cruise covered many new ports for me.  My only regret is that there were new places to visit everyday so we didn't once swim in the Mediterarranean although we did enjoy the ship's pool.


Sunning in the sunny Mediterarranean.

Food, food, food.
 

DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th Century and is a major port on the Adriatic Sea.  The city walls were built in the 16th Century. The setting is spectacular beneath towering mountains.  If it looks familiar it may be because many of the location shots seen on "Game of Thrones" are taken here.


A modern hotel near Dubrovnik.

Entrance to the walled city.

Much of the city dates from the 13th Century.

Dubrovik is a growing tourist destination.

The beach below the city's gates.
 

KOTOR, MONTENEGRO
Kotor has natural beauty, Venetian architecture, and ancient history and is part the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It was settled in 168 BC during Roman times.  Ancient walls surround the city, built for protection by the Republic of Venice.


The approach to Kotor is peaceful.

Ancient walls surround the city.

Basilica of St. Luke.

Interior of the Basilica.

Our Lady of the Rock church.

KERKIRA, CORFU, GREECE
The second largest of the Greek islands, Corfu is a major tourist destination and a producer of olives and wine.   It too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Palace of St. George and St. Michael houses the Museum of Asian Art.


The old fortress was built in 1546.

The clear water was very inviting..

Beautiful architecture everywhere.

Palace of St. George and St. Michael.

Ships docked near the new town.

KATAKOLON (OLYMPIA), GREECE
This is the gateway to Olympia, birthplace of the original Olympic Games in 776 BC.  The stadium had a capacity of 40,000 spectators.  Due to natural disasters and the destruction of the site by Theodosius, Olympia today is mostly composed of foundations, columns, and steps.  However, the Archaeological Museum of Olympia is one of the most important in Greece. 


It must have been spectacular.

Foundations and columns indicate the glory past.

The temples were adorned with magnificent sculptures.

A bronze statue stares through the centuries.

A bronze horse.

NAVPLION, GREECE
The first capital of modern Greece, Navplion is a small waterside town.  Towering over the city is Palamidi Castle and fortress which played a major role in the Greek independence effort in 1822.


   Bourtzi Fortress built in 1471.

Palamidi Castle towers over the city.

Chapel in Palamidi Castle.

Our cruise ship awaits us offshore.

View from the Castle.
 

SANTORINI, GREECE
Also known as Thira, Santorini is certainly the most ruggedly, beautiful of the Aegean islands.  Its cliffs rise 1,100 feet with white clusters of buildings along the top.  The bay is 1,300 feet in some places preventing boats from dropping anchor.  The city is a tourist capital and offers shopping and restaurants from which you can catch arguably the most stunning sunsets in the world.


Winding trails lead up the cliffs.

Nearly everything is painted white.

Shopping for every taste.

Everything looks as if it were just painted.

You can ride a donkey down or catch the cable car.

ATHENS, GREECE
I have been to Athens several times but on this trip I saw a lot which I had overlooked before.  We had a three day stay here after the cruise and we had an two bedroom AirBNB apartment overlooking the National Archeological Museum with an unobstructed view of the Acropolis and the entire city.  We also took a four hour walking tour which was fantastic.

Nighttime shot of the Parthenon from our apartment.

Sister Sue and me at the Acropolis

Site of the first modern Olympics in 1896.4

Statue of a marathon runner


Ancient stone theater on the slopes of the Acropolis.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Istanbul was high on our bucket lists so it was  what led us to go on the cruise.  Istanbul is so very different and unique because it joins Europe to Asia.  The Blue Mosque and the Suleymaniye Mosque are magnificent.  We crossed the Galata Bridge so Enrique could say that he has been to Asia.  The Grand Bazaar has more than 5,000 stalls.

Sultanahmet district of the city.

The blue mosque.

Magnificent ceiling tiles in the mosque.

Heads covered, shoes off, luxurious carpeting.

Inside the Grand Bazaar
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