Friday, May 31, 2019

May 26,  Haifa, Israel.            135/183

As a side lite, an interesting movie set for the TV series "Ninja Warrior" just happened to be situated adjacent to our dock. Filming was taking place each night.

Our schedule will be hectic for the next few days with excursions starting at 6:30 AM and tonight we will be back on board about 11:30 PM. Tomorrow, we have another 5:00 AM wake up.

Jews world wide had a standing invitation to move to Israel without restriction.  Israel is the only democracy in the entire region!

Comments on Israel:  (Very general information, only meant to provoke interest for further investigation if interested)

- Jews trying to reach Israel between late 1945 and their independence on May 14, 1948 faced terrible restrictions from Britain, with many ships being boarded, occupants beaten and ships sent back to Europe.  Hard to believe or understand.
- After a Treaty in late 1947 and further delays, Ben Gurion declared independence on May 14, 1948.  The next day, all the surrounding Arab states declared war on Israel and attacked the day old nation of 600,000 people, who were unprepared and ill equipped with weapons. Nine months later, the young nation emerged victorious.
- Unfortunately, conflict is never far from the scene in Israel: Suez war - 1956, 6 day war - 1967, Yon Kipper war - 1973, Lebanon - 1982, South Lebanon conflict - 1985 to 2000,  First Intifada - 1987 to 93, Second Intifada 2000 to 05, Gaza war - 2008 to 09, Pillar of defense - 2112 ans Operation protective edge - July 2014.
- Israel recycles 90% of their domestic water.  Israel operates 5 desalination plants which supply about 2/3s of their domestic water requirements.  
- Jewish population is 70% liberal, who live normal western style lives, 20 to 25% are more conservative orthodox, (wear the kippah on their head) and a small number of ultra orthodox Jews who strictly adhere to the teachings of the old testament.  Trappings include full gowns, head covers and no shaving.  Child births per family are 3, 5 and 10, receptively.
- 30 % of population are under 30, youngest in the world.
- Males must serve 3 years in military, girls 2 years plus everyone must serve one month in the reserves per year until age 45.
- 93% of the land is owned by the government so homes are built on 49 or 99 year leased plots.
- Limestone is used extensively for all types of construction for its insulating properties and abundance.

Our excursion today will take in the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth and the site where John baptized Jesus on the Jordan River.

Several pictures taken on our bus ride to the Sea of Galilee.  Israel is a lush, picturesque country, devoid of graffiti.

Extensive, rich farmland

Sea of Galilee, below the Church of the Beatitudes

Church of the Beatitudes on Mount Beatitude, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus walked up from the Sea to the location of the church, gathered his disciples around to teach them the 8 beatitudes.  
In summary, blessed are:  poor in spirit,  those who mourn,   the meek,   those thirsting for righteousness,   the merciful,   pure of heart,   peacemakers and the persecuted.

Garden below the Church with the Sea of Galilee in the background

Site of Jesus's Baptism

Up to 1000 people can be baptized at one time at this site.

Basilica of the Annunciation. one of Christendom's most revered shrines.  Built on the site where the Arc Angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah

Portion of Grotto where Mary lived, located under the Basilica

Canadian mural donated to the Church

Bahia Gardens, also known as the Hanging Gardens, on Mt. Carmel, downtown Haifa.  Most holy site of the Bahia faith.  Started 200 years ago.

May 31, 2019,    Piraeus, Greece, Excursion to Delphi                        140/183

The Port serving Piraeus, Greece is our destination for the day.  Athens is a few kilometers away, but our excursion today takes us 100 km to Delphi, to see the ruins of the Grand Temple of Apollo. This shrine was considered the spiritual and physical center of Earth for 1000 years, dating from 500 BC.  Fabulous statues and magnificent structures adorned the site which has been plundered by many invading countries over the centuries.  At least 300 metal statues were stolen along with immense riches, which now reside in Istanbul, America and many European countries. Some initiatives are underway to repatriate these treasures.

As we all know, Greece has a proud history of battling tyranny.  In 489 BC, 20,000 Persians attacked 10,000 Greeks in the Battle of Marathon, to be soundly defeated.  Persians lost 6,400 soldiers vs. 192 Greece fatalities. Remember Pheidippides who ran 26 miles to Athens to announce the win, only to drop dead immediately after. 10 years later, the Persians returned with an estimated 150,000 troops to seek revenge and conquer Greece.  Ultimately, a dramatically smaller Greek force prevailed, back stopped by the final fatal stand of 1,000 brave soldiers.  Many believe that the Western world would likely be Muslim if the Greeks had not sacrificed everything during that fateful week in 480 BC.

A visit to Greece must include acknowledgement of the roll placed by their citizens during WWII in shaping world history.  German forces faced severe resistance by the Greek Resistance which lasted for over 7 months in 1940 / 41. (Norway fell in 7 days and France fell in 3 days) Due to this delay, Hitler was delayed in attacking Russia, where the Germans were subsequently confronted by a terribly cold winter and ultimate defeat in Russia.  Historians suggest that the Germans may have defeated Russia had they arrived in the early summer, so once again Greece had a huge impact on world affairs.  One must remember that thousands of Greek civilians were slaughtered by the Nazis to avenge their resistance!  Germany has not responded to a request from the Hague to recognize these atrocities.  Photo of one memorial follows.

Greece language is the source of many western expressions. ie.  Idiot is the translation for a loner, a person who does not contribute to society.

Greece has large areas of fertile land growing grains, vegetable,fruit and olives.

Many local and global shipping companies are head-quartered in Piraeus.  One company operates 3,400 ships.

Our lunch was a Greek feast which never seemed to end.

Moored in the Port that serves Piraeus.

Scenes on our drive to Delphi

Ski resort in area.

Memorial to citizens slaughtered by the Nazis - WWII

Much of mountainous Greece is similar to Switzerland

Town built far back in the mountains to avoid marauding pirates, invaders and for general security.

Well-built 500 year old town of Arachova.  Imagine climbing these stairs to get home!

Graphic representation of the Apollo Shrine.

Ruins of the Shrine to Apollo

Delphi Museum

Remnants of a life-sized statue of a bull made from pure silver.  450 BC

Gold riches from the shrine which were overlooked by plunderers.

Hundreds of statues on display.  Thousands more of higher quality were stolen.

The end of a great day in Greece

Thursday, May 30, 2019

May 30, 2019,   Santorini, Greece.  One of our favorite places.             139/183

Cruised into the Santorini caldera under partly cloudy skies, temperature heading for the upper 70s.  Three other cruise ships were moored, so a busy day with tenders operating and several thousand people swarming the streets.  Our excursion included a visit to a local winery, not sure about tasting wine at 8:30 AM, but we did.  Next stop was the city of Oia, for a tour of the narrow streets, nice shops and thousands of tourists.  Finally, we were dropped off in Fira and left to our own designs.  Merrilynne and I really like Santorini with its spectacular scenery, charming ambiance and Mediterranean cuisine.

We had tickets to a cable car but opted to walk down to sea level on the donkey / pedestrian trail, a 900 foot vertical drop.


- Greece has 9,000 islands, 220 are inhabited.
- The 84 caldera, where we moored, largest in the world, was created 3500 years ago when the mountain disappeared in an explosive eruption.  Crete was overwhelmed by a huge tidal wave and ash, killing most of the population there too. The volcano is still active with the last eruption occurring in 1950.
- A huge '9' earth quake destroyed most of Santorini in 1966.
- No electricity on the island until 1967.
- International airport is busy with a record 121 flights in a 24 hour period.
- VAT Tax on all purchases) is 24%, thanks to Greece's poor financial management and their propensity to take it easy, 3 months vacation, overstaffed government system and very generous pension plans.  ( No hate mail please )

A collection of Santorini views follow.

One of many spectacular views

Dome rebuilding .

Walkway to sea level from town of Fira.

Another photo of the walkway to sea level.

Windmills converted to residences

Interesting that these are grape plants. Water shortages exist, so because dwarf plants are able to absorb the frequent evening dew, they thrive.