Sunday 10 June 2018

June 8, 2018 - Cape Sounion and Farewell Athens

We had our last breakfast on board the ship then we docked early morning in the Port of Piraeus where we met our two guides (Sophia and Kassandra). We boarded our coaches and drove one hour to Cape Sounion. Cape Sounion is the southeastern extremity of the region of Attica. It is a magnificent headland, famous for its strategic importance and the spectacular 5th century BC white columns of the Temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea in classical mythology. The Cape affords wonderful views over the Aegean Sea, which contains over 2,000 islands settled by ancient Greeks. The Temple is also associated with a mystical equilateral triangle with two other temples- the Acropolis in Athens and the Temple of Aegina in Aegina (an island close to Athens). It is believed that the triangle was formed by using celestial bodies and stars.

Back on the bus to Athens to attend our farewell luncheon at Bairaktair's Restaurant, where we dined on another traditional Greek feast. At the luncheon we said our thank yous and good-byes to our two guides, Sophia and Kassandra and presented our tour manager, Kostas, with a set of traditional Newfoundland spoons.


Our last evening we were so very lucky that our tour organizer and choir manager- Anne Marie (along with huge assistance from Kostas) managed to score several tickets to attend an opera at the Acropolis. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is found at the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. This theatre seats 5,000 people and boasts excellent acoustics. None of the performers wore a microphone but were heard by all spectators. Our seats were amazing!!!! We sat in awe as we watched and listened to the opera "Nabucco" by Giuseppe Verdi. A once in a lifetime experience. Choir members and companions were captivated by the Hebrew Slaves chorus which some of us sang a few years ago at the Alta Pusteria Festival, northern Italy.

A sleepy return to the hotel to get ready to say good-bye to or tour manager, Kostas, some of our companions and choir members who were continuing on to other destinations.

Giassou (Good-bye), Greece.

Thank you for reading and following us on our Greek tour.

Until next time - your HHMAC Bloggers,

Helen, Tina and Susan

June 6, 2018 - Rhodes, Greece

We arrived in Rhodes early where we spent the full day either exploring the many medieval streets and shops inside the walls the of Old Town of Rhodes or relaxing on some of Rhodes beautiful beaches. Rhodes is an UNESCO Heritage site that exhibits a character which provides insights into many civilizations which have ruled Rhodes. Rhodes is the largest island of the Dodecanese islands and is known for its beach resorts, ancient ruins and remnants of its occupation by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades. Walking or driving along the road (close to our ship) you could see the site of the Colossus of Rhodes.


Saturday 9 June 2018

June 7, 2018 - Crete and Santorini

An early rise so we could spend the morning in
Heraklion (Crete), the most southerly of the Greek Islands.
For nearly 3,000 years, the ruins of an ancient Minoan
civilization lay buried and forgotten beneath the coastal plains of Crete. We met the tour guide and walked through the remains of 
the palace where the legend of the Minotaur (half man – half bull) 
was born. The people of this society enjoyed life in peace and entertained each other with games such as bull dancing where young males and females would jump over the bull from the bull’s horns to the rear of the animal. Today, Crete is known for its wildlife
and varied landscape, clear blue skies, sandy beaches and glorious sunshine. Its main industry is
olive oil production where there over 45 million olive trees on the island.

Bull Dancing
Back on board we got ready for our final concert. We entertained a multinational audience with various selections. Two of our choir
members were celebrating their birthday so we were treated to a
birthday cake by the cruise line.

Then on to the jewel of the Greek Islands - Santorini. Santorini was once the island of Thira
and widely believed to be the candidate for the lost kingdom of Atlantis.As we approached the
island and its barren, rocky cliffs it was not difficult to imagine what occurred there in the15th
century BC when the volcanic island erupted and the accompanying earthquakes and tidal waves destroyed the Minoan civilization on Crete. The crescent shape of the island is due to an
explosion so many centuries ago. To access the island we ascended to the top by cable car, walk
up 500 steps or ride donkeys. Once at the top the views are spectacular! We walked the tiny,
narrow streets and enjoyed a snack or beverage at one of the many restaurants overlooking the
sheltered bay where our cruise ship waited for us.

Back on board to pack and enjoy our last night on the ship.
Santorini from the top

Friday 8 June 2018

June 5, 2018 - Kusadasi, Turkey and Patmos, Greece

Kusadasi is a frequent port of call for cruises, the town’s name, meaning “Bird Island”, is taken 
from an islet, known as Pigeon Island and joined onto the mainland by a causeway. 
Ephesus - Library
Silk Worm
Ephesus - Medusa

We boarded our coaches and met our two Turkish tour guides who took us on a walking tour 
of ancient Ephesus, we also had the opportunity to sing in the Agora. (Let There Be Peace on Earth). Exiting the ruins we walked the gauntlet where many merchants were hungry for business, through bartering many boxes of Turkish Delight were purchased.

Next ,we boarded our coaches and headed to a     co-op carpet factory where we watched ladies 
sitting and making a carpet which sometimes takes 9 to 14 months to make just one. Some choir member had the privilege to participate in the ancient art of rug weaving.  Next we were given a demonstration of how silk is produced from silk worms and then another demonstration of many different types of rugs.  The carpet factory provides us with snacks, however these treats were upstaged by a shopping frenzy where carpets, leather coats and purses where purchased by choir members.

Back on the bus before credit limits where maxed, and then back to the ship for a few hours of 
down time before our next adventure to Patmos. Patmos is known for the place where St. John 
wrote the Book Of Revelations. We were able to see the tiny cave where he had his student 
transcribe the book. The three fold split that demonstrates the Trinity could be seen on the 
ceiling of the cave.

St. John Cave - Book of Revelations


June 4, 2018 - Heading to the Seven Seas

Early rise again this morning to check out of our luxury hotel, the Amalia and  load the coaches  to travel to the cruise port, Piraeus (Athens area) to begin our four-day cruise of the 
Greek Islands. We boarded the Celestyal Olympia and checked into our cabins. The ship holds 
approximately 1300 passengers and crew. The check-in went smoothly! We spent the afternoon 
at leisure soaking up the sun and exploring the ship.

First stop was Mykonos, one of the most popular islands in the Cyclades – as we viewed the 
beauty of this windswept island and the whitewashed houses we were introduced to the ancient mythology of the place where the hero Hercules and the god Poseidon vanquished enemies of 
Zeus. Many of us got our pictures taken at the windmills that were used to produce flour for the 
island. We spent the rest of the evening walking among the labyrinth streets and viewed a 
spectacular sunset. Back on board to travel to Kusadasi, Turkey.

Sunday 3 June 2018

June 2 - Day In Nauplion

After our banner day yesterday singing in the tomb and the amphitheatre, our guides (Sophia and Cassandra),our tour manager (Kostas), and our drivers (Mike and Apostolos) led us on a short tour of Nauplion pointing out the parliament buildings and the church where we would be performing. They also shared a story of the person who brought the potato to Greece, not Mr. Potato Head, but Count Ioannis Antonios Kapodis!
Free time followed and as usual we visited the shops for some retail therapy. In the afternoon we headed to a local winery, where we were given a tour of the winery and tasting of Greek wines. A  lite lunch was served with some traditional Greek dishes including spinach pie, tzatziki , eggplant, beautiful fresh salads, kabobs and baklava!

After our fabulous wine tour, we headed back to hotel for some relaxation around the pool and to rest up for our concert that evening.

At 6:00 p.m. we went to Vouleftiko (the Parliament Building), for our performance with Nauplion    Symphonia, all female choir, where we shared our love of music. The audience was animated as we performed our selections under the direction of Valerie ,who kept the audience engaged throughout the entire concert.

 After our performance, we went to a local restaurant nearby where we were treated to traditional Greek food and local wines. Back to the hotel for a good night's sleep to re-charge our batteries for a day of leisure. You know what we did.... shopping in downtown Nauplion.

 Tomorrow we are off on a cruise....Giassou! That's goodbye in Greek!

June 1, 2018 - Road to Nauplion

An early rise this morning as we say good-bye to Athens and head to Nauplion. Nauplion was the until recently the capital of Greece, 
however, in recent times the capital was changed to Athens.
On our way to Nauplion we stopped at the Corinth Canal, originally
a small piece of land which joined the Greek mainland to the
Peloponnese Peninsula.  In Roman times, boats would cross the
land on a railway-type construction, rather than sail the hundreds of kilometers around the peninsula.  In the late 19th century, work on the construction of a canal began.  Today it is 6 kilometers long and
21 meters wide, with rock walls rising 90 meters above the sea. 
Due to the narrowness of the canal, it is today used mainly
by tourist ships. After our visit to the canal we continued to Epidaurus, known in antiquity as a healing center, the place where the god of medicine, Asclepius,
was worshipped. The god, Asclepius shined down on us (actually it was by the hard
work of our tour manager, Kostas and our two guides, Sophia and Kassandra) that
we were able to perform “Why We Sing”and "May The Good Lord" in the 
center of the theatre. It was a pleasant surprise for choir members and companions. 

We're not done yet... one last stop at Mycenae, which was the home of 
King Agamemnon, leader of the Greek Forces in Homer’s fabled Trojan Wars. 
And.... to complete our banner day we visited the Tomb of Argamemnon. The Tomb 
is one 
of a number of “beehive” tombs found in the vicinity of the ancient site of Mycenae. 
While visiting the beehive we had the privilege of singing “Let There Be Peace On Earth” 
and “The Ode to Newfoundland”. The sound inside was incredible.  Two impromptu performances today in very special places followed by third at lunch.


Back on the buses and on to Nauplion to check into our hotel and enjoy our evening meal.