My Backyard Cruise the Med before your dead Image July 21, 2019 tegory Jane Marie gave up on an African safari and sleeping on the ground for a 12 day cruise around the Eastern Mediterranean in style at half the price. The Vatican The Holland America cruise started in Rome so Jane Marie added a four day prequel and a must tour of the Vatican We needed to join a tour to weave our way through the tourist season crowd. Janette our Vatican guide, clustered our flock under a shady spot to show pics of Michelangelo’s paintings that we were about to see. She began her presentation in Toastmasters 101 with a rhetorical question. Who is the guardian of our soul? I responded with my first and best smart-ass remark of the tour – “Oprah!”Then Janette got to this pic of St. Bartholomew from the Last Judgment (1536-41) and I listened-up b/c I had been doing Bible study in Armenia.It was in the figure of St. Bartholomew, the martyr who was flayed alive, that Michelangelo chose to create a tragic and anguished self-portrait. He depicted his own face in the empty envelope of skin that hangs grotesquely from the saint’s hand, a metaphor for the artist’s tortured soul. St. Bartholomew is listed among the Twelve Apostles of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark & Luke. Old Bart was on the scene of the Ascension and the Armenian Apostolic Church honors Bart along with Saint Thaddeus as its patron saints. At least that’s what Father Vatcheh at the Geghard Monastery and Wikipedia told me. The Pantheon Since my history of architecture class was 8 to 11 Saturday mornings I vaguely remembered what the Pantheon looked like. The Tiber The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing 406 kilometers through Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, where it is joined by the river Aniene, to the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Ostia and Fiumicino. It drains a basin estimated at 17,375 square kilometres. The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing 406 kilometers through Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, where it is joined by the river Aniene, to the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Ostia and Fiumicino. It drains a basin estimated at 17,375 square kilometers. Piazza Navona Piazza Navona is a square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones, and hence it was known as “Circus Agonalis”. The KONINGSDAM “Painters, Painters, Man Your Brushes” – the good news: we had a starboard balcony cabin on the 4th level, the bad: you had to stand up to see over the life boat. Holland America Line – Koningsdam 12 – Day Ancient Empires 7 July, 2019 – 19 July, 2019 Jane Marie puts the Koningsdam’s 3,000 guests and 2,000 crew into perspective. When’s Lunch? Anytime you want sit down dining, room service, buffet, coffee, tea and lemonade all free. My AA card saved me from the 8 Euro drinks and I lost three kilos with a strict keto diet of pork, lamb & beef. Ever so happy Jane Marie let me come along. with that “Gracious Ease” smile we never had to sit in the corner by ourselves. Athens Although there are many other acropolis’s in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis. I swear it had a roof in my 1963 history of architecture class. Are you ready to climb the steps to the Acropolis? Mykonos IMAR Gallery Mykonos – Georganta: oil painting on aluminum Mykonos is an island in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea. It’s popularly known for its summer party atmosphere. Beaches such as Paradise and Super Paradise have bars that blare thumping music. Massive dance clubs attract world-renowned DJs and typically stay open well past dawn. Iconic landmarks include a row of 16th-century windmills, which sit on a hill above Mykonos town. The island of Mykonos is one of the most popular Greek islands and it belongs to the Cyclades islands group. Mykonos island, the Ibiza of Greece as it is called, is particularly famous for the picturesque town and the fantastic beaches. It is also famous as a gay friendly destination. It does have that “Let us entertain you attitude.” Jane Marie the collage artist discovered collage aplenty on the walkways of Mykonos Catch that real rope hanging over the side of the boat. How much do you think they want for this beauty? I’m eyeballing these statuettes 6 to 24 inches tall 50 to 100 Euros each. Didn’t bother asking about the boat rope. Two thumbs up for Mykonos: artsy-crafty and a doable two to three hour shop around. Kusadasi As five-year expat residents of Antalya, Turkey, we were proud that Kusadasi, the port for Ephesus, was the cleanest, most presentable of any on the cruise. Turkish Pilot coming to guide the Komingsdam to dock at Kusadasi. Jean Pierre & Nelly debriefing us on their visit to Ephesus at a city center cafe in Kusadasi.During the 2nd century BC, Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the eastern Roman Empire, famous for, the Library of Celsus – The library was “one of the most impressive buildings in the Roman Empire” and built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a mausoleum for the Roman Senator: Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who is buried in a crypt beneath the library in a decorated marble sarcophagus. The Library of Celsus was the “third-largest library in the ancient world” behind only Alexandria and Pergamum. Jane Marie took a pass this time on revisiting the Library but recommended to everybody on the cruise that Ephesus was at the top of her must see Turkey destinations. RHODES Rodos looked the same save for five jillion more tourists than when we visited in out-of-season November. The arch entrance has been there since the Knights of St. John but the bougainvillea? It’s somewhat challenging to rent a car and drive around the island in time to get back to the ship by four o’clock. Seven Springs is about midway down the coast and up the bicyclist’s hill. A must walk-around of the Knights of Saint John fortress which finally fell to Suleiman the Magnificent’s invasion force of 400 ships and army of 100,000 men in 1522. The sultan allowed the Knights to relocate to Malta so they could create future tourist attractions closer to mainstream Europe. Santorini We call this Nelly’s table and submit her photo as the Best in Show for the Komingsdam’s Santorini port of call. Crete Nelly, a ‘Walloon’ 36-year resident of Palm Desert, California, owner of Democracy@democracypd, with the maiden name Koningsdam graces the oldest mosque on Crete with her charming aura. Straits of Messina Jane Marie touched off the Mt.Etna & Stromboli Island volcanoes on our return to Rome. This photo of Stromboli spilling over was taken by Nelly’s husband Jean Pierre, who was voted ‘Most Popular’ passenger on the cruise.