Mediterranean Cruise

Never in my mind did I think I would travel to Europe in my lifetime, let alone live over here. I knew it would be a great opportunity but I had nothing on my radar of things to do or places to see when we arrived. Except one day, a long time ago I had a fleeting thought that going on a Mediterranean Cruise would be pretty awesome. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would ever go on one. Welp, it happened and it was awesome! A needed baby-moon for Justin and I before we had the second child. When picking out the cruise I wanted to hit Istanbul because of it's history, I learned so much about it in my history classes, even though I have forgotten 89 percent of it.

The trip went as follows:

Day one: Catch Airplane to Treviso, bus to Venice, train to port

In the airport, can you tell we had to get up early.:)


MSC Magnifica - Italian Cruise Line Amazing that such a thing floats.


 Leaving Venice!


 Fine dining. The food was Mediterranean, so an experience all of it's own.
 Every meal they had wine glasses out. We were sure Sam would end up breaking them, it didn't happen.

First stop: Brindisi, Italy
I had made no plans on this one. We got off and followed the crowd







 Throughout our walk we kept running into this group of Italian folk musicians and dancers. It was fun to watch and they got Justin and I to dance with them for a song.


 Sam loved it.
 Back at the boat Sam went to the kids club. They turned him into a monster, and he loved it! We went to the theatre. They came up with some great acts that required little talking, since everything was translated into at least 7 languages.



Stop #2: Olympus, Greece where the Olympics originated







 The first Olympic stadium -- our favorite part was racing in it!









We are the champions... of the world!!






 Our taxi driver was fantastic. He was knowledgeable and spoke great English. He took us to an active nunnery.
 and a private beach in addition to all the sites we wanted to see.
















 We learned about the olives, climate, history, etc.  If only I could remember it all.


Stop #3: Ephesus, Turkey
Yes, where the apostle Paul likely preached; the book Ephesians in the Bible. 

 Stopped at what is believed to be the house where John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, to live after Jesus died.





 When we took this picture we had no idea there would be football fields of other remnants. It kept going and going and going.























 They build these stadiums in a way that you can hear the person speaking at the bottom. We tested it to be sure. It's awesome
 Don't mind the lady, check out all the cats just hanging out.
 Our Taxi driver for Ephesus. He didn't speak much English, but he got us to where we wanted to go.
 Stop #4: Istanbul, Turkey








This was first built as a cathedral, then turned into a mosque, back to a cathedral, then a mosque, cathedral, then turned into a Museum to hopefully avoid any future squabbles.
 The Sultan's palace - more like a village of it's own














Blue Mosque


Museum

Blue Mosque


Getting ready for a tulip festival








We figured we better get a doner in Turkey!








Our taxi driver in Istanbul, Turkey

Wanted to make sure we could remember the turkish candy we really liked

Goodbye Istanbul - an incredible city



 All our pictures in Istanbul were happy, us seeing awesome sights. What they didn't show was how we got roped into spending a lot of money. Our taxi driver drove us maybe 5 miles total, and we paid him more than we paid our other two taxis. He also happened to have "skip the line" tickets for the Sultan's palace, an English tour guide for the Blue Mosque, and a nice place for us to wait while he was held up in "traffic". You might say that doesn't sound too bad.

Uh, maybe not awful, but we definitely felt ripped off.  The "skip the line" tickets we paid the price to be able to visit all of the palace, but our tickets did not allow us to go in one of the a sections

The English tour guide was nice, but we felt like we needed to tip him.

Lastly, the nice place to wait, was a turkish carpet store. They took us back to sit down, brought us drinks, told us all about the rugs, showing us so many. Our English tour guide kept telling us our taxi driver (who was probably parked outside) was 5 or 10 minutes away. As soon as we bought a rug, he was there to pick us up. I do not like turkish rugs and we already had one. I was done spending money.

When on our way to the Grand Bazaar, Justin was stopped for cologne and perfume. They happened to have his favorite and it sounded like a really good deal. I told him to say no. He didn't say no, so they kept bugging him. He gave in and bought a few. Another seller came up to him with a better deal. I was DONE spending money. "NO!" But he bought those too hoping to make up for the loss he must have got with the last bunch.

We left Istanbul with a hole in our pockets. The Turks know how to do business, if that's what you want to call it.

We had to take this picture so we could remember the story.



Justin played in a ping pong tournament -- and won it!




 Congratulations honey!

Stop #5: Dubrovnik, Croatia






















































 Sam got to dance in the theater and he stole the show!

 And welcome back to Venice!



Goodbye free food

Gotta try out some Italian food









Yes there are public transportation water taxis - this was our gondola ride.






















somebody lost their ice cream, sad day :(









aw, a day at the beach!







Then homeward bound -- we were so ready. 10 day cruise plus 2 nights in Venice was too long. Overall it was a great trip.

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