My mom just celebrated another birthday and in her honor, I’ve been thinking about last year’s trip to the Mediterranean. It was our first mother-daughter vacation. We spent two weeks over seas and visited several countries: Italy, Greece and Turkey. This was my first trip to this part of the world and there was a lot I wanted to see! My request was to see the blue grotto and my mom wanted to see Pompeii. Missions accomplished! Let’s recap, shall we?
Our flight to Rome was a little rough since we had to fly through Hurricane Matthew… but 3 in flight movies later, we arrived! It was early morning and our cruise would not leave until early evening, so we hired a private guide (Alex, he was great!) to show us around. This was a really smart idea. It would have been nearly impossible to do any sightseeing otherwise because we had luggage and no transportation. Alex picked us up at the airport and straight to a cappuccino per my Italian request. He dropped us at a gas station for coffee! Inside, was a nice coffee bar and the best cappuccino!
Next he took us into Rome, stopping at a beautiful cathedral along the way, giving us history and answering our questions. We knew we were spending some time in Rome after the cruise so we wanted a sampler of a tour. We stopped at the Colosseum, threw some coins into Trevi fountain, walked down the Spanish steps, and ordered some gelato. Alex gave us plenty of info and insider tips, but would wait at the car with our luggage while we explored each site. Then, he drove us to the port to board our ship! (FYI- the port is about an hour away from the city of Rome.)
We took a 9 night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas. It was a very nice ship. In fact, it was the same class of ship that we cruised on our trip to Alaska a couple of years ago so we were very familiar with the layout. If you are looking for a cruise review: this itinerary is fantastic, the time of year was great, the staff was friendly… but the food was mediocre at best, the ship needed some repairs (our balcony railing was loose!), and the activities were blah.
Our first stop was Messina, which is in Sicily. We took a tour to Mt Etna, an active volcano that erupted earlier this year! After taking many winding roads upward, we were able to walk around and explore the volcanic craters. After a quick stop for a fresh cannoli, we then trekked to the small town of Taormina. This small town was adorable! We walked the streets which were filled with music, gelato, wine, fresh produce markets and shops with handmade goods. The town is also atop the hill and looks over Messina.
The next day we stopped at the Greek island of Mykonos. We had nothing planned ahead, so we walked the streets and followed the water’s edge. We then took a boat to the island of Delos to see some ruins. My mom is much more into some of the history than I am. I call ruins “rocks” because that’s what they are. Ruins are rocks found or placed together to assume what happened in the past. I thought Delos especially was just rock with a lot of assumption, not a lot of evidence. After returning to Mykonos, I roamed the streets a bit longer because the island is so beautiful!
Next, we went to Turkey! We were concerned we might miss this stop because of the country’s current political climate, but luckily we were able to visit. To play it safe, we made sure to take a tour from the cruise line. Our excursion took us to Ephesus, a “bazaar”, lunch and rug weaving. Ephesus was, of course, the highlight. These ruins (or rocks) were the best I had seen and because of the religious significance, I was more interested in the history here. This ancient city still looks beautiful even though it is in ruins. The streets are made of marble and the architecture is quite grand.
The first picture is looking down the marble streets and the second photo is of the bathrooms! Men would sit here to use the bathroom and it was someones job to clean them with a brush! Glad we have evolved from this tradition!
The bazaar was really just a shopping village, somewhere the guides hoped you would spend your cash, lunch was served at a facility that served all tour excursions at once so it was overwhelming (but the Turkish food was good) and rug weaving was… fair. My mom enjoyed it, but it was not for me. Especially when the men offered to trade my mom a rug for me!
That’s all for today. After Turkey, our cruise continued on to Santorini, Athens, Naples. I will write about these stops in Wednesday’s blog so you have something to look forward to!
Have any tips for a trip like this? Share it in the comments!