This was the final day of our trip before we made it back to Rome and then back to the US. And little did we know but they had saved the best for last. When planning our trip we knew that there was a lot to do and see and we wanted to try and do as much as we could in the time we had. We didn’t know when our next opportunity to see this area would be so we wanted to make the most of it. We booked a tour on this day in order to maximize our time and we were able to visit the island of Capri, the town of Sorrento, and the ruins of Pompeii. It was a long day and a lot of walking (about 5 miles total), but definitely worth it. We woke up and caught the early exit off the boat to catch our tour. Once we met our tour guide we promptly hoped onto a ferry which took us to the island of Capri. After the ferry docked, we took a cable car to the top of the hill where the town sits. Our tour guide took us through the old winding streets to an overlook that looks over some of the most famous scenery Capri has to offer. I didn’t realize before, but Capri has A LOT of great shopping. If you ever get a chance to stay on the island I would definitely take advantage, but know that is it definitely catered to a more luxury feel.
Capri and this area of Italy is very well know for its lemons and specifically Limoncello, so once we spent time snapping pictures at the overlook we made our way to one of the many shops selling Capri’s famous drink.
After a quick refresher, it was getting close to lunch time so we took another ferry over to Sorrento and ate lunch at one of the restaurants in the main square. We only had an hour or so to walk around then we promptly boarded a bus to Pompeii. If we had time, we would have loved to explore Sorrento a little bit more.
The next stop on our agenda was the ancient ruins at Pompeii. Even after seeing so many other ancient ruins in Rome and Ephesus, it was amazing to see that everything was very much in tact. This is due to the famous volcanic eruption that occurred and basically froze everything in ash. There are a ton of whole artifacts on display and even houses you can walk through to get a glimpse of how life was like back then.
We spent only about 2-3 hours at Pompeii which was not nearly enough time, it would be easy to spend the whole day here there is so much to look at.
After a long day we made our way back to the ship. After 9 days at sea we were sad to be ending our travels but excited to get back home.
I hope you liked this travel series. If you have an questions please let me know in the comments below.
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After touring Athens we were really looking forward to going to Santorini. We had seen lots of pictures and were excited to explore the winding streets and take in the beautiful scenery. On this day we decided not to partake in a scheduled tour and we did not regret this decision. We departed the ship early in the morning in order to take advantage of as much time as possible. There are two ways to get from the dock to the top of the hill where the town of Fira is. The first way is to take a cable car which is the fastest way and doesn’t cost very much. The second is to take a donkey which will take a longer time. We opted to take the cable car up and walk down, so I’m not sure how much the donkey would cost you. Once we reached the top we arrived in Fira Town and proceeded to walk the streets to get our bearing. Santorini is similar to Mykonos in that you can get lost walking the streets. There are lots of shops and restaurants to look at, however we knew we also wanted to see the town of Oia so we didn’t spend too much time. After walking around for about 1 hour, we decided to get a taxi to take us to the opposite side of the island and go to the town of Oia. We found a taxi driver who actually ended up being our private tour guide! It was perfect! He was a native to the island and had lived there his whole life. He knew we wanted to great photo opportunities, so he took us to all the best secret spots to get the best photographs. We finally made it to Oia (about a 20 min ride from Fira) and made our way to the best spot in town to take pictures of the blue dome churches. It was around 11 am by this time at it was really crowded already with tourists, so if you are able to go earlier in the morning you will be able to get better pictures without fighting the crowds. After snapping some great pictures we promptly headed back to Fira to have lunch. There were too many people in Oia to really be able to settle down into a restaurant. On the way back to Fira our driver gave us the scenic tour and took us to a black sand beach. Fun Fact: Santorini is actually a volcano and the black sand beach is made up of finely ground volcanic rock. After returning to Fira we ate lunch at a local restaurant that our driver had recommended and had some super fresh seafood and traditional Greek food. We then decided to make our way back to the dock to get on the ship (we had to be back on the boat by around 2pm). We decided to walk back down the winding path which took around 45 minutes. It provided some great exercise and a good tan. Also, once we got back on the ship we heard that the line for the cable car was around a 2 hour wait time, so definitely plan ahead. Santorini was one of our favorite places. If I went back to Greece I would definitely plan to stay a few days on this island and Mykonos.
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I must admit that Athens was my least favorite place on our trip. We hopped on a tour early in the morning and we were bused up to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. Acropolis in Greek means “high city” and that is because it is at the top of the highest hill in Athens. The Parthenon and a few other ancient building sit at the top of the Acropolis. We got there around 10am and made our way up to the top of the hill. The buses have to park about a mile away from where the Parthenon actually is so be prepared for a little hike up hill. While the Parthenon was beautiful, the experience was ruined by the amount of people there. Even though we were there in the morning it was already swarming with people . There were hundreds of people which made it difficult to take pictures and it was very crowded once we started going back down the hill to the bus. There is only one way up and one way down so I would suggest visiting this historic site as early as you can to get the best pictures and to avoid crowds.
The next place we visited was the oldest Olympic site. It was really cool to here the Greek history of the Olympics and get to visit the site.
The next place we visited was Santorini so stay tuned for more on the details of that day.
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The next stop on our journey was the port of Kusadasi, Turkey. Once we docked we set out on an all day tour of the surrounding area and to the historic site of Ephesus. It was amazing to see all of the ancient architecture and how intact it still was.
The first place we visited was the site of the burial place of St. John the Baptist.
After exploring the ruins and learning about the history of that sacred place we set out to visit the House of the Virgin Mary. This was the supposed house that after the death of Jesus she went and lived out the rest of her life.
The next place on the tour was the Library of Celsus and the town of Ephesus. This was the most amazing part of our day in my opinion. The amount of ruins and the state in which they were preserved was amazing to me. The fact that the library facade was still standing with all the finite details after all these thousands of years was incredible. This place was even more amazing than the ancient ruins in Rome that we saw for the sheer fact that there were so many more and they were in such better condition.
After seeing all the ruins we went back to the port of Kusadasi and saw a Turkey rug making demonstration, sipped on local libations, and sauntered back to our ship.
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I hope you all had a happy new year. After taking a short hiatus from my travel blogs, starting today I am going to share the rest of my trip with you all. If you missed the first part of the trip (our stay in Rome) you can find it here. Hope you enjoy!
So after exploring Rome for a few days we embarked on the next leg of our journey which was on the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas cruise ship and 12 day cruise that took us down the boot of Italy through the Greek Isles up to Turkey and back to Rome.
Our first stop was Sicily. We arrived early in the morning and booked a tour through the cruise ship (which I highly recommend). We first visited the small town of Taormina had some home made local goodies including canolis which are a Sicilian specialty. Next our tour took us to the base of Mount Etna an active volcano which make up the center of the island. After see the lava rocks we made our way through the Italian country side to a winery called Murgo. Here they treated us to LOTS of wine and some charcuterie and we were able to take some amazing photos of the vineyards with Mount Etna in the background. Overall it was an amazing day and a perfect 1st location for our journey.
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