Europe – Part 7

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why

#3: Greek Islands – Santorini

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“There is nothing like being on the island of Santorini; it is breathtaking, beautiful, and beyond the breath of human words.” – Author’s quote

 

With a break from our land tour, I got to go to 6 Greek Islands over a 4 day sea excursion. It was my first time on a cruise ship (these things are massive and have almost-anything-containing awesome one could think of.) We started in Athens and went to these following islands: Mykonos; Kusadesi,Turkey; Patmos; Rhodes; Crete & Santorini. Of these, Santorini was my most favorite Greek Island. Mykonos was a close second, as it was very similar to Santorini in its blue and white colors. Overall, I loved the experience of island hopping!

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Santorini hillside

 

Santorini Highlights:

  • Coming into the island of Santorini from the Aegean Sea is magnificent. I got to watch the grand entrance from the top deck of our cruise ship, pressed against the center of the front railing.  It was a very clear, blue-skied day and in the distance a top the mountain all I could see was the color white before my eyes. I thought it was snow and my first thought was, “I should’ve brought my skis to go skiing, how cool would that be?” Oblivious to the summer temperatures, it then dawned on me that this white stuff wasn’t snow; it was the signature white-washed buildings Santorini is famous for
  • Our cruise boat docked in the middle of the ocean & we took a small ferry to land. From there, we got on a Greyhound bus which took us up the mountain on switchbacks roads. Once at the top, we made our way to Oia and passed through the capital, Fina
  • I got to walk along the cliff walls in Oia (pronounced: “ee-uh”) with the piercing blue Aegean sea as our backdrop. The sights and views were like nothing I’ve ever seen
  • We were very fortunate to have seen this island on a perfect day and to see amazing, clear views for miles into the open water’s and beyond
  • The experience was everything how the island is portrayed: Blue and white domed buildings built into the side of a cliff, and of course, an endless view of blue, uninhabited ocean waters set before our eyes
  • Our time ended heading back to the cruise ship during sunset with the beautiful, dawning colors lighting up the red rocks of the mountain. I remember seriously contemplating jumping off the ferry boat into the water and swimming back to land, as this island had so gripped my heart that I did not want to leave

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Entrance into Santorini from the Aegean Sea

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Sunset on Santorini

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Boarding cruise ship at sunset

 

Greece Quotes:

“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.” – Euripides

“Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.” – Nikos Kazantzakis

“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” – Socrates

“I have never come across someone who could inspire more respect than the Greek philosophers.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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“If in the library of your house you do not have the works of the ancient Greek writers, then you live in a house with no light.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“How can any educated person stay away from the Greeks? I have always been far more interested in them than in science.” – Albert Einstein

“Of all peoples the Greeks have dreamt the dream of life best.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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“Greece is the mother of science and the source of knowledge.” – Moses of Chorene

“I would prefer to be a Greek, rather than a heir apparent of a throne.” – Ludwig I, King of Bavaria

“The ancient Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing.” – Socrates

“In every island of the Aegean Sea are found abundant traces of a vast prehistoric empire.” – James Theodore Bent

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Europe – Part 6

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why 

#4: Rome, Italy

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Coliseum exterior

“All roads lead to Rome.” – Chaucer, 1391

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Coliseum interior



City highlights:

  • Coliseum
    – A very cool experience being able to see the historic structure from Gladiator
    – Had a fun time exploring the inside of the amphitheatre & got to see part of the stage and sections underneath
  • Roman Forum
    – Large ancient ruins of architectural remains of what once was the center of public life in Rome
    – Got to walk on the roads where these greats walked: Julius Caesar, Maximus Decimus Meridius & Marcus Aeralius
    – Had an awesome tour guide; she was passionate and extremely knowledgeable about this type of history, and with a Master’s in Classical History she brought Rome to life!
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  • Trevi Fountain
    – People from all over the world come to see this famous landmark
    – Is one of the most famous fountains in the world & an estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day
    – The big idea: Make a wish and throw a coin in your right hand over your left shoulder into the water & one day it may come true
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  • The Vatican
    – Sistine Chapel: a huge room, full of extraordinary painting’s, which houses some of Michaelangelo’s most famous works, not to mention the ceiling masterpiece he painted (which took over 4 years to complete)
    – St. Peter’s Basilica: got to walk through this Late Renaissance church & has a very large square outside surrounded by numerous columns (colonnades)
    – Vatican Museum: contains sculptures and other famous art works from the Renaissance era
  • Spanish Steps
    – A cool looking design and is apparently the widest staircase in Europe

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Outside Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

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St. Peter’s Square with St. Peter’s Basilica & Sistine Chapel in background

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Overlooking St. Peter’s Square from St. Peter’s Basilica



Other quotes on Rome:

“While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls – the World.” – Lord Byron

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” – Proverb

“Every one soon or late comes round by Rome.” – Robert Browning

“Rome was not built in a day.” – Jean de La Fontaine

“I came, I saw, I conquered. [Latin: Veni, vidi, vici.]” – Julius Caesar

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.” – Maximus, Gladiator

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.” – Emperor Augustus Caesar

“Her smile, I’m sure, burnt Rome to the ground.” – Mark Z. Danielewski

“In Rome it seems as if there were so many things which are more wanted in the world than pictures.” – George Eliot

“Civis Romanus sum.” (I am a Roman citizen) – Cicero

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
– Marcus Aurelius

Europe – Part 5

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why

#5: Paris, France

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Eiffel Tower

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

City highlights:

  • Eiffel Tower
    – Is an enormous, bronze statue
    – Took elevator up to first deck & took stairs the rest of the way to the top
    – There are 3 platforms
    – The 2nd observatory deck offers the best view of the city
    – It is, of course, definitely a tourist haven but is a must-see when visiting this iconic city
  • The Louvre
    – One ginormous museum with 3 separate wings
    – It would take 1 full year to go through and read/see everything the museum has to offer
    – Has a really cool entrance: a glass pyramid
    – Got to see the Mona Lisa and other famous art pieces while exploring the museum with a family friend I met up with while there

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The Louvre

  • Arc de Triomphe
    – An insane 8 lane traffic circle
    – It really is a  crazy intersection; an accident happens there every 15 min’s (our tour bus driver actually sped up into the traffic circle!! And we didn’t get smoked)
    – You have to go underground in order to get to the top and once through there are some really sweet views to be seen of this magnificent city
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
    – Didn’t get to go…guess I’ll just have to come back another time
    – We only had one day to explore 4 of Paris’ top sites and we batted 0.750IMG_1378

View of city from the Eiffel Towel

Other Paris quotes:

“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”
– Thomas Jefferson

To know Paris is to know a great deal.
– Henry Miller

London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.
– G. K. Chesterson

There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even – the French air clears up the brain and does good – a world of good.
– Vincent Willem van Gogh

The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant.
– T.S. Eliot