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Mediterranean Cruise, Celebrity Equinox plus Rome

Author: Linda&RonCANADA
Date of Trip: May 2010

Kusadasi, Turkey
•Were very happy with private tour booked through www.aboutephesus.com •$140USD for 4, plus entrance fees to whatever we chose to see, we set the agenda, up to 7 hours with a new 12 seat bus to ourselves •Guide was very knowledgeable, great English •Virgin Mary's house: was packed when we got there, a beautiful park setting. To a non-Christian the house itself was just a small shrine, but still worth the stop

•Ephesus: really great site. Smaller than Pompeii, but different, and we liked it more •Definitely pay to go in the terrace houses, which are in Ephesus (not a separate location as we thought) •It's a little tough for anyone with mobility issues, but manageable. Our 67 year old Mom just skipped the Terrace Houses and walking up the amphitheatre •Take water, hats etc. No shade and the marble streets reflect a lot of extra sun •We're then taken to the obligatory carpet stop. Had Turkish lunch with just few locals. •The carpet demonstration & sales pitch was interesting, low key, not too high pressure. A nice exposure to Turkish hospitality, culture and food, very glad we did it •Accept the offer of a beverage even just water; considered rude not to. Turkish people enjoy entertaining visitors. Apple tea is excellent, (like apple cider). Turkish coffee is also good, like an unfiltered espresso. Don't drink the grounds sludge left in bottom 1/3 of cup. In the bazaar though, accepting the tea implies you should purchase something

•Kusadasi a very nice port. Walked along the waterfront, had affordable cold beverages in a nice cafe, shopped in the bazaar. Lots of sales pitches, but just keep walking, absorb the atmosphere •Boxes of apple tea & Turkish delight hawked by vendors at tourist sites not a good deal, big packaging, small contents. Apple tea box only contained small package of instant crystals •Buy Turkish delight from places that have it on sale bulk, you can sample different kinds

Athens, Greece
•Start early to get ahead of the crowds. •Guide books reference walking to metro station from ship, taking to Cyntanga square. Think the port has expanded, because it's NOT walking distance from Celebrity Pier •Lot's of cabs waiting when you disembark, $15EU to Acropolis (though posted sign says $13EU). Left mom behind, too much walking on this itinerary. •Be at Acropolis at 7:50, get ticket, opens at 8am, no crowds yet •Ticket gets you in to all the other archeological sites too •There is a lot of steps up, but it's not as bad as the guide books led us to believe •From Acropolis, walk down hill to Roman Agora •Make sure you have a decent guide book, or map, otherwise ruins are just piles of "broken Roman stuff" particularly after Ephesus the previous day •From Agora walked up Apostolou Pavlou past Mars & Pynx hills (a decent uphill walk, but manageable) then wound down to Temple of Zeus. Temple is very impressive •From there through the national gardens, and on to the parliament building / Syntagma square •Finally shopping in the Plaka •Plaka was touristy, but not as bad as we expected. Certainly better than Caribbean ports we've visited •Planned lunch in Plaka, but by after 6 hours of walking, we're exhausted. Cabbed back to the boat. Cab was tougher to find, apparently better to have a shop call one for you, but still only took 5 minutes to snag one

Naples, Italy
•Read horror stories about Naples and hadn't researched enough in advance, so we did a ship tour to Pompeii •Pompeii is crowded. If you can book a reputable, affordable private tour, and could get there ahead of the 10's of thousands of other tourists, likely worth it. Probably just a 20 minute cab ride as well. Ship tour guide was very good. Don't pay more than $6EU for a guide book here •On return to ship we walked around Naples some. Use common sense, keep money etc secure, and enjoy the town. Grab some food, it's great, although not as much English spoken here as in other ports •Did talk to someone on board who got ripped off by a bait & switch scam buying an iPhone on the street. We had no sympathy: in a city notorious for street crime, what did he expect (which is what his wife said!) •Our Mom did the Amalfi coast tour, great scenery but bumper to bumper tour busses all the way

This is a great cruise to see a lot of history and get an introduction to the Mediterranean. Do some research, so you have an idea what you're seeing and be ready to walk a quite a bit. We continues with 6 days in Rome after the cruise, see separate report posting

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