Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mazatlan - Shopping for Jewelry, Vanilla, and Going Para-Sailing

In Mazatlan we decide not to do a shore excursion. Kathy wanted to do some jewelry shopping and we wanted to pick up a few bottles of vanilla for a friend back home.

 Mazatlan is a quiet little seaside town catering to tourists, and is known for its jewelry stores. Judging by the number of cruise ships tied up at the dock, Mazatland must be a very popular cruise destination.

In order to get from the ship to the area where we wanted to shop required a lengthy cab ride. I think the area we went to is called "the gold zone" or somehting like that.  Kathy was looking for a specific type of gem, or jewelery made with it.

The taxi ride was one will not soon forget.  I didn't get any pictures of the fear on our faces during that cabbies wild ride.

This is a view of Mazatlan from aboard our ship.

On the dock there were plenty of Taxi cabs waiting to take cruise ship passengers where ever you want to go.

Everywhere you look there are huge buses parked... obviously the shopping area is a popular destination.

Lots of People... lots of shops... and man was it ever hot!

This mall is supposed to lead to the beach...  Looks to me like it leads to McDonalds!

This is a photo of the beach from inside a restaurant at the end of that mall.  We had to stop and have a cold one.  While we had our beer we watched the goings on at the beach.  They were selling para-sailing rides and so after we finished our beers, we walked down to get Kathy a para-sailing ride.

There's Kathy, suited up and ready for take off... 

And here is Kathly coming in for a landing....

Catching a taxi back to the cruise ship was a real pain.  But we eventually got back to the ship.

We didn't find the jewelery Kathy was looking for, but we did get a couple of bottles of vanilla for our friend and Kathy got to go para-sailing.  We had fun.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Santorini Greece, a Wonderful Cruise Ship Port of Call

Most cruises of the Greek Islands include a stop in Santorini. They dock in the port below Thira and you can go up the side of the volcano by cable-car, donkey or on foot if you are in good physical shape.

Santorini was one of the places we would like to visit again. No particular reason that we can put our finger on, we just had a wonderful day when we were there. We had an absolutely wonderful lunch at the top of the island. Rode the cable car up.

I was there back in 1969 just after graduating from high school. Back then there was no cable car, you had to ride donkeys up the cliff. You can still ride the donkeys, but we opted for the cable car.

The view from the cable car was amazing. As we at lunch at the top we could look down at the ship in the harbor below.

A view of the island of Santornini as seen from our cruise ship

I took this photo of Santorini from the tender bringing us in from the Crown Odyssey

Note the zigzag trail going up the side of the mountain... that's where the donkeys take you to the top.

Arriving at the top of the Island via cable car

See the Donkeys headed down the narrow path?

Thats the Crown Odyssey, Our Cruise Ship     Photo taken from the cable car.
One of the spectacular views
Another amazing view of the island

The view of our ship from our table as we ate lunch.  The thatched roofs are sun shades over the restaurant tables.

It was sometimes a little tricky finding your way around... kind of like being in a maze

And there we are... and that's all folks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Puerto Vallarta On Our Mexican Riviera Cruise on the Oosterdam

Puerto Vallarta on the Mexican Riviera

Our Puerto Vallarta shore excursion wasn't going to be until the evening, so we had time to wander around in Pureto Vallarta and do a little shopping and sight seeing. We stopped in at Senor Forgs and had a Margarita.  In the downtown area there were paitings on display by local artrists which was interesting. 

The Oosterdam in Puerto Vallarta

Downtown Puerto Vallarta

Paintings by local artists being displayed along the beach.

This pirate ship ride was a shore excursion that we passed on...

On the Catamaran headed for our evening enterainment on the island of

A shot of the front of the boat. The sun is going down as we
approached the beach where the evening festivites.

Las Caletas beach where the party takes place

Some of the enterainment

Dinner was a great Mexican buffet... and it was excellent.

A version of a Mariachi band sort of...

After dinner there was a very nice floor show at a nearby amphitheater, but
pictures werent allowed, and it got too dark to get any photos of anything else.

So Adios Amigos!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pictures of Berlin from Our Baltic Cruise on the Oosterdam

Our shore excursion to Berlin began with a 2-1/2 hour train ride to Berlin from where the Oosterdam docked in Warnemunde Germany. It was one of those 6:30 a.m. excursions. Ugh.

There wasn’t really much countryside to photograph since the train seemed to alternate between dense forest and tall dirt berms.

There were plenty of nifty stuff in Berlin; check point Charlie, the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg gate and other sights.

Without further ado, here are the photos...

Boarding the train to visit Berlin on an Oosterdam shore excursion

The train had a bar and smoking car... and this is it.

This is a typical apartment building

THere were a lot of canals such as this one around town

This a marker showing were East and West Berlin were separated.

That little guardhouse behind Kathy is the original real "Checkpoint Charlie". 

Checkpoint Charlie from the other side and not so close up...

The World Famous Brandenburg Gate.  There was some sort of exhibition going on
and they had this giant soccer ball set up outside the gate.

This is the hotel were Michael Jackson dangled his son over the balcony....

This was a UNICEF tour that hat a painted bear for each of 123 countries.

We found the bear from the United States... the Liberty Bear.

Ah... I found the "Einstein Bear".

This is a church that was bombed out in the war and is now a memorial.

One of the last reminants of the Iron Curtain

 Thats all folks.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Short Stay in Athens before Our First Ocean Going Cruise

Our first ocean going cruise was aboard the Crown Odyssey and the journey began in Athens Greece where we spent several days before boarding the ship.

Our first surprise was the airport… it wasn’t quite as modern an up-to-date as we were expecting. They pushed a stairway up to the jet and we walked into the terminal. Inside the terminal there was one luggage carousel, ash trays everywhere and no sign of customs.

We grabbed our bags, walked out to the buses and got on. No customs or anything. It appeared that most of the people on the bus were smoking. Apparently there is little restriction on smoking, or at least there was at the time. This was a couple of years before they had the Olympics in Athens. It is, I imagine, quite a bit different now.

After a short bus ride we checked into the hotel, which was very very nice. We pulled back the blinds and looked out the window… low and behold… the Parthenon atop the Acropolis was framed in our window! We figured that had to be some kind of good omen!

I really love ancient history and it was quite exciting for me to actually see the Parthenon, all the cool ruins, and even the hill where Socrates drank the poison.

The view from the window of our hotel room... Impressive isn't it.

And this is what the Parthenon and Acropolis looks like at night...

Behind me is the hlll where Socrates drank the poison that took his life

the Parthenon