The United States is just in its infancy compared to most of the cities we visited in Italy, Turkey and Greece. They built things to last, unlike our planned obsolesce and teardown mentality.
Our Flight from the U.S. took us to Rome where Sue and I had been before, so we took guided tours of sites I had not actually walked through: the Coliseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. You could probably spend a week in Rome going to different sites, like the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, St Peter’s Basilica and Pantheon. Bring your walking shoes because you can do a lot of walking on uneven sites.
Our next tour was Ancient Pompeii near Naples. This Roman city was buried under 4 to 6 meters of volcanic ash and pumice after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Truly impressive city, very difficult walking, however.
Mount Etna was our next visit. This is the largest active volcano in Europe with the most recent eruption in the Spring of 2017 and the last major eruption in the winter of 2008/09. The thing I was most amazed by was how few railings or walkways they had compared to the Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Walking on Volcanic cinders and being able to get as close to the crater as you could surprised my wife and I.
Next tour was Ephesus and the Terrace Houses, found in Turkey. Ephesus was the 4th largest city in the eastern Roman empire in the 2nd century BC. Terrace Houses and the city were built on the plan where all roads crossed at right angles. They had heating systems of clay pipes running through the floors and walls. They were indeed ahead of their time.
Istanbul also used to be called Constantinople in Roman times. I asked a couple different times how many people live in this city and got three different answers, somewhere between 15-19 million people. Tours included The Blue Mosque, build in the 1600s, which is known for its painted blue tiles, 5 domes, 6 minarets and 8 secondary domes. Women had to have their heads covered with scarves and all people entering had to remove their shoes. Topakapi Palace was the home of the Ottoman Empire. The Hippodrome was the sporting and social center of Constantinople and near to the Hagia Sophia.
No tour of Istanbul is complete unless you have visited the Grand Bazaar, a shopper’s paradise and barterer’s delight. I love to barter so this was fun for me. We also went to the Spice Market. I guess you know you have bought too many spices when they give you a gym bag to carry them in. I am not sure that I know what you use Saffron for, but we bought it.
Last stop on the cruise was Athens, Greece, home of the Acropolis and Parthenon. Impressive structures. Those Greeks and Romans knew how to build structures that were built to last.
This was a lot of education for a guy who must have been asleep part of the time in his world history classes. The area was enjoyable to visit, but there is nothing like coming back to good old Lincoln, Nebraska, which is a lot less populated.
Enjoy some more photos from our journey below!