Monday, August 28, 2023

Our World Voyage Continues in the Mediterranean Sea to Crete, Greece

Thank you for joining us again as I continue to remember our World Voyage.  How could I possibly forget this adventure of a lifetime?  After going through the Strait of Gibraltar we merrily sailed along the crystal waters of the Mediterranean.  The sun shining on the water reminds me of what my late sister used to call "diamonds on the sea."

 There were three more sea days to enjoy ourselves before we reached our next port of call.  We love sea days on Queen Mary 2.  Lazily enjoying all that is offered is so relaxing to us.  Our morning walks on the Promenade starts our days off wonderfully as the weather was so nice and warm on our faces.  The Mediterranean is quite deep in places.  The Captain reminds us that we are now sailing in 8,000 feet deep waters.  There are other places as we sail toward the Ionian Sea that is over 16,000 feet deep. 

The Mediterranean sunsets were so lovely and we always tried to view the beauty when the night fell and the sun said goodnight to another glorious day!


We eagerly awaited our next port of call when early morning sounds indicated that the harbor pilot had arrived to guide us safely into the port of Heraklion, Greece on the island of Crete.  These harbor pilots board large ships at every port and guide them safely through their channels.  They are highly qualified individuals and are usually former captains of ships themselves.  It is a fascinating process watching them board QM2 so expertly!  

The early dawn showed the promise of a lovely day in Heraklion, Greece.  

Looking out our balcony we eagerly await the all clear to go ashore and explore this lovely island of Crete on a tour we booked.  Being the largest island of Greece, Crete is between the Aegean and the Libyan Sea.   We are docked in the capital city of Heraklion.

  The Koules Fortress that was built by the Republic of Venice still stands in this port city.  Being built in the early 16th century it still stands guard.  A testimony to the skill of early building practices.

We headed out on our tour with a bus load of passengers from the QM2.  The island of Crete is lovely with all the mountains shining against the lovely sky.  Olive trees are everywhere we look as we travel along the highways.  Our tour guide tells us that everyone has olive trees planted on their property.  She says that parents pass down their land to their children and the more olive trees the more value it is to them.

We took a lovely winding road up to Arkadi Monastery.  This Eastern Orthodox monastery sits high upon a plateau in southeastern Crete.  The area of Mt. Ida is renowned as it's the legendary childhood home of Zeus.  Zeus is considered the god of the sky and thunder in the ancient Greek religion. 

 This monastery dates from the 14th century and is dedicated to Saint Constantine.  

We walked into the church, which asked that no photos be taken, and were struck by its simple beauty.  After visiting this house of worship we walked around the monastery.

The ancient buildings that still house a few monks were so interesting.  It was a very chilly afternoon up on this plateau.  The sun made us feel warm against this lovely sky!

There was an ancient olive tree here as well.

The contrast of the colors against the azure skies was stunning.

This monastery had many places that afforded quiet reflection.

I loved these lovely old doors!

The back of the monastery had these lovely pergolas.  I wonder what would be blooming on them in spring.

We walked along the building that housed the rooms that the monks use for educational purposes and sleeping.

These old olive pots look so nice along this cobbled area.  

We saw several kitties lounging in the sunshine in Arkadi monastery before it was time to get back on the bus and continue our tour.

Our tour guide then took us to the harbor town of Rethymnon to experience this charming village by the sea.  The cobbled streets and small alleyways was just lovely.  Before our guide let us explore on our own she took us to the original Rimondi fountain that served the town and built for the population to use in 1626.

The shuttered windows were on many homes and businesses.

We decided to take a walk down to the sea before we left this little village.  

Grayden and I still wore our masks on all of our tours, but when we had the space we took them off to take photos.

I was so thrilled to pass this beautiful lighthouse, though it is no longer operational.  This lighthouse was built during the Egyptian occupation of Crete in 1830 when the Turks handed Crete to the Egyptians.  In 1864 this lighthouse was handed over to the French Lighthouse Company.  

The shoreline was so beautiful, we stopped to drink it all in!

Coming to Crete was a dream come true for Grayden and I.  I hope you enjoyed looking at some of our photos as much as we enjoyed sharing them with you.  Thank you for looking at our adventures on our World Voyage!  


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Summer Traditions

 We just returned from our annual family beach week.  Through the years our family always sets aside this special week to gather together.  No matter how old we are, we are beach people.  From the grands to our children and finally ourselves we must have salt water running through our veins.  My parents were the same.


I had never seen this photo of my parents until after they had passed away.  I'm pretty sure it was taken before I was born.  Being at the beach always reminds me of my parents.  This same beach week was observed with them until they left this earth.  There is something special about beaches to my parents and now me and my children and grands.


  Find us a beach and we are happy to be there.  We don't need fancy, just a chair and an umbrella and the beautiful ocean spreading before us.  Our weather was gorgeous during our special week.  One afternoon we had threatening clouds with a little rain, so we retreated to work on a puzzle our son-in-law gifted Grayden. 


Here is the M&M 1,000 piece puzzle put together.  I never knew there were so many different kinds of M&Ms!

Of course, there were M&Ms in the cabinet that were consumed as we all worked. 

Getting up early the last morning to see our daughter and son-in-law off we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise.  Seeing the sunrise over the ocean never grows old for this old gal.  

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." Jacques Cousteau 

How do you feel about the ocean?  Are you under its spell?


Thursday, August 3, 2023

Going through the Strait of Gibraltar

 After leaving Lisboa, Portugal the Queen Mary 2 headed out  on its way to the Strait of Gibraltar!  The next morning as we entered the elevator on our way for our walk, Captain Aseem Hashmi was also in the lift (as it's known on the Queen Mary 2 and by our British friends).  I asked him if he was going up or down and he reminded me he never says "going down!"  Captain Hashmi is so funny and so quick with his quips. 

After our walk we had lunch in Britannia and went topside as we sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar!

The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping lanes on the planet.  From the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea we traveled through this narrow strait. It separates Europe from Africa.  At its narrowest point it is only 8 miles between  Point Marrique, Spain and Point Cires in Morroco.

The territorial waters of Morocco, Spain and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar are in our view!  The Mediterranean was sparkling with the sun shining on us as we made our transit.

The Rock of Gibraltar is exciting to see.  We both giggled and said, is this for real?  We had never dreamed of traveling through this area and we are so thankful!  Seeing the world on the Queen Mary 2 was not wasted on us!

The Rock of Gibraltar is 1,398 feet high and made of limestone.  Much of the top is protected by a nature reserve.  Over 300 Barbary Macques (Rock Apes) make their home here.   Also Barbary Partridges and many other birds and flora that are unique to the area can be found here.

I'm always on the lookout for lighthouses and it was quite easy to spot the Europa Point Lighthouse at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.  It is also known as the Trinity Lighthouse at Europa Point.  The lighthouse was inaugurated in 1841 during the reign of Queen Victoria.  It is operated by Trinity House, the authority of lighthouses in England, Wales, the Channel Islands, and Gibraltar.

The Rock of Gibraltar is inhabited by 32,688 people who live at its base.  Most of them are Gibraltarians that are the ethnic group native to Gibraltar.  The British Royal Navy maintains a presence here.  

Transiting the Strait of Gibraltar was thrilling for us as we traveled further into the Mediterranean Sea.  Thank you for sharing the joy we felt on this very special day as we continue our World Voyage!