High seas through the Mediterranean, we rock and roll in 13′ swells as we make our way west to the coast of Spain. Too windy to be on deck and waves periodically washing our fourth floor cabin window. I feel as if I am in a popcorn machine as we creak, groan, crackle and pop our way to València. (more…)
Sun is shining and about 67 degrees as we sail into one of the most beautiful ports in the world – Valletta. Sandstone cliffs and bastions dominate as far as I can see. Domes and spires mark the churches and create a gorgeous skyline on this island of about 300k.
Republic of Malta is a European country in the Mediterranean of just over 121 sq miles (smaller than Denver), and one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974 and is now a member of the European Union. The de facto capital is Valletta. There are two official languages: Maltese and English. They also drive on the right here. In fact, Malta is an island of contrasts as its food, language, cars, and every part of life is affected by the influences of past occupations. They produce nothing on the island and rely heavily on tourism. Upon disembarkation, we meet our guide Vince DeBono. Wasting no time, we are driven inland thru narrow streets to Mosta Dome. (more…)
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley.
Blue sky, sunny, warm sailing today on the smooth seas of Ionian Sea southwest to the port of La Goulette Tunisia.
The Tunisian Republic is the northernmost country in Africa. Its area is the size of Georgia with an estimated population of just over 10.3 million. Its name derives from its capital, Tunis. In the south is the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder of Tunisia consisting of fertile soil and 800 miles of coastline.
Tunisia played a prominent role in ancient times, first with the Phoenician city of Carthage, then as the Africa Province that was known as the “bread basket” of the Roman Empire. Vandals during the 5th century AD, Byzantines in the 6th century, and Arabs in the 8th century occupied Tunisia. It passed under French protectorate in 1881 until independence in 1956. Tunisia has close relations with both the European Union — with whom it has an association agreement — and the Arab world. (more…)
Past the Golden Horn into the Sea of Mamara and thru the Dardanelles. Past the Hellespont and historic Gallipoli with it’s monuments to the Anzac and Turkish dead, the ancient site of Troy, then across a rolling Aegean Sea. Daytime downpours as we pass through storms; lightening flashes in the night sky as we sail into the Mediterranean to Crete.
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. While it retains its own local cultural traits (such as its own music and dialect), Cretans identify themselves as Greeks. Irakleio (Heraklion) is the largest city and capital of Crete.
We dock and pick up our rental car from AthensCars at a cost of 40 Euros a day. Of course we have to add gas @ 1.59Euro a liter, or about $8 a gallon. This is still a bargain as ship’s tours cost four times as much and offer less. We set off in our little Fiesta undaunted by place names spelled three ways: Greek alphabet (Ηράκλειο), Latin alphabet (Irάκleio), and thankfully English (Heraklion). Slow readers will be lost. We manage quite well in the intermittent rain and drive out of town to ΚΝΩΣΟΣ (Knossos). (more…)
I celebrated my birthday in Constantinople. When I visited in 1981, the population was 2.7 million, about half of whom were carpet salesmen. A lot has changed since then.
Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople, is the 5th largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.8 million. There still are thousands of carpet salesmen, but distributed among them is a vibrant collection of perhaps the nicest, most helpful people I have ever met, and the nicest bunch of cats in the world. (more…)
It is back to Africa for me. I fell in love with South Africa and its people during my travels in 2006. Fascinated by Africa’s history, intrigued by its politics, and yet horrified by its disease, poverty, and politics, I am eager to return to the continent. This time my friends and I travel North and West Africa for a glimpse into a part of the world I barely know. Many of the countries I will travel have acquired new names since I attended school during Africa’s “colonial” period.