Orchids forum: Mediterranean Musing

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Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Sep 27, 2011 4:07 PM CST
The cruise was great. It was a Holland America ship, MS Ryndam, that departed out of Barcelona. We flew in a couple of days early as we wanted to know Barcelona. The ports were Messina,Sicily, Italy, where we visited Greco Roman theater in the town of Taormina and saw Mt. Etna; Argostoli, one of the Greek Islands where we visited the town of Cephalonia; Brindisi, Italy, where we visited the beautiful little town of Lecce; Kotor, Montenegro where we fell in love with the old city; Rome, Italy, and the Vatican City, where we saw all of the ruins and museums; Florence and Pisa where we saw the statue of David and the leaning tower; and finally Marseille, France, where we were mostly ignored and snubbed. We won't be going back there. I ate too much but then that's not hard to do on a cruise. Great food and lots of it. We encountered warm weather and smooth seas.

We flew to Miami, then nonstop to Barcelona. With a population of over 4 million, it was the largest city we visited. It is one of those places that is full of life and energy. The streets and restaurants were crowded at all hours of the night and everyone seemed happy. The main drag is called Las Ramblas and that is where we spent our time. We love this city and want to return. Enjoy the sights:

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A few comments here: There is a large open air market just off of the main drag. It must cover a couple of square blocks and we spent a few hours there in awe of the fruit, hams, fish and other goodies. It is a wonderful place. Also note what looks like a statue. It is a person, frozen in place until you toss a coin in the bucket. Then they become animated and pose for a picture. I'll show a couple more of them. The street is quite wide with a huge pedestrian mall in the middle.

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Note the naked fellow playing guitar on his fourth floor balcony. I told you this place is great!

Jim

[Last edited by hawkarica - Sep 28, 2011 6:42 AM (+)]
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Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Sep 27, 2011 9:04 PM CST
Ah! Feels so good to be in Europe! Did you visit any Gaudi architecture in Barthelona?
Name: Janice
Cape Cod, MA, USA (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums Tip Photographer
Daylilies Roses Orchids Miniature Gardening Lilies Irises
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sandnsea2
Sep 28, 2011 4:11 AM CST
Very relaxing, thanks, Jim!! Such a place! Smiling
Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Sep 28, 2011 1:24 PM CST
I made some adjustments in the Barcelona posting and I am now happy with it. As for Gaudi architecture, we did not see it but I know it is there and important to Barcelona. We did not have enough time to take a tour or really get into the culture of the city. It was our first time there and we just wanted to get a feel for the city. We found it to be worthy of another visit and may well be our favorite place on this trip.

We took a cab to our ship and settled in. Here is a look at our transport.

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The first day was spent at sea and the next morning we docked at Messina, Italy. Messina is a port city on the island of Sicily. We had booked a tour to the town of Taormina, about 30 miles inland from Messina on Mount Tauro The road is a series of switchbacks and tunnels but the view is great. We could see the Ionian sea and Mount Etna, with puffs of smoke above it. Taromina is known for the ruins of a Greco Roman theater built in the 3rd century BC. The town's main street is a pedestrian cobblestone path lined with shops. The first picture is Messina from the ship as we arrived.

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Notice they have added some modern seating to the theater ruins and continue to use it for concerts and plays. The locals were all friendly and this little town was a delight. I'm glad we had time to walk about at our own pace.

Jim
Name: lindsey
wesley chapel, fl
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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sugarcane
Sep 28, 2011 2:08 PM CST
Thanks for posting such great pictures...I love all the colors and textures...you really captured the spirit of the place!
lindsey
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Sep 28, 2011 5:29 PM CST

Moderator

Jim, I am really enjoying your beautiful pictures, you two had a wonderful vacation. Lovely sights, gorgeous architecture, good food, great markets and eateries - looks like a lot of fun to me. Those "come to life" statues are neat!
Thanks so much! I am glad you took the time to post.

Ursula
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Sep 28, 2011 7:22 PM CST
I agree These are great!!!!! Lovey dubby Lovey dubby Lovey dubby
Name: Carol
Santa Ana,Ca. (Zone 10b)
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Sep 28, 2011 8:14 PM CST
Wonderful pictures, Jim. I'm really enjoying YOUR vacation. Whistling Now I see why it's said that So. Cal has a Mediterranean climate...looks just about the same, landscape wise.
Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Sep 29, 2011 3:16 PM CST
Good observation, Carol. I noted three kinds of palms: Canary Island Date, True date and European fan. All do well and are common here in Florida and in California. I also noted loads of oleander but the locals didn't have the problem with the caterpillars that we do here. Especially in Rome, the streets were lined with umbrella pines which I loved. I'm not sure why we don't grow them here. Small sycamore trees were everywhere but none were of the size we are used to in the southeast US. I also saw some beautiful bougainvillea. Our guides told me the temps range from summer highs in the low 90s to winter lows in the 40s which is about the same as here. The big difference was rainfall as it was obviously much drier there; much like Southern California. Here are some foliage pics.

Jim
Small sycamores in Barcelona
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Umbrella Pines in Rome
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Bougainvillea and a splendid Canary Island date palm on the island of Cephalonia, Greece.
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Huge oleander in Lecce, Italy.
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Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Sep 29, 2011 4:33 PM CST
We left Sicily in the late afternoon, sailed around the bootheal of Italy and arrived in Argostoli, the port city of the Island of Cephalonia, Greece. We visited the Monastery of St. Andrew, which claims to house the sole of St. Andrew's right foot. I'm not going there but you can look it up if you want. Smiling The best part was seeing some 13th century frescos that were uncovered by an earthquake in 1953. We then went to a winery for tasting but the wine was really bad. I don't think they sold a single bottle to our group. Finally we headed to the village of Kourkoumelata. There were great views from here. We stopped briefly at the castle of St. George on the way back to port. Note the olive trees and vineyards.

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There was not a lot going on here but it was picturesque and we enjoyed the visit.

Jim
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Sep 29, 2011 4:49 PM CST

Moderator

The Frescos are amazing!
Beautiful vistas, neat trees / plants - lovely! I like the Olive groves. Surely you ate some of the Olives? They are the best on location like that, right?

Jim, just beautiful!
Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Sep 29, 2011 5:19 PM CST
Did you notice the windmills way up on top of the hills in the last picture?

Yes, we ate some olives. Very tasty. The second picture is just what I was expecting to see on a Greek island; rolling hills, olive trees and a view of the sea.

Jim
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Sep 29, 2011 7:48 PM CST
Love those frescos! Great views. Just wonderful, Jim!
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Sep 29, 2011 8:00 PM CST

Moderator

Yes, I saw the windmills. They are all over Germany too, they belong into the landscape over-there nowadays.
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Sep 29, 2011 8:21 PM CST
How noisy are they? We may have 8 on a hill nearby.
Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Sep 30, 2011 11:53 AM CST
We left Cephalonia late in the afternoon and sailed all night to the east coast of Italy's bootheal and the port city of Brindisi. We caught an early morning bus for the town of Lecce, often called the Florence of the south. The town dates back to Roman times and is filled with examples of Baroque architecure. Many of the buildings are construced out of the famed Leccese stone which glows in the sunlight like honey. We entered the old city through a massive arch, saw incredible buildings, Roman theater ruins and even stumbled onto a wedding just as the happy couple were leaving the church. Note the car that transported them. Lecce is also famous for papier-mache crafts.

Jim

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I think everyone should have a door-knocker like that. The last photo is of an olive grove from the bus window.

Jim
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Sep 30, 2011 2:09 PM CST
Wonderful architecture. Makes me wish I was in Italy. Sigh. But what about the FOOD!! What did you eat?
Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Sep 30, 2011 2:57 PM CST
We mostly ate on the ship. The trip to Leche took 4 and a half hours and departed at 8:00 AM. By that time I had already eaten my breakfast of freshed sliced salmon, fresh fruit, made to order omelette, croissants, fresh squeezed juice and coffee. Whats more, I knew a splendid lunch would be awaiting me upon our return. There was too much to see to spend time eating food I didn't need. We did eat in Rome and Florence as the tours were 10 to 12 hours long but the best we could do on these little jaunts was a coffee or perhaps an ice cream.

Jim
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
boojum
Sep 30, 2011 3:47 PM CST
Oh man. You need to go back! Eating food in Italy is a life changing experience. I mean it!!! Drooling
Name: lindsey
wesley chapel, fl
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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sugarcane
Sep 30, 2011 4:43 PM CST
Let's all go!
My bags are packed!!!
lindsey

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