From a story written by Susan Milne of Ensemble Travel about my recent experience

Ron Pradinuk found his Eastern Mediterranean cruise experience quite overwhelming. Being in touch with antiquity in Corinth, Athens and Ephesus was very powerful and made this region one of his favourite destinations. Ron, who is a radio broadcaster, blogger and travel writer, as well as a travel agent, shared his experiences with us along with his tips and recommendations for the Eastern Med.

Cruising the Greek Isles & Turkey
“Our 10 day cruise aboard Regent’s all-suite Seven Seas Voyager was the perfect way to discover the Greek Isles and Turkey. We embarked September 29, 2009 in Istanbul and disembarked 10 days later in Athens with memories of many moving experiences.”

“The cruise enabled us to easily visit ports in Turkey, Greece and the Greek Isles while using the ship as a luxury hotel. Food was outstanding and all the details superbly taken care of.”

“The views of the islands and the sunsets were magnificent. You have a completely different perspective from the sea. At Mykonos, the Captain turned the ship 360° to be sure everyone could see the glorious sunset.”

Kusadasi and Ephesus
“Certainly the highlight of this journey is the visit to Ephesus, home of the Ephesians and one of the places where St. Paul preached.”

“We started the day at Kusadasi, Turkey by gathering our group together for a private coach tour. First we drove around Kusadasi to see the sights including the Basilica of St. John, built over the tomb of St. John the Apostle. There is certainly much important Christian history in Turkey.”

“We stopped for a delightful Turkish lunch en route to Ephesus.”

“Seeing the ruins of ancient Ephesus was one of several moving experiences on this cruise. The ruins are so well preserved, some several stories high. You wander through actual city blocks. There is also a re-enactment of Roman times to illustrate what it was like back then. A Roman Centurion was blowing the horn for a fabulous sound effect while the play unfolded, including a fight scene in the street. This really brought Ephesus to life as did the commentary and detail from our informative guide, Semih Tazagul.”

“I can’t say enough about Semih. A scholar and historian with a passion for sharing his wealth of knowledge, he was outstanding and really helped us appreciate what we were seeing throughout the day. He shared information and local anecdotes which we could never have found in a book. It was a very powerful experience and quite overwhelming at times.”

“At the museum we had 1.5 hours of free time to explore. The quote above the door was very apt: “Every flower is beautiful in its own garden. Every antiquity is beautiful in its own country.”

Corinth – Another Moving Experience
“We took an excursion to Corinth from the port of Navplion. This is considered the birthplace of democracy as the leader, Periander, in 7th century BC proclaimed that “Democracy is better than tyranny.”

“Being back in Corinth was a particularly moving experience for me as I had visited here in 1970 under different circumstance. At that time, Greece was once again transitioning to democracy from military rule at a time when Canada was under the War Measures Act! On this visit, Greece was changing governments after an election. On both visits I felt we were living the beginning and the current state of democracy at the same time as we visited ancient Corinth.”

“This is an example of the type of rich, powerful experience which makes me want to keep travelling.”

Tips & Recommendations
•”In this region the guided tours are certainly the best way to learn a lot about the antiquities you have come to see. Guides are well educated and passionate about their subject. Without these local, knowledgeable guides it would have been hopeless there is so much to learn.
•I recommend full day excursions in order to immerse yourself in the history. They usually include a lunch typical of the area at good restaurants.
•In Athens, The Gods restaurant at the edge of the Plaka is not to be missed. Here at the base of the Acropolis you can enjoy very good, authentic Greek food in a wonderful setting. This restaurant was recommended to us by the locals.
•Purchase tickets ahead of time online for the new Acropolis museum in Athens, if you plan to visit independently instead of on a tour. This is definitely worth a visit. Built over an excavation site at the foot of the Acropolis, it stands four stories high with plexiglass floors so you can see and feel in touch with the ancient buildings below.

•For the morning before you board your ship, why not pass the time with a cooking class? This is what we did in Istanbul. The “Cooking a la Turka” class had five couples prepare four dishes which we then enjoyed with wine for lunch. Then we headed for the ship for afternoon boarding.”

By Susan Milne