Italy, Greece, and Turkey

I love to travel, so even when I’m not being a nomad I take a trip every year for my birthday. This year I took a cruise – with my parents and cousin – to Italy, Greece, and Turkey and it was AMAZING!

I’ve been trying to get my parents to try out cruising ever since I worked on a cruise ship after finishing undergrad and this is the first time they finally agreed to take one. We went on the Norwegian Jade out of Civitavecchia, which is about an hour outside of Rome. I’d been to Italy before, but this was my first time in both Greece and Turkey and it was also my first time as a full-fledged guest on a ship and my first time on Norwegian (I worked on Royal Caribbean).

We had some serious difficulties getting to Italy because of flight delays but, luckily, we’d given ourselves a day buffer so we didn’t miss our ship. I emphatically recommend getting to your departure port at least an entire day early if you’re ever going on a cruise. There are just too many things that could delay you and you wouldn’t want to miss your cruise just because you were too cheap to get a hotel for one night. Once we made it to the ship, however, it was smooth sailing (pun intended) and we had a fabulous time. Thank you so much to Freddy, Joe, Rodrigo, and the rest of the Jade crew for showing me a fabulous time! I’m still partial to Royal Caribbean (better food) but you all made sure my birthday cruise kicked booty.

We decided to go in the winter for a few reasons: 1) We didn’t want to deal with the crazy heat in the summer 2) We got avoid the worst of the crowds because it was low season 3) We chose winter for the other two reasons, but the bonus was it’s cheaper to go on the off season. All around, it was a GREAT decision and I would definitely do the Med on the off season again. The weather really wasn’t that bad if you dressed appropriately and we were happy to avoid the lines and sunstroke that we know are common at the sites we visited during the summer months.

After Rome we headed to Greece and visited Olympia and Athens. We took tours organized from the ship in both ports and had a great time.

In Oympia, we visited an olive farm and saw the ruins.

Ruins at Olympia
As our tour guide said: “The ruins are in ruins,” at Olympia.


Dancing at an Olive Farm Near Olympia, Greece
Our tour took us to an olive farm where we got to taste ouzo and wine, enjoy a Greek lunch, and have some fun dancing.

In Athens we took a tour of the city and went to the New Acropolis Museum and saw the Parthenon.

New Acropolis Museum with the Parthenon in the Background
In Athens we took a tour of the city including the New Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon (in the background of the pic).

Next we headed to Turkey where we stopped in Izmir and Istanbul. In Izmir we visited the ruins at Ephesus, which are probably the most incredibly ruins I’ve ever seen. The city is very well preserved and the infrastructure they had in place at that time was amazing.

This is one of the main streets in Ephesus
The Library at Ephesus
Apparently, the library at Ephesus had a secret passageway that led to the brothel across the street. I guess some things never change,
The Library at Ephesus
Another shot of the Library at Ephesus.
The Amphitheater at Ephesus
The Amphitheater at Ephesus.
One of the Main Streets in Ephesus
One of the Main Streets in Ephesus.
Sign Outside of Ephesus
I added this pic just for fun, but this is an awesome sign we saw at vendor’s stand just outside of Ephesus.

Next we went to Istanbul and saw the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and the Palace at Dolmabahce. To be completely honest,  I wasn’t all that impressed with either the Hagia Sofia or the Blue Mosque but the Palace was really enjoyable. I also got to see an old friend of mine who lives in Istanbul now so I had a blast.

Inside the Hagia Sohpia
Inside the Hagia Sohpia.
Outside the Blue Mosque
Outside the Blue Mosque.
Outside the Blue Mosque
My cousin and I right before we went into the Blue Mosque. I’m not sure why we’re sparkling, but it’s a cool photo.
Outside a Mosque Lit Up at Night in Istanbul
Outside a Mosque Lit Up at Night in Istanbul.
Outside the Gate at Dolmabahce Palace
Outside the Gate at Dolmabahce Palace.
Aqueduct in Istanbul
This aqueduct in Istanbul is special because it’s not closed off for preservation – cars still drive under it every day.

After Turkey it was time to head back to Italy and we stopped in Naples before heading back to Civitavecchia. We took a tour to Pompei and had some incredible pizza before getting back on the ship and heading home.

One of the main streets in Pompei.
Plaster of a Body from Pompei
Our tour guide told us that as they excavated Pompei, they made plaster casts of the spaces left in the ash by the bodies of those who perished there. This is one of those casts.

After Pompei it was back to Rome for us where went to see St. Peter’s in Vatican City (a little hectic given we were there right after the Pope announced his resignation).

 All in all it was an amazing trip and it was the perfect way to start out my year as a nomad. I had a wonderful time and I hope get to see my friends on the Jade again soon.