Wednesday, April 18, 2018

50th Wedding Anniversary Mediterranean Cruise with our Kids

How we love our family! 
 They are, by far, the best thing that our fifty years of marriage has produced!
Celebrating this Golden Anniversary with our kids and their spouses was long planned for and anticipated!

(from our 2017 Christmas card)

The Mediterranean is an area where none of our kids or spouses had been to before 
(with the exception of Venice for some), 
so everyone jumped on board (okay, cheesy) 
with the idea of going on a cruise there together.

Off we go!

Roger and I flew from SLC to Denver to Munich to Athens
Each of the five couples of our kids came various routes.

At last . . . we boarded the Viking Star.


Next morning we boarded our bus for a tour of ancient Athens.
It has been called the birthplace of democracy. 
More than 2,600 years ago, 
revered Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle 
thought up new ideas of government and debated its role in civic life. 

Ancient harbor of Zea, its dock dating to the 5th century BC

The Athens Academy

Ancient athletic Panathenaic Stadium built in 4th century BC

Temple of Zeus

Acropolis Hill
Nike Temple (nike means victory in Greek)

We climbed and climbed to see the famous ruins and take in the spectacular views!

The grand entrance, or Propylaeum

Built between 421-406 BCE on the Acropolis, this temple to Athena is best known for the carefully sculpted column figures.
Porch of the Caryatides (sculpted female figures) on the Erechtheum (temple)

The Parthenon

Can't believe we are all actually here at this classic famous site - together!

 Missy took many gorgeous shots of ancient columns at all angles.

We saw spectacular views overlooking Athens.

Mars Hill
 location of Paul's most important gospel message during his second missionary journey

We drove to the Plaka district to wander through the streets on our own, 
after our guide told us many interesting things about Athens.

Hadrian's Arch

Back at the ship, Roger took this shot of the colorful graphic of Greek sculpture.

We had several choices of where to eat on board and were regulars at all of them.
The dining room was open seating for breakfast and dinner, 
and upstairs at the World Cafe 
or at the Aquavit Terrace were open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and had a huge variety of yummy food 
including sushi, fresh seafood and steaks, fresh fish or burgers cooked to order 
and there were always several flavors of gelato 
(this pic shows some desserts offered).
There were also two specialty restaurants, Manfredi's Italian Restaurant and The Chef's Table, 
which required reservations but were no extra charge. 
There was also 24 hour free room service.

Sailing out of Athens

Our rooms were next to each other, so we could go out on our balconies and chat.

Here is Jeff's pic taken from our room . . .

 . . . and from Missy and Jedd's.

We had reservations at Manfredi's that first night. 
They ushered our group of 12 to our own private room, and we sat around a beautiful wooden table.

We ordered delicious Italian specialties prepared by the Head Chef.

The kids honored us with a wonderful Golden Book of tributes and pictures from each of our kids, 
their spouses and each of our 25 grandchildren.

The pastry chef prepared a lovely anniversary cake for us.

What a glorious celebration we had!

Next morning, we woke up docked at Santorini.

Riding the tender to Port Athinios.

The villages sit so high up on the black rock!

This is the Greek Island villages of dreams with their whitewashed houses hugging the hills, 
azure-blue domes and triple bell towers.

We got some gorgeous pics of this charming place.

Wherever we went, the kids were having a ball together. 
It was so fun to see them having fun!

A ride down on the scenic cable car completed the tour.

The World Cafe tables, ready for lunch.

Because you just can't eat enough food on a cruise, 
we all enjoyed an afternoon tea on the deck.

 hot tub and infinity pool

We had reservations that night at The Chef's Table.
Again, they took us into a private room.
We spent almost three hours laughing and enjoying each other.

The theme at The Chef's Table that night was gourmet Chinese.

Next morning, we woke up docked at Sparta, Greece.

Sparta was one of the most prominent city-states in ancient Greece. Known for its military might, Sparta reached the height of its power in 404 BC. During the 2nd century BC, it was conquered by the Romans.

Spartan soldier representing military might

We traveled up the mountain to the ancient ruins of Mystras.
It was a glorious Spring day 
with grasses, trees and flowers in full bloom. 
We hiked to some of the most beautiful sights we have ever seen.

Sorry for all of the pics, but I couldn't bear to leave any of them out!

Wow, what a wonderful day and a beautiful way to spend Easter!
He is risen!
When we returned to our rooms, 
large Swiss chocolate Easter bunnies were waiting for us.

Hangin' out on deck

Sunday night we dined at the Chef's Table once again on eclectic food.

During our relaxed dinner, which was private and intimate, 
Roger and I shared stories about some of our ancestors - 
Grandpas LC Gabrielsen, Sr. and George Stratford - 
and we also talked about our moms and dads and about our great heritage in the Gospel.

Next morning we woke up docked at Corfu.
Odysseus is said to have stepped ashore here during his epic voyage.

We were driven to Kanoni, where there were beautiful views of Pontikonisi Island (Mouse) 
and Vlacherna Monastery.
Mindy and Jeff went on an optional tour on 4 x 4s 
through small villages 
that still cherish a traditional way of life and they saw sweeping landscapes stretching to the sea.


Vlacherna Monastery

On the way to Corfu's Old Town, we passed Georgian Von Ripos Villa, 
once a residence of the Greek Royal family and birthplace of Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip.

Our guide walked us through the Old Fortress, Durrell Gardens and the Palace of St. Michael and St. George.

Note the bullet holes during a historic uprising.

The Esplanade in Old Town was charming and we took many pics.

Greek Orthodox Easter was a week after our Easter this year and the red eggs represent the blood of Christ 
when he was crucified for us.

We purchased a beautiful Mediterranean hand-painted plate from this kind shopkeeper.

We set sail that evening for Kotor, Montenegro.
Stay tuned . . .