Our fourth day at sea…

Cargo ship Jacaranda at Izmir (Turkey), 8 july...

Cargo ship Jacaranda at Izmir (Turkey), 8 july 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We arrived in the port of Izmir, Turkey very late last night and were told that we could go ashore this morning. We actually, left the ship about 8.00 AM and returned at 11.00 AM. Once out of the port, which is no minor challenge being a passenger on a cargo ship, we got a taxi to the centre of Izmir and were dropped off outside the covered bazaar. Despite not having visited Turkey for more than twenty years, nothing seemed to have changed but it soon brought back vivid memories of Istanbul. We were regularly asked:

You want Lacoste t-shirts or Burberry? What do you want? I can take you, show you t-shirts, leather and carpets….

Sadly, all the designer labels looked fake to us, so we bought nothing apart from some excellent freshly squeezed orange juice…

It’s not far to judge a city in a few hours and we hope to explore Turkey more fully on a future visit.

It’s now, 5.00 PM on day four. We are in Izmir, Turkey and should have left for sea some four hours earlier but all afternoon the ship has been loading and unloading cars, ready for being transported. The afternoon in port, it was seriously hot and we spent it in our cabin with the air-conditioning set to high, waiting for the ship to go to sea. Whilst, the life of a busy dockyard was interesting, we were soon wondering how much longer we would be there.

A few hours later, we were back out at sea – all problems were forgotten. The sea has its own special charm. We have just watched the magical sun setting over the sea, with its wonderful array of colours and another beautiful end to a perfect day. Alf had been exploring different camera setttings for sunset photos and settled on manual (a bit of advice from an American in Sorrento). We took the spare time at sea to edit our hundreds of photos – we promise to publish the best in the future.

In Izmir, there were two large cruise ships in dock and whilst on land, it was assumed that we were from one of the cruise ships. Actually, we had disembarked using crew identity papers. We spent dinner debating with Jean Pierre, the other passenger, the differences between a cargo and a regular cruise ship – we shall probably summarize in a later blog.

Tomorrow’s port of call is Alexandria, Egypt.

Our third day at sea…

Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. The Acropol...

Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. The Acropolis in backgound. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 9.30 AM on day three. We left Piraeus (Athens) at 7.00 AM this morning and our next destination is Izmir, Turkey. We were on the bridge this morning as the pilot guided us out of Piraeus which is incredibly busy with sea traffic. It did not take long and we were in open sea again, passing lots of beautiful islands.

We have settled into a routine at sea and now fully understand that we are on a cargo ship and not a cargo cruise. There are twenty-five crew and just three passengers. The ship is Italian registered in Salerno and the majority of the crew are Italian but there are also a twelve Filipinos. The chef is really keen on pasta and pizza!

Last night, we managed to get into Athens for a few hours, took in the Acropolis, a walk around the centre and a couple of drinks, before returning to our ship. It was strange being in Athens the day after the election and observing life in Athens first-hand, with our own eyes. On the surface, Athens was as we remembered, bustling, with lots of traffic and shops full of produce of the World. However, when we looked more closely, we saw a heavy presence of police in the city centre, and we were pestered by a beggar who clearly had a drug problem. Nevertheless, we resolved to return to Athens and explore it a little more leisurely.