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RTW 9 1/2 – The Moscow to the Med Edition

A Day Trip to Bonifacio Corsica

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 | 0 comments

A Day Trip to Bonifacio Corsica

So now we have finally arrived at the “Med” portion of the “Moscow to the Med” summer trip and I couldn’t be happier! For the next two weeks it’s all about the islands of Italy, France and (mostly) Greece. We had three nights and two full days in Sardinia which is not even close to enough time to see this very large island.

So what do you do when you’re already short on time to see a place? Add in a full day trip to a completely different place, of course! (On paper, this logic made perfect sense.) We decided to squeeze in a day trip to the neighboring island of Corsica because it seemed too close to pass up. And in our defense, on the map it is right there, just begging for a side trip.

Who are we to argue?

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Sardinia and the Maddalena Islands

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 | 0 comments

Sardinia and the Maddalena Islands

After dedicating our first full day in Sardinia to a day trip to Corsica, we weren’t exactly sure what to do with our other full day. We had wheels (about the only positive statement I can make about the ridiculous Smart Car, it did have wheels) so we had the freedom to go wherever we liked with our second day. But as I mentioned before, Sardinia is a huge island and the driving distances are fairly long, especially with mountain roads, so we needed to narrow down our day to a specific region.

Our helpful front desk clerk at the Hilton Olbia and the car rental guy had both highly recommended the ferry over to Maddalena Island and after a little research we decided that would be a great way to spend our day.

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Crete Greece in 5 Perfect Days

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 | 6 comments

Crete Greece in 5 Perfect Days

For centuries the natural beauty of Crete was at the mercy of pirate fleets and the strategic conquests of the strongest Mediterranean powers. From the Greeks to the Romans, Venetians and Turks, each conquering culture left its mark on this eternal crossroads between East and West.

But it was some of the island’s earliest inhabitants who created the ancient sites and palaces Crete is best known for today. The early Minoan culture began to emerge on Crete around 2500 B.C., transitioning to Middle Minoan by 2000 B.C. It was during the Middle Minoan phase when many of the island’s archaeological treasures were constructed. By 1200 B.C. the Minoan culture had mostly gone under and the race for control of the island’s resources and strategic Mediterranean position was on.

The confluence of cultures that define Crete’s history lend it a national identity that is entirely unique from the rest of Greece. Even today when the locals refer to their traditional dishes, or local products like olive oil or honey it’s always as “Cretan,” never Greek.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1913 that Crete formally joined with Greece.

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All Roads Lead to Rhodes

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 | 0 comments

All Roads Lead to Rhodes

The largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes Greece has known many civilizations throughout its long history. Inhabited since the end of the Neolithic period (4000 BC), the city of Rhodes prospered for centuries during its Golden Age. In 164 BC Rhodes lost its independence and became a province of the Roman Empire during which time it developed into a renowned center of learning for arts and science.

During the Byzantine period that followed, Rhodes became an important military base and in 1309 BC it was sold to the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The order was originally founded to provide care for pilgrims to the Holy Land but ultimately evolved into a military unit. During the reign of the Knights of the Order of St John, the fortifications were expanded and reinforced.

When the Arabs attacked in the 7th century, they occupied the island for several decades. Then, in 1522 it was the Ottoman Turks who captured the city and during their rule Rhodes lost much of its international character. But the Italians took over in 1912 and set about radically transforming the city into much of what you see today. They completed extensive infrastructure works like roads and electricity, rebuilt the Grand Master’s Palace, preserved the remains of the Knights’ period and removed much of the Ottoman additions.

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Smitten with Symi

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 | 4 comments

Smitten with Symi

For those of us who are passionate about travel, there are many places in the world that we revel in visiting, maybe even fall a little bit in love with. But then there’s another level of travel experience, one that’s far more rare…a place that just calls to your soul.

If you’ve got a minute, the exquisitely-tiny island of Symi Greece would like a word with your soul.

Surprisingly, two months ago I’d never even heard of the island of Symi. But while trying to plan a route from Rhodes to Turkey, I happened to stumble across this little gem. Though there are a few direct ferries between Rhodes and the Turkish mainland, the more common path was to Bodrum via the islands of Symi and Kos. It seemed like a good plan to break up the 3-ferry trip with a stay on one of the two islands.

So, after a quick Google image search of both Symi and Kos, I was instantly taken with the pictures of Symi with its quaint pink and yellow, Venetian style architecture. I’d never seen a Greek island that looked like Symi and I knew right away that it was an island I had to see. Sometimes I just get a feeling about a place, so I decided to spend 4 nights on Symi, longer than I devoted to anywhere else but Crete on this trip.

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A Travel Day from Kos to Bodrum

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 | 2 comments

A Travel Day from Kos to Bodrum

As the ferry sailed away from Symi’s beautiful harbor I was definitely more than a little wistful. Symi was such a special place. But it was time to move on to the final leg of this trip – Turkey.

I’d visited Turkey once before but it was just a brief stop in Istanbul on Round the World #3. While I was in the neighborhood on this summer’s trip, I thought it would be the perfect time to explore the Asian side of one of the world’s only transcontinental countries.

So, over the course of the next week I’ll be visiting Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cappadocia before finally flying home from Istanbul next Friday.

The best option for getting to Turkey from Symi was to take a ferry to the Greek island of Kos and then another ferry from Kos to Bodrum on the Turkish mainland. But the limited ferry times meant that I’d have a minimum connection time of 5 hours to spend on Kos before the first afternoon boat went back to Bodrum.

I had originally planned to spend a night on Kos while in transit between Symi and Bodrum but I ran out of time to research where exactly I wanted to stay and when I arrived in Symi I realized that’s where I wanted to stay. And based on what I saw of Kos (which I admit was just the main town) I think I made an excellent decision. The harbor area, while scenic and possessing the obligatory castle, was incredibly touristy to the point that I’m not sure I would have survived more than a few hours there. It clearly catered to the package tourist and 20-something European nightlife set, neither of which was a group I counted myself a part of.

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