ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY — This morning we arrived in Preveza, Greece, a town in the region of Epirus, northwestern Greece, located at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf. The ruins of the ancient city of Nikopolis lie seven kilometers north of the city.
Preveza is a commercial harbor and tourist hub, with a marina, two cinemas, an open theater, many clubs, taverns, and cafes, benefiting from its proximity to the nearby Aktion National Airport and the nearby island of Lefkada, another major tourist destination. After an early morning arrival in Preveza, we embarked on a half-day tour of Arta, the former Byzantine capital, and its 13th and 14th century churches.
Following a scenic one hour drive in a quite comfortable motor coach we arrive in Arta, built on the remains of the ancient city of Ambrakia. We saw the famous bridge over the Arachthos River which is plagued by the mythical story of an engineer who, for the sake of a successful construction, sacrificed his wife and built her remains into the bridge.
We also visited the ancient ruins of Nikopolis at the mouth of the Gulf of Arta. Nikopolis was the “victory city” founded by Augustus following his momentous victory over Antony and Cleopatra in the battle of Actium. The name derives from “Nike” meaning victory and “Polis” meaning town.
As always, the tour was nicely arranged and our guide knowledgeable.
This evening we had another lecture from Dr. Nigel Ramsay entitled “The Erratic Rise of the Turks.” He explained how the Turks, having converted to Islam in the 7th century, came to displace the Arabs as rulers of Levant and Mesopotamia and captured Byzantium; they seemed unstoppable. Yet the combined naval forces of Venice and the West defeated them at Lepanto (1571) and they also failed in their siege of Vienna (1683). The end of the Ottoman Empire was finally achieved by the Allies victory in World War I. A reformed Turkish state resulted and today is being encouraged to join the European Union.Dinner in the Marco Polo again. I enjoy this restaurant. It’s more formal than the Terrace Café where shorts are the norm, but I prefer being served rather than going through a buffet line. It’s also cooler here. Tonight I had a bell pepper salad with olives and cheese, seafood bisque soup with cognac, grilled veal scaloppini, with a selection of European cheeses. There is great brie on the cheese trolley.
After dinner our ship pulled into Ithaca, Greece. And we had a few hours to walk around the town. Ithaca is one of the seven Greek islands that form the group of the Ionian Islands. Ithaca is famous for being the island of the mythical Odysseus (Ulysses) whose exploits were described by the famous Greek poet Homer.
The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC, and may have been the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period, and the capital-state of the kingdom ruled by Odysseus. The Romans occupied the island in the 2nd century BC and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Normans ruled Ithaca in the 13th century and after a short Turkish rule, it fell under Venetian rule.