ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY — Today’s start wasn’t so early, with buses leaving at the respectable hour of nine, which meant we could have a long breakfast on the back deck, enjoy the morning sunshine, and talk with some of our fellow passengers. Many of the passengers are older than us by quite a bit. The average age is 65, but there are some young people, notably two young British girls in their twenties, and some parents with their teenage children.
What amazes me is the stamina of the passengers on this particular cruise. While most of them are older, and some have obvious problems getting around, they are full of anticipation for each excursion. They climb steep hills, walk around in the sun and high temperatures and are up early each day ready for the next adventure. They show a real passion for exploring and learning that is truly inspirational.
Today’s excursion was a perfect example. We climbed to the top of the Acropolis at Pergamon, a magnificent site that is home to a temple to Trajan, the ruins of a temple to Athena and the base of the monumental Altar of Zeus, the top half of which is now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The highlight here is the Hellenistic theater, carved into the side of a hill, and the steepest in the world. In 33 degree temperature, many of the group scrambled down to sit in the precarious seats of this theater, for the experience. No one whined about the heat or the climb. Impressive.
We had lunch in a restaurant in Bergama, and the drove to the Asclepion, an ancient healing centre where there was a healing spring. Pine nuts, honey , walnuts and olive oil products are the chief products in this area, so I picked up some pine nuts, at a fraction of the price I pay for them at home, some walnuts in honey, and some aromatic olive oil soap.
After returning to the ship at five, we tidied up and went to the Ambassador lounge for a briefing about Delos, our next stop, and to listen to a lecture by Thomas Mannock who gave us a talk that was both scholarly and witty, about Delos and the Birth of the Gods. I ‘ll talk in depth about the lecturers and the lecture series on board in my next post.