05 Aug 2017

Athens (Piraeus), Greece at O Giannis Fish Tavern

The first segment ended this morning in Piraeus, the major port of Greece, just outside Athens. Virtually everybody disembarked, but we are on for two more segments.

Instead of running into Athens for the day (we have been here a couple of times), I decided to find a great locals seafood restaurant in this town famous for some nice restaurants; however many are extremely expensive and major rip-offs, especially along the water.

After significant research, I found the perfect place – O Giannis Fish Tavern  at Leof. Chatzikiriakou 107, Pireas, about a mile from the port. You would never confuse it for a tourist place. In fact their website and cards are all in Greek and they don’t even have an email. What they do have is GREAT fish and seafood, service and friendliness. (They do have English translations on the menu.)

Although it was almost empty when we arrived it was jammed when we left. Nevertheless the chef invited us into her kitchen to show us drawer by drawer the fresh fish she had today from which we could choose since so many types were foreign (literally and figuratively) to us.






Since we have been quite good on the dieting, we decided to try (too) many various items to give them a good test. We started with a wonderful Greek salad along with water, toast, and wine.


Then they brought a great octopus (which I almost forgot to photograph).


And then a plate of mussel for another appetizer.


And then the best monkfish I ever had.


After we were done the brought us some Greek digestif complementary. The entire tab with tax and service was 57 Euros. What a deal, and definitely the best meal of the trip so far. And, but for overdoing it on the toast, it was quite healthy.

02 Aug 2017

Gythion, Rhodes, and Patmos, Greece


 Gythion is great for a stroll.


Rhodes is a big tourist port these days.




It is beautiful, full of history, and has a famous synagogue. This island has extra special meaning as many of my friends and even relatives descend from the Rhodes Jewish Community.



Not to give short shrift to my Christian friends, next came Patmos, called the Jerusalem of The Aegean because it is where St. John wrote the Book of Revelation. We visited the cave where he wrote it in 95.



Also we visited The Holy Monastery of the Apocalpse built 1,000 years later as a castle and religious center. It is still active today.


It’s always nice to watch some local dancing.

30 Jul 2017

Corfu, Greece, 2017


Today we visited Corfu, the first of seven Greek ports in seven days. Specifically we spent our time in the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One street is prettier than the next.




We visited the La Scuola Greca Synagogue and Holocaust Memorial.

Modern Jewish history here is a familiar story. On June 10, 1944, four days after the bombing of Normandy, with the end of the war in sight, the Jews of Corfu were rounded up to be deported off the island. First they were imprisoned in the Old Venetian Fort in dank, cramped quarters. Then they were sent off the island in small boats, final destination Auschwitz-Birkenau. Of the 1795 Jews of Corfu who were deported, only 121 would survive. The mayor of the island issued a proclamation, thanking the Germans for ridding the island of the Jews so that the economy of the island would revert to its "rightful owners".




A local merchant showed us the detention camp uniform that his father brought back. His father’s entire extended family of 22 were hauled off and only 4 survived.


29 Jul 2017

Kotor, Montenegro 2017




 Early this morning I jumped out of bed barely in time to catch the last part of sailing into Kotor. It is particularly beautiful due to being surrounded by nearly vertical limestone cliffs.   It looked to me like a picture perfect fjord. It turns out that it is not a fjord at all, but something called a ria, which is a submerged river canyon.




We anchored at the entrance to the old fortified city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Montenegro, lies east of Italy, across the Adriatic Sea. Previously it was part of Yugoslavia. Prior to that it seems like they were constantly at war and part of many empires.

It achieved independence in June, 2006, just 11 years ago.




Leaving town we could really appreciate the loveliness right from our balcony.


26 Jul 2017

Koper, Slovenia


Koper is the main port of Slovenia and lies just east of the Italian border. Although they expect 65 cruise ship visits this year, it does not have much to see except thousands of cars at the port waiting to be shipped out.  It is a jumping off point for several interesting and historical sites.




Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia (approx. 200,000) and is surprisingly lovely to stroll around and lunch at one of the many cafes at their winding river that runs through the heart of town.




The Postojna Cave is the second largest in the world (the largest is in Kentucky). I felt like I was working a coal mine riding the train that took us deep into the dark interior before we started our arduous walk.

The stalagmites (they grow from ground up) and stalactites (top down) are constantly growing, albeit at a very slow rate. In fact it takes them 1,000 years just to grow five inches.



Later we made a few stops in Trieste, an Italian border down just five minutes from the port. The Lipica stud farm is Europe’s oldest that breeds one only breed – Lipizzaner Horses. They are quite special in that they have a royal background, are beautiful performers, and are so bright that they are used for therapeutic purposes with with autistic children.



The Trieste Synagogue, opened in 1912, was built to replace four small ones and be able to accommodate a growing community of 6,000 Jews. Unfortunately it was closed in 1942 by the Fascists and then used as a storehouse by the Nazis during the War. Immediately after the war it reopened.



We had no idea there were Nazi detention and killing camps here until we visited Rice Hall of San Sabba. It was used as a transit camp for Jews to be sent primarily to Auschwitz. As usual the conditions here were horrific.

After the War it was used as a refugee and transit center for people fleeing Communist Yugoslavia.