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Trujillo, Peru

2011 Incan Empires Cruise

Friday, December 2, 2011 – Day 12 – Salaverry (port) and Trujillo (city), Peru

Rotterdam creeps into port of Salaverry this morning sounding the ship’s horn as she goes through the thick fog that envelops the area. The Cruise Director tells us later that we almost had to miss the port due to the fog. My friends explore the city of Trujillo, taking a shuttle bus from the port to the city centre in Trujillo. They report that the central square is charming, but the abject poverty in the rest of the city is shocking.

I take a shore excursion to the Huaca Dragon (Temple), the Chan Chan complex, and to see the fishermen with their reed boats at Huanchaco, a popular beach resort area. Huaca Dragon is a small temple on the outskirts of Trujillo, and has a ramp up to the top of the single temple and also has some fascinating rainbow decorations on the walls. A pre-Incan culture called the Chimu built this edifice as both a temple and a place to store food.

Chimu lords impersonators in the Principal Plaza of Chan Chan
Chimu lords impersonators in the Principal Plaza of Chan Chan

Chan Chan is an immense adobe city (20 sqkm, 30,000 residents) also built by the Chimu people, but closer to the coast than Huaca Dragon. In fact, from high points in the complex, the Pacific Ocean can be glimpsed. We visit the three huge plazas and former living areas used by the Chimu people before they were conquered by the Aztecs, who destroyed much of this complex. The vast majority of this city is still buried in the coastal sand.

The reed boats at Huanchaco are an interesting diversion. A couple of our tour members have a ride on them or try to paddle them in the ocean. As we travel around to these various sites, I also take note of the disturbing poverty in this region, other than at the resort town of Huanchaco, which is rather posh in comparison.

Rotterdam leaves port on time at 5PM. My friend and I try to see the Green Flash of the setting Sun from the Sports Deck, but no joy since there is too much fog out to sea this evening. After dinner in the Lido this evening, I pack my bags for our departure from Rotterdam tomorrow for a three day excursion to Machu Picchu. We will rejoin the ship in the port of Pisco three days later.

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Cape Sounio

Greece 2006

April 13, 2006 – Thursday – Cape Sounio – Temple of Poseidon

Paul picks me up at 8am for our pre-arranged tour to Cape Sounio to see the Temple of Poseidon. We drive along the Saronic Gulf coastal road through Glyfadha (close to Athens), Vouliagmeni (posh resorts), as well as Lagonisi and Anavyssos (beachfront towns).

The Temple of Poseidon site (€4 admission) is the southern most point of land for the isthmus where Athens is located, jutting out into the Aegean Sea. Even with the various stops for photos we made along the way, we arrive at 10am. The morning light is near perfect, so I get a nice dark blue sky to contrast with the temple’s marble columns. Needless to say, this site is dramatic. The temple is located at the top of the headland, which has steep cliffs to the sea hundreds of metres below. Spring flowers are in full bloom, and there is a fresh breeze blowing. I take advantage of the sparse crowds and photograph the temple and headlands from every angle.

I opt to return to Athens along the same coast road we just took because the alternative is to drive back down the middle of Mesoyia. Along the way Paul is called by one of his drivers to tell him there are three protests in full swing in Athens. He said he had parked the bus and was between police tear gas and the protesters Molotov cocktails! We change our plans, and divert to Markopoulo and drive on the expressway by the new airport to see the new Olympic Stadium.

Paul and his Mercedes taxi in front of Olympic Stadium
Paul and his Mercedes taxi in front of Olympic Stadium

Paul drops me off at the Irini metro station, since he won’t be able to drive into central Athens while the protests are on. I get back to Omonia station downtown within 15 minutes, and walk the few blocks back to the apartment. No sign of any protests.

I withdraw €500 from a bank machine, so I can pay Paul €490 for the two airport transfers, the full day tour to Corinth and the Peloponnese sites, and the half day tour to Cape Sounio. I’m very happy with Paul’s services, and although a significant expense, it is much cheaper as compared to the bus tours our group took in Italy.

I have a nap before going out to dinner at 8pm. Ayah again for my last dinner in Athens: Roca salad and rabbit in lemon sauce with roast potatoes and rice. The rabbit is delicious, but has small bones. They serve me a little dessert gratis: a small square pudding with citrus peal, currents and dusted with cinnamon.

Except for the odd beggar, nobody is alone in Athens. Folks are socializing in cafés, on the street, or having energetic conversations on their cellphones while they walk in the city or take the metro. Speaking of which, virtually everyone has a cellphone here. I passed one guy today sitting in the same seat in a café outside my apartment three times – at about 1pm, again at 4pm, and finally at 8pm!

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Acropolis & Ancient Agora

Greece 2006

April 10, 2006 – Monday – Athens, Greece

I take the Metro from Omonia Square to the Acropolis (€12 admission). Unfortunately I don’t arrive until 9:45am (it opens at 8am), so I get to join the crush of the crowds of bus tours and Greek school children who are swarming over the Parthenon, the Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The crowds weren’t quite as bad around the Erechtheion (Old Temple) and Odeion of Herdes Atticus (Herodion) theatre.

View of the Ancient Agora from the Pantheon
View of the Ancient Agora from the Pantheon

Once I take a few photos and leave the summit of the Acropolis, the crowds thin and it is downright tranquil as I walk down the Panathenic Way to the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephaistos. I also visit the beautiful Holy Apostles 11th century Byzantine church, which has some wonderful fresco fragments inside. I’ll return to the Acropolis again – either at the 8am opening time, or late in the afternoon when the crowds are less. I still want to see the Dionysos theatre and the Acropolis Museum.

Xapas Taverna

I try a new restaurant tonight – Xapas, 58 Methonis, dining alone from 7:30-8:30pm. All their entrees seemed to be vegetarian, so I had Spinach Pie and Greek Salad, which were both excellent. Cost was €12.50. Last night I noticed that their customers arrived earlier, because when I walked by on my way home, they were jam-packed with a bunch of 20-somethings by 7:30pm, with some playing musical instruments.