Travel Report from Itea, Greece

Travel Report from Itea, Greece

Saturday May 12, 2007. Greetings from Itea, Greece where the weather is warm, but not really hot and the seas are calm. This is the location of the Delphi and we are at the Port of Itea where there is a small town, but no reason to go there. We have had an incredible trip through the Corinth Canal to get here. The first attempt to dig this canal as a short cut, was begun by Nero in 67 AD who used 6000 slaves with shovels to start the canal. When Nero died the next year the project was abandoned and was not started again until 1881. It was completed in 1893. It is 6.3 Km long (about 3.6 miles) and 21 meters (about 70′) wide. The sides are very high – several stories or more in most places. It is too narrow for most cruise ships who have to take an extra 15 hour trip around to the Ionian Sea. Since this ship is some 63′ wide you can imagine how close we were to the sides of the canal. You could reach out and touch the sides in some places. A Greek pilot boat led the way and Greek pilots were on board for the 45 minute trip, but I understand they have no real role except to leave with a fifth of whiskey and a carton of cigarettes when it’s over. I took a lot of photos of this ship filling this narrow canal to it’s capacity and was sure we would strike the sides or the bottom, but we never did. Now I have a whole new confidence taking our 39′ boat through the Townsend canal into Port Townsend.

The guest list shows that of the 200 passengers only 67 are from the U.S. The rest are from such places Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Ireland Denmark, Germany, France El Salvador, Bermuda, Ireland and, of course,  Gig Harbor. Hajime Yoshino is traveling alone from Tokyo, Japan. I would like to know his story before the trip is over.

We have had some small excitement on our way here. A man alone in a small boat with a single square sail was crossing in front of this ship in Turkey. The closing distance caused our ship to sound the whistle and do it again as we got closer. He got out his oars and frantically began rowing. This ship did not deviate, but blew the whistle to encourage greater effort, I suppose. He cleared the bow and looked very relieved.  while on anchor at a previous stop a Greek cruise ship was heading towards us. It kept coming causing the passengers here to start gathering on the rail to see the impending collision which did not make much sense to me. However the approaching ship dropped its anchor and reversed coming to a halt less then 75 vards from our stern. Our captain was upset, but the passengers seemed disappointed.

There is also a mystery and a curiosity to report. As we left the harbor in Turkey three very large ships were lying on their sides sunk at the breakwater. I wonder if they all went down at once or not and what the cause was. In Cairo I learned  that the large cemetery has what they refer to as "the city of the dead." Apparently, the wealthy had burial buildings that were virtual apartments on the top with bed rooms kitchens etc and the dead were buried in a chamber below. This was because the mourning period was for months and the survivors moved in. When the customs changed a caretaker was hired to maintain the site and soon he moved in and would bring his family from the country. The result was that all of the family buildings are occupied with families living in them at the cemetery. 

You see, if you continue to read this blog you can be on Jeparady and win.

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