Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Crystal Symphony Entry 14


Yup.  It's time for a gratutious picture post.  These are some pictures from our recent stops in Italy, Greece, and Turkey.  First up -- the Roman city of Ephesus.

At one point, Ephesus was one of the four largest cities in the Roman empire, housing more than 250,000 people.  The ruins you can see above date from one of the several rebuildings of the city on different sites -- the Hellenistic city was relocated due to malaria and the silting in of its port (a problem that has not stopped -- the Roman port of Ephesus is now three miles from the Aegean Sea!).  I took the first picture while lying flat on my back on the porch of the library of Celsus.  Here you can see a better veiw of the library's reconstructed facade.  On the right is a ceremonial gate leading to the central marketplace, the Agora.

These were one of the many baths in the city.  You can see the remains of the pillars that held up the floor so that hot air from the furnaces could circulate through the caldarium and tepidarium. 

Here's a detail of a street mosaic in front of a block of housing for the Roman elite.  The richness and detail visible in these two thousand year old mosaics is stunning.

Ephesus's patron goddess was Artemis, or Diana under Roman rule.  The original, Hellenestic city was the site of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple to Artemis.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the ancient wonders (with the notable exception of the pyramids) and this lone pillar is all that's left.  The other one hundred and seventy nine of them have disappeared into the churches and mosques of the region, and it is rumored that some of them even made it into the framework of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

The Greek island of Santorini rests on the rim of a volcanic caldera.  This picture shows the sharp black volcanic rock that still defines the old cone of the volcano -- the city of Fira is visible clinging to the top of the crater rim in the picture below.  The M/S Sea Diamond sank here in 2007.

The city of Fira.

Mykonos is a poplar tourist destination in the Greek islands.  Typical of Greece, everything is painted brilliant white with blue trim, just like the colors of the Greek flag.  This particular square is in a part of the city known as Little Venice -- some of the streets here were so narrow that you had to step into shops to let a scooter go by.

Here's another shot of Mykonos, with olive trees in the foreground and the Symphony anchored in the background.  Greece is quite warm already this time of year, and Myknonos is dry and rugged -- there are lots of pastel earth tones here to contrast with the bright blue and white of the city.

This is the old city of Rhodes.  The old city lies within the city wall, nearly all of which is still intact.  The Byzantine Empire and the Knights Hospitaller were responsible for the construction of these fortifactions, which resisted a series of Ottoman attacks until 1522, when the Knights were driven out by Suleiman the Magnificent and the island fell under Muslim rule once again.  The Knights retreated to Sicily and finally Malta.

Rhodes was also the location of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world -- the Colossus, a giant bronze statue that stood astride the entrace to the harbor.  Destroyed by earthquake and salvaged for the metal, no trace remains.  These two small pillars mark the supposed location of the Colossus, although no one is really sure.  Oh, and our base player snuck into this picture; hi Scotty!

Italy, in contrast to Greece, is not at all dry and dusty, but rather exploding with lush greenery.  This is the view from Taormina, in Sicily, at a small restaurant where we ate lunch.  Pizza om nom nom . . .

And this is a view of Mt. Etna, an active volcano on the island of Sicily.  It is the second largest volcano in the European/North African region and is extremely active.  Sylvain, our subsitute bass player (Scotty was on vacation) laughed when we asked him how the best way to go see the mountain was -- it's pretty impossible to miss!

And somehow band members keep slipping into these pictures -- that's David, the drummer and bandleader.

Istanbul tomorrow!

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