Call of the Middle East

...that gets continually darker...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The Siq, or channel, that leads to the ancient ruins of Petra in Jordan. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

“We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.”

Rudyard Kipling

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

On Monday, April 20, I disembarked Silversea’s Silver Wind in the port of Piraeus, Greece – perhaps better known as the gateway to Athens. Berthed alongside us was our sister-ship, Silver Cloud, which had managed to secure the more prestigious location immediately next to the terminal building. For us, a short five-minute bus ride awaited.

With luggage claimed, we made our way onto the waiting coaches as a few drops of rain began to fall. I realized then that out of three past visits to Athens, I’d never felt a single drop of rain fall on the city. Surely it must; it was just something I’d never considered before.

Silversea's 1994-built Silver Cloud looking resplendent in the dawn light in Piraeus, Greece on Monday, April 20, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s 1994-built Silver Cloud looking resplendent in the dawn light in Piraeus, Greece on Monday, April 20, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our full Live Voyage Report:

Our entire journey from Muscat, Oman to Athens was something like that: everything I thought I knew about the Middle East turned out to be inaccurate – or at the very least, a gross generalization. In North America, we tend to apply the blanket term “the Middle East” to a single region that contains countries that are very different from each other. They speak different languages, have different religions, practices, beliefs, and social norms. No two countries are alike.

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Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind has sadly come to a close, but details of our next four adventures are coming next week on From the Deck Chair! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

Saying Goodbye to a Wonderful Experience

Today, we spent a day in Ephesus with Silversea. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Today, we spent a day in Ephesus with Silversea. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”

-Eli Wiesel

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Today marks our last full day aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind , as our journey that began in Muscat, Oman exactly two weeks ago comes to a close. Tomorrow, we’ll arrive in Piraeus, Greece – the port city for Athens – and we will disembark our floating palace one last time.

That’s later. Today, we’re docked alongside in the port of Kusadasi, Turkey – a resort town of about 70,000 people. Pronnounced ku-shad-assy, Kusadasi is 95 kilometres (about 60 miles) south of Izmir, and just a quick 40-minute drive away from one of the region’s most magnificent sites: the ancient city of Ephesus.

Silversea's Silver Wind at her berth in Kusadasi, Turkey this morning. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s Silver Wind at her berth in Kusadasi, Turkey this morning. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Built in the 10th century BC, Ephesus was once a bustling city and a busy harbour port. During the Roman period, nearly 60,000 people made their homes here. It was an advanced, highly modern city, with a complex system of aqueducts and even underground piping designed to carry away wastewater in what was one of the world’s earliest sewer systems.

But Ephesus, like ancient Rome, gradually found itself on the decline. After being sacked by the Goths in 263 AD and the partial destruction of the city by an earthquake four hundred years later, a much more serious problem presented itself: the loss of the sea.

My four-hour excursion to Ephesus used Silversea's Sotto Voce option. These Quietvox wireless voice receivers are a great touch that river cruisers will surely be familiar with. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

My four-hour excursion to Ephesus used Silversea’s Sotto Voce option. These Quietvox wireless voice receivers are a great touch that river cruisers will surely be familiar with. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Despite repeated dredging (evidence of which exists to this day), Ephesus harbour was slowly overrun with silt and began to dry up. This caused Ephesus to lose its access to the Aegean Sea, which today has retreated five kilometres to the west. Faced with a decline in trade as ships found other ports of call, the citizens of Ephesus gradually packed up and left. By the 15th century AD, the town was abandoned. It would remain hidden for another four hundred years until excavations during the middle of the 19th century.

Today, it is estimated that three quarters of Ephesus still remain buried in the hills that surround the city. Excavation and preservation are time-consuming, expensive tasks, but more and more of the city is gradually being revealed to this day.

Click here to continue reading!

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind has sadly come to a close, but we’ll have a full recap of our voyage – and our next four adventures – coming next week on From the Deck Chair! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

The Crossing to Kusadasi

The Crew of Silversea's Silver Wind, Voyage 2509 - Muscat, Oman to Piraeus, Greece. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The Crew of Silversea’s Silver Wind, Voyage 2509 – Muscat, Oman to Piraeus, Greece. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea – that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky – that is the interior of the soul.”

Victor Hugo

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

A total of 546 nautical miles separate those of us aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind from our final port of call of Kusadasi, Turkey. With an average speed of 15.6 knots, that translates into a relaxing and enjoyable day at sea prior to our arrival in Turkey tomorrow morning. Impressively, our final port of call will mark the fifth country we’ve visited on this 15-day voyage through the Middle East, with a total of six separate countries if you count our disembarkation port of Piraeus, Greece, where we will arrive on Monday.

It's just another calm, relaxing day at sea aboard Silversea's Silver Wind. Looking aft from Deck 9. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

It’s just another calm, relaxing day at sea aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind. Looking aft from Deck 9. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

With a rejuvenating (and rather quiet) day at sea today, I now have the time to talk about some of Silversea’s alternate dining venues here onboard the Silver Wind – and two of my favorite dining experiences.

The first is decidedly casual: each night, the Pool Grill transforms into The Grill featuring hot rock dining. It’s kind of a clunky name for what is a really fun experience that first began back on the Silver Spirit, but which quickly proved to be so popular that all of the line’s ships – including the Expedition fleet – were quickly outfitted with it.

Dining out on-deck, under the stars, at...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Dining out on-deck, under the stars, at…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...The Grill. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…The Grill. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Click here to continue reading!

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind continues tomorrow as we arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey and set out on-tour for Ephesus! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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