Ahhh... look at how incredibly blue that water is! Mike and I enjoyed our trip immensely and can't thank you enough for your support in earning this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Greece. We are both history nerds and we just soaked it all up (along with a lot of sun!) Traveling with Mike is like a guided historical tour (honestly, I could hire him out) and this was just a priceless opportunity to see an ancient land we'd only read about. Thank you Stampin' Up and thank You, God!
Together we took well over 1,000 pictures... don't worry, I won't post them all : ) But here's a few of my favorites!
We got on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas out of Rome, a nice smaller ship with about 1,500 "regular" people and 1,000 Stampin' Up family. The numbers meant we were never more than a few feet away from demonstrator friends! Every demonstrator who earned the trip got a balcony stateroom (unless they requested otherwise) and this amazing sunset was taken from ours.
I always get asked if there are a lot of business responsibilities and meetings on these trips. There's only one "required" event on the Stampin' Up cruises and it's where we find out where the next one will be AND get the next upcoming catalog, so we're all quite happy to be there! There is recognition of the different country groups and the spouses/partners are given a gift just for them. This year we found out the next trip I can work on earning is an Eastern Caribbean cruise in 2021!
Still can't quite believe it's US in all those pictures with the iconic blue domes! Our first port was Santorini, the crescent-shaped island that is the rim of an ancient volcanic crater. All the towns are perched up high along the cliffs and they have a cable car that goes at an incredibly stiff angle to whisk you up. We took a tour that included the recently excavated ancient city of Akrotiri, too. Utterly fascinating.
Greece charmed us right off the bat! Everywhere you looked was a picture postcard.
Our next port was Mykonos, and our day started with the only tour I missed. I was doing really well on the trip except for the extreme heat (Europe is having a record-breaking summer) and so we decided Mike would do the Delos part by himself and I'd join him for the rest of the day. He had a great time--and I'd done the right thing. So we had a wonderful afternoon getting "lost" and shopping our way through this gorgeous island.
Our next port had us both the most excited--Athens!! We couldn't wait to get ourselves up that Acropolis to see the Parthenon. Us and several thousand other people--look at the crowd at the only entrance/exit! What you can't see in this photo is the drop off behind us. It was truly hair-raising. I appreciated all y'all praying for my anxiety issues--your prayers were meant for such a time as this! But that view at the top was worth the hour it took to get up there.
Our two highlights of the trip were the Parthenon (Mike) and the Porch of the Caryatids (me). We were so sorry to leave Athens to go back to the boat. There is so much more to see there! I consoled myself by buying a pair of gorgeous gold olive branch earrings. Earrings make a great souvenir because they're so tiny to pack and you remember the trip every time you put them on. Mike contented himself with identifying islands as we sailed away and telling me about the great naval battle at Salamis.
Are you exhausted yet?? We slept like rocks every night! The next day we docked at Katakolon, a short drive from ancient Olympia. We learned so much about how the games started as a regional competition and then blossomed into a huge and serious sporting event. An earthquake had tumbled much of the buildings and temples, but with a good guide and some imagination, the arena breathed life again.
The scale of ancient buildings is often hard to envision. I like this picture of Mike sitting on one of the column sections for perspective! Mike ran the length of the stadium (this is where the word comes from!) but I declined as the heat was truly merciless at that point. I did enjoy the original marble starting blocks, however! And the cool tunnel where the celebrated athletes entered the playing field.
Greece was hard to say goodbye to! We enjoyed a last day at sea, resting and packing and saying goodbye to everyone. It was a good break before the second half of our trip in Italy. I'll put those pictures in another post. But first--I know you're wanting to see the loot! Stampin' Up put a pillow gift on our bed every night of the cruise. We came home with a TON of new product from the 2019 Holiday mini catalog and some fun new logo items. I borrow this picture from a demo friend, so there's a few differences in the products we won as door prizes, but look at the haul! Wow!
Thank you again to my fabulous customer friends and team for helping me earn this trip. We will never forget the wild and stunning beauty of this place. We've been back for several days and it already seems like we only dreamed it. I'm a big fan of dreaming BIG but this one blew even me away.