Friday, April 19, 2013

Zakynthos, Greece

So today, we were in Zakynthos---pronounced---zak-in-toss. We had to board a tender to take us to shore. They actually used the lifeboats from the ship. Considering yesterday was the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I think it was a good idea to practice with those boats.
We took a brief stroll through town before going to another monastery. This was a view of the whole city from there. Really pretty.
This was the most interesting thing at the monastery. The grave yard was pretty, but appeared to be unkempt. I really didn't understand that because of---do you see it in the corner of this grave?
This! Ajax? Ooops, I mean "Azax." Many of the graves had boxes like this---most with water bottles. Maybe it's holy water.

There are plant pots ALL over the place---even throughout the town and country, but no gardens. Just scraggly plants in all sizes and colors of mismatched pots. I asked our tour guide if there was a reason to use so many pots rather than just planting a garden. She said that this was the custom because the pots were easier to water.
I think someone forgot to water them as most looked like this. Oh look, another abandoned chair. I'm beginning to think this is some sort of garden art. This was at the monastery where 100's of tourists go each day. Really, I saw such wonderful possibilities for gardens---I'd love to take charge and spruce things up!! Later in the tour, our guide mentioned that there was no running water in most of these villages. You have to go to a central location to get water---and it isn't even turned on all the time. I guess if you have to haul water, your plants would take a back seat to more important water needs.
Then I saw this in town. Just a random small tree. So unusual and pretty. I have no idea what it is, but Karolyn said it reminded her of a bottle brush plant that her mother had in Louisiana. I've never seen one.
I'd love to have one, but then again, we don't have a Mediterranean climate.
This was another beauty. Jeanne and I bought these one time. I can't remember what they are called, but I killed mine pretty quickly. I've name these just like fuchsia and so many other beautiful flowers that once you get them home they die---SUCKER PLANTS. I'm a sucker for them every time. Now I've learned to just enjoy them when I see them and know they are not for me.
 This donkey was also at the monastery. It's supposed to bring good luck. I was just so happy to see an animal---considering I didn't see much on our Alaskan cruise or NewEngland trip recently. I did see a few goats while on the bus. Butch said I slept through a flock of sheep. I guess I counted them a little too prematurely!

Here was my favorite part of the tour---an olive oil plant---not to be confused with this olive tree. We toured the facility, tasted various olive oils and made a few purchases. Did you know that nothing is wasted? Even the pits, leaves and bits of branches are sorted out and used for fuel for the machinery that makes the olive oil. The local farmers bring their olives, they are weighed and processed. Payment is not made in cash, but rather, in 10% of the yield. Bartering at its best.
When we returned to the ship we had a wonderful Greek lunch---gyros and Greek salad. It was all delicious. After lunch, I ordered a BBC "to go." As we made our way to the Observation Lounge to watch the ship to leave port and to play a little "Name That Tune" everyone else ordered a drink. Apparently, you get bigger BBC's if you order them in a bar. Butch had a kaluha and cream. Delish.

When they handed out the sheets for "Name That Tune," I thought we were a "shoe in" to win. The category was Broadway Musicals!!! OMG! Could anything be more up my alley?? But of course there was a catch---you had to name the song, the play and the composer. Well, I just don't know that many composers. Still, we didn't do too badly, but the guy next to us was amazing. After it was over, some other people asked him what he did for a living. Butch said all along, he had to be in music. Turns out, he was a "musical theater historian."  What? Seriously, I think he should have disqualified himself. He only missed 3 things out of 30---it made me proud that about the only composer I knew was Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. The song was "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar. I knew it was him and the big historian didn't!!! Still it was fun.

Our afternoon routine has been naps, drinks on the balcony and then get ready for dinner. The food is amazing---the best I've ever had on a cruise.

Tomorrow is Athens!


  1. That tree is a bottlebrush (obviously it has a fancy botanical name!). They are Australian and there are lots of varieties. You can even get ones that tolerate the cold. We are surrounded by them here :-) Bees love them and so do nectar loving birds. You should probably read up on them when you get home as you might find one that will survive where you are, but that will depend on just how cold it gets!

  2. Here is a link to a fact sheet on them from a popular TV gardener over here ...

  3. You are clearly having a wonderful time and expanding your horizons :). It's quite common to grow things only in pots in the Mediterranean. The soil is shallow with rock sometimes only an inch or so underneath, and the rainfall intermittent - limited water means priority is given to growing things you can eat. Glad you enjoyed high quality olive oil and sorry about the competition! Looking forward to your tour of Athens ...

  4. Olive oil is such a lovely thing - I was just going to say that pots are necessary due to the lack of top soil but Alexa beat me too it :)

  5. We have a beautiful bottle brush plant in one of the parks in town and Amy posted a lovely picture of Banksia, a relative on her blog a couple of days ago. Lovely pictures again, that blue sky looks wonderful.


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