The Greek Islands are off the port side of the ship! Yes, Dorothy … you’re not in Kansas anymore! Molly and I are cruising the Adriatic, Ioanian, and the Aegean Seas. Back at Dartmouth I took a significant number of ancient Greek and Roman studies courses, and even prior to college I was reading lots of Roman and Greek mythology. Seeing these bodies of waters and the island mountains for the first time in my life, it now makes sense as to why these peoples became seafarers. The land is harsh in terms of its geography, but beautiful. Water is the obvious highway.
For a techie like myself it is difficult to be off-line for 7+ days, but the cost of connecting is unreasonable, and then the pleasure from an internet / cell connection is immense! However, my nerdy side has not rested on this trip. On the flight over I tried to photograph a mild display of the Northern Lights from my airplane window seat. The resulting images were are not of artistic photo quality, but I finally learned the best way to take a picture. Hold the camera against the window; scale up the ISO because it is hard to keep a camera motionless, and finally smash a pillow against the back of the camera to block all light!
Our first stop on the cruise was the walled city of Drobvnik. Other than seagulls, no interesting birds made their way into my field of view while Molly and I hiked the ancient walls. We learned that the days of latching on to tours to learn a few facts about our present location are numbered. Most tour groups now utilize closed wireless systems and the clients have receivers with ear buds.
Tomorrow we reach Turkey where we will visit ancient Roman and Greek ruins, and hopefully find a few birds that are truly foreign to this Northern Minnesota kid! Chow for now … will add an update after Turkey.
As promised … an update to this post. Our cruise if over and Molly and I are in the eastern Czech Republic visiting relatives. The cruise was fantastic, and the train ride north from Venice to Ostrava was a learning experience. Our route crossed the path of the Syrian refugee migration. The police presence whenever one crossed a country’s border was immense. Some countries were attempting to hold back the migration, while others were accepting. Even though Germany has publicly stated a policy of open borders, our experience indicated that might not be totally true. Refugees were not being allowed to cross from Austria to Germany. However, the Austrians were very gracious refugee hosts. Immediately outside the Salzburg train station was a Red Cross tent hospital, and we saw other evidence of warm hospitality on the part of the Austrian people.
There has been almost no time for birding, but I did find an unusual mallard while walking along the banks of the Ostravice River. My thanks to Clinton Nienhaus who helped me with ID’ing this bird. I never knew there were so many mallard variations!