tuftears: Thoughtful Lynx (Thoughtful)
[personal profile] tuftears
Cue another night of failing to get sleep as the Le Ponant was tossed by waves! A bleary-eyed Tuftears rolled out of bed early in the morning to refresh himself with food.



Breakfast was served continental style, with a modest selection of hot dishes on the side-- scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, and oatmeal on some days, tomatoes on others. This day, they had french toast available at the chef's side of the kitchen. They also had several burners, which I later learned were so they could prepare omelettes to order.

I chugged down plenty of orange juice-- recovering from cold, remember. Also, definitely, BACON.

They joke about the 'Tauck Ten' -- gaining ten pounds from all the rich food you eat on the cruise.

The tour was divided up into two groups, one led by Elise and one by Tim. Our tour buses and excursions were generally staggered by 15 minutes so we wouldn't be trying to cram absolutely everyone into one destination at the same time. In this case, we left for the bus at 8:45 AM, and as I recall, we were issued paperwork that we needed to show the port authority in order to return to the boat, affdavits that we had passports and such. We were advised not to lose them.




We arrived in "the archaeological site in Siracusa" for a walking tour of the ruins. I spaced out on most of the descriptions, but from the leaflet we got, I'm guessing it was the "Parco Archeologico".



Dracosphynx took this pic of me! I'm wearing my 'Puss-in-Boots' T-shirt. Sadly, no one commented all trip on my predilection for lolcat T-shirts.

There, we received tickets - that's the Tauck system, they get group tickets, and then pass the tickets out across us. We can rest secure that all our arrangements have been made ahead of time. We were admitted into the site for a wander-around.



Yup. Sure enough, those are ruins. Apparently a lot of stones were looted from this site by the Spaniards for Ortygia's city walls.

Dracosphynx comments that this was an altar. One. Singular. The entire thing. The guide said they used it for sacrifices and where the square cavity in the earth is to the right hand side of the photo was probably fountains and statues (before the Spaniards came.) 400 bulls would be sacrified in a single ceremony at times. And the photo only has the ground-level remains. (i.e. post Spaniards.)

Dracosphynx says, "That's a ridiculously large altar. If I had seen that in WoW or in a movie, I would have snickered in disbelief. But, well. There you go."





Ruin cats! Evidently they are drawn by handouts from visitors and food vendors, and they have absolutely no fear of people. The black cat shown above actually padded up to our group and then flopped over, belly exposed for rubbing.



Big stone wall. Probably built by the Spaniards, judging from the construction style and age. The sign is providential because it allows me to identify the following pictures as from the "Orecchio di Dionisio", or 'Ear of Dionysus', an artificial cave in the ancient stone quarry of Paradiso under the Greek Theater of Syracuse.



According to Dracosphynx, the entire area used to be an *underground* stone quarry. Slaves carved out rock blocks and left a 'roof' of stone. When a big earthquake happened, the whole roof collapsed, except for where they had left pillars of stone to support the ceiling. So there just happened to be a farmhouse, or most of one, on top of that particular column.

Keep that in mind when you look at the following cave pictures. The Ear of Dionysius was just part of one big carved-out space.



... A tree and some plants? I had some reason for taking this picture but I have forgotten them.



Behold, a staircase hewn through the rocks! It looks like a scene out of Tolkein, you just know there'll be something fantastic on the other side.



In this case the 'something fantastic' turns out to be this "donkey-ear-shaped cave", hewn out of the quarry from long ago. The painter Caravaggio alleged that Dionysius listened to his prisoners immured in his cave, but according to the article I linked a few paragraphs back, it's more likely it was used by theatrical groups as a sounding board for their performances.

One chap sang for us in the middle of the cave, proving the resonance works. It was pretty awesome. ^_^



You can see the cave's artificial because of right angles like this one here.



A view of the top of the cave, from deep inside. There were small black nesting birds of some sort living in this space.



We clambered back out of the cave and up to see the Greek theater. It's actually still used in some performances, as you can see from the lighting and the carpet.



I'm given to understand that this was the Anfiteatro Romano, used for gladiatorial combat and horse races. It has that perfect mix of ancient stones and overgrowing vegetation that spells out 'ruins', doesn't it?



A sign explaining the amphitheatre! The writing is a bit small, so I'll transcribe the first part: "In order to build the amphitheatre, a natural rocky outcrop was partially excavated and partially built on to create the ambulacro of the crypta and the seating. The koilon or cavea on the west (opposite where you stand) was built up more because the bedrock was lower, and is divided into three meniani or levels (corresponding to the ima, media, and summa cavea) by roofless corridors (diazoma). ..."



This is a staircase that led down into the arena, with seating on the side.

Following the tour of the theater and amphitheatre, we trouped back onto the bus and headed off to Ortigia Island for a stroll, with an option to stop at the boat for those who weren't feeling up to it. I consulted my weariness but decided I could hold up to a few blocks of strolling.



This is a side view of the central marketplace. There are three layers to this picture:

- In the near foreground, scooters! Italians seem to really like scooters for getting around, and they do make sense in cities built up around cramped, crooked medieval roads.
- In the middle ground, a bit of the ruins of the Temple of Apollo.
- And in the distant background, the marketplace itself.

That's Italy. Ancient times and modern times all mixed together in one appealing package!




The Temple of Apollo. It's pretty much in ruins, there's practically nothing left of the edifice it once was. The sign gives you something of an idea of what it used to be.



A random picturesque door. I don't even know how I would describe this door in a paragraph of text. It starts off with an archway, but it gets raised in the middle with a commemorative plaque, and then atop that there's a round window, like a grace note. and all of it gets framed several times in decorative scrollwork and beveled stonework.



The local farmers' market! There were tons of produce and fish of all sorts.








I have no idea what most of these buildings are, I just see architectural magnificence and I take a picture. Aren't they gorgeous? I suspect they're still in use as well, they seemed well kept-up.



One of what I call the 'Alley Shots' -- a view of a narrow alley with overhanging balconies. Pedestrians only!



Back on the ship, we had a "chocolate and olive oil tasting". Here, you can see some of the produce. Dracosphynx particularly liked the chili-flavored chocolate, but either wasn't able to get some from them at the time, lacking Euros (cash) at the time, or didn't want to go through the hassle of smuggling the chocolate back through customs.



Dracosphynx took this picture of me nibbling on a bit of bread soaked in some of the olive oil. It wasn't bad, but not worth the hassle of declaring them to customs.



Lunch! This was served on the ship as a buffet. I had a few scraps of salad, a very tasty quiche, some chunks of tomatoes, a bit of ham, and some charred broccoli. Good enough!

There was the option of heading back into Ortigia to look around some more, but both Dracosphynx and I were feeling tired; we attempted to get some sleep during the aftermewing, and then got up for dinner.



The menu!



This is not exactly what I had in mind when they said it was asparagus soup, but it seems to be a common theme for their soup. I tasted potato, so I'm guessing they basically blended potatoes and asparagus together really, really finely and cooked with a chicken stock.



I skipped the 'caviar' part but the egg and the "Parmentier" mousseline were pretty tasty!



The grilled beef tenderloin, with mashed sweet potatoes, and asparagus.

I was too tired to stay up for the dessert so I headed back to the room after that. Dinner on the ship tended to be a somewhat drawn out affair. x_x

Date: 2017-06-30 02:55 am (UTC)
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
From: [personal profile] archangelbeth
Oooo, more pictures!!!

Date: 2017-07-04 10:34 pm (UTC)
rowyn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rowyn
I know what you mean about having to take pictures of the architectural magnificence. SO PRETTY. ♥

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tuftears: Lynx Wynx (Default)
Conrad "Lynx" Wong

August 2017

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