Italy, Malta, Greece, Albania, Turkey
Man-O-War, 5 Mar 2013
I plan to join Edmund again this year on his quest to move Panope through the Med.  Last year I joined for Barcelona to Corsica and Tunisia to Sicily.  This year, I'll join for Malta to Crete.  I plan to spend a couple weeks in Italy before, and a couple weeks in Turkey after.
Places where I stayed at least one night on this trip
The plan:
Naples to Malta - 2 weeks with stops at Pompei, Mt. Etna, etc.
Malta to Crete - 6 weeks aboard Panope, Edmund's Crealock 34.
Turkey - 2 weeks with several days in Istanbul.
Naples, 18 Apr 2013
I arrived in Naples yesterday and am settled into Hotel CineHoliday for 6 nights.  Had absolutely the best tasting pizza for dinner in the little restaurant next door.  I think it was the crust and olive oil that made it so tasty.  Could have been helped by the red wine and being in Naples where they say pizza was invented.
Naples, 20 Apr 2013
I took the train (40 min, €4.80 r/t) to Pomeii.  It's larger than I expected.  The ruins are pretty well presented but there are not a lot of details and what there is is not well restored.  I'll go to the Archeological Museum tomorrow where it sounds like a lot of the detailed bits now reside.  Some photos from Pompeii:
Of course, Pompeii is known for being buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD
This was kind of a cool bakery shop. The wheat was poured into the top of these things,
a donkey turned the top part and out of the bottom came the flour. The audio tour said
that the remains of a donkey in full traces was found here. The nearby oven was wood
fired and looks just like the one that cooked my pizza tonight.
The large amphitheater on the left was said to hold 5000. The small one in
the middle had a wooden roof and they think it was for music recitals, etc.
The stone carving on right was on the end of the rows of seats.

Naples Archeological Museum
Naples, 21 Apr 2013
It was about a 30 minute walk from the hotel to the museum.  It was Sunday and the stores were
These paintings were recovered from a building in
Pompeii. They were fairly small and just part of the
decorative frieze that apparently covered the walls.
[ Note that I used Photoshop to restore color and contrast of these
images, using standard old-photo restoration tools and techniques.
It brought out a lot of color and detail that I hope was in the original
images. Restoring nearly 2000 year old images is an odd feeling :-]
closed but in the morning there were a lot of the street vendors out and quite a few people strolling about.  When I returned at around 4:00, all the vendors and casual strollers were gone and things were a bit rougher looking.  I actually got challenged by a teenager in a group of rowdy young guys.  I just shrugged my shoulders and walked on.  Staying in a hotel around Piazza Garibaldi is very convenient for taking the train on daytrips and getting to the ferry to leave.  It was the first stop on the Alibus from the airport (be alert because it comes up quickly).  There are several resturants, a couple small pastry/coffee shops and even a couple kabab stands on that, the south side of the piazza - who could ask for more?  I didn't see anything appealing between Piazza Garibaldi and the museum though.
The museum is definitely a must-see if you go to Naples.  Very well done.  One thing I thought was interesting was the number of statues that they say are Roman copies of earlier Greek works.  Wish there were more descriptions in English in the section with the Pompeii artifacts and murals.

Here are some other things in the museum, these having been recovered from various sites:
Eros with dolphin
Goddess of fertility
A fellow visitor in the museum said this was from Ephesus, Turkey
Depicts Dirce, a queen who was
dragged over stones by a bull



Athena, goddess of war

And a nice collection of mosaics, I believe mostly from Pompeii:
Closeup from the center

A witch with tamborine,
flute and lyre players
Closeup from the center

In the museum's
"Secret Room" there were a number of erotic paintings and objects.  The painting to the right was the least risque of the bunch.  It is from Pompeii as were, I believe, most of the objects.  So, it dates back to 79 AD.  The collection also included a series of paintings that had been found in a Pompeii brothel.  The paintings depict various sexual positions - apparently a menu for the clients.
BTW, the "Secret Room" was closed when I arrived. As I was leaving, I asked at the Info Desk if it was ever open. They said, yes, it had just opened. Maybe it was closed in the morning because it was Sunday? In any case, if you're interested in seeing it and it's closed, ask at the Info Desk about it.

Naples, 22 Apr 2013
Today, I visited Herculaneum - another city destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.  It is a much smaller site and because it was covered by a mud flow, 16 meters thick, they say a lot of the organic material and fine articles like clothing were preserved. Although only ¼ of the ancient city has been uncovered (the rest is buried under the contemporary city of Ercolano), what has been restored is in better condition than Pompeii.  Here are some photos:
This used to be Herculaneum's shoreline. This is where 300 bodies were found in the 1980's -
people trying to escape from the eruption.
On the right, you can see the height of the
fill. They say the eruption added 400
meters to the shoreline.
Original constuction showing the beams scorched
by the heat from the eruption. The shiny metal
pans under the beams were obviously added to
catch any falling bits of timber.
(Click on image to enlarge)
This is one of many taverns. The audioguide
said that the residents typically ate lunch
out. The food and drink were kept in the
clay pots and reportedly the prices were
A typical street. I believe
the middle was for carts
and chariots.
A water trough
This is a good look at the murals that appear
to have decorated all the important homes
and public buildings. (Click on image to enlarge)
This is a mural (still?) on one of the walls in
one of the homes. It depicts the kidnapping of Europa by Zeus (masquerading as a bull).
Typical wall

Tomorrow, I take the overnight Siremar ferry to Milazzo, Sicily.  I got the ticket at the ticket office down at the dock a couple days ago.  It was only €85 (1 adult with a cabin) where the web price was €105.  Go figure.
Overnight ferry
Milazzo, 24 Apr 2013
Smooth ride.  Looked like 10-15 knot winds.  These are all from Stromboli, the first stop of 4 or 5 that the ferry made before reaching Milazzo...

I stayed the night in the Hotel Cassisi right where the boat drops you off in Milazzo.  I think I could have caught an afternoon direct bus from Milazzo to Catania but wasn't sure so made the hotel reservation in Milazzo just to play it safe.  The main bus lines from Milazzo to Messina and Catania appear to be AST and Giuntabus.  Here is Giuntabus's current schedule.  Milazzo is very pleasant though so I'm glad I stopped.  The hotel was pretty expensive (for me) at €60 but is very nice - spotless, tidy as you'd expect for a mid-priced hotel, wifi in the rooms.
Best part is that I found arancini balls (cooked rice balls filled with meat, cheese, veggies and tomato sauce) at one of the little local food stands.  And good lemon granita (Italian Ice but very finely ground - and the lemon flavor is *very* tart) served with brioche (pronounced "bri-osha") in the gelato shop across the street from the hotel.  Mmmmm. 
Catania, 27 Apr 2013
I'm staying for 6 nights in a B&B a little ways from the cathedral.  It was listed as B&B Porta Carlo V.  A very good location.  Friendly host.  Wifi in the room.  A good value at €24/night.
Catania is a very nice little city.  A nice, vibrant pedestrian zone starting at the cathedral piazza and extending up Via Etnea (with a view of Mt. Etna).  Clean, wide boulevards that the hoards of strollers take over on the weekend.  Well maintained, lively.  Yes, lots of tourists but the tourist industry hasn't seemed to have overwelmed the local flavor.
I've been on a mission to find the best arancini in town.  And had some chocolate gelato last night that was out of this world.
Some photos from Catania
The city was rebuilt following an eruption in 1669 that killed 12,000 people. My Lonely Planet points out that much volcanic rock was used in rebuilding - e.g. I believe all the paving stones on the streets.
View from the room.  That's
Mt. Etna, with just an
occassional puff of smoke.
22 Apr 2013
I meet Panope, with Edmund, Len and Elaine aboard.  The next day, we take a sail around the harbour and bring Panope to the boat yard where she is hauled for bottom painting.

The cathedral in Valetta

Launching Panope after bottom paint
and some work on the engine
11 May 2013

The ancient Greek amphitheater in Syracuse
On launching Panope and topping off the fuel, Edmund and I make an overnight passage to Syracuse, Sicily.  We are a little surprised by the strength of the wind at the start.  It had not been in the forecast.  Possibly a local effect?  Hmm.
Nickolas joins us in Syracuse.  We visit some of the ruins, the Archeological Museum and go to the opening night of the current production of Oedepus Rex in the ancient Greek amphitheater.  It may have played there when it was still new!  Archimedes was from Syracuse and this is where he had the supposed Eureka moment.  Aristotle made two visits to Syracuse.

A muse

Oedepus Rex

The cathedral

23 May 2013
The plan had been to sail from Syracuse to Sarandë, Albania.  But the wind was (unexpectedly) strong and from the North.  So we diverted to Argostoli, Cephelonia, Greece instead.  We will wait here a couple days until another strong blow passes.  We have also started using the app, PredictWind, which seems to do a better job predicting the wind than what we have been using (
Cephelonia is where Captain Corelli's Mandolin was set.  There is a Penelope Cruz-lookalike working in one of the cafés, but unfortunately I don't have a mandolin handy.
Panope tied up to the
quay in Argostoli

The quay in Argostoli

25 May 2013
We have an easy overnight passage to Sarandë, the first port on entering Albania.  The town is being rapidly developed to take advantage of the influx of tourists.  I talked to somebody who had just driven down to the coast from the capital.  They said the conditions between the capital and Sarandë are pretty poor.  In the coming days and weeks, for the whole trip through Greece, we won't see the signs of the hard times reportedly affecting Greece - probably because we are visiting areas with large number of tourists that are not being so heavily impacted by Greece's hard economic times.  
Tied up to the quay in Sarandë

Back to Greece
31 May 2013

The harbour in Gaios, Paxi
We return to Greece and get into a routine of fairly short passages, then docking in pretty little harbours -
  Corfu -> Gaios, Paxi -> Fiskardo -> Ithaca -> Pylos -> Chania.

In Ithaca we meet Lisa, an Oxford Don, who researches and lectures on ancient Greek cultures.  She can read Linear B, one of the earliest European scripts.  We manage to talk her into joining us for the leg to Pylos and then Chania.  We get fabulous tours of Nestor's Palace in Pylos, as well as the ruins and museum in Chania.  She speaks Greek like a native and knows this area like she grew up here - in a way, I guess she did.

The pretty harbour of Fiskardo

Oedepus, on the waterfront in Ithaca

Penelope, on the waterfront in Ithaca

8 June 2013

The recreation of a Minoan ship from
the 15th century B.C.  Located in the
Maritime Museum of Crete in Chania


Bodrum, 16 June 2013
I just arrived in Bodrum, Turkey, after taking the ferry from Rhodes, Greece. 
Lots of boats in Bodrum

From the glass exhibit in the Underwater Archeological Museum in Bodrum

Selçuk and Ephesus
Istanbul, 23 June 2013
I took the bus from Bodrum to Selçuk.  In Selçuk, I took a tour of the ruins of Ephesus.  Lots of people.  Here are some photos from Ephesus.
A bit of a bummer is that the museum in town is closed for renovations.
The small amphitheater at what was
the political gathering spot in Ephesus



The public toilets


Nike (after which the company was named)

The library and to it's right,
a gate built by two freed slaves

The huge amphitheater in Ephesus

In Selçuk, on the right are the last remaining bits of The Temple of Artemis, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. In the background are a mosque, a cathedral and a castle.
Istanbul, 27 June 2013
I took the train from Selçuk to Bandirma, then the ferry across Marmara to Istanbul.  Lot's of eye candy in Istanbul...
Aya Sofia

Incredible marble


The Blue Mosque
The ceiling is held up by 4
of these massive columns

I'm looking forward to getting back to Man-O-War and my projects.  And Independence Day on July 10th.  But I'll be there for just a short time.  In August I plan to fly to Panama for a 6 month stay .. it's probably time to start thinking about settling down.
Istanbul, 28 June 2013
Archeological Museums

Topkapı Palace
This is by the Tulip Garden
A couple of the ceilings
Some cool door lintels

Istanbul, 30 June 2013
Palace Mosaic Museum
Aya Sofia Mausoleum

Istanbul, 3 July 2013
Grand Bazaar
I expected the Grand Bazaar to be more like the Casbah in Tunis.  But it was more like a modern-day western-style mall - wide aisles, nice (marble?) floors, high-class displays.
The Grand Bazaar is a very old mall
Ceiling of one of the 20 domes
in the "Old Bazaar" section

Ahh.  Now back to Man-O-War.
-- FIN --


1. It seems like wherever you go in Istanbul, you are continually pelted by somebody trying to sell you something - rugs, tours, food..  I just happened across this tidbit (from here).  
2. Hotels where I stayed:
City Hotel Liked Disliked
Naples Hotel CineHoliday Location - this was near the train station (to Pompeii and Herculaneum) with several restaurants nearby. The piazza was completely closed off, undergoing reconstruction.
Catania B&B Porta Carlo V Location - this was 2 blocks from the duomo, the fish market and the start of the pedestrian street. This was a B&B and the hostess was very nice. Very good breakfast. Primative plumbing.
Milazzo Hotel Cassisi Location - this was right next to where the ferry landed. Nice room. Very good breakfast. A little pricey - but about right for the quality.
Valetta Milano Due Hotel Location - this was next to the promenade (the sidewalk along the seawall). Got a real crappy room for the first 2 nights. I would not recommend this place.
Chania Pension Kasteli Location - this was about a block from the promenade. And a nice room. Can't think of anything.
Rhodes Domus Rodos Hotel Good location (except for the loud music from the club next door). The guy (Michael) manning the reception was pretty rude and around only sporatically. The hotel was about 10 paces away from a club so really loud music until 3 or 4 in the morning.
Bodrum Hotel Can Bodrum (map) Location - this was right in the middle of things but not too close to the clubs so reasonably quiet at night. The staff was friendly and the breakfast was very good. A little hard to find - I suggest you printout the map (or save it on your tablet/ laptop). The hotel is a little east of the old church (being renovated when I was there) on the main pedestrian street- off on sidestreets.
Selcuk Boomerang Guest House Friendly staff. Good breakfast. Would have been a great location if the museum was open.
[Edit 7Dec2014: On this summer's trip I stayed in one of the hotels between the bus terminal and train station. A good alternative.]
The initial price he quoted was high, but he came down quickly to a competative one when I said "Thanks, I'll look elsewhere". There are a couple more reasonably priced hotels in that same area around the museum. His was the first I came to. The others may or may not have been as good a quality. But, at the same price, I figured his was good value. Plus, I was a little tired from the trip from Bodrum.
Bandirma Hotel Villa Marina Across the street from the train station and ferry dock.
Istanbul Sehir Hotel Old City Close to the sites (Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque, etc). Close to tram stop and train station. Strong A/C and WiFi. Friendly staff. Clean. Lots of restaurants (ranging from simple kebop stands to fairly nice) nearby. Good price for the area (€21/night with shared WC). There was loud construction noise when I was there from a new building going up next door. But, it was only during the daytime and was not every day, so if you're out sightseeing most of the time, it shouldn't be a big deal. Plus, it may be done with be now.
3. Regarding the photos on this page and, in general, on this website:

For the camera body, I'm using a Canon T2i.  It is reasonably small and light for a DSLR.  For travel, a small, light and cheap (in case it gets stolen or damaged) body is real handy.  The sensor is 18MP, certainly sufficient for web photos and modest size prints.  Also, there is enough resolution for a fair amount of cropping.  The contrast and anti-aliasing seem good.  It's a little old but seems to be holding up well, image quality-wise.  Whenever a new camera body comes out, I like to look at the comparison between the T2i and the new one in the test page, e.g. here.  The T2i has generally compared pretty well (and usually better than the new body), so I haven't felt a compulsion to buy the new one.  At some point though, the other features are going to push me into a new purchase.

For the lens, the images on this page were taken with either the Canon 50mm f/1.4 or the Canon 10-22mm lens.  The 50mm is fast, very sharp with good contrast, IMO.  The 10-22mm is handy for tight spots but I don't think it results in quite the same image quality as the 50mm.

Regarding technique, first of all, I only shoot in RAW format.  This results in larger files, but gives the most flexibility in postprocessing.  I also like to use the 50mm lens as much as possible, so do photomerges when I can.  Finally, there are the basics of composition, light, exposure settings, etc.

For postprocesing, I use Photoshop to set the white balance (very important), adjust exposure and usually do local contrast enhancement.  I use Photoshop's USM for the local contrast enhancement, following this tip.  It was suggested by Thomas Knoll, the original author of Photoshop.  I use adjustment layers and Photoshop's "Smart Objects" to non-destructively process the image, so if I don't like something later I can go back and touch up an image.

Regarding presentation, I think the black background that I use on this website helps a lot to make the images "pop".  I've read that black matte borders when mounting an image for a photo competition is often disallowed for this reason.

Last but not least, I think the subjects of the images - ie. the things that I'm photographing - has a big effect.  Both to the individual images but also to my overall attitude.  I think that you can find interesting images almost anywhere (especially at the macro scale if you open your mind a bit).  But a target-rich location like Istanbul sure makes it easy to find and make interesting images.

I was thinking about ranking those factors in order of what I thought they had an effect on the image.  But I think it varies from image to image.  Subject matter is vital, of course,  Next, you need good equipment and technique.  Then, postprocessing has something to work with.

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