The first thing about being out in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is that it is hard to keep up with what is going on at home — unless you are willing to spend a fortune, of course. I don’t have a fortune. In fact, after paying for this trip I will be like the guy my daddy used to tell me about that didn’t have a pot to do you-know-what in or a window to throw it out of.
Oh, but I have seen some marvelous sights — sights I have read about in books all my life and sights that I never, ever in a million years dreamed that I would live to see.
It is funny. I taught school for 39 years and always, always, always preached to my students that when they were old enough to make their own money and to decide how they would spend it that they just spend a great portion of it on travel. I followed my own advice for my entire life, but primarily within the United States.
Trust me. I have seen the United States. Now, I am so thankful to be able to see what the rest of the world has to offer.
Our ship, by the way, is sensational and every time I turn around it seems like it is time to eat. I haven’t had anything on the ship as good as what my lovely wife Lisa and I cook on a daily basis, nor anything as good as my mama or Lisa’s mama could fix, either — but it isn’t half bad and there is plenty of it and when we finish our meal or snack there is nothing to clean up and put away.
There is plenty of entertainment on board, singers and dancers and pianists and comedians and musicians, not to mention four swimming pools, half a dozen hot tubs, a spa and a putt-putt course. I’m sure I’ve left something out, but you get the picture.
The only trouble is that I don’t have enough time to enjoy the ship’s amenities because it seems that we are up and about at first light every morning.
One day we took an excursion to the ancient city of Pompeii. I studied Pompeii in high school and I bet you did, too. You might recall that it was destroyed when the volcano Vesuvius erupted and covered it up with 35 meters of ash. Dang, I have been out of the country too long. I meant 40 yards of ash.
Well, it has been uncovered now and it beats all I have ever seen. We walked the streets, just like folks did there before the time of Christ and saw where the rich people lived and where the bakery was and where the spas and bath houses were — we even toured an ancient brothel. I mean the original menus were still painted on the wall. I ain’t making this up, y’all. You’d have to see it for yourselves to believe it.
Another day we toured Ephesus and walked the streets that the Apostle Paul walked. I stood in the same theater where he preached to 25,000 people. I preached to 25,000 empty seats. I’m not sure Billy Graham would have drawn a much bigger crowd because the entire country is 99% Muslim today.
You’ve heard about the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean? We experienced a wonderful day on the island of Mykonos at just such an idyllic beach. We put our toes in water so clear that you could see the bottom clearly in places where it was fifteen feet deep. We put our posteriors in chairs that cost $10 Euro per day to rent, but they brought us ice cold Coca-Colas in those little green bottles, labeled in Greek, so it all worked out. I felt sorry for the people of Mykonos though, because they are so poor. Many of those we saw couldn’t even afford bathing suits.
On the seventh day of our cruise we finally arrived in Athens. Yes, Greece has one, too. I have never seen so many gleaming white houses, spreading out in every direction, as far as the eye can see. The highlight of our trip to Athens was to climb the Acropolis, the giant hill near the center of the city, to visit what is left of the Parthenon. Truth be known, the one in Nashville is in much better repair but this one has a magnificent view.
They aren’t real fond of Americans in Athens for some reason, however, and in several places we saw signs saying, “Yankee go home.” Our tour guide called me aside at one point and apologized and told me she hoped the signs didn’t offend me. I told her, “They don’t offend me. Shoot fire, I don’t much care for them myself.”
Visiting ancient Athens made me homesick for the real Athens. Our guide showed us the stadium they built for the 1896 Olympic games and told us that when Atlanta was awarded the 1996 Games that people in Greece boycotted Coca-Cola for a month. There stadium was nice, but ours seats 30,000 more folks than theirs does and fear not — I will be home in time for every minute of football season.