Black Sea Cruise on the Stella Oceanis, Aug 1999

Charlie, Mary and DJ Byrne

(Click on any thumbnail to see the enlarged photo)


Athens - Aug 6,7

We arrived in Athens Aug 6 in the early afternoon, missing only Charlie's luggage. After filing the necessary paperwork, we went on to spend the afternoon in the National Archaeological Museum and dinner on Mount Lycabettus, the highest hilltop in Athens, overlooking the Acropolis. The chapel of St. George is on the hilltop as well as an excellant restaurant.   The view was so spectacular we lingered until dark.

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Charlie's last piece of luggage arrived at 4:00 AM, so with a lighter heart we took a bus tour of Athens, starting at the Acropolis where we could now look back on Mount Lycabettus and the wonderful restaurant.

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Olympic Stadium where Charlie and Spencer Bayles "raced"

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In the afternoon of Aug 7 we boarded the Stella Oceanis and settled in, meeting other passengers and testing the telescope setup.

Istanbul - Aug 7,8

We arrived on Saturday evening Aug 7 and decided against the nightclub tour in favor of just walking out from the ship. The next day we did take the tour of the city, visiting a Mosque, a rug salesroom, the Grand Bazaar, and Topkapi Museum and the Museum of Chora. When we returned to the ship we learned that the Bosphorus was closed to shipping due to a break in a telecommunication cable.   We got back on our buses and they took us on an impromptu  tour of the countryside, crossing over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia. Here we saw young boys enjoying themselves swimming in the Bosphorus and anxious to show off their diving skills. There wasn't a single girl in the group. We finished our evening in Istanbul at the Blue Mosque spice market where we bought some saffron.

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Rug showroom

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The Grand Bazaar

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Topkapi Museum

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Topkapi dagger
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Our bus trip across the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia, and the boys enjoying the swimming

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Blue Mosque square and spice market

Costanta, Romania - Aug 9

Because of the extra time spent in Istanbul we could not make our scheduled visit to Yalta, and so we diverted to Costanta in Romania. Here we visited a new museum built over a recent archaelogical find, a  mosaic tile floor about the size of a football field from Constanta's days as a Roman port. Then on to a winery, after which we had free time in the town. We found a beautiful beach just a few blocks from the center of town. The Internet Cafe intrigued us, but it was only a sign. The business apparently had moved on.

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                    Captive audience at the wine tasting                                                     Virtual Internet Cafe


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On Board the Ship

Since most of the passengers on this cruise were readers of "Astronomy" magazine, this was not a typical cruise. Although there was a formal dress night, there was very little formality observed. Most people were on the top deck at night, lying on the lounge chairs to watch for shooting stars from the Pleides shower. The lights were turned off for better viewing and there was an astronomer on hand to point out constellations and special stars of interest.

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Formal night
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We meet the Captain
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How do you tie this?
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Elegant dinner
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Show Time. We met Linda Leigh and George Williams and (small world!) Linda knows my cousin.

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Learning Greek dances
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Blue is the color for Greek night
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Our waiter, Bob serving Baked Alaska
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August 11 -- The Solar Eclipse

This is the big day we've all been preparing for. We're well situated directly in the path of totality in the Black Sea. At least three other ships are nearby, also observing. The top deck is cleared of lounges so passengers may set up their telescopes. People mill around, setting up telescopes and sharing their various ways of looking at the eclipse.

Excitement on board builds during the two hours before totality

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Setting up before the eclipse starts

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Artist Bob Miller contributed his Einstein template to create interesting views of the eclipse. DJ Byrne and Isaac Klein try it out while Dava Sobel looks on. There's a partial eclipse image in every opening.
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Does it work with hats too?

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A new use for a water bottle

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This projection provided easy viewing

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And of course, the traditional viewing shades (this photo was published in the Nov '99 issue of "Astronomy", pg 89)

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Shades over binoculars

Everyone watching and waiting patiently for totality

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Meanwhile this is the scene in the sky

At totality the wind picked up and the temperature dropped noticebly. The light was like dusk, with a 360 degree sunset. Some people even spotted a bird on the mast. Stars of the night sky appeared. I saw Venus clearly and other people saw Mercury too.

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75% totality
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95% totality
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Diamond Ring

Charlie took these eclipse photos through his telescope


Afterward there was a celebration and sharing of the experience

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The crew raised the flag and served champagne

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While passengers kissed

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gave toasts

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shared the experience

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and even waved greetings to another ship


Sailing on to the Greek Isles


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Limnos - Aug 12

This Greek Island was interesting to us because of the prehistoric civilization that inhabited it. We visited the archeologic site where some artifacts we had seen in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens were taken from.

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Santorini - Aug 13

Santorini is in the vicinity where the ancient Atlantis was blown apart. The town is built on top of a cliff. Buildings are white with blue or red roofs. We elected to ride the donkeys up and take the cable car down.

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Charlie and friend start trek to town on top

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End of donkey ride

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View from the top

The town on top of the cliff was unpleasantly full of auto and bus traffic. While this was only two streets, we chose to cross them and seek out the other side of the Island.

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Charlie & DJ at far side of island.
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a Cafe with Internet
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Views from the cable car

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Meanwhile, back at the waterfront --


Mykonos - Aug 13

Our cruise director gave this advice -- "Get lost on Mykonos."  Now that is exactly what we do best,  so we knew we were going to love Mykonos. We walked up the hill to a windmill, then down and around (not really lost -- we found the Internet Cafe)  and ended up on the waterfront where we sat down for a light supper and were soon joined by friends George and Linda. It truly is a delightful island.

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