7 Things We Learned Cruising the Mediterranean

 1. Venice really is at sea

Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley described Venice as “Ocean’s nursling.” But who knew that an 86,000 ton cruise ship could sail quite this close to it?

Grand Canal
Venice’s Grand Canal from our cruise ship
Venice by water jpg
J(9) enjoying Venice by Vaporetto (water bus)
St Mark's Square
Views of St Mark’s Square from sea and land

2. The Ancient Greeks knew their geometry10045759763 bea99fb81f z

Picture the Parthenon, the ancient temple on Athens’ Acropolis. What shape is it? If you’d asked me three weeks ago, I’d have said cuboid. But no! The Parthenon contains no right angles and no perpendicular lines.

Because the Parthenon perches on a hilltop, if it were cuboid it would look like its columns protruded outwards from the ground up. To counter this – and to make it look cuboid – the Parthenon is actually pyramidical. Yes, if you extended those columns way up into the blue Athenian sky, they would eventually meet. Clever, eh?

The pyrimidical Parthenon

3. Earthquakes preserve cities

We’ve all heard of Pompeii, the Roman city buried (and preserved for posterity) by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It had never occurred to me that earthquakes can also preserve civilisations for future generations. (I know. Doh.)

Even with less than 20 percent of the site excavated so far, the ancient (and earthquake-prone) city of Ephesus on the west coast of Turkey is the biggest Roman settlement uncovered in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Great Theatre, Ephesus
The Great Theatre, Ephesus

The photo above shows the  25,000 person theatre in which Paul is said to have talked to the Ephesians about Christ. He was so persuasive that the local silversmith, who made his living selling idols of the Greek goddess Artemis, turned the city against Paul.

After Paul was exiled, he continued writing to the church at Ephesus; his Epistle to the Ephesians is recorded in the New Testament.

Great Theatre, Ephesus
C(10) and J(9) re-enacting a gladiator battle in the Great Theatre

4. What not to wear in a mosque

It was real hands feet-on learning for C(10) and J(9) as they took off their shoes to enter Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. C(10) also had to cover her shoulders, and adult women covered our heads.

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The 500-year-old Blue Mosque, still in popular use, gets its name from the thousands of hand-crafted blue mosaics adorning its interior
Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is the only mosque in the world with six minarets (towers)
Blue Mosque
Chains hanging from the entryway to the Blue Mosque prevent anyone on horseback from entering

6. Hagia Sophia is now a museum

This version of the Hagia Sophia cathedral was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 AD. Together with its two predecessors on the site, Hagia Sophia stood as the crowning jewel of the Eastern Orthodox Church for over a thousand years.

Hagia Sophia - Istanbul
Hagia Sophia

When the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, they were so impressed by Hagia Sophia that instead of destroying it, they added minarets and other Islamic features, and turned the church into a mosque.

In 1935 Kemal Ataturk – the founder of modern, secular Turkey – uncovered many of the church’s Christian decorations and converted the building into a museum.

Me – excited to see the church we’ve read about so often in The Story of the World, with J(9) – a little weary after queuing in the heat to visit the Blue Mosque!

7. The Ionian Sea is very clear

Okay, this one is an even more shameless excuse than the rest of this post to flaunt a few holiday snaps. But can you blame me? The Greek Islands are rather gorgeous, don’t you think?

C(10) and our cruise ship at Santorini
Crystal clear sea at Kefalonia

Have you visited any new places recently?  What did you learn?


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

The Hip Homeschool Hop – Hip Homeschool Moms

The Home Ed Link Up  #15 – Adventures in Homeschool

Weekly Wrap-Up – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop – Marie’s Pastiche

History and Geography Meme#134 – All Things Beautiful

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26 thoughts on “7 Things We Learned Cruising the Mediterranean

  1. Okay, I might just be a little envious!! Wow, what a fabulous learning opportunity as well as a splendid family holiday. It must have been amazing to see all these places only previously read about. Glad to have you back!

    1. I know – I am so appreciative of my wonderful parents-in-law for taking us all! I hadn’t really anticipated before we went that we would get the chance to visit quite so many historical places – partly because I remembered from our last cruise that children’s tolerance for sightseeing in August Mediterranean temperatures can be somewhat variable!

      They both did really well though – J(9) gratefully skipped Athens when my mum-in-law kindly offered to look after him on the ship while James, C(10) and I went up to the Acropolis etc, but he was a trooper round Istanbul, Ephesus and Venice. I think the beach stops helped. 🙂

      Thank you for the warm welcome back. I am still looking forward to catching up properly with your blog!

  2. Lucinda,

    Wow! What beautiful photos. It looks like you had a very special holiday. I hope you’ve returned rested and ready to jump back into learning… and blogging! I’ve missed you. I was thinking about you earlier today and hoping you’d come back soon.

    I want to thank you for all the delightful comments you just left on my blog. Oh my! I feel spoilt. I had a bit of a down day today and needed cheering up. You have made me smile. It’s getting late here so I will take my smiling face to bed and reply to the comments tomorrow. (I want to enjoy doing that when I am less tired!)

    Thank you so much, Lucinda!

    1. Now how did I manage to write ‘Claire’ instead of ‘Lucinda’? I got it right at the end! I must have been thinking how lovely it was to see Claire on your blog too!

      1. How funny, Sue! That’s exactly the kind of thing I would do. Last Friday I bumped into an old acquaintance while we were swimming at the river. I was so pleased at remembering her name that I used it liberally throughout our lovely chat. It was only later that I realised I’d got her name slightly wrong! I was rather embarrassed, but then I decided that it didn’t detract from our nice chat, and perhaps I even made her feel slightly better about similar mistakes she’s made!
        PS I made a quick edit 😉

    2. Thank you, Sue! It was such a treat to catch up on everything you’ve written over the last month. I’m sorry to inundate you with all my comments at once – I find it hard to resist joining in the turkey conversation!

      And thank you for your kind words about my holiday snaps. I took away my brand new camera, without the instruction book (or internet access) so everything was done on full auto mode – and I didn’t manage to figure out a few basics, like how to use the flash (!), but I managed to record some very happy memories anyway.

      It’s taken me a little while to get back into the swing of blogging and to start to catch up with all my online friends, but I’m getting there – and very glad of it!

  3. Okay, after reading this and your cruise post from last year I’m so ready to plan a European vacation and even to consider a cruise. Vacations are incredible opportunities for learning!

    1. They really are, aren’t they, Carol? We met lots of people on the cruise from your side of the Atlantic. Many were doing back-to-back cruises of the east and west Mediterranean. (We cruised the western Med two years ago.) Another reason my children love cruises is because they have so much freedom on board ship, and – if you go in school holiday time, at least – there are loads of other kids to hang out and swim with. Do feel free to email if you’re ever seriously planning and have any questions. 🙂

  4. Hi there! You have showed me my dream vacation. I am planning a trip to Greece with the family traveling to 3 Islands. Cruising it sounds devine so I have to see what ships are available. Thanks for sharing I am visiting from Weekly Wrap Up.

    1. Hi Nita, Your vacation plans sound wonderful! Which islands are you thinking of travelling to? We would like to go to Corfu, to visit the places we’ve read about in Gerald Durrell’s Corfu trilogy that we love.

  5. I think the first thing I have learnt is that I am utterly jealous, Lol! Joking aside, your holiday looks spectacular and what a brilliant learning opportunity for your lovely children.

    My boys would delight in the chance to visit the sites of Ancient Greece and I so hope that we can save up enough to go before they leave home!

    I have really enjoyed looking at the photos and reading the facts – I have learnt quite a few things. Thank you so much for sharing this with me on the #homeedlinkup

    Take care and I look forward to watching your continuing adventures.

  6. Your blog post was a little walk down memory lane for me – we took our kids on a similar trip (though not on a boat) – we went to Turkey, Italy and Switzerland. When in Venice we were so surprised to see these big cruise ships so close to us on the walkways. Very strange sight really! The Hagia Sophia was one of my highlights. How exciting to be able to do such an amazing trip with your young ones.

    1. Belinda, the Hagia Sophia was a huge highlight for me, too. Such an enormous amount of history and culture in one building! We’ve been lucky enough to visit Turkey a couple of times in the last year, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much it has to offer – not just in terms of culture but also the friendliness of the people, not to mention the delicious food!

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