Episode 220 – Lectures in the Ionian Sea

March 11, 2022. 52°F/11°C


Our complement of on onboard lecturers changed in Malta, so today’s sea day was a first chance to experience some of the new speakers. There’s another sea day coming up on the 13th when a few more will hold their first talks.

Listening to the speakers always makes me wish I had some expertise to share so that I could spend more of my days on Viking ships, but who would want to spend their cruise days learning about budgeting, or the peculiarities of the English language as uncovered while teaching ESL classes to Syrian refugees? Maybe Viking could be convinced to let me host WordPress blogging workshops. Just sayin’.

LECTURE #1 Greek Civilization: Achievements & Legacy

Lecturer Michael Hick, Viking Resident Historian

I really enjoyed Michael’s contagious enthusiasm for his topic, although I can imagine that the video tech recording his lecture must have found it a real challenge following him back and forth across the stage.

Michael shared that he is so keen on history because it gives us perspective as to how insignificant we are in the big picture of civilization. He emphasized that “you can’t deny history, because it tells you why you are where you are today – and where you will be tomorrow.”

One interesting insight I gleaned from the talk was that in the “west” we focus so much on Greece and Rome over their roughly combined 1600 years of dominance as opposed to the 3000 years of Egyptian history because European-based cultures feel the most connected to Greco-Roman culture.

My favourite quote of the talk: “The Greeks built libraries, the Romans built stadiums”.

My favourite visual from his slide show were the gorgeous Greek statues celebrating the human form: beautiful bodies, but not necessarily “perfect” bodies. It seems that the male human form even with love handles can be sculpture-worthy.

I’m looking forward to more of Michael’s lectures and maybe even some of his discussion groups.

LECTURE #2 Olives: Liquid Gold

Guest Lecturer Barbara Ferguson

I was hoping for just a few samples of the more than 2000 types of olives available in the world (because – sarcasm alert – there’s never enough food around), but instead got a broad overview of olive fruit, olive trees, and olive oils. The talk was well organized and presented but, sadly, I didn’t learn anything new.

Hopefully Barbara’s next lecture will be on a topic about which I know far less, or will go into more detail (which can be difficult in just 45 minutes, I know).

WORKSHOP # 1: Introduction to Photography

Workshop Host Alan Feldman

While Ted is certainly not a beginner photographer, he is always anxious to get tips from the experts to make his photos even better. Ted said there was a strong focus on smartphone photography, so I may need to attend the next session.

AND THEN ….. At around 2:20 pm, just as I was settling in for a brief inter-lecture nap, there was an extremely loud, extremely fast, fairly low military jet flyover by what I think Captain Olav said it was a (Lockheed P-3) Orion maritime surveillance aircraft “just taking a look at our beautiful cruise ship” and letting us know that the USNavy is present here in the Ionian Sea. The Captain calmly stated that he hoped they’d managed to get some good pictures, but I have to admit that I found it a bit disconcerting, and a reminder that the world – once again – is an unsettled place. Checking USNavy news, I was able to find out that as of about 2 weeks ago the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) was underway in the Ionian Sea and is moving around the Ionian/Aegean/Mediterranean under NATO command. Fleet Tracker Archives – USNI News Some folks onboard said they’d seen a ship in the distance, but we’ve no idea which of the 3 NATO ships currently in the Mediterranean theatre it was.

Aside: the Canadian CP-140 Aurora, which son #2 is trained to repair and maintain for the RCAF, is a variant of the P-3 Orion.

LECTURE #3 Corfu: A Royal Island, But Not Necessarily Greek

Guest Lecturer David Burgess

I’ve been wanting “destination” lectures, so was really pleased to have a “destination lecturer” on board for the rest of the cruise.

Among other things, during David’s lecture we learned that the ruins we now know as Pelopolis are the remainder of Corfu’s main city after its destruction by the Goths in 562 AD. After that, the Angevins, Normans, and (briefly) the Venetians ruled before the city becoming part of the Byzantine empire again… and then under control of Venetians once more, for just over 400 years! Turkish/Ottoman raids and pirate attacks during those years decimated the rural (male) population, which, combined with the loss to the Turks of Cyprus and Crete, finally convinced the Venetians to increase the island’s fortifications. Eventually an alliance of Turkey with Russia conquered Corfu, until Napoleon’s armies took it. Napoleon, in turn, was overthrown by the British. In 1863 the Ionian states, including Corfu, united with the Kingdom of Greece.

Is it any wonder, then, that Corfu is a Greek place that doesn’t feel very Greek?

David also gave us the history of one of Corfu’s most famous sons: Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Dinner tonight was up on Deck 7 again, making it almost alfresco – just not as “fresco” as the temperature would be if the roof were open. Since we are nearing Greece, the theme was “Souvlaki & Baklava”. Mmmmmm.

Top: after appetizers and breads, the main course arrived, ready for sharing: pork, chicken and beef souvlaki; grilled shrimp: lemon potatoes; pita breads; grilled zucchini and red pepper; hummus; Greek and cucumber salads. Bottom left: ouzo & blue curaçao shots. Bottom right: dessert was 3 kinds of baklava, vanilla gelato, and freshly made strawberry compote.

Then it was off to the comedy show for me, and off to bed for Ted “four double shots” Brooks.


  1. Thank you for your ongoing well written blog. I look forward to catching up with your adventures, information, and pictures. My husband flew P-3’s for both the Navy and then the government. Most have transitioned to P-8’s but there are a couple of reserve squadrons that continue to utilize them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Rose – I’ve come across a link for Ted – Cornell University has an exhibition of bird photos that has been installed in a library which has a 37 million bird photo collection….they are pretty fantastic. Since Ted obviously likes to shoot birds I thought he might enjoy this


    Coming across your posts each day is a pleasure!

    Jeff Barnes


  3. I know I’m late to the party with compliments on the writing, the photography and your WordPress skills but wanted to add my vote in case you ever do want to share skills on fancy cruises! Maybe Viking could take you aboard for a short stay on each of several ships when they have a bunch in the Med or Caribbean — OR maybe give you a major excursion in exchange for a blogging course on your present cruise? Looking forward to reading about Corfu as I’m a Gerald Durrell fan from childhood and just reread some of the trilogy after the excellent TV series. I’d love to know whether the locations looked authentic. Thanks for all you do.


  4. Rose, I can’t remember when/where I first stumbled across your current blog but I am so impressed with it. I look forward to every “episode” of your Excellent Adventure and am learning so much about the places you are visiting. We are nomadic and travel the world but your current adventure has me a little envious :-). Thanks for all the great posts! (from another Ontarian)


  5. I found the military jet flyover to be especially interesting. I’m not from a military family so pardon my lack of knowledge, but I had no idea that a US ship (the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group – named after the US President from my home town) could be under the command of NATO.

    I did know about Prince Philip being from Corfu, thanks to the tv series ‘The Crown’.


  6. I would sit in the front row of your “Wordpress blogging lecture” and be your biggest fan! I am attempting to get set up on WordPress and am finding it very confusing and extremely complicated. It makes me appreciate your well-done website even more than I already do!


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