We did not take an excursion at Bari. We just went for a walk around the town which was relatively interesting but nothing special. I get the impression the ship really just stopped there to collect further passengers.
We went on an excursion at this port, mainly because the site of Olympia is some distance from the port and the limited time we were there. I had made enquiries before we left Australia to see whether any other options were available (private tours, rental cars etc) but in the end decided, for convenience, just to take the tour.
Our coach carried English and Italian speaking passengers. We had two guides, one English speaking and the other Italian speaking. I thought this went quite well. Our Greek English speaking guide was a bit abrupt, no doubt the result of running the same tour for the last 20 years, but overall wasn't too bad a bloke.
We visited Olympus and the Museum. At the end of the day, I suppose the tour was what we expected it to be and were not disappointed.
This was an excellent tour for those who have an interest in history. The 'city' of Ephesus is absolutely amazing, especially if you believe the information that on;y about 17% has been uncovered. We had an English speaking Turkish lady for our guide and she was very good. Be aware that, depending on the time of the year, it can be quite hot with little shade. Take a hat and water. Spectacular place.
House of Virgin Mary Rating:
We only did this because it was included in the tour of Ephesus for little extra charge. If you are of a religious persuasion, this house may have more significance for you. I found it interesting from an historical perspective but you may question the validity of some of the claims. Additionally, the area was extremely crowded and the line through the house was very long.
We did not take the tour, instead catching the train into town and doing the usual tourist spots of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar.
In the end, we did not get into the Blue Mosque as, initially, the line was very long and, when we returned, the place was closed for prayers. The entry fee for the Hagia Sophia was 25 Turkish Lira per person which was pretty steep and more than the 20 TL mentioned online before we left for the cruise. This place was interesting as it had recently appeared in the Australian Amazing Race!
Although an interesting place from an historical perspective, it was not worth the entry fee. Also, be ready for long lines. Take a hat and water.
We had a walk around the Topkapi Palace, which was pleasant. We did not want to pay the entry fee as we figured we had seen enough palaces and castles to last us a while.
The Grand Bazaar was very tiring. Not just because of the size but the constant barrage of shop owners wanting to sell their product. they were relentless to the point that you didn't want to make eye contact or show any interest in a product, in case they would pounce, which they invariably did.
The Basilica Cistern also featured in the Australian Amazing Race! This was interesting but there is not much variety once you get there. Entry fee I think was about 10 TL per person. Glad that I can now say I went but nothing spectacular.
A very quaint port and not what I expected. The 'old town' is quite interesting but obviously targeted towards the tourist. We walked through the old town and ventured a bit further afield. Located the local cemetery, which was interesting.
Transfer from the ship to shore is by tender which is a laborious process but ran relatively smoothly.
Some good hills to walk up (and down), plenty of restaurants and tourist shops. Can pick up some reasonable bargains.
The map of the town provided on the ship was pretty hopeless but we were able to pick up a better map from the local Tourist Information Office.