On the 7 September a group of four embarked on Azura for a 24 night cruise titled Eastern Med and Black Sea. Our first port of call was Lisbon. We walked from the ship and got a taxis outside the station which we hired for the day for 120 euros. Considering there were four of us and we started our tour at 10.00 am and we were dropped back at 4.00 pm we thought it was an excellent tour and we had no hanging around waiting for fellow passengers to return to the bus on time, also there was no filling in of time going to coffee shops etc. The area covered was Estoril, Sintra and surrounding places of interest to tourists. Wonderful port tasting in Sintra.
After four pleasant days at sea we arrive at the beautiful port of Valletta. We walked to the lift from the ship which takes you into Valletta, cost one euro each. If you have been to Valletta before take a local bus to explore further a field, the bus station is a short walk from the lift. I think the fare for two people was under five euros and the tickets lasted all day, also the buses ran frequently. Good shopping in Valletta. We all had been to Ephesus before so we just wondered round Kusadasi and took in the atmosphere.
Next stop Yalta, we went on an organised tour which was expensive, not very well supervised, too many coaches all going to the same place, but we wanted to see where the peace treaty was signed after the Second World War with Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Unfortunately, in the afternoon it rained cats and dogs so we were a little restricted what we did, but we did have a walk along the promenade which was very pleasant. Odessa is very beautiful. Just walk off the ship and in approximately one hundred metres there is a flight of steps that takes you into Odessa, or alternatively take the free coach into Odessa and walk around that area where the bus drops you off and then walk back to the ship down the Main Street with lovely restaurants, fantastic buildings and fab shops. Travel agents do not seem to promote this beautiful city, I can only assume it is not an easy destination to get to if you are not cruising. Two days for our feet to recover before we arrive at Istanbul. This was our second visit, but it is still magical. We walked from the ship through the port area crossed the road and used the tram. Frequent, very cheap and stops at every interesting place tourists would wish to visit. One slight problem to purchase your ticket only Turkish currency accepted, but there was a cash machine across the road from the tram stop, which saved our day.