Dick & Cyndy Go To Greece - 2010
After an uneventful flight to Athens we drove to Porto Heli.
Porto Heli is located at the Southern-most tip of the Eastern
Peloponnese. The location is a beautiful bay which is clearly
a home away from home to the "rich and famous" (not us, of course) - huge yachts, etc.
On the way to Porto Heli we stopped off at Epidavros - home
to the famous outdoor theater. Magnificant in all aspects.
While there we stopped for lunch at a cafe' which overlooked the town
of New Epidavros - absolutely beautiful!.
The following are a couple of pictures of and around Porto Heli.
"Free Range" cats and dogs are all over the country.
Here's the mandatory (per Cyndy) Coke sign.
I don't know what the sign says but we liked the artistic version of a cat.
We spent our real first day at Porto Heli by taking a boat over to the nearby island of Spetses.
Below is a statue of Lascarina Bouboulina. She was an admiral and local heroine who battled against the Turks.
Next, we headed up to Nafplion. This is a good sized city with
great places to eat and shop. Close to Nafplion are Mycenae (Agamemnon's home base),
Nemea (Hercules' hang out), Argos (a major stronghold diring Mycenaean times), and
Tiryns (occupied since the start of the bronze age).
The very best ice cream anywhere!!!
Views of and from the Palamidi Castle
This castle has 800 large "walking" steps almost straight up.
One of the several hotels in which we stayed was in Nafplion.
It is a converted old mansion located just off the port there.
Maria Anifioti worked there and is an example
of the wonderful people we met on the trip.
On the way to Mycenae the car blew a fuse.
It was the fuse protecting the GPS (we had 3
things plugged into it at once - silly us)
Anyway, we stopped at a gas station to see if
we could get it fixed. There we met Stergios,
"Steve" in English he said. He worked for over an
hour to get it fixed - no manual in the car, of course.
He got it fixed but asked for no pay - no way was I
going to let that happen. He was super. Below are
a couple of pics of him and us.
The Lion's Gate at Mycenae
Next, we head off to Sparta to visit the
ruins of Mystras.
OK, I could not resist this. And, NO, I didn't buy it.
The road was kind of "twisty" going to Sparta (see the GPS picture).
Sparta, being somewhat "spartan", did not have any
ancient structures to speak of. However, the site at
Mystras served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate
of the Morea in the 14th and 15th centuries. It's fortress is
quite impressive. It, also has somewhere around 800 - 900
steep climbing steps - we got our exercise!
You can see the city of Sparta from the fortress.
After visiting Mystras we set out for the ancient site
Cyndy and I on the original Olympic track.
Athletes' entrance to the track.
They have 3 museums at Olympia. One relates to the
modern Olympics - I wasn't too interested in this one.
The second contains lots of pristine artifacts from
ancient Greece - but not related to the ancient Olympics.
The third has specific artifacts from the original Olympics.
The picture below shows a rock/piece of stone weighing
315.7 pounds that an athlete lifted over his head with
one arm. Perhaps these guys were in better shape than am I.
Some random scenes around the site at Olympia and pictures
from the muesums:
The Statue of Zeus (no longer existing) was the fourth oldest Wonder of the ancient world. It was built in Olympia in 433 BC.
Long since destroyed, the Temple of Zeus, where the statue resided, remains.
This is the building in which the statue was constructed.
While at Olympia we took a side trip to the
Temple of Apollo Epicurius, Bassae. It's about
a 1.5 hour drive from Olympia - or, was supposed to be.
The Temple is under extreme renovation. Anyway, this
was one of our many "mini" adventures.
About 1 hour into the drive we came to a fork in the
road. The GPS indicated a left turn but there was a sign
that said go right. So, of course, I chose the sign.
BAD MOVE!!! What should have been a 30 minute drive
turned out to be 90 minutes of "road hell". We were way
up in the mountains. Clouds were coming down on the road.
And, it started to rain. Visibility was about 25 feet.
The road made the above GPS picture look like a straight road.
Let's see - winding road, clouds, rain, almost no visibility,
way up in the mountains, very narrow road and no guardrails.
Picture of the clouds coming in.
Anyway, when we got to the site I commented that with all
trouble we had getting there the least Apollo could do was
to make it stop raining. The rain immediately stopped.
And, it was clear the rest of the day.
I guess it's always OK to ask.
Pictures of the site:
The "blotches" on the next picture are actually
clouds coming into the temple area - we were WAY up there.
Now it's time to head for Delphi.
To get there we had to go over a new bridge.
On the way we stopped at a "seaside" cafe' and hung out for a bit.
We stopped for gas at a station that was home to 20 cats.
Finally we got to Delphi.
Entrance to the Temple of Zeus.
Below is the full picture of what is left of the Temple of Zeus.
In the center you can see where an opening is located.
This is where to oracle "did her thing". In reality,
the room she was in had vapors coming from the rocks
(methane, & other fun fumes). So, she would get "stoned" and
spout stuff that was unintelligible. The "priests"
"interpreted" her sayings to those who asked questions.
If you had enough money you got the answer you wanted -
sort of. Anyway, today we call these "priests" members of
congress (Bill Posey of FL excepted).
Picture of me coming out of an underground tunnel at Delphi.
Off to Athens we go to see the Acropolis and other good stuff!
Various scenes in and around the Acropolis & Athens:
In digging for a new metro stop they found "new" ancient building sites.
Scenes from the ancient Athens Agora.
Just a few things from the main museum in Athens.
We took a day trip to the island of Aegina.
The "only way to travel" is by the Flying Dolphins.
The picture below is what we felt was super - a Greek fisherman and his boat.
Here's Cyndy having a "light lunch" of waffles, fruit & ice cream.
(Yes, the second plate is mine.)
Back in Athens
The picture below is of a world famous poet
who makes sandals for a living.
(And, yes, I bought a pair of sandals from him.)
We took a LONG WALK UPHILL to Lykavittos Hill.
It's the highest point in Athens.
The picture below shows buildings behind us stretching
for miles. It's like that for all 360 degrees of view.
The layout of Athens is huge!!!
And, so, we headed home.
The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Trip:
The people were as wonderful as we've found in all our travels.
We both totally enjoyed the food. Everywhere we went the food was terrific.
Confirming our prior opinions, everywhere the Euro has become
currency the country and its people have suffered. Time and
time again the people of Greece were VERY open as to the ruinous
effect the Euro has had on their lives.
We stayed in 5 hotels, not counting the Athens Marriott.
The average cost of these 5 was 70 Euros per night which
included wireless internet and breakfast. We considered this
very reasonable. The Marriott, however, was a different story.
It's a 5-star hotel - but, everything but the room is "a la carte".
Note: we did not partake of any of the following:
1. To do 1 (ONE) load of laundry = 600 Euros
2. No wireless internet in the rooms - only in the center of the lobby at 12 Euros for 3 hours.
3. Wired internet in the room was 20 Euros per day.
4. They had a breakfast "deal" - 26 Euros per person.
5. Their concierge was not helpful in the least and dumb
as a box of rocks.
Truly disappointing to say the least.
Contrary to all the guide books, all the roads were very well
paved and maintained. Most were 2 lanes and very curvy - but
easily driveable (unless visibility was near 0).
A travel tip: never book a return flight through Paris
when there are general strikes in France. It took 27 hours
to get home.
In summary the trip was great, we had many "mini" adventures
and the people were super.