adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 6: Delphi and Athens Again

The grounds at Delphi, which we saw at a distance from below, are amazing once we get on site. Elena tells us a bit about the history and mythology of the place, about Apollo as god of light and wisdom. Hmm, I wonder who this could be foreshadowing?

After exploring the grounds we go inside to the museum as well.

Part Sphinx, part Griffin
Impressive friezes

Afterwards we get back on the bus to return to Athens, with just enough time to say a warm goodbye to Elena – our tour guide for the cruise portion of the trip will be Christiana – and put ourselves together for our optional (fancier) dinner out at the marina.

Then it’s back to The Stanley to repack, get some rest, and regroup for our departure to the cruise ship tomorrow.

###

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 5: Circling the Corinthian Bay to Delphi

We leave Olympia, stopping first for a taste of olives, olive oil, and Greek wines (Οπα!) and then begin our journey in earnest, crossing the Rio-Antirrio bridge.

Then we trace a path overlooking the Corinthian Bay, water sparkling in the sunshine. We progress to Patras for lunch, where the scenery is the most delicious offering of all.

We press on and stop to see the lower ruins at Delphi, which we will visit in the morning.

Then we stop in scenic Arachova, which in a few weeks will go from sleepy off season village to bustling ski town, before heading to our hotel (the pleasant if rather industrial-styled Amalia Delphi) for the night.

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 4: Off to Olympia

Orange πορτοκαλί trees at the Hotel grounds.

We have a long drive today, starting by passing through the scenic Arkadian mountains (on the Ionic Sea).

Actually it’s a very long drive and I didn’t sleep well last night so… no pics. Just dozing.

Along the way we stop to see local artisans explain the ancient processes that yield the distinctive pottery of the area.

They had some amazingly beautiful works inside but I didn’t get pics. Sorry.

We stop for a delicious lunch en route – it’s a lovely springish day and everything is blooming, considering it’s November and then we arrive at Olympia, to visit the ruins of what was the site of the original Olympic Games.

An immense complex has been uncovered and portions of it restored, and a museum shows some of the original recovered pieces. Elena explains the way the games would have worked in antiquity, as well as the site where the torch was lit, but I have no pics of any of it (for now)… I very inconveniently left my camera/phone on the bus for this outing.  Which means, I pretty much felt distracted and discombobulated the entire time.

😦

I will report however that the Europa hotel near Olympia… Fantastic. As nice as some have or will be on the journey, this one is our collective favorite.

The rooms themselves are small but smartly laid out, with a lower level seating area, and bathrooms that feel positively luxurious after some we have had. The dinner and breakfast buffets are both superb as well.

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 3: Entering the Peloponnese Peninsula

We leave bustling Athens, and head south and west, through the Corinth Canal, connecting the Ionian Sea and the Aegean across the narrow isthmus, to the Peloponnese peninsula.

As we pass by the Bay of Corinth, and the barely visible remains of what was once a dock from which, nearly 2000 years ago, passengers might sail from Corinth to, say, Ephesus.

The apostle Paul, for instance.

We continue on to visit the auditorium at Epidaurus, where ancient plays would have been put on.

We visit Mycenae, where king Agamemnon departed to battle Troy. We see the ruins and excavation site of the palace, the Lion’s Gate, and the Beehive Tombs.

Then we stroll through picturesque Nauplia as the sun sets before continuing to the nearby hotel for the night.

We are all of one thought here: we wish we could have stayed in this little town longer.

We stay the night in the very pretty Amalia Nauplia. We run the waitstaff a bit ragged (not because we want to, but because we want to cluster ourselves in a larger group than planned, and they are super accommodating. So it goes when we all start to bond.)

Ring around the table: Connie Marge Linda Deana Troy and me.

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 2: Athens City Tour

Breakfast at The Stanley leaves something to be desired, but there’s coffee and water, both of which feel a blessing after the night.

Because of how early I went to bed (plus the time change, plus my unnecessary caution about the water day 1) I’m awake and headachy at 2:30. But by 3:30 I got myself resettled and wake up again just minutes before the alarm.

After the disappointing breakfast, I go down to meet the tour in the lobby. I am there early and find my tour guide for the land portion, Elena, but only Ben from my group (a retiree from Singapore on his third visit to Greece) also lingering, waiting. When Elena heads toward the door so do we… most everyone else is already on the bus!

We start with a city tour by bus, with just one stop for photos at the marble stadium, built for the PanAthenian games (a contemporary of the original olympic games – the site of which we will visit later) and then used for the first modern Olympic Games. Now it is used mostly as the terminus for their annual marathon, which will take place next Sunday (or I guess, a Sunday or two ago by the time I post this) – Nov 11.

Then we drive through the city, seeing the old and new Parliament buildings, the university, the remains of the Temple of Zeus and the Arch of Hadrian, and then we stop to visit the Acropolis.

We have our choice at the top of the Acropolis; we can explore for an hour and then take the bus back to the hotel, or make our own way. I chat with Linda, one of the other singles, but she is still adjusting and is heading back. Ben, on the other hand, has been here for days and is going exploring and walking back, so we decide to go together … around the Parthenon, through the crush of people exiting the Acropolis site, to the Hill of Mars (ostensibly where the apostle Paul preached in Athens) and out to the city.

We stop briefly to see about seeing the Acropolis Museum (which is supposed to be fantastic but on a Sunday is also an entry line miles long, so we forego it).

Then we trek through the city, through the Plaka, into basilicas, down again to the Arch of Hadrian:

We stop for lunch at a little place with desperately needed shade, cool water, and delicious chicken souvlaki, not to mention a gorgeous view back up to the Parthenon:

Then we press on, back through shopping districts, thank heaven Ben has been here for days and knows the city very well. But eventually we are back in familiar areas, and when we see the statue of Icarus I know my way.

The Stanley has a coffee shop on the corner around from the entrance, and he gets a coffee to my cappuccino. (Unusual for me, but so good and so reasonably priced. And a free bottle of water as well. I love The Stanley once again.)

We go our separate ways once we return to the hotel proper and finish our drinks. I need to rest for the optional dinner excursion tonight; Ben is skipping that, so plans to go fill his afternoon.

adventures abroad, photography, travel

Day 1: Exhausted in Athens

Technically this is a travel day; there’s nothing scheduled until the evening. But we have arrived at dark o’clock in the morning. There is no room at the inn for us, arriving so early, so for the smallest hours of the morning we find couches in the lobby and stretch out, en masse. I get windows of a few minutes here and there, and then finally fall into a rich deep sl-

The morning crew asks us not to sleep there. Or at least, not to sprawl to sleep. If we can sleep upright…

Around 8 I walk with Cara and Laura around the streets and to the corner bakery where we each get a nibble and I get a cappuccino (to their water). None of us feel awake enough or clean enough to be a person yet, but we are breathing the air of Greece – a bit smoke-flavored in the outdoor cafe, but Greece nonetheless.

We keep ourselves busy until 9 then come back to wait on rooms to turn over.

(We would hope having arrived so early that as rooms become available we would get them, but it seems that they are assigning the whole Gate1 group and then the Globus groups. But around noon I approach a different person at the desk, and plead for my early arrival and desperate hopes for a room, and he very kindly swaps an available but as yet unclaimed room from that group for me. Cara and Laura come right behind me and get the same.)

A shower. A bed. Such luxury!

A few hours later we meet up again and stroll in search of a local restaurant. We head out intrepid but end up at the restaurant across the street.

Chicken / κοτόπουλο

After dinner we each have our respective meetings – they are in a different group here so I don’t know how much we will see of each other before the cruise ship in a week.

The meeting is a bit scattered, between late flights just getting people in, and the front desk sending people to the wrong rooms. So I hear the spiel twice but I don’t mind. A glass of white wine and a few faces committed to memory – several people here are solos like me – and we have our plans for the morning squared away.

I go up to the rooftop bar just long enough to get one quick photo before I head to an early bedtime.

Parthenon at Night