Day 10: Final Day in Athens

In which we put ourselves on a forced march through the city.

Goodbye, Olympia. It was great!

Christiana organizes us off the ship in what must be record time, and we are shortly back on the bus and again in the weekday traffic to Athens. Read more of this post

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Day 9: Evening in Santorini

We aren’t due to arrive in Santorini before 4 pm. It will be dark then. And there are weather dependencies and tenders to send and busses to meet and switchbacks to navigate and half the length of the island to each Oia and our scheduled visit.

But I so so SO want to see Santorini.

Read more of this post

Day 9: Morning on Crete

Crete is the largest of the Greek Isles and of course we are only seeing a piece of it.

That starts with the Palace of Knossos. Pronounce the K: Kuh-nos-os. It’s easily the oldest site we visit, all told, dated somewhere between 4500 and 6000 BC (so says our guide we barely understand) and… Read more of this post

Day 8: Night on Patmos

We arrive on the tiny isle of Patmos at dusk. We walk up first to the monastery, our tour guide very soft spoken but very clear, which makes her seem very earnest. And thoroughly likable. Read more of this post

Day 8: Morning in Ephesus

The excursion to Ephesus is included in our package and was noted by both Elena and Christiana as a highlight of our trip.

They were not kidding!

Despite the late night we are all up and on time (good thing too) for our tour of Ephesus, in Turkey. Which means it’s not just another country for me: it’s another continent!

Our tour guide (whose name I can’t spell but it is pronounced like “John”) is delightful. He tells us, on route to the ruins at Ephesus, about his experience over 20 years as a tour guide. About common misconceptions about Turkey, about his family, and about the site we are visiting. Read more of this post

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.

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Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

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.

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.

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.

Day 2: Evening Dinner Excursion

In the evening we meet again for an optional group dinner in the Plaka area. ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ ΚΑΛΟΚΟΡΙΝΟΣ.

The dinner is various Greek appetizers and a veal stew dish, accompanied by traditional Greek music and dancing… and a lot of fun!

Οπα!