Greece and Isles 2018

MAY 10-20, 2018
May 11, 2018, Athens Greece
What a wonderful start. We traveled from Chicago to Athens on May 10 and arrived the next morning. We had a short walking tour after meeting in the the hotel area, which also was just a few blocks from the famous Acropolis and Plaka (Old town Athens)

An Marquardt, Amy Carpenter and Richard Packer standing in the luxurious lobby of our 5 star hotel, Divani Acropolis Palace. You can see that Mary Walrath, on the left, was certainly relieved to reach the hotel. On far right is Janet Seither and James Boucher.

Standing below the Acropolis and Parthenon. Acropolis means the highest point of a city so there are many Acropolis' in Greece. On it's top lies the famous Parthenon, a Temple honoring Athena, Godess of wisdom, handicraft and warfare.. Left to right: Valerie Graczyk, Lucy & James Boucher (our French travelers), Arled and Linda Izquierdo, Janet Seither, Sue Furness and Heather Furness, Mary Walrath and Tom Hall, Lorraine McInnis, Lana Sexton, (partially hidden is Ann Marquardt), Amy Carpenter, Sue Witkowski,  Bonnie Lueck and Richard Packer.
We soon discovered we loved to eat the wonderful Greek food. We stopped as a group in a quaint restaurant on the edge of Old Town Placka. Lorraine McInnis, Janet Seither and Amy Carpenter. 
Bonnie Lueck, Deb Witkowski, Linda Izquierdo, Lana Sexton, Richard Packer, Arled Izquierdo, Tom Hall and Mary Walrath.
Heather Furness and Sue Furness
After a healthy walk about the Pkaka, the majority returned to our hotel to check in
since some had walked back earlier.
After a refreshing shower and change of clothes we again met for, you guessed it, dinner.

James and Lucy are good friends of Wayne and Valerie and
live in Dunkirk France. They have met us in Europe
for most of our trips since 2009.
Valerie Graczyk, Arled & Linda Izquierdo, Richard Packer and Deb Witkowski bring the first day in Athens to a close with a evening beverage at poolside.
May 12, 2018 - Athens in all its magnificence and glory.
Refreshed with a night of sleep and wonderful, filling breakfast, we
venture out with our new guide, Angela.

 Our destination is the Parthenon on the Acropolis.

After many, many marble and uneven steps on  the way to the top, we stop part way up for a view of the Odium outdoor amphitheater, which is still used today for concerts, etc. Arled and Linda Izquierdo pose with it in background.
Overlooking the Odium with a beautiful view of the city of Athens, we pose for a memory.
Linda Izquierdo, Lana Sexton, Mary Walrath, Amy Carpenter, Tom Hall, Valerie Graczyk, Lucy Boucher, Janet Seither, Lorraine McInnis, Sue Furness, Bonnie Lueck, Richard Packer, Heather Furness and James Boucher.

The Greek Flag proudly flies at the top of the Acropolis
Sue and Heather Furness, mother and daughter enjoying the majesty of the Parthenon.
Deb Witkowski and Bonnie Leuck on the top were roommates and
discovered they had a past family history.

Valerie Graczyk enjoys the views and winds on top of the Acopolis
A long view of Lycabettus Hill from the top of the Acropolis. St. George's church sits on its top. Notice it is higher than the Acropolis but Greek Mythology explains that easily. As Athena was building the Parthenon she accidently dropped buckets of dirt and stone that formed this "other hill".  We will visit this later in trip.

Valerie Graczyk with the Parthenon in background.
A view of the Acropolis from atop of Lycabettus using telephoto lens
Back view of Parthenon

The Erechtheion, an ancient Greek Temple constructed on the north side of the acropolis of Athens. It was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.
Valerie Graczyk and Linda Izquierdo on Mars hill overlooking the Agora, ancient place and center of Athenian public life at that time
A must to see in Athens is the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier in front of the Presidential Palace (Parliament). Guards stand perfectly still in front of the Parliament for one hour stints. Each piece of the uniform has a special meaning. The Evzones are a special unit of the Hellenic Army
Soldiers march in unison from one part of the Palace to the front for their next tour of duty.
After a visit to Mount Lycabettus, some of us met on the roof of the hotel for a quiet dinner to end our 2nd day in Athens. It had a beautiful view of a lit up Parthenon.
Tom Hall, Mary Walrath, Bonnie Lueck, Deb Witkowski, Richard Packer, Valerie Graczyk, Lana Sexton, Janet Seither and Lorraine McInnis. Of course Wayne Graczyk was there but he was behind the camera.

May 13, 2018 - Corinth Tour and Olympia

Historical perspective: Corinth was the same city that St. Paul wrote his Letters to the Corinthians. The Corinth Canal cuts across a narrow Isthmus and actually turned Peloponnese into an island. The canal is 4 miles long, 70 feet wide and was skewed from a rock base at about an 80 degree pitch. While Corinth was a large sea port prior to the canal (they actually unloaded ships and carried cargo and ships across the 4 mile stretch), it made Corinth one of the major port cities in Greece. The canal saves about 430 miles vs using the sea route. Today it is too small for most large ships.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so take a peek from above the canal.

The city of Corinth is only about 10% excavated. You enter with a view of the Temple of Apollo.

Left to right: Wayne, Sue, Heather, Janet, Lorraine, James, Lucy, Bonnie, Deb, Richard, Amy, Lana, Mary, Tom,  Linda, Arled with Valerie in her famous crouched position in the front.

We'll us pictures to guide us through the ancient site

Walking on probably the same road St. Paul used centuries ago.


Linda and Arled with Temple of Apollo and a small enclosure that may have been used centuries ago for small group meetings or s store front.

Our guide Angela explaining the headless statutes behind her (and below). She explained why they were headless. The statues may have been leaders or government officials whose terms of office were only for a year. The statues were used during their term of office then instead of re-doing an entire statue for each person, they exchanged heads.

Notice what looks like a crack around his neck. This is where they inserted the new head. Picture taken inside the Corinth Museum.

When people came to pray in the holy Temple they would make a cast of the part of their body they wished the Gods to heal for them. It could be a foot, a finger, etc.

Sue and Heather Furness

Mary Walrath, Tom Hall and Richard Packer
And of course we must eat so why not an excellent restaurant?

Heather and Sue Furness

Arled, Linda and Deb
Lucy, James, Valerie and Bonnie

Lana, Tom, Richard and Mary

Amy, Lorraine and Janet
And we couldn't forget our excellent Guide Angela and our bus driver (whose name I forgot)

Bonnie with Valerie looking on. This was lunch and had to be the largest Pork Steak we've seen/

Amy agreed. Hers was even larger. Needless to say we ate lightly for dinner.
We arrive in Olympia for an overnight stop before going to the original Olympic fields and Temple area the following day.

Valerie couldn't resist sticking her feet into the pool at our hotel.

You have got to love the signage in Greece.
Their alphabet is so unique that all signs are in English as well.
Lorraine, Valerie, Sue, Heather and Janet inside Olympia training area.
Richard Packer and his trusty camera exploring the Olympic site
Bonnie, Deb and Lana. There were walls separating the various training areas for the Olympic events.
This pillar was erected for the 2004 Olympic Games. It was to show the size of the Temple of Zeus which was destroyed by an earthquake. It stood about 35 meters high.
Valerie, Heather, Mary, Arled, Tom, Linda, Janet, Bonnie, Lana, Richard, Sue, Janet, Deb, Amy, James and Lucy.

Inside the temple was a enormous statue of Zeus made up of gold, diamonds and other precious stones. After the earthquake ass was taken by looters.

This archway used to cover the entire entrance to the Olympic fields. Athletes would enter the fields much like athletes do today at the start of a football game.

Once inside we see the original Olympic area including the track, which was not oval shaped.

Competitive races were run from a starting point to a finish line, all in a straight line.

And of course everyone wants a picture of them actually standing at
the original starting line of this ancient field.
Amy, Ann, Lana, Linda, Richard, Mary, Lorraine, Janet, Sue, Heather,
Bonnie, James, Lucy, Deb and Tom
Arled and Linda
Go, Deb, Go!! Lucy is not interested at this point.
A difficult run with those shoes Heather but you can do it. Janet and Lana discreetly observing.
After watching Lana and Janet decide to take their places in this ancient stadium.
Now Mary is taking this race seriously.
So Tom decided to enter the race to give Mary a challenge.
Heather convinces mom (Sue) to join her in this historic picture.
And here is Valerie entering the field area, finally. But she has done this two times before.
The photographers Wayne and Richard departing the field victorious (snapshots wise)
Sisters Janet and Lorraine enjoying the day. Both joined us from Louisiana.
Just a few candid shots of our visit

It doesn't seem like it but Wayne really was on this trip. Too busy taking pictures.
We can't leave Olympia without this story being told. These stone bases along the entrance to the Olympic Field was called the Pillars of Shame. If any athlete was caught cheating in the games, they had to carve a statue of Zeus and place it along this entry way stating what they were guilty of for all to see.
Farewell to Olympia with a picture of Linda standing in front of the Temple of Hera (background). The area to her front is where the actual Olympic Torch is lit every four year to start the games. It is lite here than travels to the site of the current year's games. It has been lit here since the 1936 Olympic Games.
We concluded our trip to Olympia with a visit to an exquisite museum holding many remains from the area found after the earthquake.

Delphi - Temple of Apollo and the Oracle.
 Delphi is set on the Mount Parnassus and is made of limestone. It is located north of the Gulf of Corinth. The Temple of Apollo is located on this mountain was a destination for pilgrimages in early Greek times and also hosted the famous Oracle.
 Beginning our trek up the mountain to the Temple of Apollo

About half way up we encounter the Navel, the center of the earth according to Zeus. Mythology says that Zeus wanted to find the center of the earth so he released two eagles that flew in opposite directions and where they met he determined to be the center of the earth. It was at Delphi and Zeur decided to build a Temple for Apollo, the God of Prophesy.
Our group in front of the remains of the Temple of Apollo.
Linda and Arles

Amy and Janet
Bonnie in front of an amphitheater located above the Temple
A view of the Temple from the amphitheater
A few ventured further up the mountain to view an Olympic field that actually hosted to Women's Minor Olympics which was held every 4 years but not the same year as the men's. Women were not allowed to compete in the men's Olympics, in fact women were not allowed to watch the men's Olympics unless they were unmarried and had the permission of their father,
which was seldom given.
Here we see Deb, Sue, Linda, Arled, Lucy and James coming down the mountain.
Bonnie, Deb, Lorraine, Linda, Mary & Tom
We visited the Museum at Delphi which contained items excavated from the original Temple site following an earthquake. This bronze statue, called the Charioteer, is one of few statues surviving ancient Greece.
The Isle of Mykonos - 2 night stay - we fly from Athens to Mykonos Island


Welcome to our hotel with a beautiful pool inviting all to jump in.
Or just sit and have a drink...

Front of our hotel with group before walking down to have dinner and see the Town of Mykonos.
Valerie, Linda, Lana, Ann, Bonnie, Richard, Mary, Amy, Deb, Janet, Lorraine, Tom, Sue, Arled, Wayne, Heather.

Very interesting walk down to dinner and the Town center. Nice going down hill,
but a bit more challenging coming back.
That beautiful "touch of white and blue" identifies both Mykonos and Santorini.
A wonderful group dinner upon arrival on the island.
 Mykonos has beautiful beaches, and beautiful people.
Yiannis (tour escort), Mary, Sue, Heather, Arled, Lana, Linda, Deb, Valerie, Tom, Bonnie

Linda & Deb next to straw umbrellas and lounge chairs

Heather simply loving the water
Getting ready to head back to hotel.
Yiannis (our tour escort), Bonnie, Linda, Arled, Valerie, Mary, Tom & Heather

Valerie simply "fitting in" with the natural beauty of the island.
Fantastic and filling breakfasts daily overlooking the pool.
Janet, Lorraine and Bonnie

Deb, Lana, Valerie (hidden) and Bonnie

Richard and Tom
And those beautiful windmills at night.

Mykonos is noted for its famous windmills that brighten the skylines day & night


And of course, Mykonos has some breathtaking sunsets.

Island of Santorini - We take a catamaran ferry to the Island of Santorini
The ferry traveled about 35 mph and held up to 700 passengers. It too us 4+ hours to reach Santorini.
Not unlike inside an jet with more walking space, snack bars and walks to be on deck.

Santorini is a volcanic island. The homes are all built on the crater top and
from a distance looks like snow capped mountains.

We arrive at our hotel on Santorini, The El Greco

The sign says it all, and Valerie is in awe.

Arled and Linda with porter heading to their room.


The hotel was about a 15 minute walk to the Town of Fira with shops, restaurants and night life. But with a hotel and pool like this who wants to leave?
 Free breakfasts were an outdoor delight.
Sue and Heather

Janet, Lorraine, Mary, Tom, Arled and Linda enjoying the food and ambiance of the hotel.
The beauty of the hotel surroundings were outstanding.
From above you could see the center of the island. Once it was an entire island but when the volcano blew, it formed a rim abound the water. Some believe that at the bottom of this water was the Lost City of Atlantis.
 The beauty and simplicity of Santorini was present everywhere. Blue domed churches are actually private residences with their own chapels. In this case, it was a church.

Who doesn't enjoy a nice cold Gelato on a summer afternoon?
Janet, Lorraine, Mary and Linda. Back left is Amy and behind Linda is Ann.
We traveled by our bus to a "black sand" beach made from volcanic crushed lava. It isn't really sand but coarse grit.
Lorraine, Tom and Mary

The water has a certain amount of buoyancy caused by the underwater chemicals from the volcano so you can float, as Heather is doing above. With her are Amy and Sue.
On the far side of the island, town of Fira, tourist ships dock and bring in tourists. On that side of the mountain you have 3 ways of reaching the top: Tram, Walk or take a donkey ride.

We  ended our stay on Santorini with a group dinner with the hopes of a beautiful sunset but mother nature didn't cooperate. We had a sunset but far from the beauty we expected.

After a leisurely morning we returned to Athens via the Ferry , arriving a bit tired but not too tired to have a final group dinner on top of our hotel, the Dion Acropolis with a view of the lit up Parthenon on top of the Acropolis.


1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful adventure we had seeing this amazing country with our group and Wayne and Valerie! They took good care of us and met our every need! Looking forward to traveling with them again!