While I already posted in Spirit to Serve, I wanted to include photos as well. While I arrived in the evening for my night before cruise at the Ledra, Liene greeted me like as old friend, caught me up on Kalliopi's time in Cannes, and gave me a great suite with two baths, two TVs, three phones, a living room, bedroom, and corner balcony that ran the length of all sides of the room. I got a different but equally magnificent suite on the return from the cruise, arriving before 7am in the morning. (Read my comments about Nadia and the wonderful associates under Spirit to Serve.) The Concierge Lounge is open for a full breakfast (hot and cold) every day; open for computer use, soft drinks and coffee every day, and open for a full evening's meal of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres from 5-7pm and desserts from 7-9. It includes a small library plus numerous newspapers.
On my return I was exhausted, so I went up to the 8th floor hotel and pool with a stunning view of the Acropolis (see below). The pool was larger than the one on the cruise ship and you conveniently can eat poolside or at a table at the nearby restaurant. Each of the two days I stayed there I was offered a free bottle of wine if I dined at night at the Panorama, similar to what I received previous times at the Zephyros restaurant. Alas, my timing was all off on both occasions, so while I ate lunch there, I had my dinner in the CL. Plus I had the ouzo Nadia had presented me with in the Athena statue bottle along with fresh fruit plates both times.
While you're swimming in the pool you can look beyond the glass and open partitions and see the Acropolis. The photo below was taken from the pool floor with my 35x zoom lens. What an experience!
This truly is one of the great hotels in the world, and in my opinion, THE best Marriott. Please come to Greece, everyone! The economy needs it and the problems for tourists are rare or nonexistent. If you go to the islands, they are nonexistent. In Athens, the Ledra is significantly far from the two centers of protest, Syntagma Square and Oumonia Square, but has shuttle buses that take you regularly to near the Acropolis.
Greece is magnificent and its people spectacular. I'm learning more Greek language and when I was at the airport and handed my US passport to the passport inspector, I greeted him in Greek and asked how he was. I got the broadest smile imaginable. He then talked to me more in English and learned I'd been many times to Greece and wanted to come more. He said I must come 100 more times. I said I was certainly too old for that, and he smiled and said no, you are young and must come to Greece 100 more times. We exchanged Greek thank yous and it was a delightful postscript to yet another great trip to one of my favorite places in the world.
Make sure and respond to their welcoming email you get about 5 days beforehand telling them of time of arrival, special requests, etc. Nadia is the guest relations manager, and Liene and Calypso are her assistants. And it never hurts to say what wonderful things you've heard about the hotel, all of which are true. Enjoy!
Now I want to go to Athens if only just to stay at the Ledra. Very jazzed to know that you had a great vacation.
Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos with us. Mykonos sounds like thee place to bee.
(I think I hear Greece calling!)
P.S. You know, the Customer Relations Manager (Dorothee) at the Marriott in Freising that I stayed at earlier this year was similarly amazing. Just unparalleled customer service. So incredibly nice and helpful in numerous ways. These types of hospitality experiences can't be spoken of in high enough terms.
Great post, and wonderful pictures. I agree with pluto77 . After hearing you, we have now decided, that if the area stays stable, we might try to stay there next fall in our European fling. Especially since you mentioned it's a Cat 5. We still have that 7 day Cat 1-5 available from buying all those USAirways miles on that special. This seems like the perfect place to use them!
For a while last year, it was a Cat 4 special. I should add that Europeans have already figured out it's very safe (probably the worst thing you'll encounter is an inconvenient strike but they are mostly published ahead of time on this site:
There were none while I was there. Plus things are still very inexpensive except for the fact that you're using euros.
Here are some photos from Patmos, one of the monastery high above the Cave of St. John who wrote the Book of Revelation and the other of a small church in the countryside of the island near the main town, called Chora (which means both main town and what many are actually called).
Here are some more photos from Rhodes, including one of the most beautiful churches I have seen in Lindos. Photography isn't allowed inside but it was stunning with frescoes covering all the walls of the Virgin Mary (reminded me of the Arena chapel in Padua, with Giotto's life of St. Francis all over the walls). Also, there's a picture of the Crusader castle in old Rhodes, squid/octopi for sale and the sunset as the cruise ship pulled away from port.
Thanks GM1! I would LOVE to be an ambassador for Greek tourism. The richness of its history and what it contributed to our own is something many people don't know, but even beyond that is its sheer physical beauty and the incredible hospitality of Greeks. You will have to go out of your way to find a Greek who won't give you a gift or offer you something (and this is a case, contrary to Homer, where you should accept Greeks bearing gifts, since they take it as an insult if you refuse). They may have very little these days, but they offer with a full heart themselves and their country to visitors, something I can't always say of European countries who seem mostly interest in dollars.
Athens contains over 40% of the population of Greece, which is otherwise almost entirely mountains or islands. But I thought I'd add some photos from Athens. There are incredible museums, yet people mostly just visit the Acropolis. I've seen the modern sights, but they mostly don't impress me anywhere. So I'm attaching pics of the agora -- the marketplace area behind the Acropolis, where you pass first through the Roman agora then to the Greek one. It was empty when I was there (a bank holiday, so free!), and you get a spectacular view of the Acropolis plus walk the same streets and stoa that Plato and Socrates did. You'll find the Hephaistion there, a nearly perfectly preserved temple from 449 BC, two years before the Parthenon was built, dedicated to Hephaistus, god of volcanoes and metalworking who was the only god who had to do manual labor since he was lame.Finally (these may be out of order since what I'm writing seems to happen while photos are loading in their own order) is the Temple of Zeus, which is right at the end of Syngrou Avenue (a very long avenue on which the Ledra is located), right in the center of the city.
Thanks, Jerry! I always had, but was intimidated because I didn't know the language. When I had a personal and devastating loss in my life about 4 years ago a friend told me to go outside of my comfort zone (most of Europe is my comfort zone because I do research there and know a number of the languages). My first trip to Athens I stayed nearly a week at the Ledra and did all their tours, which was a great introduction to everything I'd always wanted to see. Since that first trip I have been twice every year, including the two cruises, and hope to keep that up! It's magnificent!
Most Greeks will tell Americans that we know more about their culture than they do, which is sad -- but we do learn it in both high schools and colleges because Athens was the birthplace of both democracy and am imperial state, as well as the great philosophies of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and others and some of the great dramas of all time. Speaking of the last, you can now see Greek dramas performed in some of the ancient theatres in Athens and Epidaurus. I've never been there at the right time, but one day I will.
Καλησπέρα (kali [good] spera [evening]). Turns out it does get easier to learn, modern Greek is lots easier than ancient, and the staff at the Ledra will help you learn if you want.
Thank you all for your kind comments -- you can tell traveling is a joy and wonder to me. While I almost never travel technically for 'leisure,' my job as a historian and writer make every single trip a new adventure. I was never anywhere but Philadelphia and the Jersey shore till about age 23, and only to Canada before age 34 (when I went to France to do my dissertation research). When whole different worlds and cultures open up to you, it's an amazing experience.
Greece, as you've gathered, is way up there at the top of my list and I feel I can never get enough of it. I'm going to be teaching a new course on Ancient Civilizations in the spring (in addition to my basic 100 level introduction from Mesopotamia to 1600), so soaking in both the history and the physical beauty of Greece has become one of my favorite pastimes. And sharing it with others helps me re-live it!