In June of last year, I lost my beloved cat of 18-1/2 years, who'd been my sole companion for the last fifteen. (She's in the grainy framed picture of my logo along with my new baby.) I was griefstricken and decided after six weeks I needed to go someplace I'd never been but always wanted to -- so using points and miles, I chose Greece, which I've taught and studied but never visited.
While Athens didn't do much for me (except the wonderful Ledra hotel), I visited Corinth, Epidaurus, Cape Sounio, Mycenae, Delphi [my favorite], the closest islands and on the final day the Acropolis.
Forty percent of Greece's population is in Athens and it shows. I couldn't wait to take tours of the rest of the country. My first tour included Delphi (photograph overlooking Parnassus Mountains) which was especially inspiring in a grand thunderstorm that evoked the ancient gods and goddesses. I had never realized how mountainous Greece is.The museum at Delphi is spectacular.
At Cape Sounio, I looked out to where in legend Theseus returned from slaying the Minotaur, only to forget to change the sail per his father's request -- and his mourning father, thinking he was dead threw himself into the sea.
Then I took an island day tour which stopped at the closest island Aegina -- including the beautiful Temple of Athaea, which supposedly inspired the Parthenon. I visited the orthodox church on the island, dedicated to Saint Nectarius, whose special gift was having introduced pistachios to Greece.
But the isle of Hydra, with its hundreds of cats helped soothe my spirit. It was the first time since my cat's death that I had again petted cats. I'm not including any photos of Hydra itself because I liked my picture of three lounging cats near a sign that said "Hot dog".
Throughout Greece along the roads there are mini-orthodox churches. One especially informative guide (Greek tour guides are very well trained and some of the best I've had) told me that they are like the crosses or other markers we sometimes see along American highways where there has been an accident. Since the Greek roads are notoriously winding and difficult to navigate, the little churches are everywhere. The guide explained that once someone has placed one there in memory to the dead that it was thought to be almost sacrilegious to remove it -- hence their proliferation.
I came home loving Greece and am still determined to return though I've been foiled twice.
Thank you all for your kind comments! I am indeed lucky. Most of my trips are usually for research but in the process I've built up a lot of miles and points so occasionally I go off the beaten path. Even the research trips (mostly France and Italy) hae given me the opportunity to experience the wonders of other cultures.
One of the reasons I have become a fan of taking day tour excursions (especially in a country such as Greece, with a different alphabet, where the train system is lacking and driving in the mountains is hazardous) is that you learn these little known facts (such as the mini-churches) that rarely appear in guidebooks.
Thank you all again! I love your posts and hope we can make the best of the new system.
So sorry for your loss!
I'm glad that Greece was a welcome distraction, a comfort, and a pleasure for you!
Isn't Hydra great? I loved the donkeys... cute!!!! The whole idea of a car-free island is wonderful. And, the views are just so beautiful! It is an excellent daytrip from Athens.
Another wonderful travelogue. I have been looking at your postings now to see what I have missed on my European trips and should do again.
My wife and I went to Greece when we lived in France using the French employee travel benefits. But we wound up using our taxi driver that took us to the Marriott as our travel and guide the whole week. His English was good enough.
It was an experience , especially the out of the way places that regular tour operators seldom visit.
ps My condolences on your cat. Our daughters have a few of them and treat them like Egyptan royalty.
My most memorable experience of course revolved around food (kust call me a reformed foodaholic) and a lunch at a roadside farm with fresh salad from the garden, olive oil from the just pressed pickings from the trees and fresh cheeses from the goats roaming around and bread baked in an outdoor oven. Unique to say the least. Plus the wine was great.
Thank you for your very lucid and informative posts. I look forward to reading more of them.