The quaint Agios Nikolakis seaside church – Mykonos, Greece.
I have to start out by saying feta, feta and more feta…
The Acropolis at Athens has to be among the most famous and iconic sites of the ancient Mediterranean and indeed it is spectacular but what piqued my interest was the Panathenaic Stadium – home to the first ancient Olympic Games.
The grand marble stadium was originally built in the 5th BC and seats 60,000 people. Just imagine – 500 B.C., and by the way they were naked when they competed! Gym or gymnasium in greek means naked.
The stadium also was the finish line for the marathon (born there) which, believe it or not, starts at Marathon Lake. Guess what the distance is between the two!?
5th century BC also brought Athens the Acropolis – ordered to be built by Pericles. The Parthenon dominates the site and is surrounded by many structures including the Erechtheion and Temple of Nike (the winged Goddess of Victory). It is breathtaking!
The temples basically stood the test of time (including an earthquake) until 300 years ago when the Turks were in power and used the Parthenon to store explosives. Yup, explosives! Being on the receiving end of a bomb the Parthenon imploded. Restoration is currently under way. BTW, at Ephesus, for example, the Austrian government has been donating excavating teams continuously since 1823!
Athens is home to 5,000,000 people – half of their country’s population. This city is much like most metropolitan cities however the architecture is the abhorred concrete construction typical of the 60’s and 70’s – a shameful contrast to the ancient masterfully crafted marble architecture dotted throughout the city – still buried and waiting to be exhumed.
Highly illegal graffiti (a Greek word by the way) line the city walls crying out about austerity measures. Garbage was stacked on the streets because the workers went on strike 2 days before.
2 days after we left the citizens rioted in the city closing down the streets.
It is now 6 days after I initially wrote this (no internet to upload) and they are still protesting through out Greece.
Today, July 17th, we were to visit the island of Lemnos in Greece. However, Mother Nature had a different plan for us.
Rough seas and heavy winds prevented the ship from docking – so we are cruising through the Straits of Dardanelles on our way to Istanbul. We are staying on Taskim Square hoping for a front row seat at the riots.
Bill wanted me to tell you he gained 10 pounds in 12 days – 2 breakfasts, lunch, high tea, dinner, unlimited deserts and free wine victimized him. Nothing that a 500 mile hike can’t take care of… he hopes.
I won’t talk about such matters but will say I am having a severe case of feta withdrawals!
Like the Greece of my dreams….
Mykonos is one of Greece’s 4,000 islands – only 85 sq. km. with 80 km. of shoreline.
A quaint seaside town with a labyrinth of narrow winding streets, 365 churches (1 Catholic), white washed buildings with doors and shutters painted blue with a few red ones thrown in – where 16th century windmills overlook the town and more feta!!!
We had planned to go to the archaeological site of Delos on a nearby island but it was cancelled due to disputing Museum Union workers. Per the letter sent to our room “Despite initial assurances from the Greek Ministry of Tourism that they would be able to open the site of Delos especially for us, they have advised us today that this will no longer be possible. They believe that opening it could cause a union protest, both on the island and further afield, to such an extent that it could affect our guest’s safety and enjoyment.”
So much for that – the same afternoon protesting started and closed the streets in Athens!
We spent the day at sea yesterday making our way to Nauplia – the capital of Greece in the early 1800’s before moving to Athens. Today we visited Mycenae – from the 15th to the 11th century BC (yes BC) it was the seat of the Mycenaean empire considered to be the most important center in the known world. The Mycenaeans and their leader, Agamemnon were considered mythological until in the late1800’s when German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, set out to prove the stories of Homer and uncovered the site thus transforming the world of archaeology. Excavation continues to this day. The Lion’s Gate at Mycenae is considered to be the oldest piece of monumental statuary in all of Europe. It is hard to imagine civilization and their technology so long ago… The lentil (above the door opening) of what is the tomb (a structure that is referred to as a beehive because of it’s shape) of Agamemnon must be 20′ x 10′ x 2′ and weigh in the tons. How was that lifted in place??
Maybe more interesting is the Feta cheese – it is luxurious! Really! Served in squares and so creamy. I wish I could send it home to all of you. Salad for lunch and dinner mounded with – you got it – feta!