Lara's Blog

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Greece Tour

Got up bright and early on mon morn to get to the travel agent by 745am, 15 mins before our bus was due to pick us up .8am comes... still waiting... 810am... sitll waiting.... have they forgotten us??? FINALLY at 840am someone starts saying "Graves? Graves?" yes that's us!!!! Follow them on to a bus around the corner... and there aren't enough seats to go round. this is going to be a fun four days!!!!! turns out we were only heading back to HQ where we would be split on to various buses dependin gon the tour we were on. so that was ok!

  • Corinth Canal - this was created so ships did not have to sail around the dangerous coast of the pelleponnese, and drastically reduced travelling time. Before the canal was constructed, they used to actually have a slip way with flat rocks and they woudl DRAG the boats across the land!
  • Ancient theatre at Epidaurus - "perfect acoustic".
  • Quick stop at Nauplia to let the 5 day tour people off the bus, but we didn't get off. then we went through the plain of Argos and got to Mycenae
  • Two Mycenaen archaeological sites - one is the Mikines Acropolis with lion's gate (17th century BC) and the guard dog's house and in the distance the mountains look like Agamemnon sleeping. Here we went to the museum and saw the mask of Agamemnon. It's called this, but was actually found in a tomb 400yrs too old to possibly have been his actual death mask. We also went to Agamemnon's actual tomb, from the 13th century BC. It is said to look like a beehive!
  • That night we arrived in Olympia
  • Had dinner... pork and rice. which was fine... but little were we to know that it would be followed by pork and rice, THREE nights in a row!!! Rhonda and i wanted to have a few drinks after dinner.... but everyone was in bed by 930pm!
  • Another early start, and we were one of the first groups at Olympia. Pretty amazing place: site of the original olympic games. There are heaps of ruins, from temples, the alter where they light the flame, the olive tree at the site of the original tree (obviously trees don't live for thousands of years!!) from which they made the crowns, treasuries, gymnasiums and the stadium. the stones they used to build the structures actually have seashells preserved in them. This means the site was once covered by ocean! The sun was streaming through the trees and it was a bit misty. Became much more crowded as we were leaving so timing was good.
  • Museum at Olympia
  • Lunch was at a great location by the sea. The water was beautiful. I had prawns - no pork in sight :)
  • Another long drive and we arrived in Delphi. Had some free time in the afternoon at Delphi - and of course spent more money. Delphi is known as the navel of the world - supposedly two birds flew, one from the east and one from the west and they met at Delphi so that must be the centre. Sunset from our hotel room balcony
  • Attempted the hotel pool, but it was ICE cold so didn't last long!
  • Dinner? pork and rice!

  • Museum at Delphi
  • Archaeological site at Delphi: the Sanctuary of Apollo - Amazing scenery from here. mountains and water. THe archaeological site was hte international politcal centre of Greece. Again ruins from temples, treasuries, gymnasiums, a theatre and a stadium. Making it up to the stadium was a feat in itself. There was a second smaller sanctuary across the road and it had a pool in the gymnasium!
  • Headed to Kalambaka which is a small town at the foot of the cliffs on which the Byzantine Monastries are built.

  • Meteora - Driving towards the monastries we were confronted with a unique environment. I am pretty sure it was located over a fault line, there is no other way it could exist! Sudden great cliffs erupting from the land, and on top some of these are precariously perched monastries. Apparently with at least one monastry, it took 20yrs to get the materials up the cliff, and only 20 days to actually build it!
  • We visited the Monastry of St Barbara and the Monastry of St Stephenos. The women had to put long skirts on over trousers or shorts.
  • Returned to Athens after a long drive and made it back to our hostel - everyone else in Hotels!!!

Met some interesting people on tour. Barb and George, a couple from Australia. They were heading out on a cruise of the islands when we got back so we were able to give them restaurant recommendations and showed Barb the jewellery we bought! Chip and Matt were father and son from Pennsylvania, USA. Matt's actually working in Afghanistan at the moment
THere were a few other Australians and Americans, notably Lesley from Brisbane, a 70+ yo who was particularly irritating!!!!! Tour guide was named Kallina and was our "mother" for the 4 days. She could be strict sometimes!!! and was not impressed when we rocked up for breakfast one morning at 9am. Even though everyone had understood that wakeup was at 8am, not breakfast at 8!!!! It was a good experience, saw some amazing things. Wont remember a single bit of the information that was imparted, but i bought a book on greek history and mythology so that will refresh me!!!!

That night in athens we had dinner with Matt and his dad Chip. After dinner Chip was keen to kick on for a drink and we managed to get Matt into staying out til waaaaaaaaaaaay past his bedtime! haha.

On my last day in Athens we visited the botanical gardens. Very peaceful (apart from kids!).

Had my last gyros! very sad!!!

Lots of stray cats (and dogs, but not as many as Santorini) in athens. We spotted this skinny queen with three kittens (two are hiding in the background). she was friendly but was pretty fluey. Sad, and i don't even like cats! (some vet i'll make)

Dinner was rushed although great, stuffed kalamari. This is a random typical street near where we had dinner. Parts of Athens were very dirty, but others (esp near the Acropolis, i assume it's more touristy there) were quite pretty.Made it to the airport by 830pm. Arrived at chris's doorstep at 2am this morning.


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