γεια και αντίο Ελλάδα
Hello and Goodbye Greece!
So, after 8 hours hanging out in the hot and stuffy cabins on the Ferry from Bari Italy, we arrived in the Igoumenitsa Port in Greece and began the second half of our Spring tour!
After a few hours driving on the new highway (still just 2 lanes) built recently by the European Union, we arrived in the area of Kalambaka. Above the city of Kalambaka, are huge beautiful cliffs with lots of caves. In these cliffs and caves, many many centuries before, monks and hermits on spiritual journeys would move into isolation to meditate. Now, the largest complex of Greek Orthodox Monasteries are scattered on the tops of several of the cliffs through out the region. They are called the Meteora Monasteries.
In General, the rock formations, and vegetation covering some parts are incredible.. Absolutely breathtaking.
And then these monasteries, that are built on the tops of certain pinnacles are hard to believe. Some are built on top of points that are no larger than a big truck, with little paths made out of stone blocks or cut into the rock carve all over.
The building themselves are also really impressive and beautiful, they looked so well built and almost perfect looking, like they could be painted or something. One of the monasteries we built was getting some major construction on one side, it was interesting to see how the workers just dumped the rubble off the cliff... I was dumbfounded for a second, actually, when I saw that happen.
We visited 3 out of the 6 total monasteries that are in this small region.
And here is the last one: It had a much larger area on the top of the pinnacle without any buildings, so it allowed for more roaming around.
That night, in Kalambaka, was our first night in the magical and wonderful Amalia Hotel's... Wow.... Ill say more about this later. But just wow!
Then we headed toward Delphi, with a quick lunch break at Itea, the Ancient Harbour of Delphi. Here's a picture of some of the girls out on the pier:
Couldn't resist the picture of this fishing boat with the Mercedes Car symbol on the front!
That night, before the Delphi Amalia hotel dinner, I went on a hike up to the top of the hill that Delphi rests on, up on top was this little structure:
As I wondered up, I ran into my friend Clare who had the same idea of going for a hike.
The sun was beginning to set as we got to the top, and the views were amazing, the pictures can't even do it justice.
After Clare and I made our way back down, avoiding the cow pies left for us on the trail, we were so excited for the dinner that we knew was coming at the Amalia Hotel we were staying at :)
The next day, we went to the Archeological site of Delphi and had a tour of the museum and site outside. Delphi is the location where Zeus determined the naive of the earth to be (center of the earth). We heard lots of stories and greek legends about this site and area throughout history. It was pretty cool, and I would definitely consider coming back one day!
Then we took off on another day of driving, with a stop at the Corinth Canal. The Canal is about 4 miles long and only 70 ft wide at the base, just wide enough for lots of different modern ships. The Canal separates mainland greece from the Peloponnese peninsula.
Finally, we made it to the next Amalia Hotel, in Nafplio, just in time for dinner! Thank goodness! :)
The next day we had a day trip to two archeological sites. The first one we stopped at was Mycenae, which was one of the major cities during the second millennium. Here is an ancient tomb (that stone beam, the one above the door and below the triangle, is a piece of stone that weighs over 120 tons!):
And here is the view of the valley where the city was, it was raining this day, so I didn't take to many pictures of the ruins themselves, but they all look the same in photos anyways:
And then we went out to lunch, where everyone was stuffed to the rafters, seriously, so much food and they kept bringing it, greek salad and then we thought the appetizers were the main meal, but then they brought more for the main course and then desert and then I, personally, went slightly comatose on the bus for an hour before we arrived at our next location, the Acheological site of Epidauros.
Here is our Director, Dr. Horcika, giving some love to a stray dog, and most likely missing his best friend Wally. Wally usually hangs out around the center, but she was staying with his family near salzburg while her bud Rene, was on tour with us. Stay dogs and cats were everywhere in lower Italy and especially Greece.
The theatre is one of he main parts of Epidauros, the acoustics are impeccable; someone standing at exactly the center of the stage, can whisper words that can be heard anywhere in the audience! Honest, we all tried it!!!
Here you can some of the girls standing in the center of the circle and saying things, even where I was standing to take this picture, in the back corner, I could hear them!
Then Back to the wonder Amalia hotel in Nafplio that we stayed at for the remainder of our time in Greece. If your wondering what the big deal is with these Amalia hotels that I keep mentioning, well, you'll just have to hold your horses...
The next day we took another day trip, but this time to Athens! First we had a tour at the National Archeological Museum, and then we went to the Acropolis! The Acropolis itself was fantastic and so cool to see all of the buildings on it that we had learned about... but, honestly, what I was really excited about was the view from it:
The view itself was amazing, and then exploring the city on our own time was also really fun. Some of the coolest flea markets and interesting neighborhoods were in Athens. I really had a good time exploring this city, definitely a lot of people, but for one day, I could handle it!
After the day trip to Athens, we returned to the Nafplio Amalia Hotel for our last night, unfortunately we didn't make it back in time for dinner there but we were able to enjoy one last breakfast buffet the next morning!
So, finally, I will say something about the Amalia Hotels, and about all of our meals in Greece: One word- Buffets
The Hotels had mostly buffets, some served dinners, and then some of the restaurants we went to as a group served us, but regardless, everywhere, we all left each meal, way over stuffer, incredibly happy, and incredibly lethargic! Most of the time we sat down for a meal, we were all still stuffed from the previous meal! I wish I would have taken pictures of all the food, but just imagine fresh greek salads, delicious tzatziki, puddings, cheeses, so many options for main courses, and so much desert, including but not limited to the best Baklava ever! Mmmmm!
So, after our last Breakfast Buffet in Greece we headed to Olympia, were, as anyone might guess, is the sanctuary where the Olympic games occurred during classical times!
It was really pretty and neat to hear about the games back then, very different from now-a days!
And after olympia, we stopped at a local Olive processor and saw how they turn the Olive into the Oil!
We also got samples, and more samples, and more samples! everyone kept buying Olive oil bottles and they kept filling up the bowls of the oil and bring out more bread so we kept eating! I think everyone was used to the Greek portions we had at the hotels, so this afternoon snack, was welcome!
Then we left the land of the Buffets and delicious salads and got on a ferry boat:
The next two nights on the ferry was actually really nice and kinda fun! It was good to catch up on sleep, reading, and movie watching after the past few weeks of travel travel traveling!
Then, two days later, we arrived near Venice on the coast of Italy, and took a small Taxi Ferry to Venice, the floating city:
Venice was beautiful, and it was a beautiful day! We had a tour around some the historical areas and then had the rest of the afternoon to explore.
Such a photogenic city, it would be impossible to take a bad picture here!
I really enjoyed seeing and learning about the city, they live in such a different way here, while the gondola boats are just for the tourists, there are other, open boats that are used everyday for moving gear, supplies and food all over the city!
After Venice, we got on a bus and spent our last night in a Hotel in Padua, Italy. Then the next little part of our Spring break Adventure began! But wow, is that another story!
Until next time- Peace!