Friday, April 24, 2009

Greece is the word...have you heard...

This really should be several different blog posts... but hopefully you can deal with one long one instead :)

Greece was SO incredibly lovely. I am not sure that I can do it justice and I am very grateful that we were able to experience it. For so many years I have wanted to travel but it just was not possible. We didn't have the money. We didn't have the time.

But now, it appears to be our time so we are enjoying it, savoring it and appreciating it.

Our first few days in Athens were quite fun. We spent a good deal of time walking around and exploring the city. Observing the differences between it and Bangalore.

Stray animals? Yes, but they look much healthier and people seem to care for them a bit more.

Beggars? Yes, but they are Gypsies.

Walking street/sidewalk vendors? Yes, and they appear to be mostly Indian! (Very versatile though- they had water and sun umbrellas when it was hot, and switched to rain umbrellas when it was wet!)

Colorful? Yes, but for different reasons...

Ever present Athens grafitti

It was definitely a European city, and apparently our hotel, even though it was nice enough, was directly across the street from a charming church that doubled as a junkie shooting gallery.

nice. They didn't seem to bother anyone, nor did they seem to be bothered by anyone, going about their business regardless of who seemed to be walking or driving by no more than 8-10 feet from where they were. Definitely a different world. But, this was an interesting area,

we had a rooftop view of the Acropolis and we were just around the corner from quite a few tavernas that had Greek food which we enjoyed...

Mmmm... Greek Salad! (had a lot of that!)

We saw ruins!

Now, when I was asking people about visiting Greece, quite a few people said that 2-3 days in Athens was enough. We were there for 5 1/2 days and feel like we missed quite a lot! Part of that is because we like ruins, we like history and perhaps in contrast to our European friends, being from the US we have not seen much of that sort of thing. The Acropolis, Parthenon and accompanying areas were stunning.

It was quite a treat to be there in the Spring as the ruins were surrounded and enveloped by fields of wild flowers. That first morning we were walking through the Roman Forum and I smelled this wonderful scent and when I looked down I realized that we were walking through blooming chamomile!

The pictures, lovely as they are, cannot quite show how stunning this is. Plus we just don't see this much in India.

We enjoyed the Archaeological Museum,

luckily on a day that it was raining (and if you are wondering, yes, we were cold during most of our trip!). To see things that I have read about and studied was pretty darn cool.

Even the kids were impressed by this. though even the best museums lose their charm after a few hours,

so we kind of breezed through the end of it, which included the golden mask of Agamemnon and walked back to the hotel... and passed an H & M. Well, we did plan on doing a bit of shopping in Greece as well ;)

The next day we took a day trip to Delphi.

We ordered a car for this, mostly because that is what we are used to doing at this point, and ended up being driven to Delphi in a black Mercedes limousine. Don't think I'll have that experience again! It was something to watch people's reactions as we drove by. But then we would get out, and we just look like any other tourists. We really aren't so "flash". Anyway, Delphi was also very interesting, though lacking in instructional signboards, guides, or brochures. We walked up, and up the hill.

Surrounded by more wildflowers, gorgeous views, and were incredibly grateful that we were not attempting this in the middle of Summer. Seriously. We had cold air coming down off of Mount Parnassas, which was still covered in snow and this made the climb up the hill more bearable. Still I was grateful when we had reached the top and we were able to start the descent. After viewing the main site we made a quick breeze through the nearby museum which had some impressive things,

but we were still a bit "full" from our museum experience the day before. The girls enjoyed it, but as you can see below, were ready to go in the end.

We enjoyed the street life in Athens, and appreciated so much being able to WALK around a city. While we were close by to the metro, buslines, and could have easily taken taxis, we walked everywhere, and perhaps were able to get a better feel for the city because of it. I do wish that we were more familiar with the Greek language though. It is different enough from any that we are familiar with that we were a bit fluxomed. I tried, but repeatedly failed, to remember even the simplest words. In the end I was at least able to say "Kalimera", but that's it. Luckily most people speak English and didn't seem overly annoyed by our inability to communicate in any other language.

I have posted a lot of photos here, but if you would like to see more, go here.

Next, I will tell you about stunning Santorini!


Pikku- Kettu said...

Looks like you had a great time! And took some wonderful photos. :)

I've never been to Greece but I certainly hope I'll have the chance sometime.

Angeluna said...

How lovely. I think what I remember most about Greece was the light. Everything was so bright.

Just a story about hotels. Once we stayed in the fancy hotel on the main square across from the palace. Sounds good so far? Well, I have very accute hearing. All night long, I heard the wooden shoes of the guards below as they marched back and forth on the cobblestones in their beautiful traditional costumes. If we closed the doors to the balcony, it was too hot to sleep. Several nights of this and I was distinctly crabby.

How interesting that the drug use was so open. I thought Greece was pretty tough on drugs.

Can't wait for Santorini.

Lynne S of Oz said...

What a fantastic trip! And being able to walk around places - LUXURY!
Love the pics of the girls being bored/tired/over it! LOL
Off to look at pics of hefalumps, etc.