Posted on Thursday, 10th March 2011 by

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While a student in college working on a liberal arts degree, I read The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer and was fascinated by the stories of Greek Gods and the Temples of Greece.  Seeing the Parthenon was a must for me but it took another 36 years before I planned the trip and another 18 months before actually departing on my quest to see The Parthenon.  So off to Greece I went on a cruise ship with four ports of call.

Once in Athens I boarded a tour bus for the Acropolis.  When I got off and began climbing the hill to the Acropolis, I did my best to take it all in.  I noticed the plants growing around the area and the view of the surrounding hills as I climbed the ancient steps to the Parthenon; all the while imagining what it must have looked like in its prime.  The stacked columns, some slightly offset to maintain the delicate balance for the beams overhead, were fascinating.  Then finally, I reached the point where I could see the majestic Parthenon.

There is something about standing on the Acropolis in the ruins of the Parthenon and knowing that it is a piece of ancient history that still stands in all its glory. The Acropolis is so revered by the people of Greece that restoration work continues to this day to keep their beloved history alive. It is nearly the size of a football field!  Some of the beams have carvings of horse heads and riders located at the corners. You can nearly see breath coming from their nostrils. At the back of the Parthenon, if you look at the hillside below, it looks as if someone has laid parts of buildings like pieces of a puzzle. How appropriate, given that it is exactly what the Archeologists are doing on the Acropolis; they are reconstructing buildings as well as restoring statues on the temples of the Greek Empire.

The city of Athens is huge and seems to disappear into the horizon without end. The skylines remain to this day uncluttered by skyscrapers. While there are high rises, few are above twelve stories.  Millions of people live amongst the ruins, which come to life in the stories of Homer.  While these stories were no longer fresh in my mind the knowledgeable guides brought these Gods and Goddesses back to life and helped me remember some of those wonderful stories that were the reason for my new journey.

My Greek holiday also included a stop at the port of Katakalon which is near the ruins of the original Olympic Games.  The Olympic Torch is lit on these ancient grounds and starts its journey to the host city every two years.  The stadium is believed to be the 5th stadium and is located east of the original site. It is a simple stone flat field with a start line that is also the finish line. Spectators sat on slopes around the stadium for the events.  It is believed there were a few stones seats originally just for the Olympic officials.  These ancient grounds include the Temple of Hera and the Temple of Zeus.  The Olympic museum has magnificent displays of stone works of the period including warriors, gods and mythical creatures.  If you enjoy watching the Olympics you would find this port of call very interesting.

Another reason that I choose Greece was due to Samantha Brown’s Travel Channel shows. She has a few episodes on Greece and the two in particular of the Santorini and Mykonos islands that I could watch over and over again.  She talks about the food, the quaint shops and traditional Greek Coffee.  My Greek holiday included a stop at Mykonos, a magical little island with narrow walkways, windmills, lots of white buildings, Churches with colorful domes and winding sidewalks that you climb up and down.  It’s very picturesque and if you love cats there are plenty to share a little love with as you explore the island. Of course I made sure to have a cup of Greek Coffee at a café while exploring this little island. It was different from any coffee I have had before, a little thick but very flavorful.  You do need to pay attention while exploring the city on the hillside of this island.  You can easily get lost, and that is partly why the city was structured as it is.  The story I heard was that pirates often raided these islands and they had difficulty navigating the narrow passageways and couldn’t escape easily. Another reason for the narrow paths is the strong island winds which dissipate as you walk further into the central part of the city.

A Greek Holiday is a fun and fascinating vacation that includes history and ancient lands to explore.  If you have ever thought about traveling to Greece you won’t be disappointed.

Nancy Holston

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