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Greece

ATHENS, GREECE

A life long dream to visit the Acropolis in Athens

sunny 25 °C

We arrived in Lavrion, the port of Athens, early on Friday 10 October for a three night stay.
Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years. Classical Athens, as a landlocked location was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.

Our first tour was to visit the Acropolis.

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The long walk up to the Acropolis
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View over Athens from the Acropolis
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The Parthenon built 407 BC to 432 BC. Beautiful proportion and Doric columns being restored by archaeologists.
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The famous Caryatids - the 6 maidens - of the Erechtheion built around 420 BC. This temple has beautiful Ionic columns.
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The Parthenon - 46 Doric columns - 8 on each end and 17 along the sides
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The Odeum of Heredotus Atticus built in 161 AD - venue for concerts, Maria Callas in 1957
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Display showing the Parthenon
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Northern end of the Parthenon
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Colleen on the Acropolis
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Roman Temple of the Olympian Zeus completed in 2 AD in Athens viewed from the Acropolis
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Temple of Erectheion
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Temple of Erectheion showing showing portico on the left
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Monument of Agrippa
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Panathinaiko Stadium built for the first Olympics of the modern era in 1896 holding 80 000.
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Panorama of the Panathinako Stadium
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Zapeion - the Exhibition Hall
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Royal Palace built 1834 is now the House of Parliament
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Home of Henirich Schliemann, the man who discovered the ancient city of Troy, is now the Numismatic Museum. note the swastickas in the iron work.
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Recreation of the Parthenon in Athens
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Emperor Hadrian's Arch 2 AD
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View of the illuminated Parthenon from the roof bar at our hotel
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Close up of the illuminated Parthenon from our hotel roof bar
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Greek dancing
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Greek dancing
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Greek dancing
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Our friends, Anne and Alan from New Zealand at the Greek night
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The belly dancer with a sword
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The belly dancer

On Sunday morning, we caught a bus down to Stigmana Square to see the changing of the guard. The Evzones, or Evzoni, is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Presidential Guard, an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Presidential Mansion and the gate of Evzones camp in Athens.

Though the Presidential Guard is a predominantly ceremonial unit, all Evzones are volunteers drawn from the Hellenic Army's Infantry, Artillery and Armoured Corps. Prospective Evzones are usually identified at the Army Recruit Training Centres during Basic Training; there is a minimum height requirement of 1.86 m (6' 1.2") to join.

The unit is famous around the world for its unique traditional uniform, which has evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts who fought the Ottoman occupation of Greece. The most visible item of this uniform is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment. Their proven valour and peculiar dress turned them into a popular image for the Greek soldier, especially among foreigners. We were told that each uniform costs 8 000 Euros.

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The Hotel Bretagne built in 1842 as a house for a wealthy Greek business is now one of the most luxurious hotels in southern Europe.

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The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is a Greek Orthodox church and one of the oldest churches in Athens. It is estimated that the church was built some time in the 11th century, perhaps around 1050. As it was common with the early Christian churches, this was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to the worship of a goddess, possibly Athena or Demeter.

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Hadrian's Library was created by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens.

The building followed a typical Roman Forum architectural style, having only one entrance with a propylon of Corinthian order, a high surrounding wall with protruding niches at its long sides, an inner courtyard surrounded by columns and a decorative oblong pool in the middle. The library was on the eastern side where rolls of papyrus "books" were kept. Adjoining halls were used as reading rooms, and the corners served as lecture halls.

We came across the library as we walked down the Plaka walking streets. The shops here are like souks or bazaars with many restaurants.

We leave in the morning for our ten day stay in Malta.

Posted by Kangatraveller 07:10 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

GREEK ISLAND CRUISE

Aboard ship – Greek Island Cruise stopping at Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Heraklion, Santorini and finishing in Athens

Aboard ship – Greek Island Cruise stopping at Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Heraklion, Santorini and finishing in Athens
On Saturday 4 October we joined the cruise from the Hotel Zurich. We had lunch on the ship, the Louis Cristal and pulled out of Istanbul at 9.00pm that night.

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Last view of Istanbul
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Our cruise ship, the Louis Cristal

Sunday 5 October

We arrived at Kusadasi at 3.30pm. Colleen and I walked off the ship and went to the Grand Bazaar. The Turks and other nationalities are great salesmen. Fortunately they do have a sense of humour and a good command of English.

We did not go on the tours to Ephesus as we had been there a few days before on the around Turkey trip.

Here are a few photos of Kusadasi.
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The USS Bataan tied up at Kusadasi
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The Grand Bazaar
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The Grand Bazaar
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Sunset at Kusadasi

Santorini
Monday 6 October

Today we visited the beautiful island of Santorini. The island is crescent shaped and this is the result of a massive volcanic eruption in 1650BC.The white washed towns (14 towns with Thira as the capital) are built at the very top of the mountain and the houses from a distance look a bit like snow. They cling to the cliff edge some 300 metres above sea level and hang almost into the Caldera itself.

This island has no water supplies at all. As well as a variety of fruits and vegetables there are quite a few vineyards. The vines are not irrigated at all. The vines are trained low to the ground and the pumice stop absorbs water through the night and releases it to the vines through the day.

Santorini is actually not one island but five and sits almost exactly over the point where the continental plates between Europe, Asia and Africa meet. The volcano is still active.

The island was occupied as early as 3000BC by a sophisticated group of people, with their civilization being a combination between Cycladic and Minoan up until the year 165BC when the volcano erupted.

Here are some pictures of this beautiful place.

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The Caldera at Santorini
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The towns are built high on the edges if the hills
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Church
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This view is the most photographed in Santorini
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Everyone has their photo taken here
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Courtyard
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The cable car down to the docks

Crete
Tuesday 7 October
We docked at Agios Nikolaos, Crete for our excursion to the capital city, Heraklion (Hercules in English) and the Palace of Knossos. We had an hour or so travel to the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Knossos was the capital of the Minoan civilization, was the first civilization in Europe. The hill of Kephala, which osts the Palace above a valley of pines a few kilometres outside Heraklion, has been continuously inhabited since 7000BC.

The Minoan civilization, which endured for about 2000 years was the most advanced in the ancient world, and Knossos is one of the instances where mythology might dovetail with archaeological fact.

The frescoed palace of Knossos comprises more than 1500 rooms and occupies more than 20 000 square metres. An Englishman Sir Arthur XXX discovered the site and gifted it to the government of Crete.

Minosa legendary king and lawgiver of Crete, was one of Europa’s three sons all born after her tryst with Zeus who appeared to Europa as a white bull and carried her off to Crete.
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Layout of the Minoan Palace with 1500 rooms
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The Minoan Palace
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Some upper parts are reconstructions
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Friezes -the originals are in the Museum

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Original clay jars for storage of olive oil etc -3000 years old
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Clay storage jars
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The Bull was worshipped
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The fountain in the main square of Heraklion, capital of Crete
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Statue on the docks depicting Zeus disguised as a bull with Europa on his back

Wednesday 8 October
The island of Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese (means 12 islands) in the southern most part of the Aegean Sea. It is the capita of a group of islands which form the state of Greece named Dodecanese (meaning the 12 islands together). It is an area of 1398 sq klms and has a population of 100,000 people.

On arrival in Rhodes the first thing that is noticeable is the great walls that surround the magnificent castle that the Knights of St John built during the period of the crusaders six centuries ago.

Rhodes is the sunniest place in Greece and has more than 300 days of sunshine each year. This was the reason that ancient Rhodeans come to us with the legend of the sun god, Helios.

About 50 kms away from Rhodes town and somewhere in the middle of the east coat of the island, located in the unique town of Lindos is the Acropolis of Lindos which is dedicated to the goddess Athena Lindia. Most of the houses in Lindos open into spacious courtyards decorated with fine naturally multicolored pebbles.

The Acropolis is located 297 steps up the mountain and overlooks the bay and township of Lindos. The view and the ruins were well worth the increased heart rate to reach the top.
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The Acropolis at Lindos
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Some of the 297 steps
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The donkeys also known as Lindos Taxis
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The Fortress at Rhodes
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The streets of the Knights of St John
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Gate of the Fortress
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Time for a coffee in a restaurant inside the fortress
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Sunset at Rhodes

Symi
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Panorama of the harbour at Symi
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The plaque on the house where the Germans surrendered the Dodecanese
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The house is now a restaurant
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Some if the many luxury yachts in the harbour

Thursday 9 October

The island of Chios
Thursday 9 October

Today we arrived early at the island of Chios. Chios is the 8th largest island of Greece and has a population of 60,000. The island is famous for mastic which comes from a small tree that lives for 100 years. The mastic forms in tiny teardrops from a cut to the branches and then falls to the ground to be collected by the farmers. It is a very expensive product (up to 110 Euros per kilo) that is used in gum, ice cream, sweets and even used for a daily drink to aid the digestive system and whiten teeth.
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The mastic tree

We visited the medieval village of Mesta, which still survives untouched by the passage of time. A Greek Orthodox church from the Byzantine times, Palaios Taxiarchis, in the centre of the village was built as a vaulted one-nave basilica but in 1794 was extended to become two aisled.

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Houses use these colourful friezes
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A Greek Othodox church
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Inside the church
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The town square

Next was a visit to the ancient village of Anavastos. It is built on a rocky elevation with sides so steep it can only be approached from one point. The natural defenses of the site make it probably that it was originally founded to control the island’s west coast during the period of piracy. The village is now completely deserted but the overall shape is well preserved and gives a picture of a ghost town surrounded by a wild and rough natural environment. A sole woman lives in the town.
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The town was abandoned after the slaughter of the inhabitants by the Ottomans in 1822.

Our next island visit was to Mykonos. Whilst it is one of the smallest islands it is also one of the most cosmopolitan. It is very popular and has a reputation of being the ultimate fund and trendy place of the Aegean Sea. Mykonos has a population of 6,000 people in the winter but in summer increases to 100,000 per day. The entire town is whitewashed, the houses are all cubical and usually two-storied with brightly coloured doors and windows and wooden balconies.

As this is a very hot and dry island, the white washed buildings reflect the sun rays and angled flat roofs allow water to be collected in cisterns in the basements of the houses.
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The harbour at Mykonos
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The white washed houses of Mykonos
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Panorama of Mykonos -the party island

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Octopus hung in the sun to dry

We arrived in Piraeus, the port of Athens early on Friday for a three night stay before flying to Malta via

Posted by Kangatraveller 01:42 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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