After our cruise, we had a day to visit some of the monuments of ancient Greece – and to explore the streets of old Athens.
Our cruise ended in Athens on Friday morning, allowing us Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to explore Athens itself. Given the limited time available, and it being my first visit to Athens, we focused our attention on the Acropolis and its accompanying museum. Read on and check out the photo gallery.
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A brief visit to the lovely island town of Hydra, on a beautiful day.
We pulled into the harbor of Hydra, a little town on a small island in the Aegean Sea, not far from Athens. Once an important port for shipping and, during the war for Greek independence, for the military, Hydra is now entirely driven by tourism. Nearly all of its 1,900 residents live in the hillside village surrounding the bay, navigating the narrow streets, stairs, and alleys on foot. “Rubbish trucks are the only motor vehicles on the island, since by law, cars and motorcycles are not allowed. Horses, mules and donkeys, and water taxis provide public transportation” [Wikipedia].
Although our guided tour included the maritime museum and the preserved mansion of an 19th-century businessman, I found it most interesting to wander the streets and drink in the sights and smells of this quaint little town. Below you can see about half the town, and, in the bay, our ship. Check out the photo gallery for more.
A fascinating visit to the ancient Greek site of Mycenae, built over three thousand years ago.
Our final visit on the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece was to Mycenae, the site of a grand palace and fortification built over three thousand years ago. I find it astonishing that these structures and graves were preserved, buried for millennia, until modern excavations just a couple hundred years ago. It has impressive scale and scope, remarkably with several major structures still intact, notably the Lions’ Gate entrance and tholos/treasury. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.
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From the port of Nafplion we visited the ancient Greek theater and healing village of Epidaurus.
The Peloponnese, a major peninsula that forms the southern portion of Greece, is the site of many prehistoric and ancient Greek archaeological sites. Today we toured Epidaurus, the site of an incredibly large and intact Greek theater (still used for performances even today), and a small village of temples and lodgings used as a site for healing.
The theater seats 14,000 people, and is renowned for its excellent acoustics. Modern measurements indicate “that the astonishing acoustic properties may be the result of the advanced design: the rows of limestone seats filter out low-frequency sounds, such as the murmur of the crowd, and also amplify the high-frequency sounds of the stage.” [Wikipedia]
The rest of the complex included temples and lodgings for pilgrims who spent a night at Epidaurus; “In their dreams, the god himself would advise them what they had to do to regain their health” [Wikipedia]. There are still stone slabs on which ancient pilgrims have inscribed testimonials about the miraculous healing of their conditions.
Overall, a fascinating site. Check out the photo gallery for more.
We docked in Itea for a visit to ancient Delphi, the site of the major Greek oracle.
We docked early this morning in the small port town of Itea, for a morning visit to the ancient oracle of Delphi. Will the weather on our trip continue to be this amazing? Maybe we can find the answer here! Read on and check out the photo gallery.
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A brief visit to the ancient site of Olympia, where the Olympic Games were founded (and held every four years).
We docked for a few hours in the small port village of Katakolon, our first stop in Greece, where a short bus ride took us to the original “Olympic Village”. This place, Olympia, is the site of the ancient Olympic Games, a purpose-built village used once every four years, where the athletes would gather to train and compete. Once again, the weather was spectacular and we enjoyed a lovely guided tour around the excavated ruins and accompanying museum. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.
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We anchored in the bay of Naxos as the first rays of the sun struck the steam billowing from the craters of Mount Etna.
I rose early to watch the sunrise over the Mediterranean sea, sitting with my tea and pastries in the café at the rear of the ship as it cruised slowly into the port of Naxos, Sicily. The sky was totally clear and the wind completely calm. As the day brightened and the lights from seaside Sicily towns faded, Le Bougainville dropped its anchor in the harbor, where Mount Etna dominates the surrounding hilly landscape. When the sun finally rose above the sea behind us, its first rays illuminated the cratered peaks of Etna’s 10,912’ mountain summit – and the steam clouds emanating from its five active craters. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.
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A quick visit to the ancient Greek city of Siracusa (Syracuse) in Sicily.
After a calm overnight cruise from Malta to Sicily, we arrived just before sunrise in the port of Catania, with the aim of spending the morning visiting Siracusa (Syracuse), the modern capital city of Sicily and the site of ancient Greek and Roman cities. It was colonized by Greeks in 734 BC, and “for some time stood as the most powerful Greek city anywhere in the Mediterranean.” Read on and check out the photo gallery.
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