Saturday, October 06, 2007

Greek Vacation

Janna's new "Happy Place" eating ice cream, overlooking the Aegean Sea on Santorini!href="">

We started in Athens and did the obligatory tours of the Acropolis (left), and visited the Archeological Museum. This began many days of eating spinach pies, and feta and tomato sandwiches from the various street vendors. This also began many days of walking, a lot!
Athens included seeing the changing of the guard and a stroll through the colorful Monastriaki market and eating our first excellent Greek food while enjoying live Greek music at the Tavernas.

Birds - some of the prolific "wall art" seen all over Athens. Tons of motorcycles too, since they fit down those crazy narrow streets!


Crazy T-Shirt vendors on The Plaka, an open air Athens Market
From Athens, the train took us to Meteora where we met our not so vegetarian friendly hosts where I was told in no uncertain terms I was "going against nature." We ate elsewhere... The hotel was great, right at the base of the amazing rocks upon which monasteries were built in the 1500s. It's striking how scared they must have been of the local situation to put their monasteries SO high on these amazing rocks. We never figured out the bus system and ended up walking over 7km (~5miles) between monasteries and up and down to our hotel.

The trip continued to a ferry and landed us on Crete in Hania, a sweet and touristy town on the west side of Crete. From here we were able to visit the beach a few times, happy to sit after much walking. I found I can actually swim if I'm in salty water!

Hania was also the base for our day trip to the Samaria Gorge on the south side of the island. This amazing natural wonder has a 12km hike (and another 2 at the end to get to the much desired ferry home). I managed to twist my ankle at km 2 on yet another almost invisible rock, par for the course. I limped through the rest of the hike, not willing to stop for anything! At the WC and water stops we tasted the cleanest most amazing water that ran through the gorge.

Through random acts of kindness and unkindness, we got on a bus to Rethmynon. The city is spelled many ways, the bus destination was confusing, and there was little English spoken. Kevin used his trusty internet connection on his cell to confirm we were likely going the right way. Here we ambled around yet another ruin of a fortress overlooking the sea - taking, yes, more photos!
Heraklion, on the east side of Crete was the final stop here. We visited the Cretaquarium to see what's under the sea in the Mediterranean. Another bus adventure, waiting 1.5 hours in the wrong spot and .5 hours in the right one... and were were back for dinner.

The final stop was the picturesque island of Santorini. Everything you see in the postcards, and all the tourists to prove it! 100+ photos in 2 days. The hotel room there was amazing with an unobstructed view of the Agean Sea. All I can say is, wow. We spent an afternoon shopping, then cooked macaroni" on a hot plate in the room after many cravings as "pasta" is translated as "macaroni" on menus. on Monday took a ride on a "clipper" type of boat to see the caldera of the volcano that broke up the original island of Santorini. More hiking! The boat also made a stop near some sulfur hot springs, but my swimming abilities didn't allow me to partake, although my travel buddy Kevin got to go!

The travellers enjoying some history in Athens.