S: Greece and Italy 2009
BC: created by Gail Campbell
FC: Greece and Italy 2009 ...an amazing vacation
1: 2009 September 30 - November 6 Exploring Greece and Italy with Fran and Greg Johnson
2: We arrive in Athens via Frankfurt and head out to explore the city.
3: We can see the Acropolis from our hotel so what better place to begin the adventure.
4: The Parthenon on the Acropolis overlooks Athens
5: and restoration work is underway.
8: a view of the city from the Acropolis
11: seating for a very large crowd
12: ....all that walking means the need for the pause that refreshes
13: now to decide...where shall we go next?
14: wandering and discovering at the Ancient Agora and the Stoa of Attalus
15: ...many structures dating back to 400 BC
19: ...many vehicles ...many people ...much noise
20: a visit to the Parliament Buildings and an opportunity to see the changing of the guard
22: ....intriguing costumes ....intriguing footwear ....intriguing movement ....all very interesting and fascinating
24: Temple of Olympian Zeus Hadrian's Arch Mars Hill The National Gardens ...and always time for an ice-cream stop
25: a city filled with ...museums ...archaeological sites ...history, history, history
26: There are many ways to explore the city and most of the time it is on foot but we can't resist trying the Sunshine Express.
33: The New Acropolis Museum houses fine artifacts, mostly sculptures, that once adorned the shrines and temples of the Acropolis.
35: Farewell to Athens and thanks for a wonderful 3 days.
36: Bright and early Sunday morning we take the subway and train to Pircieus, the port city, so we can catch the ferry for the 5 hour trip to Paros.
38: Hotel Eri, our Paros home for the next 7 days
41: The path behind our hotel takes us down the hill and into the centre of the village.
42: Fishermen mend their nets and prepare for the next catch.
43: exploring the streets and lanes of the fishing village
46: Don and I rent a scooter for the day and are off to explore the island.
48: We could hear the bells, around their necks, long before we could see the herd. | man on donkey herding goats.....
49: not many sunbathers at this time of year | the view across the bay
50: We take a bus to the other side of the island for a ferry cruise to Delos and Mykynos.
51: waiting for the ferry to arrive
55: and now for another adventure
56: a step back in time
57: Delos is a small, uninhabited island about an hour, by ferry, from Paros. It is the site of an amazing archaeological dig that is among the most prized in Greece. Here, an entire town spreads from the shore to the top of the island. Every building is constructed out of fieldstone. They date back to the 6th century BC and many have walls that still stand 4-5 feet high. There are also marble columns that, legend says, came to the island by ship. Fascinating!
59: ancient walls still standing
63: Lion Terrace
65: another great day
66: Run, run as fast as you can because when the captain says he is leaving at 2 PM he does not mean 2:01.
68: arriving in Mykynos
74: good night and farewell to Mykynos
75: ...a new day and hello to Santorini
76: like all the Greek Islands - volcanic rock | on Santorini, we find * red *white *black
78: just like in the movies
79: Our home for the next week is in the town of Perissa.
80: welcome | to our | humble | abode...
81: ...at Hotel Drossus
82: The beach is tiny pebbles of black lava.
83: ...a view of town, from the beach
85: High above the town is a church built into the side of the mountain.
86: time to explore the rest of the island and beyond......
87: ...so we rented a car to drive around the island. We made several stops at beaches that are named after the colour of the pebbly lava beach - this one Black Beach
88: What could possibly be in these caves, with locks on the doors, that line the shore of the Black Beach?
90: We set off for the north end of the island where we stop at the lighthouse and look down at the sea from the top of the high cliffs.
92: Great times with great friends
93: The next day we take a sailing tour to 2 more islands.
94: Our first stop is the islet of Nea Kameni which is an active volcanic centre and the youngest island in the eastern Mediterranean.
95: You can feel the heat! | The most recent eruption was in 1950.
98: ...a glimpse of the Agean Sea from Nea Kameni | ...then to Thirasia, the 3rd island in the Santorini island group...
99: The only village on Thirasia is a long climb to the top of the cliff.
100: swimming in the warm volcanic waters just off Thirasia ...we are spectators for this one...
105: Another day and we make two more stops on Santorini. The first is Fira, where the cruise ships arrive, and then Oia, at the southern end of the island and the town that boasts the most beautiful sunsets on the planet. There are 3 ways to get to the towns from shore... cable car (Fira only), donkey, or 580 steps.
106: no donkeys for us - too smelly - too unpredictable
107: It is a long, hard climb but well worth the time and effort.
108: This is what we see built into the rock as we make our way to the top.
109: It's fun to set foot in a place that looks exactly like the postcards.
112: making memories | It just doesn't get any better!
114: and now the sunset.....
115: beautiful...and you can actually see the sun moving closer and closer to the horizon
118: Next stop ROME
119: first - a tour of the Coliseum
124: Our guide for the morning has great stories about Romans, emperors, gladiators as well as the opulence and arrogance that led to the downfall of the empire. He takes us right back to those horrific public displays intended to demonstrate the power of the empire.
125: We walk where Julius Caesar, Nero and so many others walked before.
127: Amazing that after so many centuries, so much of the structure remains.
129: Just outside there are vendors, both legal and not so much...the police keep watch.
130: We spend our afternoon exploring the Roman Forum and the Palantine.
132: David, our guide for the afternoon.. ..
133: ...treats us to amazing stories about the founding of Rome. We learn about the gold, marble etc. that once adorned the walls, floors and ceilings of the Coliseum being "recycled" and is now found in the Vatican.
143: There is so much to see on our walk back to the hotel.
144: our home in Rome
145: view from our window early in the morning
146: Trevi Fountain
148: Many people are here to see the famous fountain but we understand this is nothing compared to the summer months.
150: today..... a walking tour of central Rome
152: the Pantheon - outside...
154: ...and in
155: ...then to the Spanish Steps
158: artists selling their wares | rooftop gardens
159: parking is at a premium at the courthouse
160: across the Tiber to the Castel Sant Angelo and then a long walk along the river
163: Piazza del Popolo...what is happening here?
164: The King of Jordan is in Rome and, apparently, has stopped for lunch.
165: This causes quite a stir | and we are only too happy to watch.
166: Our last day in Rome and we are off to the Vatican. As luck would have it, the Pope is giving an audience.
168: If you look very closely you will see the window of the Pope's private suite.
169: The crowd is very large and there are screens placed around St. Peter's Square so everyone can see the Pope.
170: Benedict XVI
171: Papal audience
172: The tour begins.
177: Just as the guide, at the Coliseum, said, artwork and treasures abound.
178: a model of Vatican City
179: Step out into the courtyard.
181: on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, where the Pope gave an audience earlier in the day
182: inside the Basilica
185: the Vatican Guard
187: Farewell to Rome
188: ...another new home... This time we find ourselves, after an "interesting" ride with a very old and shaky taxi driver, at Le Terrazze which overlooks Sorrento.
189: The view from our hotel is incredible... overlooking the Bay of Naples and the city of Sorrento.
191: The first morning, after our arrival, we take a walk up the long and winding road to St. Agata.
192: The next day we head down the long and winding road into Sorrento.
194: Sorrrento is a beautiful city, built into the the cliffs, along the Bay of Naples.
197: Isle of Capri
198: We take the tram to the highest point on the island where we can see the Bay of Naples, the Gulf of Salerno, as well as the entire island and the grottos. Spectacular!
202: Anacapri from the tram
203: Blue Grotto
205: Capri is also home to a vast array of designer shops.
206: back to the harbour to board the ferry to Sorrento
207: Returning to Sorrento, we go for a walk and come across this abandoned, moss covered mill deep in a canyon.
209: view from the balcony of our new home in Sorrento
210: Finally we can set off for the Amalfi Coast. There has been so much rain that the roads have been closed due to mud slides. Our first stop is Positano. There are no words can really describe the scenery along the coast where every minute is a new photo op.
213: Everything here is either a long, long climb UP or a long, long walk DOWN.
214: The road along the Amalfi Coast is narrow, winding, frightening, and one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.
216: Our next stop is the town of Amalfi which, like everything along the coast, is built right into the cliffs. We check out the docks first and then head across the highway and up the stairs to see the town.
218: In Amalfi we go to the town square where the focal point is a magnificent cathedral. As we explore the town, we find it hard to reconcile the ancient architecture mixed with laundry hanging to dry.
224: Back on the SITA bus and on our way up, up, up and up some more to the town of Ravello.
225: The orchards are terraced into the hillsides the most common crops are olives and lemons.
228: one more place with magnificent sunsets
229: time to celebrate another day!
230: more exploring in Sorrento
231: Sometimes it's fun to just sit and watch the cars and trucks go by.
232: Early in the morning on Halloween Day we go to the Circumversuvian train station to catch the train for Pompeii.
234: We get headphones for an audio tour and set off to explore the ancient site of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
246: The arena has been unearthed and is well preserved.
250: We have only one day left on the coast of Italy and cannot resist returning to beautiful Positano and Amalfi.
252: This time we take a cruise and see the Amalfi Coast from a new and entirely different perspective.
256: And we take a rowboat tour of the Grotto of Sorrento Spectacular colour!
259: Farewell to Sorrento
260: We loved Rome so much that we cut short our time in Sorrento to spend a few more days in Rome before departing for home.
261: We've learned that Rome is a very walkable city so, with our trusty map in hand, we set out to re-discover the city on foot.
262: the seat of government
266: We make a return visit to walk in the gardens around the forum and the Palantine. | A movie is being filmed so we stop to watch for a while.
269: Traffic snarls and parking problems exist on every street and alley in Rome.
271: We return to throw another coin in the fountain.
273: Cheers!....and thanks for a most excellent adventure.