S: 2011 Treasures of the Aegean Tour
FC: Treasures of the Aegean | 2011 | Bob, Louise, Jeff, & Denise's Tour
1: Treasures of the Aegean | Tour of Greece | Overseas Adventure Travel | October, 2011
4: Front cover: Town of Oia on Santorini Title page: Terrace of the Lions, Delos Frontispiece: View of the city of Ermoupolis, Island of Syros, seen from the Catholic Church in Ano Syros Back cover: Lamp on Patmos | Map of our route. Itinerary: Athens, Meteora, Delphi, Athens, Syros, Delos, Mykonos, Naxos, Santorini, Kalimnos (instead of Amorgos, due to strong northerly winds), Patmos, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Istanbul. We did not do the trip extension. [Map from an OAT brochure.]
5: We stayed that night at the St. George Lycabettus, a 5-star hotel in the Kolonaki district of Athens. The views below are from the top-floor restaurant of the hotel, where we retreated for dinner and drinks to nurse our jet-lag. The view of the Acropolis in the rising sun at breakfast the next morning was magical. | Arrival in Athens | We flew from Chicago via Paris, arriving in the afternoon of October 13, 2011. As we descended over Piraeus and into Athens, we were particularly struck by how overwhelmingly white the city's buildings are. We later learned that much of this is due to whitewashing, but it gave the initial impression that everything there is constructed of white marble. | Getting on the OAT bus at the airport | In the rooftop restaurant | Athens in the setting sun | Morning sun on the Acropolis | Photo by Jeff
6: The next day we traveled for 5 hours by bus to Meteora. | Supplies are winched up to the monastery in this cage. In the old days, people came and went in baskets on ropes. The story goes that the ropes were not replaced until they broke. | Meteora | The first we visited was the Holy Monastery of Varlaam. It was founded by Monk Varlaam in 1350, but the current structure was built in 1541. It is the second largest monastery in the Metéora complex. | Photo: Jeff | We had the next full day to visit two of the monasteries on these remarkable rock monoliths. | We took the stairs
7: Our second monastery was a convent, St. Stephen. We were impressed with how tidy and attractive the gardens were. | Our guide for the monasteries | As we were leaving, a large group of boisterous young women arrived and clamored in the vestibule, putting on the required long skirts and creating quite a din, much to the consternation of the staid and proper nun behind the reception window. | Kastraki and rock towers from our hotel at night. Lights of the larger town of Kalambaka illuminate the fog from behind the rocks. | A 55-year old artist has been working on decorating the walls of the church here for the past 20 years and still has one entire wall to go. No pictures were allowed.
8: After the monastery tour, we retreated for lunch to the Meteora restaurant in Kastraki, at the foot of the rocks. Mama cooked and the food was wonderful! | Then we had time to stroll around the village, getting glimpses of the rock towers through gaps in the fog. | That evening we were treated to dinner at the home of a family in Kastraki. The wife, in white, had spent a number of years in Manchester, NH! | After dinner, George serenaded us with his singing and playing on the tzouras(?) and guitar.
9: First stop, a workshop that makes religious icons | The workshop director demonstrates how to handle gold leaf | Then on to the memorial to the battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC. | Erlene helps make spinach pie, spanakotiropita | Clive at work on tzatziki, yogurt and cucumber dip | Meteora to Delphi (October 16). By bus, with several stops along the way. | At the Apollonia Hotel in Delphi that evening we had a class in Greek cuisine, led by the hotel's chef.
10: Ruins at Delphi (October 17) | View of Itea and the Aegean from our hotel in Delphi. That's a sea of olive trees in the valley. | Theater | Treasury of the Athenians | Temple of Apollo | The stadium | Rock of the Sybil, from which a woman named Herophile chanted her oracles. | Photo: Jeff
11: Temple of Athena | Gymnasium | The Charioteer of Delphi | Sphinx | Louise and Denise | At the Delphi Archeological Museum
12: A stroll through Arehova | Mt. Parnassus. View from east of Arehova | A shop where we tried cheeses | On the way from Delphi the bus let us off at the west end of Arehova, the ski-resort village just a few km east of Delphi. We walked through town to the east end, where the bus picked us up. | Stairs connect upper and lower streets
13: Back in Athens: The Acropolis | Eugene Broder | The Parthenon | Caryatid pillars of the Erechtheion. A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support in place of a column. | One of many dogs basking in the sun on the Acropolis | Restoration is ongoing | Jeff seeing a sight | Parthenon detail
14: Athens: | Temple of Olympian Zeus, from the Acropolis | We had the afternoon of October 18 to see some of the other sights of Athens
15: Hadrian's Gate | Bust of Melina Mercouri, actress, singer, public servant | New Acropolis Museum. We had lunch here. | Young street performers | Tram | Dionysiou Aeropagitou, a pedestrian street | Urn in a shop window | Lots of motorcycles!
16: The cruise begins: Day 1, Syros (October 19, 2011) | Streets paved with marble! | Dimarcheion, or city hall | Boarding our 'small ship' in Piraeus in late afternoon on October 18. | Ano Syros, or 'old town,' settled by Catholics. Some of us made the steep, 30-minute hike to the cathedral on top (see next page). | Old man with his worry beads, in the Plateia Miaouli in front of the Dimarcheion | Ermoupolis is the commercial, cultural, and political capital of the Cyclades archipelago. | St. Nicholas Church
17: The climb to Ano Syros | A view from the top. (See also the frontispiece.) The stone fences apparently delimit private property and serve to contain sheep. | Chandelier in the Catholic church of St. George, at the top of the hill. Built in the 1830s. | It was a steep climb, with many steps (870!). But it was also also very photogenic, with interesting scenes around every turn.
18: Delos (October 20) | This small, uninhabited island, lying between Syros and Mykonos, is the supposed birthplace of the divine twins Apollo and Artemis. We spent the morning strolling though the extensive ruins, dating back to the end of the 3rd millennium BC. Then we embarked for Mykonos. | The view of the island as we approached | We needed a small tender boat to enter the shallow harbor | Danae, our guide on the island | A wall lamp in its niche | Amphorae | Lots of spare parts!
19: Temple of Isis, on the hillside | Mosaic in the museum | View from Mount Kynthos (112 m). Arethusa and Artemis, sister ships, are visible in the harbor. | What do these kitties eat? | Maybe these? The starred agama (Laudakia stellio) | Mosaic tile floor | Photo by Jeff
20: Mykonos (October 20) | Famous for its windmills. In Greek mythology Mykonos was the location of the battle between Zeus and the Titans, and the island was named in honor of Apollo's grandson, Mykons. Tourism boomed beginning in the 1970s. Louise remembers it from her visit in the 1960s as a much sleepier island with quiet beaches. | Does somebody live in this windmill?
21: We found the labyrinthine streets of the old town charming and inviting to explore. They were also irresistibly photogenic--around each turn is a beckoning mini-scene of whitewashed walls set off by blue doors, windows, or the sea, and often with a shop, restaurant, or entrance to a private residence tucked into a corner. | Sprays of brilliant Bougainvillea added a special touch. And, of course, the churches with their bell towers were scattered everywhere.
22: Naxos (October 21) | Denise sharing hand sanitizer in advance of a bread-tasting. | We bought olive oil soap and olive oil from this shopkeeper. He had lots of locally grown products in his tiny place. | Largest, highest, and most central of the Cyclades. This view of the town of Naxos is from the little island of Palatia, now connected by a causeway. | The Portara on Palatia is the largest surviving Archaic Greek monolithic doorway. It was to be the entrance to a temple started in ~530 BC but never finished. | Lots of narrow alleys and enchanted passageways | Citron | Photo by Jeff | At the citron distillery store
23: We finally reached the kouros at Flerio, a half-finished statue abandoned at the quarry because of its broken leg. 6th century BC. | In the morning some of us hiked for about an hour to reach the kouros at Flerio. | We passed a number of homey rural residences along the way. Always lots of flowers! | It was surprising to find Cyclamen blooming in its native habitat. The purple flower is Colchicum macrophyllum. And this lily is sea squill (Drimia sp.). | And lots of olives. The harvest was still ahead. Olive trees can get really old! | This walled walkway was charming, with water flowing down from a spring on the hill and along the wall. The flow then turned a corner and went into this channel under whitewashed bridging stones as it passed in front of a house. | Photo: Jeff
24: Santorini (October 22) | Two options for reaching the top, 300 m up: cable car... | or donkey | Photo: Jeff | Photo by Jeff
25: Many of the scenes on these pages are in Oia (pronounced EE-ya), the small town at the northern end of the main island.
26: By special request from several in our group, Sophia arranged for us to tour this winery. Their wine was some of the best we tasted in Greece. The outing was one of the most pleasant of the whole trip. | Santorini: A winery tour and tasting | The various stages of processing the wine are arranged successively down the slope of the volcanic cone, which puts gravity to work in moving the liquids from one stage to the next. | The wine-tasting terrace with a view of Fira, Santorini's main city, to the right, and Oia in the distance. | Aged in French oak
27: Kalimnos (Morning of October 23) | Kalimnos was a substitute island for Amorgos, which we couldn't get to because of strong northerly winds. Kalimnos is not at all a tourist destination, but is known mostly for its sponge-fishing industry | So we visited a sponge 'factory' and were shown how sponges are collected, cleaned, and bleached. We even bought one. Then we toured the Nautical Folklore Museum. | Trimming | Bleaching | Museum tour | We were struck by how many Greeks are smokers. Smokers seemed more common than non-smokers. There are at least two in these two images. Some, but not all, restaurants have non-smoking sections. As perversity would have it, we always seemed to be seated downwind of the one smoker in a place.
28: Patmos (October 23) | Our first five islands are part of the Cyclades, but Kalimnos and Patmos are part of the Dodecanese, in the eastern Aegean. Patmos is dominated by the Monastery of St. John the Divine (John the Baptist), who was exiled here from Ephesus in 95 AD, when the island was a Roman outpost. | View of the chora from the monastery | Buying local produce at the harbor. | Pedestrian mall near the harbor. | Rent-a-scooter | Fishing nets | A Turkish yacht arrives in the harbor
29: Monastery of St. John the Divine | Mosaic over the entrance. | Our monastery tour guide | Inside the monastery | Down by the harbor is the baptistry where John the Baptist is said to have practiced. | It's a World Heritage Site
30: Turkey | Library of Celsus (Roman period) | Theater | Isa Bey Mosque (1375) | Flush toilets! (Roman period) | St. John's baptistry and tomb | Early on October 25, we disembarked at the port city of Kasadusi, Turkey. A short bus ride took us to Ephesus, where we spent the mor-ning touring the ruins with Os, our local guide. | Roman arches | Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates; library in background | Photo: Jeff
31: A short bus ride, lunch alfresco, then next door for a visit to the Yuksel rug emporium, Kasadusi, where they literally rolled out the carpets for us. | Gene and Doreen ponder a rug | Our head salesman explained the four combinations of three materials (wool, cotton, silk) of which rugs are made, and the various kinds of knots used. | How silk is unwound from silkworm cocoons | Tea or wine? | Designing a rug | Weaving | We did end up buying a small rug, after negotiating the price down a bit.
32: Istanbul: Grand Bazaar | "Meet here at Gate 1 at 10:30, and don't get lost in the labyrinth of the 4,000 shops in there!" --Tour guide 'Os'. | Even out on the street we were hustled! We ended up buying this rug for $35. | What a maze! But you can find anything for sale. | Duane, unable to resist the bargain on genuine fake watches, bought the set of two. | Beautiful brick vaults | We did find our way back out to Gate 1. | Duane and Jack | Lamps!
33: Istanbul: The Hippodrome | 'Os,' our excellent Turkish tour guide. | The German fountain | Serpent Column. The lower level was the original street level in Roman times | Obelisk of Theodosius
34: Istanbul: Mosques | Hagia Sophia, first the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople (360-1453), then a mosque (1453-1931), and now a museum. | Blue Mosque
35: Topkapi Palace Ostentation unleashed | The Bosporus from the palace grounds, looking NE toward the Black Sea. Golden Horn to the left.
36: Our Ship The Arethusa and Crew | Danny Scotland, our German chef | Captain Jerko Kosta | Florian, hotel manager and joke-maker in-chief | Evening entertainment | A round of applause for the whole crew! | Jeff and the captain discussing-- navigation?--while ignoring the doggery in the back row. | Our small ship was recently built in Croatia. It held 50 passengers and was very smooth and quiet, with comfy cabins. | Jiggers as castanets!
37: Our Group | Duane Nelson, Lois Beamer, Marlys Nelson, Jack Beamer | Jeff, Denise, Maxine Show, Janet Murray, Neil Murray, Louise, at the Scala in Itea. | Joe and Erlene Little | Miriam and Gene Halpert, Duane Nelson, Jim McGivney | Miriam and Gene Halpert | Jim and Joan McGivney | Jeff | Clive Walker & Carlyn Crout | Denise at Delphi | Lumina Greenway | Louise with Maxine Show | Louise and Denise | Gene and Doreen Broder, Louise, Jeff and Denise, Maxine Show, Janet and Neil Murray | Sophia Roussi, our trip leader
38: Some Cats (some in ruins) | Ephesus | Ephesus | Mykonos | Mykonos | Naxos | Syros | Ephesus | Athens | Syros | Mykonos | Syros | Patmos | Syros | Istanbul | Naxos | Ephesus | Istanbul | Syros | Photo: Jeff
39: Doors and Windows | Patmos | Patmos | Naxos | Mykonos | Syros | Syros | Syros | Syros | Syros | Syros | Meteora | Meteora | Meteora | Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey | Meteora | Naxos | Meteora
40: Food | During the cruise, of course, most of our meals were prepared by Danny Scotland, our wonderful chef, and his staff on the Arethusa. | Breakfast and lunch were cafeteria style, with abundant choices. | Dinners were sit-down, multi-course affairs, with elegant presentation. Sometimes it was hard to save room for dessert!
41: We also had ample opportunity to try the cuisine at local restaurants and the hotels we stayed in. For the most part, the food was excellent. | We sampled other forms of food mostly as observers, at local markets and small shops. Prepared foods were a rarity, although one supermarket we visited had the usual array of packaged foods. | Especially in Istanbul, there were lots of food carts on the streets near tourist attractions. Here's ice cream. | Lunch at the Ampelos Restaurant, Santorini | Scala, our seafood lunch restaurant in Itea | Roasted chestnuts and corn on the cob | Squid, Naxos | Tea, medicinal herbs, henna, and olives in bulk on Naxos | Pomegranates | The Pudding Shop, Istanbul
42: Protest! | Although we saw piles of uncollected trash in the streets of Athens, on Syros the heaps were much bigger. Offices in the Dimarcheion--city hall--were closed in protest against the austerity measures imposed by the national government. Nearby we encountered a friendly, gray-haired gentleman who explained some of the issues (in Greek). We found that the building was open, so we went in and soon found ourselves in the main council room, where we were regaled with stories of the history of the place by one of the on-strike officials. It was at this building that the protest march got organized that afternoon and made its way along the main street fronting the harbor. The march was peaceful, with mothers pushing baby buggies joining in. Bringing up the rear was a contingent of heavy equipment operators. It reminded us of the February protests in Madison. | The Dimarcheion, or town hall | Private audience for a history of the Dimarcheion | The inside scoop on the strikes by a very nice local gentleman | Photo by Jeff
43: Relaxation | The four of us would typically get together in one of our hotel rooms or our cabin on the ship for a pre-dinner sip of local wine or ouzo. | D'Artemis Ouzo was recommended to me by a lady shopkeeper in Delphi. She even offered me a taste from a large open jug of it before I made up my mind. Obviously, I was convinced. It lasted us for the duration of the trip and was much enjoyed by the four of us. | The lounge on the second deck was also a nicely appointed place to relax. | These are the three main beers we tried. Alpha was served in Meteora, but by the time we got to Delphi we had settled on Mythos as being better. Efes is a Turkish beer that was also quite okay. | Wines in Greece were a big disappointment. They were unrefined and lacked in body and complexity--watery, even. It wasn't until we got to the winery on Santorini that we tasted good wine. Their dessert wine was good enough to bring home.
44: Some Favorite Images | Mykonos | Syros | Syros | Mykonos | Naxos | Mykonos | The most photogenic island? Mykonos! | Naxos
45: Santorini | Mykonos | Delphi | Mykonos | Mykonos | Mykonos | Mykonos | Santorini | Oia, Santorini