Greece 2009!
Three Notes:
* Details will be added during the summer - just need to get the basics up first.
* I will be linking to a wiki page soon so that comments & corrections can be posted & discussed by all.
* Please email me or post on the wiki when it is up!

A "Think About":
Where did the early Americans live when Ancient Greece was flourishing?
(click above or see below)

The Land:

Free Day /
Meet our Group

Athens Sightseeing / Leisure

To Nauplia

To Olympia

To Delphi


Back to Athens

Map of Best of Greece 2009 tour - click to enlarge Map of Best of Greece & 4 day Aegean Cruise (Moderate) 2009 tour - click to enlarge

Maps from our tour company site -

The Islands:

Piraeus to Mykonos

Kusadasi & Patmos


Heraklion & Santorini

Back to Athens

 Fly Home


Below is just a little "think about" to introduce our Greek Adventure...

Wide angle view of Cliff Palace

Mesa Verde
American architecture around 1200 AD

Temple of Hephaistos in Athens
Built in 499 BC, 1700 yrs earlier than Mesa Verde


Fret and KeyFret and KeyFret and Key

Arrive Athens - Free Day - Meet Our Group
Monday, June 29th

Euginia, our guide for the land portion, and our bus driver, Dimitris, were introduced to K&K in front of our bus.

We also had our first experience with "Whispers". Euginia wore a small devise with a microphone attached to her lapel. We all wore an ear piece connected to a receiver. It was truly amazing! Gone were the days that everyone vied to be the closest to the guide! We could walk 100 feet or more away from the group, and still hear every word! Bob was especially pleased. He is deaf in one ear and always had trouble hearing the guide no matter how close he stood. Not any more! It was as clear as could be!

Euginia told us that the Greeks love their myths. To be exact, she said,
"If you find a rock in Greece and turn it over, there will be a myth to explain why the rock was there in the first place." Great line!


After about 20 hours in travel, we arrived in Athens at about noon. Knowing better then to go to sleep so early, we decided to head out & explore. Our hotel was a few blocks from the Acropolis and Parthenon - an exciting preview of what was to come.

Kini & Kimi were just as excited - the next thing we knew they (and their little ones strapped to their backs) were out of their buttbag carrier and up a tree in a heartbeat to take their first glimpse of the Acropolis and Parthenon.

We learned that along with so many temples & ruins, there were three main areas in Athens we wanted to to explore - the Acropolis, the Plaka, & the ancient & modern Agora.

The Acropolis is the high rock hill that that the Parthenon & other temples & buildings were built on. We would be touring it the next day, so we just admired its majesty from the bottom of the hill.

The Plaka is where the little shops, restaurants, & vendors have their businesses. It is a great time just to wander through.

The word Agor means a shopping plaza or market place usually filled with lots of people. So the Agora is the main shopping area (both the ancient ruins & the new sleek modern buildings) for the city of Athens.

We learned that the word acropolis comes from acro or high hill & polis or city (like metropolis & Minneapolis).
Also, agoraphobia, comes from agora or the fear of crowds or open places & phobia or the Greek word for fear.

Many of the Greek words come from a combination of or a set of combined words. We in America do the same thing. For example, we have wind - a windshield - a windshield wiper - & windshield wiper blades.

When we returned to the hotel that evening, we went to a meeting to get the details of our land tour and to meet the others that we would be traveling with the the next week. They were a great group from all over the world - all English speaking and ready to have some fun on the tour.

It was lights out with an early wake up call for the morning to try to beat the heat and the other tourists.


Athens Sightseeing / Leisure
Tuesday, June 30th

After hiking up the hill (and, yes, it was HOT!) K&K came out to take a look around. In the background is the theater wall & seating on the acropolis. The next thing we knew a woman came up blowing a whistle and pointing at K&K! It seems they were very unhappy with our little friends - something about the sanctity of the ruins. In the background is the Erechtheion Temple with the replicas of the Caryatids (female figures - the originals are in the New Acropolis Museum, Athens). Built between 421 BC & 407 BC,  in part, it was built to house the marks made by the Athena's spear & Poseidon's trident (see story below) .
* Further information 1
* Further information 2
From the back side of the Parthenon, Bob & Amy hold K&K in their little carrier so as not to get the whistle people busting them again. Construction began in 447 BC & was finished in 438 BC. It was built for the Goddess Athena who protected the city of Athens. (The city was named after her).
Further information 1
* Further information 2


The first king of Athens was Cecrops (half snake & half man). He had to find a god to protect his city. Cecrops decided to hold a competition between Poseidon (god of the seas) and Athena (goddess of wisdom and skill) to see who could provide the most valuable gift for the city and its people. Poseidon struck the earth with his trident and produced a stream of salt water. Athena struck the ground with her spear and an olive tree grew representing peace and prosperity. Cecrops chose Athena and named the city after her. 

The Parthenon was built in 447 BC. The columns were built with a slight tilt toward the center with the four corner ones slightly more curved. These ancient Greeks knew that the tilt would create an optical illusion (or more correctly an optical correction) which would make the building look straighter to the human eye. The builders also applied the golden ratio to their buildings in this period. The golden ratio is achieved when you take a number, double it, and add one. The Parthenon has eight columns on each short end and seventeen on each of the long sides (8+8+1).



In May of 1963, Amy's family was in Greece visiting the same places. At that time one was able to actually climb on the temples.

Tiny female figurines were found in the crevasses of the Acropolis indicating that the early ancient Greeks worshiped an earth goddess. Indeed, Greek mythology begins with gods who were born from Chaos and represented the universe, including Gaia or Earth. Their children were the Titans, who in turn had the Olympian Gods (Zeus, Athena, Apollo, etc.).

 Read a quick summary about the 12 Olympian Gods

Temple of Zeus
Stadium built for the first Olympics in 1896

On the left is Bob & Amy & K&K at the Temple of Zeus. On the right, if you look very closely at the bottom of the temple, is Amy's brother, Cooper, climbing the steps.

Below is the same temple column now & then.


K&K stand on the front wall of the 1896 Olympic Stadium. These were the first games since Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned them in 393 AD. The Christians didn't like the games and their links to the Olympian gods.

The New Acropolis Museum

Above & below are photos from the New Acropolis Museum that opened a few days before we arrived in Athens. As the builders started to clear the land to build the museum, they uncovered more ancient ruins. It was decided that they would build glass floors throughout the museum so visitors could not only see these ruins, but would be able to watch the archeologists continue their excavations.

The third floor of the museum was also made of glass - which delighted Amy as much as many of the small children who would spend a lot of time with their faces pressed to the glass watching the people below. Big hint here, if you wearing a mini skirts, stay to the marble flooring around the edges. :) The entire museum was wonderfully light and airy, showing the pieces off with great grandeur.


The museum was built in the same orientation as the Parthenon itself, with the top floor housing the same number of columns. Around the edges were originals and reproductions of the friezes from the temple. One side of the windows looked out and up to the acropolis.


Fret and KeyFret and KeyFret and Key

Athens to Nauplia

h, Theater of Epidaurus, Nauplia)

Wednesday, July 1st - Our 26th Anniversary

Ancient Corinth
We took off early in the morning and shortly crossed the bridge of Corinth. The canal was completed in 1893 AD. It was important in that it connected the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf of the Augean Sea. Although it is narrow, it shortened to travel time for ships.
On the right is a water spout from Ancient Corinth and two bronze mirrors. Rather than looking in to the mirror directly, one would put it under water to create a smooth, shiny area and actually look at their reflection on the surface of the water.

In Ancient Corinth we saw some headless roman statues. We learned that to save money, the ancient Romans often "recycled" statues by removing the head and replacing it with their own. Consequently, through time, the heads would be lost or destroyed. This mosaic was found in the central courtyard that many houses of the time contained.

Ancient Theater of Epidaurus

We traveled on to the ancient theater of Epidaurus which dates to 400 BC. The bottom part was built by the Greeks and had 34 rows. Later the Romans added another 21 rows, for a final seating capacity of 12,300 people.

 The most amazing part of this theater was its excellent acoustics. Our guide, Euginia, allowed us time to climb to the top of the seating, then, in a normal voice, asked if we could hear her. And, YES! we could! The sound was so great that we could hear the clink when Euginia dropped a coin and the sound when she crumpled a small piece of paper.

Researchers have found that the limestone seating actually filters out the lower frequencies of the crowd like whispers but amplifies the actors voice on stage.

Arrive Nauplia


We ended up in Nauplia to spent night. Another early wake up to tour this gulf side town and get on the road to Mycenae, and eventually Olympia.


Nauplia & Mycenae to Olympia
Thursday, July 2nd

Lion Gate || Beehive Tombs (or the Treasury of Atreus / Agamemnon's Tomb)

On the left is the Lion Gate - it was constructed in 1250 BC, the horizontal stone or lintel weighs 12 tons. The triangular piece is has two lionesses - their heads are now gone.

The ancients believed the walls in the area were built by the Cyclops - giants that had one eye in the middle of their forehead. It was unimaginable to them that a human could move this much rock. These type walls are now called "Cyclopean".

This area also contained Gravel Circle A and B. They are important in that the discovery of Grave Circle A and the treasures in it proved the accuracy of Homer's epics.

In 1952, Linear B script was deciphered providing much information about this time period. As a side note, Linear A has not yet been deciphered.

The beehive tombs or tholos were built for royalty and are found across Greece. Also built around 1250 BC, they use stone block arranged in smaller and smaller rings and are toped with a capstone to create the dome at the top. Holes in between the blocks were made to adorn the dome with bronze flowers and rosettes.


Read the sign about the Beehive Tombs K&K are reading by clicking on the picture.
(Opens in new window.)

Above is the mountain range that the ancients thought showed Agamemnon laying down.

That night we stayed in Nauplia - a lovely night!
Everyone toasted our anniversary in great style!


Fret and KeyFret and KeyFret and Key

 Olympia to Delphi
 Friday, July 3rd

After spending the night in Olympia, we woke up early to tour the site.

Euginia stopped in the shade to give us a little history about what we would be seeing.

The first official Olympic games were held in 776 BC. A truce was made between the city states so that no wars were fought, death sentences were suspended, no weapons were allowed in the city, and if one of the city states were involved in a war, they were not allowed to compete.

Only men were allowed to compete - indeed, only men were allowed to watch the games. The competitors were naked, and "good women" in Greece always stayed inside, usually in one room in the house.

The games were held on the full moon of August and lasted for five days. The first day was devoted to sacrifices. A white boar was killed and the athletes and judges swore an oath to the games in front of the boar's testicles - a symbol of strength and power. The next three days were for the games. The fifth day was devoted to crowning the champions.

Especially in boxing & wrestling, the only rule was that anything goes - except biting your opponents nose and poking your fingers in the other's eyes. Losers were avoided for years. People died in the games.

The games were held every four years - rotating to each of the major city states of the time. Time was actually measured and referred to in terms of the year the Olympiad was held.

The Olympiads had training areas, areas to rest, and, of course stadiums to compete in. Click on K&K's picture to open a large picture in a new window showing information about the Temple of Zeus (470-487 BC) located here and the gold and ivory statue of him that has been named one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

In this area, there were blocks made of fossilized limestone with embedded seashells, indicating major rivers or deltas were present in the past.

Marble was scarce in this area, so other materials were used and painted white. Marble was reserved for special places and statues.

Over time, earthquakes were the major factor in the destruction of temples and cities.

On the right, and behind K&K and Bob & Amy, are ancient columns that have fallen, & in the words of Eugenia, "like sliced bread." The bright white one in the background is a reconstruction to spark the imagination of what the site would have looked like.

In the middle of each of these sections that were used to build the columns was a small carved "pit" that was filled with a measured lead rod of sorts to stabilize and secure each disk section of the column to each other. Lead was an easy metal to work with and mold into desired shape. The problem was that if it is easy to fashion into these shapes, it was also easy to give way under stressors such as earthquakes and time.

Statues and ornaments were also tied together with lead. Throughout Greece there are many indications of lost or broken statues, columns, and buildings that are indicative of this style.
The Olympic Stadium was great! K&K gave it a good go against the youngest of our tour and lost by a human foot step. It was a log track and all our competitors rolled over and took a few breaths over the finish line. Happy and ready for the next race!

Click on the above map to read the information and see the pictures.

Temples of Hera, Philippeion

The Temple of Hera (above) and the the Temple of Philippeion (below) were spectacular to see.
The cicadas were singing day and night every where we went in Greece. This is a close up of a cicada skin on a little plant in Olympia.  The new Rio-Antirio Bridge over the Corinth Gulf is spectacular!  Its official name is the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge. The longest cable-stayed "suspended" deck at 7,388 feet.



Delphi to Kalambaka
Saturday, July 4th

Again, after arriving in Delphi in the evening of the 3rd & spending the night,
we started our explorations of Delphi in the cool of the morning.

Delphi was the center of the spiritual world for centuries (700 BC to 400 BC), with its height around 800 BC.

"The legend speaks for Delphi, the most important shrine of Greece, that it was the center of the world, because it was in this place that the two eagles met, when Zeus let them free, one from the east and the other from the west. The oracle at first belonged to the goddess of earth Gaia and it was after Apollo slew her child, the serpent Python, that it became his shrine.
Another legend tell us that Apollo transformed into a
dolphin and guided a Cretan ship at the place, ordering the sailors to build there his shrine
(the Greek word for dolphin is delphis, from which the shrine took its name - Delphi)."

- from

The Oracle, can refer to 3 things: 1) The place one goes to receive a prophesy, 2) the spiritual prophesy, & 3) the person herself.

The Oracle was always female, named Pythia after the python Apollo killed, and was appointed to the position. She would first be purified in the waters of the Kastalia Spring and enter the inner sanctum of the temple of Apollo. She then drank water from the spring under the temple, chewed laurel or bay leaves, and sat on the tripod seat in the center of the room. (Chewing any of these leaves will not produce and of these effects - many people have tried it though :) It was found in  2001 by American scientists that there was a fissure under the seat that emitted ethylene vapors  - used as an anesthesia in the past. She would then tell the male priest with her her visions. He would interpret them and tell them to searcher. Females were not allowed inside.

Prophesies were, at best, cryptic. For example, this is one that Euginia told us:
Two sons of a king come to the Oracle to find out who would be the next king. Pythia was said to answer, "The son who kisses his mother first will be king." Both boys run out of the temple in search for their mother. Along the way, one trips and falls face-first into the dirt on the path. He became king - he had kissed his mother - Mother Earth.

In the beginning, the Oracle spoke only once every nine years. As the popularity of the area grew, more prophesies were offered to the point that at one time there as many as three women Pythias. The power of the oracle was silenced forever in 400 BC with the coming of Christianity.

Below, Euginia points to a picture of what Delphi might have looked like at its height. Only eight percent of the site has been excavated.
There are many source for information on the web - this is a simple, but nice one:

A better photo is located at


Top left: Our first view of Mt. Parnassus and Delphi (the light area mid-way up, on left side of picture).

Top right: Kini & Kimi hang out with our Canadian friends, Melissa & her mom, Deb. This family was a delight - who else would bring bling-bling sunglasses to Greece just for kicks and grins? 

To the left: On the way up the hill were various "treasuries". Treasuries were small buildings that individuals and cities built to house spoils of war that were dedicated to a god or goddess - or the Oracle.

Below: Euginia tells us about the omphalos stone, "the navel of the earth". The original is located in the museum - Bob, Amy & K&K are standing by the copy located in the spot the original stood.


The Sacred Way leads to the Sanctuary or Temple of Apollo - the building the Oracle prophesized from. This is the wall that looks like a jigsaw puzzle - every stone is engraved with blessings and offerings.


click for a larger picture

What is left of the temple of Apollo

A look from above - click to enlarge

Another view with K&K - clickable

The stadium at the top of the hill.


The Sphinx of Greece are very different from the ones in Egypt. Greece's have the body of a lion, wings of an eagle, and the head of a woman. Egypt's are male and have the head of a pharaoh with a body of a lion. This is the Naxian Sphinx given to Delphi around the 60th century BC. It stood 47 feet high, was visible from long distance, and was intended to show the wealth and devotion of the Naxos people.

The Bronze Charioteer (circa 475 BC) is one of five remaining bronze statues that are relatively wholly in tact. The picture of the horses represents the other pieces found that completed the statue. His proportions seem a bit off when viewed up close - but then he and his horses were designed and created to be atop a huge pillar.

The night was spent at a wonderful hotel overlooking the waters around Delphi. It would be another early wakeup call to cruise to the next adventures.

Also in the Delphi museum are the fragments of a life-sized bull made of silver and gold. He dates to the mid sixth century BC.




 Driving over the Pourmaraki Pass, though Thermopylae to Kalambaka

We had the opportunity on our Fourth of July drive to stop at Thermopylae & the memorials for the fallen Greek heroes. It was a fitting day - freedom & its cost - in all ways - for many people & civilizarions.

click to enlarge

Above are pictures of Thermopylae (meaning "hot gates") - we stopped to see the monuments. This area is steeped in history & a deadly battle. In 480 BC the Persians and Greeks met on these plains with disastrous results for the Greek warriors. This site was part of the Persian Wars which, all tolled, lasted from 492 to 449 BC.

In Thermopylae, 300 Spartans and about 7,000 Hoplites (from other city states of Greece) came together to try to hold the line of Persian invaders. "According to Herodotos, the force including the attendants, was exceeding five million men and the Persian fleet numbered to 1207 ships."

The battle lasted for three days with the Greeks winning. On the fourth day, one warrior betrayed his Greek mates. They are surrounded. The Greek leader,
the Spartan King Leonidas, calls them together and tells them that all will most probably die - any man can leave if they want to. All stayed.

The Persian leader sent "heralds asking [the Spartan army] to deliver up their arms. The answer from Leonidas was: "come and take them" (Μολών λαβέ).

A Spartan, who was told about the great number of Persian soldiers, who with their arrows, will conceal the sun, he answered:  "so much the better, we will fight in the shade".

Every man fought to the death.
the The battle of Thermopylae section of for a more complete description.

Another monument, next to the first was dedicated to the 700 Thespians who fought with the Spartans in the battle. It shows the torso of god Eros with a wing that is clipped. The sign below reads, "In memory of the seven hundred Thespians".
The symbolism includes

  • The headless male figure symbolizes the anonymous sacrifice of the 700 Thespians to their country.
  • The outstretched chest symbolizes the struggle, the gallantry, the strength, the bravery and the courage.
  • The open wing symbolizes the victory, the glory, the soul, the spirit and the freedom.
  • The broken wing symbolizes the voluntary sacrifice and death.
  • The naked body symbolizes Eros, the most important god of the ancient Thespians, the god of creation, beauty and life.

It is interesting to note that the goddess Nike was often depicted with a broken wing. She was the goddess of victory - the broken wing was incorporated to symbolize her (Victory's) inability to leave - thus assuring the city / area victory over their foes.

The checkmark symbol used by the Nike Company comes directly from the wings of this ancient Greek goddess.



We stopped in a little town where Peter the Pelican lives on top of this church. The locals help him rebuild his nest very year.

His wife and babies were in the nest when we passed by.


We stayed the night in Kalambaka, the northern most city on our land adventure. The next morning, we saw the monasteries at Meteora and headed to Athens, to finish our land tour and start our island cruise.  



 Kalambaka to Athens
Sunday, July 5th


The cliffs of Meteora


Click for larger image

The cliffs of Meteora were made from eons of erosion. Their sides are shear cliffs with temples built on the top of many. K&K are crawling in front of one of the most isolated monasteries made famous in the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only. The monastery's name is Agias Triados or Holy Trinity. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but it was wonderful. The caves and fissures were used by hermits as far back as the 9th century AD. The present monastery was built in the mid 1400s AD, although this site and others in the area had been inhabited by monks a hundred years or more ago.

The only access to the top was by rope ladders or baskets brought up by pulleys. In 1925, 134 steps were chiseled out of the rock. When you click on the image on the right, a larger picture will open with red arrows and lines following the visible stairway paths. Also note the straight line coming out of the top left between the monastery and the rock base. 


Along with all the other friends we made on this trip, K&K found a very special friend, Wild Thing. Wild Thing came along with Andy - a very charming man in his own right. The two of them could entertain with wonderful tales of their adventures and travels for hours.

Sadly, Andy couldn't come on the cruise portion of the trip ... but Wild Thing did! Melissa (and Lisa too) volunteered to let Wild Thing bunk & play with them while on the ship. 

We said our sad goodbyes to Euginia at our hotel and spent the afternoon doing our laundry at a little coin-op place down the street. After a good night's sleep and a repack, we had an early wake up call to meet the bus that would take us to our ship, the Aegean Pearl.


Fret and KeyFret and KeyFret and Key

Embark in Piraeus
Cruise to Mykonos

Monday, July 6th

After a short drive though Athens to Piraeus where the cruise ships dock, we boarded the Aegean Pearl - our home for the next 4 days.

We had a friend take a picture of us, Kini & Kimi, and Joey as we left the city behind. We would travel 95 nautical miles and, on arrival, take a walking tour of Mykonos.

Our first land excursion was to the island of Mykonos, dubbed "the island of the rich and famous." As we first stepped off the ship, we encountered a sailing boat with squid hanging and drying on the sail rigging. K&K were definitely going to have their picture taken here! We were told that the after the squid or octopi were caught, they were basked on rocks around 40 times to soften them up. Then they wee hung up in the sun for a day to further tenderize. It seems, or at least our guide told us that the same process could be achieved in this day and age by chucking them in a dryer. Humm ... now there's a thought!

The old windmills were a beautiful sight - although the sun wasn't cooperating fully for the picture.
But then ... we walked down the road to what has been dubbed, "Little Venice" - its real name is Alefkandhra. And it was breathtaking! The houses in the Grecian Islands are typically painted white with blue trim and shutters - the colors of the Greek flag. White for the clouds and blue for the oceans. (The color also helps keep the buildings cooler inside.) Click on the picture to open the full size image.

Many of the ancient cities built on the Greek islands were built some distance from the water to discourage pirates from easy access and escape. Mykonos was built on the sea because they were the pirates.



Kusadasi, Turkey &
Cruise to Patmos

Tuesday, July 7th

We arrived in Kusadasi, Turkey (located in Asia Minor) in the early morning after traveling 103 nautical miles. Our tour would take us to the ancient city of Ephesus, where the Temple of Artemis was located - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Much of the temple has been destroyed over the centuries.

The area of Ephesus has been inhabited since the end of the Bronze Age. Over time, the city changed locations due to wars and various rulers. Around the 10th century BC, the first buildings were built in this area. The ruins we see today date to 292 BC.

Behind K&K would have been a view to the port and sea in the distance. In the early 700s AD, the Menderes River ... well ... meandered due to earthquakes and over time filled the port with silt. Ships were forced to dock further and further from the city. With the damage to the buildings and the port, the city began to fail.




The public bathrooms (for men only - and usually rich ones, at that) were quite advanced. Water continuously ran under the seat / bench and out of the city. In the summer, men enjoyed the cool rock seats - so much so that they would have their name engraved at their seat. In the winter, slaves were sent to sit on the person's seat to warm the stone. They might spend hours there until their master would show up. This area was used as a public meeting place where gossip and negotiations were held.  
  The partial column on the left has been stacked with two blocks that are known to belong to it. Eventually, as blocks are found and identified as belonging to this archway, it will be rebuilt.




These indents in the marble street were put there when it was constructed in ancient times. Their purpose was to make the surface less slick in the rain.

This library is the third greatest in Roman history. The first was in Alexandria, the second in Pergamum, and the third in Ephesus. It held approximately 25,000 scrolls. To the right are the gates of the Agora (market place). The men escorted their wives to the shopping area and then would retire to the "library". Unbeknownst to the women, there was a secret tunnel under the street to a brothel. 


The large
amphitheater looked toward the the port of the time. A spectacular view then and now - although silt has moved the water's edge. It was built in this area to take advantage of the hill's slope and to allow the sea breezes to funnel up the road, carrying with it the voices of the actors.

Click on the image to make it larger.

This link is fun - it shows a moving map of the entire site:


In this picture Samos, Greece (part of Europe) is on the left & Turkey (Asia Minor) is on the right. We are about to go through the pass were Europe and Asia minor are the closest - just less than two miles apart.

Samos is also where Pythagoras was born (569-475 BC). Along with proving the Pythagorean Theorem, he contributed to philosophy, astronomy, and music theory. Although the Pythagorean Theorem may have been known and used as early as 1,000 years prior, Pythagoras proved the theorem.

  Patmos is another beautiful Greek island with a very special history. It is here that the Grotto & Monastery of St. John. are located where John dictated the Book of the Apocalypse, or Revelation (the last book of the Bible) to Prochoros in 95 AD.

Inside the cave is an indent in the wall where John would lay his head down. The indents of where the  scroll rested are visible. The ceiling is low, cracked from a central point, and radiates out in three lines. It is said that when Jesus appeared to John, there was a loud crack like thunder that made the ceiling crack to represent the Holy Trinity. (Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed.)


Fret and KeyFret and KeyFret and Key

Wednesday, July 8th


When we landed on the island of Rhodes, K&K decided to get some sun on the beautiful beach.

The sand in Rhodes is more like fine pebbles. There isn't much wave action, so the sand doesn't break down into smaller pieces like on most beaches.

The harbor at Rhodes was, and still is, thought to be one of the most beautiful in the islands. The city was built in 408 BC. It is the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - the Colossus. It was thought to be the equivalent of the Statue of Liberty because of its size, location, shape, and because it was also built to celebrate the cities freedom.

The Colossus no longer exists, but Pliny (a Greek historian that lived centuries later), wrote about the statue. It stood 110 feet high on a pedestal that was 50 feet high. The Statue of Liberty is 151 feet tall. The Colossus was nude, wore a crown with spikes, had a robe folded over one arm, and used the other to shade its eyes from the sun. 

Dedicated to the sun god Helios and made of bronze plates covering an iron and stone frame, the statues must have simply glowed with the sun rise. An earthquake destroyed the statue some 50 years after it was built.  According to Pliny: "Even as it lies, it excites our wonder and admiration. Few men can clasp the thumb in their arms, and its fingers are larger than most statues. Where the limbs are broken asunder, vast caverns are seen yawning in the interior. Within it, too, are to be seen large masses of rock, by the weight of which the artist steadied it while erecting it."

There is no evidence that it stood with its legs spanning the harbor - in fact, to build it this way would have closed the harbor to trade which would have detrimental to the city and would not have been positioned in a traditional Greek manor. It is believed that it took 12 years to build and was started in 304 BC.

See for more information and a video.

The Castle at Rhodes was amazing - the windows were made of sliced agate - awesome.

It was built by the Knights of St. John in the 13th century AD.

The were mosaics on the floors and the rooms were huge.

We strolled the walks that lined the sea shore to find that in between the paving stones were wonderful mosaics. They were made of rounded small rocks set on their side to create the designs.

The detail was incredible and the stones were natural in color.



Heraklion (Crete, the Palace of Knossos)
Santorini (Thira)
Thursday, July 9th

The island of Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean & the largest island in Greece. Heraklion (or Iraklio) is the largest modern city.
It is located close to the ruins of Knossos - the cultural center of the ancient times.

The ancient site of Knossos is houses the great palace, built gradually between 1,700 and 1,400 BC. It had approximately 1,300 rooms total that weaved and twisted though the complex, creating what is now known as a labyrinth.

The word "labyrinth" comes from "labrys", referring to a double, or two-bladed, axe believed to have religious & possibly a magical design. Throughout the Mycenaean world it was an apotropaic symbol - a symbol that wards off evil & helps to prevent you from being killed.

The myth of King Minos, his wife, Poseidon, the Minotaur, & the labyrinth make up much of the mystique of the island of Crete and the area of Knossos. Rather than rewording some excellently worded webpages, please view the informational links below (as a side note - many Greek myths contain content may not be suitable for the younger readers):
1) King Minos:
2) The Minotaur:

An English archeologist in the early 1900s named Sir Arthur Evans, bought the site and decided to excavate it and "reconstruct" many of the temples and paintings "as they might have been in their own ancient times". Yes, it give tourists  feel for the possible colors and grandeur of the buildings. No, in many cases they are not historically accurate. Flowers were added to missing sections of frescos - colors were inferred from scant evidence, & reconstructions were imbued with imagination.

The area included a theatre, political areas, an arena, &multiple store rooms (called magazines) that probably contained oil, grains, dried fish, beans, and olives in large vases called pithoi. It was probably the political & religious center of the Minoan civilization.

Because of the myth of the founding of the city, the labyrinth, and minotaur, the city was dedicated to the bull and bull games. The ancient athletes would have to meet a bull head on, grab its horns, do a double somersault over its back, and land behind the bull. The Minoan culture and Crete itself was known for its "Bull Jumping Games" depicted below in one of its frescos. 


In addition the excavations revealed one of the best preserved examples of the pipes used to bring water to the city and remove the waste waters. Water was brought to the city through gravity fed terracotta pipes mainly laid underground prior to the building of the buildings. The pipes were tapered and fitted together to create a pressure fitting and to prevent clogging. Water ran from the big end to the smaller allowing any pebbles and debris to clear the underground pipes.

The Minoan civilization, over approximately 3,500 years ago, had a sewer system that (albeit, in a crude way) flushed the queen's toilet by pouring jugs of water down the seat to the drain system. Her bath water was also disposed of neatly by tipping the tub and emptying into the sewer system.

Thira or Santorini

From Crete to Santorini was only 65 nautical miles. As early as 3,000 BC the island was part of the Minonan civilization (from the island of Crete). The high walls of the cliff are actually the remnants of an old volcano. The waters fill the caldera or crater of the volcano. The stripes in the mountain show different layers and eruptions for the volcano - pumice (usually white), lava (darker bands), and dirt & rocks.

It is thought that the volcano blew somewhere between 1,450 & 1,650 BC destroying Santorini (Thira) and possibly the peoples of Crete. No skeletal remains have ever been found - indicating that the peoples probably had forewarnings of the upcoming eruptions in the form of earthquakes and volcanic plumage. It is thought that they abandoned the island - possibly only to die in the tidal waves after the eruption(s). Plato believed that this resulted in the destruction of the original Atlantis.

In the above picture, one can see the 588 steps that zigzag along the cliff's path from the shore to the city. Over these stairs runs a cable car for those of us unwilling to ride the donkeys up or down.

The main town is Thira (or Fira) and is set at 1,000 feet above sea level along the old crater rim.

Many of the houses on Santorini are literally dug into the hillside itself. They are cubic and beautifully white with the classic blue shutters and doors. Building into a mountain is the greatest way to be eco-friendly in terms of temperature control. The rock and/or pumice creates a natural insulating factor for the home. In addition, the house has only a front wall to paint and maintain.

Fret and KeyFret and KeyFret and Key

 Disembarkation at Piraeus
Friday, July 10th


After leaving Santorini the Aegean Pearl sailed to Piraeus, over a distance of 131 nautical miles. We returned to Athens & had a long afternoon to finish exploring the city and ruins.


The Tower of the Winds (or the Horologion of Andronikos of Kyrrhos) is an eight sided tower built to serve three functions: 1) on the inside was a water clock (driven by the waters coming down from the Acropolis), 2) on the outside was a sundial, & 3) on the top was a triton weather vane to point to the eight wind directions shown on the carvings of each side - Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW). 

It is thought to date to around 150 BC., is roughly 36 feet high, and has a diameter of 24 feet.

  Hadrian's Library was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD. It was a large area that not only held scrolls, but gardens, ponds, art works, lecture halls, and walking areas. It was one of the cultural center for the people of Athens

The Temple of Hephaistos or the Thisieon

The Thisieon or the Temple of Hephaistos was built around 460 BC for the patron-god of metal working - Hephaistos, & Athena Ergane who was the patron-goddess of pottery and crafts. In the ancient times it was located on the edge of the city where the metal workers and crafters lived and worked. It has six columns on the front and back & thirteen columns down both sides - following the the golden ratio of the Parthenon.

It is one of the best preserved buildings of the ancient world - with all columns & most of the roof still in tact. It is also one of the most quiet and beautiful preserves in the city of Athens. Trees and benches line the entire site with birds and cicada singing their songs.

 Amy and K&K look back at the Acropolis and Parthenon from the Thisieon.


Below are a series of pictures and information from one of the museums in Athens.
The ancient Greek society was very advanced and practiced democracy at its height.

Child's potty training seat from the 7th century BC.


Ostraka  - the shards of pottery used for an ostracism (see below). Evidently there was no real stigma attached to being ostracized - the city and its citizens welcomed one back when the ten years were up.

From a sign at the museum: "Ostracism was a unique type of voting intended as a means of protecting the city against aspirant to despotic power. The result of the ostracism vote was valid only if there were 6,000 [citizens] present. Each voter scratched or painted on a potsherd the name of the man he thought most undesirable. The "candidate" with the greatest number of votes against him was obliged to withdraw from Athens for ten years. Ostracism was decreed by Kleisthenes and was used through most of the 5th century BC. In many cases it came to be used as a tactical maneuver between rival politicians."


In front of every court house stood a kleroteria - or jury selection device.  Citizens who were eligible for jury duty carried small bronze identification disks or pinakia (bottom right of picture) that they randomly placed in the slots of the kleroteria. On the left side would have been a metal tube with a funnel at the top and a bowl or holding area at the bottom.

Small brass balls painted black or white would be placed in the top of the tube. A crank mechanism would hold them there until they were released in random order, one ball at a time.

The color of the ball that was released indicated whether that row of citizens would serve or not serve jury duty that day.


A simple water or hydraulic clock - called a klepsydra - was used from the late 400's to the late 500's BC. Its main purpose was to time political speeches. In this case, the top vessel held two chaoi (or about 6.4 liters & indicated by the X's).

A plug was removed from the base of the top jar allowing the water to drain into the bottom jar at a steady rate - emptying in approximately 6 minutes. Speakers would time their speeches so as to end with the last drop of water. Larger klepsydra were used for longer speeches.


Did we mention the heat? Oh yes - it was hot the entire time! In the modern Agora of Athens, there were wonderful little street cafes where one could sit and get a gyro and beer. To our great delight, many of them had fans with misting tubes attached. Fine sprays of water would sweep over you with a light fan breeze to cool you off. K&K loved it too!

Time for our last beer then back to the hotel for an early night & an early wake up call.


Athens / Fly Home
Saturday, July 11th


We woke up early and headed to the airport. The trip home was long, but uneventful. Another four hour layover in Philly and off to Roanoke.

It was good to be home.

Within a week we would be picking up our two eight week old Shih Tzu puppies.

Fret and KeyFret and KeyFret and Key




Room III: Early Archaic Period. The star attraction here is a pair of famous Archaic (6th century BC) statues, depicting either the Argive twins Cleobis and Biton or the Dioscuri. They stand 7 feet (2.16m) tall. Also here, and also dating from the 6th century, are painted terracotta fragments and five metopes from the Sikyonian monopteros, a round building with an open roof. The metopes are damaged but still retain some traces of paint. They are thought to depict: the Argonauts; Zeus' abduction of Europa; Castor and Polydeuces stealing the Arcadian cattle; hunting of the Calydonian Bear; the quest for the Golden Fleece.