Trip to Greece - 1990
Because of Cathy's trip coordination with EF in 1985 (France) and 1989 (British Isles), we were given a free week in any city in the world, including the flight and hotel. We had planned to hike in Norway for a week beginning on July 7, so we planned to paste our free week to the front end of the hike. After much discussion, we chose Athens as our city and convinced EF to fly us out of Oslo, Norway on the return trip after our hike.
We talked our son Bill into chauffeuring us to National Airport on June 29 where we flew to Athens via Kennedy Airport. On the flight, we sat with a Greek/American, Debbie Vertos, who told us a lot about Greece and told us that we wouldn't see a cloud the whole time we were there. We had a beautiful view of mountains as we flew across Europe toward Greece.We landed in Athens at 10:00 AM on Saturday, June 30. We took a taxi to our Hotel Alkistis, near the market. After getting settled into our little room with no air conditioning, we went up to the roof garden to enjoy our first view of the Acropolis. Then we walked to the Acropolis. It was mind-boggling to see the Parthenon and the rock that St. Paul stood on when he addressed the Athenians. The beautiful views (pics: 1, 2, 3) in themselves justified the cost of admission. During late afternoon we walked by the Academy of Sciences and climbed the highest hill in Athens, which has a funicular up to the summit. With daytime temperatures in the mid-90s, we had no desire to eat dinner before 9:00 PM, so we had plenty of daylight hours for touring. We ate our first dinner at one of the many outdoor restaurants near the Acropolis.
Sunday, July 1 was Bill's 50th birthday. We decided to celebrate with a day cruise to 3 of the Greek Islands. Once on the boat, Bill opened a birthday card that Katie had sent along with us. We first visited the island of Hydra (pics: 1, 2). The second stop was the island of Poros (pics: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Our final stop was the island of Aegina (pics: 1, 2). It was sunny and hot on the boat. Each island had a little tourist area at the harbor landing. We drank bottle upon bottle of water. It was amazing that one just carried a bottle of water everywhere. We had a nice view of the marina at the end of the cruise and could clearly see the new stadium. We ate dinner at the Dionysius Restaurant at the top of the hill with the funicular. The Parthenon below us was bathed in changing, multicolor lights. Except for a noisy and obnoxious group of Americans at a nearby table, the meal was an excellent conclusion to an excellent day. If you've got to become 50, this is the way to do it.
Cathy felt sick on the morning of July 2, so Bill did some wandering around by himself. Bill toured the market where unrefrigerated meat stays out in the heat all day. He discovered the tackiest place in Athens in the "Acropolis Fast Food" Restaurant. Bill also found an interesting area at the base of the Acropolis near the Theater of Dionysius. After lunch, Cathy rallied and was able to enjoy the changing of the guard at the palace and some shopping in the Plaka District. We were impressed with Stadion, the ancient site of the Pan Hellenic Games and the 1896 Olympics. We ate dinner on our own private balcony of the Nefeli Restaurant.
On Tuesday, July 3 we took a bus trip to Delphi. En route we saw numerous shrines to dead motorists. The Delphi complex was very impressive with a good museum, lots of tourists, celebrities, a 5000 foot high stadium, and great scenery. We ate a late lunch in a restaurant perched on the edge of a cliff with a view of the Gulf of Corinth in the background. The only problem was that there was no electricity due to a strike of the local workers. We ate dinner at Hermione's Restaurant in the Plaka District. Later, we watched the changing lights on the Acropolis from the hotel's roof garden, under a swollen moon - very romantic.
We departed from the port of Piraeus for an overnight visit to the island of Mykonos on the morning of July 4.We signed up for first class on the ship so that we could enjoy the air conditioning on the 6 hour ride. We made a stop at the harbor of Tinos Island on the way to Mykonos. We arrived at about 1:30 PM. A joltingly hot ride in a small van took us to the Ornos Beach Hotel. We checked-in and then had a light lunch in the restaurant on the beach. The setting at Ornos beach was beautiful - light blue, placid water; a small sheltered bay with several small boats and two yachts anchored; several small groups (mostly pairs) of sun bathers on beach chairs under straw umbrellas; and a few pairs of bared female breasts (not that we noticed). We spent a long late afternoon on the beach from 3-7 PM. Swimming in the cool, clear water was exhilarating. After showers, we went to dinner at El Greco, also on the beach. We chose our own fish from a small selection of freshly caught specimens and enjoyed grilled fish for dinner. During the night, Cathy knocked the phone off the hook. This led to 4:20 AM knocks on our door as a worried desk clerk checked on our well-being. About 5 minutes later, all of the lights on our end of Mykonos went out and we wondered if Cathy had somehow caused it.
On July 5, after a continental breakfast, we left on a small boat for the island of Delos. It was extremely hot, but we enjoyed walking around the remains of the ancient city. We saw some statues dating from 700 BC. A well-preserved mosaic floor of a house used natural colors of the stones to form its design. We caught our ship back to Athens at 2:30 PM and enjoyed the air conditioning of the first class lounge for a while until we moved out on deck. The ship docked at 9:30 PM and, to our surprise, the same driver, along with his son Alexander, was there to meet us. We went out for our last Greek dinner and ended up back at Alexandros' to complete the circle. The food really hit the spot.
We slept in until 8:00 AM on July 6 and enjoyed a leisurely continental breakfast in the hotel's restaurant. We checked-out at 9:30 AM but left our luggage in the lobby for a last look at Athens. We shopped in the Plaka for a few last minute items and then lunched at the base of the Acropolis. We had a look at the Agora (pics: 1, 2). We got a fresh water bottle and climbed to the top of the Hill of the Muses, which has the best view of the Acropolis. Cathy gave her Red Door perfume to the desk manager at the hotel (and got a bottle of Ouzo in return). Our cab was 20 minutes late, but it mattered little since our flight to Oslo started 50 minutes late.
We never saw a cloud the whole time we were in Greece.