Travelog # 2 EURO5
The first ferry ride for Kevin
was from Marmaris Turkey to Rhodes Greece, and it was smooth
but not so comfortable for Kevin. It isn't but 50 minutes so
the discomfort was short lived. We found a comfortable pension
which is owned and operated by an American, so we found help
with local knowledge right away. Our first action is to find
a place for brunch and begin eating our way through Greece. It
is certainly a different food group and the presentation is different.
The food choices are more varied and in some instances more recognizable,
the souvlaki pita for instance. These sandwiches are stuffed
with pork, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions and the like it is incredible.
I thought the best I had ever had was from a small shop in downtown
Corfu, but there is a small place on Socrates avenue in Rhodes
that does it better.
It is a short walk to the castle
or fort built by the Knights of St. John. It is in perfect operating
condition and has been here since 1316. It could become a Hilton
Hotel with some effort but no rebuilding. If it did so it would
be one of the most unique in its class. Scott and Kevin tour
the whole facility while I sit in a window opening where there
is a very cool breeze. The stairways to the second and third
floor are 15 feet wide and grand. There are mosaics, moved from
Kos, on the floors of the third floor. Kevin is intrigued by
the Greek writing and asking many questions as to pronunciation.
The shopping is plentiful and colorful, but much different than
Turkey. Here the merchants allow you to pass without the barrage
of offers and attempts to engage you in conversation. It is rather
civilized. I was going to take Kevin and Scott to Mike and Mamas,
but it seems that he is either out of business or closed. It
is hard to tell which, so the stories of a previous visit will
have to suffice. Kevin is accepting and trying the new foods
rather well. There are just a few basics he does not like, but
he will try new things. It is encouraging to see this as we are
just starting the trip and there are several new foods to come.
When anyone asks, "where have you been?" Kevin is the
first to respond and gives a complete rundown of our travels.
This trip is for him and he is absorbing an awful lot regarding
cultures, people, languages and history.
Thursday morning and we are off
on a fast catamaran from Rhodes to Patmos. It takes two hours
to get to Los, a trip that would take two days in Traumerei.
The sea is smooth and Kevin does enjoy this boat trip. There
are stops at Symi, Kos, Kalimnos, Lyros and Lipsi before we arrive
in Patmos five hours after we left Rhodes. When we leave the
ferry there are about 15 people with placards advertising that
they have rooms or flats for rent. How do you select from so
many? I selected a lady with a large hat and she led us on a
10 minute walk into the town where she has a neat 3-story home
converted into "rooms to let". We have 3 beds, a kitchenette,
air conditioning, a porch/patio and breakfast for 25 euros a
night for the three of us. The tourist trade is down and we are
not in high season yet. What a deal! I am on the patio now overlooking
the neighbors gardens of vegetables and flowers, listening to
the roosters crow, drinking a cup of coffee and see three ancient
windmills on the hill top just to the south, not bad for 25 euros.
Yesterday, after a lunch, we
rented two motor scooters to get around the island. Kevin in
all sincerity told the merchant that he also wanted one. The
fellow looked at him as though he was nuts. Scott and I had a
good laugh, but Kevin was not so understanding. In the afternoon
ride we visited the Church of the Apocalypse and the Monastery
of St. John.
We asked the fellow in Rhodes
as to the best way to plan a trip across the Aegean and be in
Athens on Sunday. He suggested we go to Patmos and thence to
Syros. From Syros we could go anywhere. That is not necessarily
so! We have tried to find a way to leave the island and we have
two choices, go back towards Rhodes or directly to Athens. Neither
is a good choice. The ferry to Paros runs twice a week, next
Monday is the next day, Samos we can get there but then what?
It is really an interesting puzzle, in that no travel agent here
knows the ferry schedule from any other island. We can go to
Samos, Kalimnos, Kos, Rhodes and other Dodecanese islands but
we do not know how we can leave any of them. Our ray of hope
is that we have planned for and now found a wi-fi connection
and can get on the web to get ferry schedules. We have all day
to find a solution. Later
There is no good solution to
this problem. The Dodecanese islands are seemingly treated as
foreign lands. There is a circular route from Athens to Rhodes
up through these islands and back to Athens. It is as a large
traffic circle, you can get on anywhere and get off at the next
stop but it is very difficult to leave the circle. We leave at
midnight Friday night for the 10 hour tip across the Aegean to
Athens. There are no cabins on this route! Our ferry is in luck,
if we were to be attacked by a foreign force we would have a
great advantage. Of the 600 people aboard at least 350 of them
are Greek soldiers. Due to the hour of departure, there is no
meal or drink service until 6 am. At sunrise I wander the decks
and see an occasional sailboat enroute to some Aegean Island
and recall the great trips on Traumerei in these same waters.
The wind appears to be about 8-10 kts and there are no seas,
perfect early morning sailing.
When I hand the taxi driver the
paper with our hotel name and address, he looks at it as though
it were in a foreign language. I tell him that if he doesn't
know the way we will find another taxi, he assures me he knows
the way. I have seen this act before and am uncomfortable as
we depart the boat. Some taxi drivers assume the rider is without
knowledge and will not notice an extra mile or 10 minutes on
the meter. We pass the Titania and Omonias Square more than once
as he tours downtown. We have the occasional stop to again read
the map and hotel name and assure me he will find it. Later he
stops for a signal light and there is a Tourism Police on a motorcycle
next to my window. I ask the policeman for help and indicate
that our driver is wandering around as though he is lost. The
policeman speaks to our driver who instantly assures me he now
knows exactly where we are and at the corner we turn left to
our hotel. As we are stopped the policeman arrives and again
speaks to our driver who then says there will be no charge.
We have checked in and go to
the National Museum. This place was under renovation the last
time Kathy and I were here. They were preparing for the Olympic
crowd. It has been upgraded to a class one facility. All the
interior has been refurbished, all the display pedestals are
new gray marble and beautiful. Each item on exhibit is shown
in a manner as though it were the only item on display. Poseidon
is standing tall in the center of a long room and is beautiful
to see again. There photo policy has changed somewhat, you can
now take non-flash photos. We were talking about the photo policy
and how they stated that flash photos were harmful to the marble
works. That's a bunch of hoot, these marbles have been outside
for 2000 years and sunlight hasn't harmed them. The new displays
of the frescoes which are from Thyra are in a spotlighted area,
unlike past times when the area of display was a subdued light.
This display theme may be harmful. Anyway in the discussion Kevin
states, "The museum methods are immature". That is
a mouthful. There is a new area which displays a newly, 1999,
found bronze of a lady in robes. It looks somewhat like the statue
of Mary in Efesus. It is larger that life without missing parts
and surely to be a main attraction.
As we were using the internet
connection at the Cafemoca, I noticed a small restaurant across
the street. It's a Bulgarian Restaurant. We haven't had that
yet so there we go to try something else. This note is to give
all a bit of trivia for their information. There were two things
on the menu which are different and perhaps are a source for
two well known English words, Mish-Mash is a Bulgarian stew dish,
Hotch-Potch is another of the dishes. Just thought you would
appreciate the info.
This is a bright Sunday morning
and we are at the breakfast table before 7 so we can get a cool
start on the day. The streets of Athens are deserted of auto
traffic and only a few pedestrians. It is a 20 minute walk to
the base of the Acropolis. As we are walking south on Athina
Street you can see the Acropolis at the end of the deserted street
in the background. It is truly a marvel to see and of special
beauty in this cool early morning. There is an Orthodox service
being held in a very old and very small church at the bottom
of the Acropolis, Kevin and I enter and listen to some of the
chanted service, have our own special time of prayer and then
join Scott who is taking numerous pictures of the structure.
It is truly a peaceful day. The 15 minute climb to the top is
gradual and easy. There are perhaps 200 people already there
but the tour buses come later. A slow tour around the perimeter
telling Kevin what we know to be of the structure and the environs.
It is clear enough to see some of the remote temples, Hadrian's
Gate and the Olympic Stadium built for the 1896 Olympics Games.
We tour the small Parthenon Museum and depart for the stadium.
On the way we walk beside Hadrian's Gate, Scott and Kevin tour
the grounds which have a Temple to Zeus in the center. Thence
to the stadium, which was formerly open to the public. Steve
Renneckar has wheeled around the track and we wanted to do the
same. It is now very Spartan clean and closed to the public.
It seems that some vandals attacked the stadium seats with hammers
and chipped away some of the marble.
We proceeded back towards the
hotel through the National Gardens and did not have to walk the
now busy streets with thief fumes and noise. The far NW corner
of the garden borders the National Parliament building where
the honor guards are on duty 24 hours a day. As we arrived they
were leaving their standing posts and moving toward the monument.
In this position one cannot approach them and they are pretty
busy for the next half hour changing sides and prancing about.
However we patiently waited them out and they returned to the
place where they are available for the requisite photograph.
I have several of Kevin standing beside the 6 foot 4 inch guard
in his pleated white miniskirt and high heel clogs. Kevin looks
very small. We have had our tour of Athens and now to our new
room and contemplate tomorrow.
We are covering a lot of ground
in a short time and it would be easy to think that we are too
fast. Kevin has an interest but it is primarily a visual need
that is being fed. He will recall seeing the sites and as time
goes his reading will include many articles which refer to these
places. He will recall the site and not necessarily the dates
or events. Specifically I think of articles in the National Geographic
Magazine as being ones which would cause a visual recall.
We are on an early morning bus
to Delphi, surely one of the most important sights in Greece.
It is not so much a visual sight as it is historical. The stories
about Delphi will come later. We have joined travel with a young
lady from Dover and Kevin has taken to conversing with her. She
has patience and an interest in answering his questions. After
the Athina Treasury and the temple to Apollo Kevin and Jennifer
are off to the ruins across the road and I turn right to the
museum. We all meet at the museum to see the Chariot Rider bronze
and other fine works from the site which completes our tour of
The plan was to continue with
the bus system to Navpatkos and Patras where we would board a
ferry to Corfu. The ferry ride would be 10 hours and that is
an uneventful 10 hours. I suggested that we alter the plans and
head north and inland to a site which Kathy and I have wanted
to see, but haven't. This we do and after a 4 hour bus ride we
are in Meteora, a site known for its monasteries. Kalambaka,
the town closest to Meteora, is set amongst a half dozen monoliths.
The cliffs are 400 meters absolutely smooth and straight up.
They are very imposing in their size and proximity to the town.
There is a cutaway trail to the top with swinging bridges connecting
the sites at the top. There is a monastery on each of 6 of the
monoliths. We are in the highlands so the temperature is moderated
to cool, this along with last nights rain makes the morning a
very special time. We took the local bus to the top of the hills
and to the highest monastery. The pictures will have to tell
the story, it is much to magnificent to put in words. There are
monasteries on each of several hills with restricted entrance,
I am not dressed properly so I can't enter. The air is clean,
after last nights rain, and clear. The temp is in the 60's and
the walking, downhill, is as good as it gets. After a 2 hour
visit we start the long walk back to the room so we can get a
bus to Igoumenitsa and Corfu.
This bus ride is a total of about
180 miles and takes 7 hours of driving. There are about 7 mountain
ranges that run parallel to the coast. The heights of the ranges
are about 54000 feet with valleys at about 1400 feet. The road
must cross all of the ranges to get to the coast. So, it is up
one range and then down to the valley and do it again. It is
about 15 miles of very crooked road to ascend and another 15
to descend each of the ranges. That makes the trip 7 times 30
which is 210 miles. The roads are as crooked as those climbing
Mt. Lemon. We cover a straight line distance of slightly more
than 100 miles. In Igoumenitsa we board a ferry to Corfu and
thence a taxi to our hotel where we arrive at 11 PM. We started
this journey at 3:30 in the afternoon.
First, I was expecting to visit
some acquaintances, as in Mike at the Navigator Bar, but find
that changes have occurred. Mikes place has been closed by the
federales due to some discrepancy in his tax filing, whatever
that means. It is good to feel a mattress beneath a tired body
and we sleep until about 6 AM. I am up and at the marina to find
Fred and Phyl's boat and see who else in the marina that I know.
Answer, no one else! A trip to town is required to schedule our
trip to Italy which is for tonight. A short trip through downtown
and show Scott where the fort is plus eat a Gyro pita. We are
putting a wrap on Greece. Fred asks Kevin if he would like to
swim in the Ionian. A yes is the resounding answer so we leave
the quay in "Perception" for a position just outside
the marina where Fred and Kevin enjoy an hour swimming around
and diving from the rails of this sailboat. This is truly a gift
from Fred and Phyl to end our stay in Greece. We are now aboard
a ferry going to Igoumenitsa where we leave later tonight for
Bari, Italy. That is the subject of the next log.