Saturday, July 5, 2008

Greece Trip Report, Part V.

My sister and her family leave for Greece on Monday.  I am going to try and hurriedly post the rest of my journal and pictures from our 2004 trip before then!

Sunday, April 25

We awakened to discover the beautiful island of Santorini outside our window.  


The island was once circular, but in 1200 B.C (?) a volcanic eruption blew out the center of the island leaving it in a crescent shape, with steep cliffs leading down to the sea.  The main towns on the island are built high up on these cliffs, and their buildings are all a pristine white.  They look like they're constructed of sugar cubes.  It is quite a lovely sight to behold.

We boarded the tender to journey from our ship to the island.



I think I will always associate Santorini with laughter, as we laughed from the moment we set foot on the island to the time we climbed back on our tender to return to the ship that night.  We disembarked at a tiny port and could have either ridden a donkey to the top or journeyed up in a funiculaire.  


Someone had recommended the donkey, so I walked up to one, a little man told me to climb up into the saddle, and that donkey immediately took off up the hill.  I looked back expecting to see the man running after me to lead the donkey, but instead saw only everyone else's donkeys trotting similarly independently. 


Robert caught up with me (his donkey was a bit of an over achiever and ended up beating everyone to the top), and we laughed the entire way up.


After arriving at the top, we climbed off the donkeys and I slipped into an Internet cafe while Robert searched for a moped to rent.  We had decided to forego the organized tours of the island in favor of exploring on our own, and we were so glad we did. 


We went with another couple and saw the whole island from one end to the other.  




We ventured down many a dead-end road, ended up in towns our map had never heard of, and stumbled upon some fabulous ruins of Ancient Thira at the top of a seemingly endless mountain of cobblestone switch backs.  Our friends' scooter even broke down and had to be fixed by a kindly 90-year-old Greek woman!  


We ate lunch at an outdoor cafe on the beach on the far side of the island.



Toward the end of our journey it began to rain, and the wind was blowing so hard that not even saying "I think I can I think I can" was helping us to advance very far, but it was one of the most fun days I've ever had.  


We had planned to eat on the island that evening, but I looked like something the cat had dragged in (it took me about 30 minutes to comb out my hair), so we elected instead to dine on the ship.  That ended up being a good choice, as they were setting off fireworks in the town just above our ship, and we had a great view of it from our table.

Monday, April 26

Today we awoke to find the island of Rhodes awaiting us.  


Rhodes is a very large island just off the coast of Turkey.  

We elected to take a Jeep tour of the island, but this was a bit of a disappointment.  We piled into an open air Jeep with another couple and lined up with about 50 other Jeeps to explore Rhodes. 


This ended up being more of an off-road experience than a sight-seeing venture, so we cut short our tour after 4 hours and returned to the ship.

We still had plenty of time to wander around the streets of the old walled town of Rhodes, which was built in medieval times.  It was quite a neat place.  We saw an old palace and lots of little shops, and we climbed to the top of an old clock tower.  We stopped for drinks with another couple from our trip in a little outdoor tavern.






We were to eat dinner with a group from Robert's area of the company, so we returned to the ship to change and then came back to town for dinner.  I paid the price for adhering to my Southern 'fashion over function' philosophy; I about broke my neck walking over cobblestone streets in my little high heeled sandals.  We enjoyed a great meal, though, with lots of fresh seafood and a few glasses of the local potent potable, Ouzo. 


Tuesday, April 27

We awakened today to heavy rocking of the ship.  I looked out the window and saw only large swells and white caps - no sign of the island of Mykonos.  Shortly thereafter the captain announced that the port was closed, so we would instead be spending a day at sea.  I got up long enough to participate in a game of sports trivia, but it stayed pretty rough until late in the afternoon, so my day at sea was mostly a day in bed.  I did watch
Master and Commander on the room's TV, which was sort of a strange experience while sloshing around on a ship myself, but I also caught up on some much-needed sleep.  

By evening the water was calmer, and we had a lovely meal in the ship's dining room and then took a tour of the galley where the crew had prepared a lot of show dishes. 





Wednesday, April 28

When we awoke at 7:00 this a.m., we found that we were back in the port of Pireaus (Athens).  We ate breakfast and then disembarked and climbed onto a bus for a tour of Cape Sounio.

Cape Sounio is located on the southern tip of Attica (the region of Greece where Athens is located).  There are some beautiful ruins of a Temple of Poseidon high on a hill overlooking the sea.  



We walked around there for a bit and then ate lunch at a local restaurant.  



The food was preordered, and one of the dishes was a plate of what looked to be a pile of fried minnows - heads and all, with little eyes peering out through the breading with a “What-the-heck-happened?”  look!  


We returned to the Athens Hilton by way of a pretty little lake set under some cliffs and fed by thermal springs. 


We left the hotel at 4:00 in the morning (!) to catch an early flight home.


It was a wonderful trip, and I would love to return to Greece again someday.   


Liz Harrell said...

I dont think I would come home. :)

Anonymous said...

Eloise, now I feel as if I have been there!!! Bill and Donna Garrard have just returned from Greece (and a cruise)....and he showed me all their photos at the Unit Game on Sunday aft. (at Valley View).