This morning we were up very early to check out of our hotel and catch our bus to the Santorini Airport. We took off around 7:00 AM for our flight to Athens.
Our second flight was from Athens to JFK airport in New York City. It was almost an 11 hour flight. It seemed to go by faster than we expected. Of course we watched movies and read! The flight was smooth and no issues occurred. People kept their masks on and the flight attendants didn’t have to deal with unruly passengers.
On a side note, a gluten free meal that is made by the European crews are so much better than the gluten free meals made in the United States.
Looking out the airplane window we watched the sunset as we descended for landing in New York City.
Our last flight of the day was to our home airport in Columbus. Our plane left on time and we had a fantastic trip with the Hilliard Chamber of Commerce in Greece but it’s always good to get home! We can’t wait for our next adventure as long as COVID doesn’t shut down much of the world again!
We were awake early and watched the sunrise from the balcony of our room. It was beautiful.
Our first stop today was the Prophet Elias Monastery which was located on the highest peak of Santorini. We had gorgeous views of the island. The Monastery was built in 1712. It suffered a lot of damage from an earthquake in 1956.
The views of Santorini from the summit of Mount Profitis Ilias.
Santorini produces wine and it is considered to be the best in all of Greece. They say it is because of the mineral content of the volcanic soil! Ancient grape seeds were discovered and the people of Santorini have been wine makers for at least 3,500 years.
The grapevines here are twisted into a round shape and the grapes are tucked inside to protect them. It looks like a grapevine basket. You do not see the vines growing up along fencing. It is definitely very different. This technique called kouloura protects the grapes from the wind and hot sun.
We walked through the village of Pyrgos which is located at the foothills of Mount Profitis Ilias. Pyrgos is the largest preserved village on Santorini and it is pretty much ignored by the tourist industry and the villagers are glad.
Our next stop was Agios Georgios which is known for its black sandy beach along the Aegean Sea! We had lunch at the Demilmar Restaurant Beach Bar. Our lunch was very good and we enjoyed the view.
Near the restaurant we found the ruins of an early Christian Basilica of Ayia Eirini from the 5th century AD. Ayia is the Greek word for Saint and Eirini means Irene. It is believed that Santorini’s name came from this.
Our next stop was the wine museum and wine tasting at Koutsoyannopoulos Winery. We only had time to walk through the museum because part of our group was late because one of the restaurants was slow getting the food prepared and served! Below are a few pictures from the museum.
Some of the oldest producing vines on the island are around 400 years old! Before we tasted each wine, one of the employees explained about each wine and its pairing with food. We tried four different varieties. The Koutsoyannopoulos Winery was founded in the late 19th century and is family owned through four generations. We enjoyed our tasting! Our first white wine was a dry wine made from the assyrtiko grape which is indigenous to the island of Santorini. The second wine was another white wine called, Experimental Orange wine. Next was a red wine aged in an oak barrel, Ambelones. Our last wine was a 2006 Dessert wine, Kamaritis.
After we left the winery our bus dropped us off in Oia to walk around and watch the sunset. The sky was displaying many colors, from pink, yellow, and orange, as we experienced another gorgeous sunset!
When we returned to the hotel we were ready for dinner. We walked close to a mile to a restaurant that was suggested for us to try but it wasn’t opened yet so we walked a little farther and found Cacio e Pepe restaurant. It was Italian cuisine and the food was delicious!
After dinner it was back to the hotel to do our paperwork for “Fly Ready” with Delta. We needed to upload our negative PCR result with the QR code, our fully vaccinated card and our passport. After several tries we received an email that we were set. We did our final packing because our luggage had to be outside our room very early in the morning. We will hate to say goodbye to Greece!
This morning we checked out of our hotel in Kinetta and headed for the Athens airport. We had a morning flight to Santorini, Greece. This volcanic island is the southernmost of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. It is also the most visited of the Greek Islands. There are more churches than houses on the island but most of the churches are very small and private.
The landing strip wasn’t very long at the Santorini airport!
The Santorini tour director met us at the airport and we boarded buses for the Splendour Resort. Our hotel wasn’t too far from the airport. Our hotel was beautiful and we had a great view from our patio!
Once we had our luggage we went exploring for a place to have lunch. Keep in mind that Santorini has steep hills. We first started down the hill from our hotel and when we didn’t see any open cafes or restaurants we turned around and headed up the hill along the footpath.
We finally reached our destination at the top of the hill and the restaurant was closed! So we walked down the hill along the road and found a cafe/market where we had a delicious lunch and also ran into several groups from our tour! After eating we walked back to our hotel and got in line to take our PCR COVID test. We needed to have a negative result to get on the plane and into the United States. After getting swabbed we took a cab up to Oia which is famous for its sunsets and the blue dome churches. It is located on the northwestern tip of Santorini and overlooks the caldera filled with water. The weather was good so we decided to spend the evening there.
The sunset was beautiful and we were mesmerized watching the sun go down.
When we got back to the hotel we relaxed for the rest of the evening because we were tired from the early morning flight and all of the walking up and down hills. Tomorrow we will tour the island!
Today we visited the Acropolis Museum. It was really interesting because when the city excavated the land they found an entire neighborhood beneath the museum.
From the second floor of the museum you can see the Acropolis.
We weren’t permitted to take pictures of the Archaic Acropolis Gallery in the museum. You can look up this gallery online and see photos of the collection.
In the background of the picture below are pieces of the Parthenon from the archaic period.
A pair of Nikes from the 3rd century AD. In ancient Greek religion Nike was the goddess of victory.
The Statue of Papposilenus is carrying the infant Dionysos, the god of wine and theater. It was discovered in 1832 at the Theater of Dionysos. It was made of marble and sculpted in the 2nd century BC. Papposilenus was considered to be the wisest of the Sileni (mythical demons that followed Dionysos) and tutor of Dionysos.
The Caryatids, female columns from the Erechtheion on the Acropolis of Athens. The Erechteion is an ancient Greek Temple and has also been referred to as the Temple of Athens.
A reconstruction of the west pediment of the Parthenon is pictured below.
Metopes are rectangular plaques. Fourteen metopes decorated the east side of the Parthenon.
Below are original metopes and recreated as to what they believe the original ones looked like. It gives you an idea of how colorful the temples once were!
After the museum we walked in the Platka for lunch and to shop! The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens. Most of the area is pedestrian only! It is filled with restaurants, jewelry stores, tourist shops and cafes.
The monument to Lysicrates was erected by a wealthy patron of musical performances in the Theater of Dionysus.
As we were walking toward our bus we past the base of the Theater of Dionysus remains of ancient marble statue remnants and other pieces.
Today was our last day in Athens and with our guide Marina! What a beautiful parting shot of the Acropolis!
Today was a trip to Olympia, which is another UNESCO World Heritage site, and was about a two hour drive from our hotel. The weather was perfect and Olympia did not disappoint.
Olympia is where the first Olympic games took place 2800 years ago. It was the home to the ancient Sanctuary of Zeus. We walked among well-preserved altars, temples, theater, and marble statues. Our guide was such a wealth of information and so good at explaining the history of the area. In this post are our favorites from the museum and the grounds of Olympia.
Our first stop was the museum. We’ve included a few of the highlights from the museum. We have much more from the museum but this post would be way too long!
These are tripod cauldron attachments that are found on the handles. They were made from bronze and date from the 8th century BC.
Below is a statue of Zeus carrying a young Ganymedes to immortality from Troy to Olympus. It is a Greek terracotta sculpture made by Phidias, around 435 BC.
Sculpted out of marble is the Nike of Paeonios. It was a votive offering to Zeus from the Messenians and the Naupactians victory against the Spartans in the Archidameian war. It stood at the SE corner of the Temple of Zeus.
The West Pediment from the Temple of Zeus shows a fight between centaurs and Lapiths. They are battling over the abduction of the Lapitih women. Apollo, in the center, presides over all!
The East Pediment from the Temple of Zeus depicts the chariot race of Pelops and Oinomaos and a 10 foot tall Zeus is in the center and the chariot teams are on each side.
Probably the most famous is the sculpture by Praxiteles of Hermes and the Infant Dionysus, 4th century BC. Hermes is holding the infant Dionysus in his left arm and was dangling grapes in his missing right arm. It was found in the ruins of the Temple of Hera in 1877.
As we entered the Olympia common grounds we saw archaeologists digging and excavating! It was tedious work as we watched.
From the 5th century BC.
The Philippeion is the only circular building. It had 18 Ionic columns on a 3-stepped marble base and is supported on a stone entablature (moldings). It was built by Philip of Macedon to mark his triumph over the Greeks. This was the first temple one saw when entering the sacred site. Inside stood statues of Philip and his family which includes his son, Alexander the Great!
The Temple of Hera was the oldest structure on the site. The Temple originally honored Hera and Zeus before the Temple of Zeus was built. Inside was once a large statue of Hera on a throne with Zeus beside her and the temple once housed a statue of Hermes and was topped with the Disk of the Sun, and both of these are housed in the museum.
The statue of Hermes in the museum is the Praxiteles of Hermes from up above.
The Nymphaion was once a curved fountain that was lined with 2 tiers of statues of emperors, some we saw in the museum. This fountain served as an aqueduct and helped cool individuals in the heat. It was built around 150 AD.
The Altar of Hera is where athletes light the Olympic torch since 1936 and links the original Olympics to the modern games. The torch is lit by using a curved cauldron-shaped mirror and it focus’ the rays of the sun that ignites a flame. This ceremony is done a few months before the games begin.
The Stadium was first built during the 5th century BC and had a capacity of 45,000 spectators. It was where the ancient Olympic games were held.
The racetrack is 640 feet. There was a stone drain around the track that opened at intervals into small basins where rain water collected.
We lined up on the original marble paved starting line and either walked or ran down and back!
Our Olympic winners!
The Temple of Zeus was located in the center of ancient Olympia. It was a huge temple dedicated to Zeus who was the king of the gods and patron of the Games. It was built in the 5th century BC. It fell in the 6th century AD. Most of the temple was made of limestone not marble.
The Metroon was a temple dedicated to Rhea, the mother of the gods and nearby was the Altar of Zeus. They don’t know the exact location of the Altar of Zeus. At this altar the Olympians would daily sacrifice animals to Zeus.
The Leonidaion was once a large building that was a luxurious accommodation for distinguished visitors and officials to the Olympic games.
The Gymnasium was a training area for foot racing, javelin and discus throwing.
After leaving ancient Olympia we had lunch in town.
Our day began with a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to get to Delphi. Along our route we stopped at a scenic overlook. We could see Arachova. It is a mountain town known as a base for ski excursions in the winter.
We also drove through Arachova which took a long time because of a traffic jam due to the town folks hanging up Christmas lights that were being strung across the road. The main road through town is two-way and narrow!
Since we were stopped or were moving slowly, we were able to see the homes, stores, restaurants and cafes along the main street in town! Here is a small collection of this quaint town.
Delphi is an UNESCO site and important to the ancient Greek mythology (8th Century BC). It was an ancient religious sanctuary to the Greek god Apollo. Delphi was considered to be the center of Grandmother earth, home to the Oracle of Delphi, and the Priestess Pythia who was famous in the ancient world for divining the future. People from all over the world would come seeking advice.
When we arrived in Delphi our first stop was a visit to the archaeological museum.
The twin Kouros Statues from 600-580 BC, are seven feet tall and represent athletes. They are the legendary twins of Argos. The brothers are known for pulling their mother and her cart because her oxen was missing. It was a 6 mile trek. These statues are funeral memorials because their mom prayed to the goddess Hera to place a gift on her twins due to their strength and devotion to her. Well, Hera’s gift was to have them fall asleep in the temple and never wake up.
The Omphalos of Delphi is made of marble. It is said that Zeus placed this monument where two eagles crossed paths after he launched them from two ends of the world. They crossed paths over Delphi and omphalos which means center and in Greek mythology called Delphi the “navel of the earth”.
The Charioteer of Delphi is one of the best known Greek statues. It stands 5 feet 11 inches and is made of bronze and from 470 BC. He is the driver of the chariot race and is presenting his chariot and his horses to the spectators because of his victory. The details are amazing.
The Sphinx was an offering from the Naxian people and was placed above a high iconic column. It was a symbol of earthly divinity and heavenly power. The statue was made of marble. It had the body and legs of a lion, chest and wings of a bird, and the head of a woman.
The Hymns to Apollo inscriptions were found on the south wall of Treasury of the Athenians. These two ancient hymns were composed for the Pythias of 128 BC which was a ritual procession of the Athenians towards Delphi. Between the lines of verses musical symbols were found.
Below are the remains of the Chryselephantine, which means a Greek sculpture overlaid with gold and ivory. The flesh was represented by ivory and the drapery by gold.
Some of the other objects in the museum.
The Athena temple complex:
The Treasury of Athenians housed dedications and offerings made by the people of Athens to the sanctuary of Apollo.
The Sanctuary of Apollo was a religious area dedicated to the Greek god Apollo.
The Temple of Apollo was first built around the 7th century BC. It has been rebuilt three times! The temple’s foundations remain along with a few Doric columns made of limestone which has caused decaying.
The Omphalos is a cone shaped monument to mark what the ancients believed was the center of the world. This is a replica along the Sacred Way, the road through Delphi.
The ancient theater of Delphi was located farther up the hill from the Temple of Apollo. Sitting in the theater provided spectacular views of the entire area. It was built out of limestone in the 4th century BC and was remodeled several times. It has 35 rows and can hold around 5,000 spectators. During ancient times they watched plays, poetry, readings and musical events that occurred during festivals that happened at Delphi.
A slideshow of more images from Delphi!
After leaving Delphi, we headed back to Arachova to enjoy a delicious late lunch at Omfalos. Of course for fun I’ve included another picture difference of a gluten free appetizer and what everyone else was served!
We arrived back at the hotel around 7:00 PM. We certainly are getting a refresher and learning more about Greek mythology.
Our first stop today was the Corinth Canal. Originally we were to go on a ride through the canal from the Aegean Sea to the Ionian Sea but there was a landslide and so the canal is currently closed and has been since January. Instead we saw the canal from above and then from a lower elevation.
The closing of the canal is a hardship for tourism because a large amount of visitors on cruise ships or yachts who use the canal to go from the Ionian to the Aegean Seas have to either cancel or take the much longer and more expensive route around the Peloponnesian peninsula!
The first ship used the canal in 1892. The canal is almost 4 miles long, about 75 feet wide, and just over 26 feet deep.
The pictures below were taken just above water level.
A submersible bridge goes across the canal in Corinth. It lowers the bridge deck about 26 feet below water level to permit the boats to use the canal.
On our way to ancient Corinth, we stopped at St. Paul’s Church and the beautiful triptych mosaic of the Apostle Paul. He lived and preached for two years in ancient Corinth.
When we arrived at the ancient ruins of Corinth, we visited its museum.
Also in the museum is what our group thought was the perfect wine goblet size. This is in fact a wine goblet!
Ancient Corinth is known for the two letters from Saint Paul in the New Testament, First and Second Corinthians. Paul the Apostle’s missionary travels mentioned Corinth in the Acts of the Apostles. Ancient Corinth was an important city in Greece because of its location to the Aegean and Ionian Seas. It sat on the isthmus which connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese. Corinth was a major colony and a center of trade.
After our tour of the ruins we visited a local restaurant for a snack and an Ouzo tasting! Below is a picture of our snack. It is always interesting to compare my gluten free snack on the right with what the rest of our tour group received! Where they had bread with a spread on it I received octopus cooked in olive oil. Everyone at our table tried the octopus!
Once everyone was served, Marina, our guide, gave a toast!