Greek Highlights

IMG_0695by Mary Jo

All of the destinations on this cruise were interesting, but I particularly wanted to see Greece and Turkey, and I was not disappointed!

Corfu: 

Our first Greek port was the island of Corfu, which is the extreme northwestern corner of Greece with Albania easily visible across a narrow sea. (It's also the setting for the Mary Stewart novel This Rough Magic.) 

The island has an abundance of history and has been under many rulers, including the Venetian Empire and the Ottomans.  (The same is true of the rest of Greece.) Our Viking cruise had numerous excursions options, but we decided to for "See Corfu by 4×4." This meant joining a small convoy of itty bitty Suzuki four wheel drive vehicles and climbing up up a dramatic mountain.

 

We shared the vehicle of the group leader, which meant the Mayhem Consultant sat in front with her and contorted myself into the very small back seat.  Not IMG_0707 recommended for anyone over 5'3". <G>  But the ride was fabulous!  Marie kept careful count of the 8 vehicles she was leading, and after we got through the town, we began to climb and climb and climb!  The road zigzagged back and forth like a crazed puppy, and Marie told us there were said to be 27 hairpin turns, not that she's ever counted. Some of the hairpins are in the picture above, and I think that is Albania across the water.

She also said that a James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, had been filmed mostly on Corfu, so naturally I got a DVD of the movie from Netflix when we got home.  The Mayhem Consultant, who has watched a lot more Bond movies IMG_0805than I have, said it wasn't one of the best, but there was great scenery, lots of action, Roger Moore's stunt doubles certainly earned their pay, and there was a fabulous car chase scene that roared through some of those hairpin turns.  (In fact, that part of the movie was supposed to be in Spain, but but I recognized those curves were unmistakable. <G>) 

At our highest point, we stopped in a small village and had a great snack of wonderful fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, a large meatball, slices of delicious local sausage, and some very drinkable red wine made by a villager.  It was a perfect sunny day with just the right temperature, and was one of the high points of our cruise.

IMG_0728Olympia:

The small port of Katakolon is the gateway to Olympia, the historic site of centuries of Olympic games.  The site is vast, with the ruins of temples and competition sites. The games were dedicated to the god Zeus and his temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. What interested me most was that there were also Olympic games for women, held either before or after the games for men.  I hadn't known that, but way cool!  They were under the auspices of the Greek goddess Hera, who also had a temple on the site. 

Crete:

This is another gorgeous rugged island, the setting of Mary Stewart's The Moon Spinners. IMG_0785We chose an excursion that took us high IMG_0792into the hills to the ancient monastery of Arkadi.  It's still an active Greek Orthodox monastery and was the site of one of the great historical tragedies of Crete.  In 1866 during the Cretan war of resistance to Ottoman rule, hundreds of refugee families took shelter in the monastery. 

Overpowered by Ottoman troops, the monks blew up the powder magazine, killing most of the refugees and hundreds of Ottoman soldiers.  Their martyrdom drew attention and sympathy all across Europe and North America.  Though Crete didn't gain its independence until 1898. after the Arkadi massacre and martyrdom the Ottoman rulers allowed more religious freedom and self rule. 

Piraeus, the post of Athens IMG_0784

We took an excursion to Cape Sounion, site of one of the most dramatic legends of ancient Greece,  Athens has to pay a tribute of young men and women to the Minoans, so one year Theseus, son of King Aegeus, joined the group of seven brave young men and seven beautiful young women and traveled to Crete, hoping to end the horrible sacrifice. If you remember your myths and legends, Theseus ended the tribute by slaying the bull headed Minotaur in the Labyrinth.  There's lots more to the story, but Aegeus has told his son to change his ship's sails from black to white if he survived the Minoans and was coming home.

IMG_0753Theseus was rather busy and forgot, and it's said that when Aegeus went to watch for the ship at the Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion, he saw the black sails, thought his son was dead, and he leaped from the cliff.  The Aegean Sea was named for him.  Having visited the site, I have a theory that Aegeus didn't jump, he was blown off by the wind, but the legend is much more dramatic. <G>  (The columns on the left are part of the surviving Temple of Poseidon, where the god could gaze out on his sea.)

Rhodes:

Our last stop in Greece was the island of Rhodes, very close to Turkey and one time home to the Palace of the Grand IMG_0762Masters, the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, heirs of the First Crusade that had conquered Jerusalem in 1099. When they were driven out of the Holy Land, they took over the island of Rhodes.  Getting up the morning we docked there, I saw the ship was parked right by the Palace, and a stunning sight it is.  The city of Rhodes has one of the largest active medieval historic districts in Europe.  Eventually the Knights were driven out of Rhodes and set up a new headquarters on Malta.

IMG_0776These anecdotes don't begin to cover all the wonderful aspects of visiting these amazing places! I hope you enjoyed this armchair travel.  Has anyone here visited any of these places? If not, would you like to?

Mary Jo

PS: I'm having trouble uploading pictures.  I'll see if I can add more tomorrow

80 thoughts on “Greek Highlights”

  1. It sounds like a fabulous trip! I’ve never been to any of these places, except in my imagination, but I’d love to visit them all. Although I think I’d skip the road with the hairpin turns. I don’t deal well with heights. 🙂

    Reply
  2. It sounds like a fabulous trip! I’ve never been to any of these places, except in my imagination, but I’d love to visit them all. Although I think I’d skip the road with the hairpin turns. I don’t deal well with heights. 🙂

    Reply
  3. It sounds like a fabulous trip! I’ve never been to any of these places, except in my imagination, but I’d love to visit them all. Although I think I’d skip the road with the hairpin turns. I don’t deal well with heights. 🙂

    Reply
  4. It sounds like a fabulous trip! I’ve never been to any of these places, except in my imagination, but I’d love to visit them all. Although I think I’d skip the road with the hairpin turns. I don’t deal well with heights. 🙂

    Reply
  5. It sounds like a fabulous trip! I’ve never been to any of these places, except in my imagination, but I’d love to visit them all. Although I think I’d skip the road with the hairpin turns. I don’t deal well with heights. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Mary Jo, I did one of those hairpin turn things in the Canary Islands, only moderately nervous (becauses the guide announced that the driver had just gotten his license the week before–don’t know if she was serious or joking). The week after I got home from the trip, I read in the news that a bus like ours had fallen off the cliff and killed most of the tourists in it!
    I still would have done your tour in the 4-wheel, though.

    Reply
  7. Mary Jo, I did one of those hairpin turn things in the Canary Islands, only moderately nervous (becauses the guide announced that the driver had just gotten his license the week before–don’t know if she was serious or joking). The week after I got home from the trip, I read in the news that a bus like ours had fallen off the cliff and killed most of the tourists in it!
    I still would have done your tour in the 4-wheel, though.

    Reply
  8. Mary Jo, I did one of those hairpin turn things in the Canary Islands, only moderately nervous (becauses the guide announced that the driver had just gotten his license the week before–don’t know if she was serious or joking). The week after I got home from the trip, I read in the news that a bus like ours had fallen off the cliff and killed most of the tourists in it!
    I still would have done your tour in the 4-wheel, though.

    Reply
  9. Mary Jo, I did one of those hairpin turn things in the Canary Islands, only moderately nervous (becauses the guide announced that the driver had just gotten his license the week before–don’t know if she was serious or joking). The week after I got home from the trip, I read in the news that a bus like ours had fallen off the cliff and killed most of the tourists in it!
    I still would have done your tour in the 4-wheel, though.

    Reply
  10. Mary Jo, I did one of those hairpin turn things in the Canary Islands, only moderately nervous (becauses the guide announced that the driver had just gotten his license the week before–don’t know if she was serious or joking). The week after I got home from the trip, I read in the news that a bus like ours had fallen off the cliff and killed most of the tourists in it!
    I still would have done your tour in the 4-wheel, though.

    Reply
  11. Thanks for the wonderful trip you shared with us. It sounds like each place you visited was exactly what it should be to be a great destination.
    I especially liked riding in the tiny car.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  12. Thanks for the wonderful trip you shared with us. It sounds like each place you visited was exactly what it should be to be a great destination.
    I especially liked riding in the tiny car.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for the wonderful trip you shared with us. It sounds like each place you visited was exactly what it should be to be a great destination.
    I especially liked riding in the tiny car.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  14. Thanks for the wonderful trip you shared with us. It sounds like each place you visited was exactly what it should be to be a great destination.
    I especially liked riding in the tiny car.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  15. Thanks for the wonderful trip you shared with us. It sounds like each place you visited was exactly what it should be to be a great destination.
    I especially liked riding in the tiny car.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  16. Thanks for sharing!! t least I visit places I’ve always wanted to vicariously. Have you been to Scotland or the Galapagos islands or Australia or New Zealand… or anywhere else you’d like to share?

    Reply
  17. Thanks for sharing!! t least I visit places I’ve always wanted to vicariously. Have you been to Scotland or the Galapagos islands or Australia or New Zealand… or anywhere else you’d like to share?

    Reply
  18. Thanks for sharing!! t least I visit places I’ve always wanted to vicariously. Have you been to Scotland or the Galapagos islands or Australia or New Zealand… or anywhere else you’d like to share?

    Reply
  19. Thanks for sharing!! t least I visit places I’ve always wanted to vicariously. Have you been to Scotland or the Galapagos islands or Australia or New Zealand… or anywhere else you’d like to share?

    Reply
  20. Thanks for sharing!! t least I visit places I’ve always wanted to vicariously. Have you been to Scotland or the Galapagos islands or Australia or New Zealand… or anywhere else you’d like to share?

    Reply
  21. Thank you for a wonderful post, Mary Jo.
    I don’t think I’d do well on those twisty roads due to car sickness, but I’m happy to hear you had a great time. Your pictures are much appreciated!

    Reply
  22. Thank you for a wonderful post, Mary Jo.
    I don’t think I’d do well on those twisty roads due to car sickness, but I’m happy to hear you had a great time. Your pictures are much appreciated!

    Reply
  23. Thank you for a wonderful post, Mary Jo.
    I don’t think I’d do well on those twisty roads due to car sickness, but I’m happy to hear you had a great time. Your pictures are much appreciated!

    Reply
  24. Thank you for a wonderful post, Mary Jo.
    I don’t think I’d do well on those twisty roads due to car sickness, but I’m happy to hear you had a great time. Your pictures are much appreciated!

    Reply
  25. Thank you for a wonderful post, Mary Jo.
    I don’t think I’d do well on those twisty roads due to car sickness, but I’m happy to hear you had a great time. Your pictures are much appreciated!

    Reply
  26. Yikes about the Canary Islands coach disaster, Mary M. There but for the grace of God…
    Luckily our journey up the mountain in Corfu didn’t have too many drop offs on the side. Most places there were trees and shrubs so not as scary.

    Reply
  27. Yikes about the Canary Islands coach disaster, Mary M. There but for the grace of God…
    Luckily our journey up the mountain in Corfu didn’t have too many drop offs on the side. Most places there were trees and shrubs so not as scary.

    Reply
  28. Yikes about the Canary Islands coach disaster, Mary M. There but for the grace of God…
    Luckily our journey up the mountain in Corfu didn’t have too many drop offs on the side. Most places there were trees and shrubs so not as scary.

    Reply
  29. Yikes about the Canary Islands coach disaster, Mary M. There but for the grace of God…
    Luckily our journey up the mountain in Corfu didn’t have too many drop offs on the side. Most places there were trees and shrubs so not as scary.

    Reply
  30. Yikes about the Canary Islands coach disaster, Mary M. There but for the grace of God…
    Luckily our journey up the mountain in Corfu didn’t have too many drop offs on the side. Most places there were trees and shrubs so not as scary.

    Reply
  31. It was wonderful to revisit Corfu through your eyes. I spent a week there when I did my post-college backpacking trip through Europe. It was idyllic; I stayed at a little family run hotel on the opposite side of the island from the town. It was more of a hostel actually, very basic and cheap. Other than the place I was staying, that area was completely undeveloped. After seeing many of the major capitals of Europe, I was suffering from museum overdose, and it was wonderful to just laze on the beach all day. I remember eating freshly caught squid for dinner, and picking the most delicious figs off the tree, and one night a fabulous feast of roasted lamb cooked outside on a spit. Unfortunately I never made it to Crete or Rhodes.

    Reply
  32. It was wonderful to revisit Corfu through your eyes. I spent a week there when I did my post-college backpacking trip through Europe. It was idyllic; I stayed at a little family run hotel on the opposite side of the island from the town. It was more of a hostel actually, very basic and cheap. Other than the place I was staying, that area was completely undeveloped. After seeing many of the major capitals of Europe, I was suffering from museum overdose, and it was wonderful to just laze on the beach all day. I remember eating freshly caught squid for dinner, and picking the most delicious figs off the tree, and one night a fabulous feast of roasted lamb cooked outside on a spit. Unfortunately I never made it to Crete or Rhodes.

    Reply
  33. It was wonderful to revisit Corfu through your eyes. I spent a week there when I did my post-college backpacking trip through Europe. It was idyllic; I stayed at a little family run hotel on the opposite side of the island from the town. It was more of a hostel actually, very basic and cheap. Other than the place I was staying, that area was completely undeveloped. After seeing many of the major capitals of Europe, I was suffering from museum overdose, and it was wonderful to just laze on the beach all day. I remember eating freshly caught squid for dinner, and picking the most delicious figs off the tree, and one night a fabulous feast of roasted lamb cooked outside on a spit. Unfortunately I never made it to Crete or Rhodes.

    Reply
  34. It was wonderful to revisit Corfu through your eyes. I spent a week there when I did my post-college backpacking trip through Europe. It was idyllic; I stayed at a little family run hotel on the opposite side of the island from the town. It was more of a hostel actually, very basic and cheap. Other than the place I was staying, that area was completely undeveloped. After seeing many of the major capitals of Europe, I was suffering from museum overdose, and it was wonderful to just laze on the beach all day. I remember eating freshly caught squid for dinner, and picking the most delicious figs off the tree, and one night a fabulous feast of roasted lamb cooked outside on a spit. Unfortunately I never made it to Crete or Rhodes.

    Reply
  35. It was wonderful to revisit Corfu through your eyes. I spent a week there when I did my post-college backpacking trip through Europe. It was idyllic; I stayed at a little family run hotel on the opposite side of the island from the town. It was more of a hostel actually, very basic and cheap. Other than the place I was staying, that area was completely undeveloped. After seeing many of the major capitals of Europe, I was suffering from museum overdose, and it was wonderful to just laze on the beach all day. I remember eating freshly caught squid for dinner, and picking the most delicious figs off the tree, and one night a fabulous feast of roasted lamb cooked outside on a spit. Unfortunately I never made it to Crete or Rhodes.

    Reply
  36. Kareni, you’re welcome! I’m glad that today I was easily able to add more pictures. It’s rare for Typepad to be temperamental, so I’m glad the hissy fit was short lived. *G*

    Reply
  37. Kareni, you’re welcome! I’m glad that today I was easily able to add more pictures. It’s rare for Typepad to be temperamental, so I’m glad the hissy fit was short lived. *G*

    Reply
  38. Kareni, you’re welcome! I’m glad that today I was easily able to add more pictures. It’s rare for Typepad to be temperamental, so I’m glad the hissy fit was short lived. *G*

    Reply
  39. Kareni, you’re welcome! I’m glad that today I was easily able to add more pictures. It’s rare for Typepad to be temperamental, so I’m glad the hissy fit was short lived. *G*

    Reply
  40. Kareni, you’re welcome! I’m glad that today I was easily able to add more pictures. It’s rare for Typepad to be temperamental, so I’m glad the hissy fit was short lived. *G*

    Reply
  41. Karin, it sounds like your time on Corfu was idyllic! (Except for maybe the squid. *G*) I agree about the museum overload one acquires when doing a great cities tour. Relaxing and enjoying peace and nature was clearly a wonderful change of pace.

    Reply
  42. Karin, it sounds like your time on Corfu was idyllic! (Except for maybe the squid. *G*) I agree about the museum overload one acquires when doing a great cities tour. Relaxing and enjoying peace and nature was clearly a wonderful change of pace.

    Reply
  43. Karin, it sounds like your time on Corfu was idyllic! (Except for maybe the squid. *G*) I agree about the museum overload one acquires when doing a great cities tour. Relaxing and enjoying peace and nature was clearly a wonderful change of pace.

    Reply
  44. Karin, it sounds like your time on Corfu was idyllic! (Except for maybe the squid. *G*) I agree about the museum overload one acquires when doing a great cities tour. Relaxing and enjoying peace and nature was clearly a wonderful change of pace.

    Reply
  45. Karin, it sounds like your time on Corfu was idyllic! (Except for maybe the squid. *G*) I agree about the museum overload one acquires when doing a great cities tour. Relaxing and enjoying peace and nature was clearly a wonderful change of pace.

    Reply
  46. Thanks for the lovely trip photos and description! I’ve been to Crete and Rhodes and many other Greek locales, and always ready for more! Did you make it over to Turkey? That’s on my list, but not sure of political conditions at the moment.

    Reply
  47. Thanks for the lovely trip photos and description! I’ve been to Crete and Rhodes and many other Greek locales, and always ready for more! Did you make it over to Turkey? That’s on my list, but not sure of political conditions at the moment.

    Reply
  48. Thanks for the lovely trip photos and description! I’ve been to Crete and Rhodes and many other Greek locales, and always ready for more! Did you make it over to Turkey? That’s on my list, but not sure of political conditions at the moment.

    Reply
  49. Thanks for the lovely trip photos and description! I’ve been to Crete and Rhodes and many other Greek locales, and always ready for more! Did you make it over to Turkey? That’s on my list, but not sure of political conditions at the moment.

    Reply
  50. Thanks for the lovely trip photos and description! I’ve been to Crete and Rhodes and many other Greek locales, and always ready for more! Did you make it over to Turkey? That’s on my list, but not sure of political conditions at the moment.

    Reply
  51. Sara, the last several stops of our cruise were in Turkey and we flew home from Istanbul. I will blog about our Turkish experiences but won’t be able to until July. We had no politically related problems at all–we enjoyed Turkey greatly.

    Reply
  52. Sara, the last several stops of our cruise were in Turkey and we flew home from Istanbul. I will blog about our Turkish experiences but won’t be able to until July. We had no politically related problems at all–we enjoyed Turkey greatly.

    Reply
  53. Sara, the last several stops of our cruise were in Turkey and we flew home from Istanbul. I will blog about our Turkish experiences but won’t be able to until July. We had no politically related problems at all–we enjoyed Turkey greatly.

    Reply
  54. Sara, the last several stops of our cruise were in Turkey and we flew home from Istanbul. I will blog about our Turkish experiences but won’t be able to until July. We had no politically related problems at all–we enjoyed Turkey greatly.

    Reply
  55. Sara, the last several stops of our cruise were in Turkey and we flew home from Istanbul. I will blog about our Turkish experiences but won’t be able to until July. We had no politically related problems at all–we enjoyed Turkey greatly.

    Reply

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