Category Archives: Greece 2024

Our Rick Steves tour of Greece in April, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 19 — April 28, 2024

We were awakened  by a phone message telling us that our daughter, Carla, was at JFK Airport  about to board a flight to London. She has many friends there including her former suite mates and former coworkers, and she enjoys visiting them.

Later that morning, we decided to go out for breakfast and to find someplace nearby that we had never been to before. The weather was cloudy, windy, and cold, so we definitely didn’t want to eat al fresco. While enjoying croissants (chocolate for Nick and almond for me), we remembered that we had seen some museums adjacent to the Jardin des  Plantes. We thought the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution sounded interesting, and  once there, we were amazed at how  truly interesting it was! Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 19 — April 28, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 18 — April 27, 2024

We were in no hurry to start our day. In fact, we began it by sharing memories of our previous visits to Paris. Eventually, we were ready for breakfast. We walked to a bakery at  the foot of Rue Mouffetard,  a street of shops that is only open to pedestrians. We were planning to get croissants, but instead we saw that they had  some large bar cookies that had pastry on the bottom, streusel on top, and and fruit filling. We shared one. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 18 — April 27, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 17 — April 26, 2024

Some of our fellow travelers had already left for the airport when we arrived at the breakfast room, while others had flights  that would leave after ours. Many  were returning to their homes. One had gone to Santorini before our tour started, while others  were going there or to Crete today. Those options had not occurred to us. Before returning home, we went to Paris to visit our friends Jose-Maria and Agnès, who live there. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 17 — April 26, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 16 — April 25, 2024

In the morning, we boarded a hydrofoil that took us to Piraeus, a suburb of Athens. We were very pleased that the two hour boat  ride was so smooth. From Piraeus, a bus took us to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the home of of many art treasures made of marble, bronze, and gold, that were truly amazing. Once again, our guide was Mama Faye, whose knowledge of every artifact in the museum was astounding. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 16 — April 25, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 15 — April 24, 2024

This was a free day for us, with no activities  scheduled. We took advantage of that by not rushing down to breakfast. In addition to the regular breakfast offerings, there were fabulously flaky just baked croissants, and yogurt (Greek, of course) with fresh strawberries. At breakfast we learned that the orange sky of the evening before made the front page of the New York Times. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 15 — April 24, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 12 — April 21, 2024

Today our bus headed north. During the ride,  Angelos told us about the history of Sparta. Our first stop was near Sparta in Mystras, which was the Byzantine Empire’s cultural and intellectual capital, and as such, was the home of many philosophers and artists. Some of the artists’ frescoes still survive.  Mystras also  has some of the best surviving Byzantine churches in Greece. We met our local tour guide at the lower town, which contains the remains of a cathedral dedicated to St. Demetrios, and churches dedicated to Sts. Theodore and Hodegetria. There is also a convent of Pantanassa, in which a few elderly nuns still live. In the upper town, there is the Palace of the Despots, some of which was built by Crusaders. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 12 — April 21, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 11 — April 20, 2024

The first thing you see when you are driving to the coast is Monemvasia, an imposing  almost-island.  It makes one think of Gibraltar, because it, too, is called “The Rock.” Monemvasia has both an upper and a lower town. Our group took a quick shuttle bus ride to the lower town. Angelos had told us that the cobblestone roads were very slippery, and he was right. In fact, he told me that using  walking sticks was an excellent idea for me. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 11 — April 20, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 9 — April 18, 2024

Nick awoke saying that he felt a cold coming on. I gave him my “Just-in-Case” meds for colds, and we decided to take an early walk. We were in  Kardamyli, a town that is wedged between the Messenian Gulf and Mount Profitas Ilias, the highest peak in the Peloponnese. Our hotel was lovely! Everyone in our group had a view of the gulf, and all the rooms had balconies. This day was called “a  vacation from our vacation.” How wonderful it was to explore at our own pace, or just to relax on the balcony or by the  hotel’s pool. The water in was cold, but one member of our group swam laps. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 9 — April 18, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 8 — April 17, 2024

This morning’s winding mountain drive took us to Olympia, the site of the world’s first Olympic Games. We were told that we were fortunate to arrive the day after the lighting of this year’s Olympic Torch, because the crowd numbered more than 30,000.

The original Olympics were contests held every four years to  honor Zeus, the king of the gods. We met our local guide, Niki, who, like our previous guides, knew her subject very well. You might think that by now, we would be tired of seeing artifacts, but that is not so. We continued to be fascinated by the many works of art and imagining what they were like in their heyday. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 8 — April 17, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 7 — April 16, 2024

When we awoke, Nick said he had a sore throat. I usually come down with health issues when we travel, but not this time. I offered Nick several things from my “Just-in-Case” meds, and we prepared for our day. We would be heading south, crossing the Gulf of Corinth to the Peloponnese. We were supposed to take “a scenic cog railway ride past the waterfalls and caves lining the …narrow gorge.”  However, Angelos learned that there had been mudslides that made the railway ride impossible.  Plan B was to go up to the mountain village of Planitero on our bus.  Hearing this, I and my fellow motion sickness sufferers each took our meds. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 7 — April 16, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 5 — April 14, 2024

Our alarm woke us at 6:30 AM so that we could be at the entrance of the breakfast room when it opened at 7. Our group members were all there at that time, and so was a large group of high schoolers.  At 7:15, we began our walk to the entrance of the Acropolis, up hill all the way. Our goal was to be the first group to arrive when it opened at 8, so that we would avoid the crowds that would arrive later. Many other groups of students, and the passengers of five cruise ships, had the same goal. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 5 — April 14, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 4 — April 13, 2024

We awoke at 9:45 AM and were the last people into the breakfast room before it closed. Hastily, we decided to do the “old town” walk. We did so unprepared, without our backpack, our sunscreen, our water bottle, or our walking sticks.

Before walking too long, we reached the Arch of Hadrian, which is still quite impressive. Hadrian, the Roman emperor, had the arch built in 132 AD, and he went to Athens to celebrate its inauguration. Then we went to the Lysicrates Monument and Square, the only surviving monument that was once in that square. Next came Acropolis Hill. Acropolis means “high city,” and as such, it was a natural fortress. The road has many olive trees on both sides, which reminded me of the ones we saw in Sicily. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 4 — April 13, 2024

Greece 2024, Day 3 — April 12, 2024

I had a plan for the morning. In Rick Steves’  guidebook, Greece, there are directions for a three part walk that he says will help newcomers to Athens get oriented. However, when Nick awoke, he said his back was bothering him. That couldn’t be because we are getting older, could it? He put on his elastic back brace and took some Aleve. We  were very grateful that we had  another “open” day before the tour started, so we could relax. Continue reading Greece 2024, Day 3 — April 12, 2024

Greece 2024, Days 1 & 2 — April 10/11, 2024

We always arrive at our destination a few days before the tour starts, in case there are any complications with the flight. Our son, Nicholas, was visiting with us, and he offered to drive us to the airport. That was a very generous offer, because getting from our house to JFK  always involves being in lots of traffic. However, the GPS gave us a route that we don’t typically take, which put us on the Throgs Neck Bridge. The traffic was manageable, and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time. Continue reading Greece 2024, Days 1 & 2 — April 10/11, 2024

Tour of Greece — Preparing for our Trip

One winter day, Nick returned home after breakfast with his friends, who call themselves “The Grouchy Photographers.”  He was filled with excitement about a trip one of the members of the group had taken to Morocco. I could tell  right away that Nick wanted us to  do the same trip to Morocco as his friend had done. As for me, I wanted to go back to Italy, the country in which my ancestors originated. We needed a compromise, someplace that would be new yet similar to some of our former travels. We began to think about Greece. Continue reading Tour of Greece — Preparing for our Trip