We kept a journal on our trip to Amsterdam and Greece. The regular font is Thea’s writing; mine is in italics. – Philip
Aug. 24, ’94 – 7 p.m. – SFO
All checked in for KLM flight to Amsterdam after a harrowing 3 days. Sun. evening I broke a tooth, a small break in a molar. So, in between sorting & organizing & packing, I spent parts of Mon., Tues. & this afternoon at the dentist & the orthodontist. When the shuttle bus arrived to take us to the S.F. airport, we had not yet locked up the apt. Now I’m drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream on the rocks and relaxing.
On board KLM Business Class: nice; relatively luxurious. Well, settle down for 9½ hours!
3 hours of broken sleep; not too bad.
Aug. 25 – ($1.00 ≈ ƒ1.5)
Amsterdam is going to be expensive: taxi from Schiphol to Centrale was ƒ70 ≈ $47; Hotel ƒ170 ≈ $114. Dinner ƒ31.50 per person (v g food). Walked around a bit, looked at canals, bought guilders, had a nap. Now to shower & bed.
Aug. 26, Friday
I haven’t been really jet-lagged since 1982 when I flew to London, immediately entrained for Oxford & gave a talk that afternoon. Now I remember what it was like! Strange, fuzzy in the head, mild mal-de-mer in the stomach, inability to stay awake over a book. We took a canal boat trip & then slept again.
Aug. 27, Saturday (Actually writing this on Sun.)
A very busy day, most of jet-lag overcome, raining/drizzling & grey/overcast. Went to the Dutch Academy (KNAW) at Trippenhuis for coffee with the men, then joined the women/wives for a tour of the bldg., famous & interesting. Painted ceilings & walls, marble columns, valuable paintings. Interesting design: on the first floor a small plain room for the lady of the house, with a spiral staircase going down to the ground floor nursery & up to the master’s bedroom, a very elegant & room w. handsome woodwork & large windows & large bed. Presumably, he called her to come up. Could she say No? The bldg. is actually 2 houses, like our townhouses, built by the Trip brothers who made their money in munitions. One of them married a de Beers daughter so there was considerable money in the family.
We* then went to Rembrandt’s Huis. This was particularly interesting because we recently saw the movie “Rembrandt” w. Chas. Laughton. Except in the depiction of the size of the rooms (the real ones are too small to photograph well), the movie was quite accurate in the details of his life.
*Willi van Wijngarden
Marie Antoinette Germain
Rather tired & hungry, we wandered back toward the Centrum, looking for a restaurant offering mussels, & sat down gratefully in a French café on the Damrak for 3 buckets containing ~100 mussels each for 5 people. We were unable to eat them all! Such a pity.
The others went to the canal side to take a boat tour. I was very sleepy then & left the group to return to my room where I slept for 1½ hours without turning over.
At 5:30 we met in the lobby & traveled together back to the Academy to meet our men & have drinks & nibbles. My back was painful so we left early & went to the Sarong Mas Restaurant for rijstafel. In retrospect I am sorry I dragged Phil away so early from his social gathering. It was probably not politically wise.
We went to bed, lights out at 11 p.m. & slept ’til 8 this morning. Ate b’fast, the usual hearty Dutch b’fast, in sunshine.
This morning the other women went on a walking-shopping tour on foot. We will meet at 1 p.m. in front of the Rijksmuseum. I will be taking the train — first time.
Met promptly as planned & toured the museum. Each had a map so we c’d wander separately & meet at set points & times (~ every hour). Eventually we met in the café for a rest. Saw some wonderful old Royal Delft pieces, some tapestries & carved wooden chests w. inlaid tiles, carved ivory, & embossed silver. And some great Rembrandts & Hals, etc., & an amazing large b-&-w oil (!) by van Walde I of the Dutch defeat of the Spanish Armada at Dunkirk in 1639!!! Tried to find a copy of that but no luck. Settled for a postcard of the “Night Watch” for this journal & another copy for Sue.
Back to the hotel by 4 p.m. Phil not back yet. The men are working late today
Had supper in the hotel. Philip wasn’t really interested in adventuring after a long, long day. (Took 4 shots from our window)
After several days of telephone tag, made contact w. the coordinator for International Affairs for the Dutch Assoc. of Univ. Women. Made a supper date for this evening.
We caught the 10:32 train to Den Bosch, pronounced Den Boss (short form of ‘s-Hertogenbosch = Duke’s Woods). Neat comfortable fast trains on flat, flat, flat land. Very green, very wet, very tidy!
Looked for St. Gertrude’s church where two of P’s ancestors were married in 1655. Told that church was long gone without a trace. Found the archives & a very helpful archivist (even tho’ the offices were closed for Mondays) but the church parish register from St. Gertrude’s was missing for the years in question!
Watched a circus being dismantled in the town square while we ate lunch. Took a photo.
Then back to the city for a rest & met Mrs. Oudread, CIR for the VVAO. She’s a lawyer with a bank, concerned w. tax matters & consumer advocacy. Intelligent woman, widely traveled. VVAO has branches in many communities, each branch having “circles” or interest groups. Membership is, in general, increasing but I did not get an official total. We both enjoyed meeting & dining w. her. Sorry I had no response from Greece.
Used our 3-day-2-person train pass today to go to Enkhuisen Zuiderzee Museum. The trip included little boat rides to & fro. The “olden days” in this case were the 1930’s, which made us feel quite ancient. But they were about 50–100 yrs. behind our own 1930’s! Too much to see. We gave up about 4:30 & went back to the hotel. Ate at an Italian restaurant across the gracht.
Caught the 10:32 train to Zwolle where Henk & Coby van Rij met us. Henk was a doctoral student of Phil’s in Mpls. In the late ’70’s.* We toured various small old villages w. the women in traditional dress, saw a village where all commerce & contacts are by water, saw the van Rij’s summer home in Zwartsluis, ate dinner in a Chinese-Indonesian restaurant, caught the 9:19 train back “home.”
*one of my best
In KLM Business Class Lounge early, awaiting plane time, Phil off somewhere to buy drachmae; told it would be better to do so in Athens airport. Arrived at Athens airport, collected cart & luggage, went thru customs as usual. Going thru customs involves showing passports & explicitly or implicitly saying “nothing to declare.” No trouble, no delay.
But had problems trying to buy drachmas; finally used some our small amount of $$ in cash. Taxi to hotel!!
Temp. ~ 95°f, our room air conditioned. Windows heavy, shut out most of the sound and smell. Athens seems to me to be noisier, smellier, & with worse pollution by far than NYC.
Final comments on Amsterdam: neat, orderly, organized, “planned,” clean. I could quickly adapt and live there if necessary … (Thea).
Phil says in summary: Holland is green, flat, friendly, & wet.
Back to Athens: went to walk, gave up quickly amid a mix of interesting bldgs. & auto exhaust that burned the nostrils. Retreated to the hotel for a good supper, shower & bed.
Tried to reach Greek AUW, failed.
Phil called the Greek member of the IUTAM General Assembly Dr. Anthony Kounadis who set up dinner for the evening.
Discussed w. Voula, one of our agents at George’s Travel Service, a possible trip for Saturday. Decided against the all day trip to Delphi! Too bad, but I could not ride on a bus for 3–4 hours in the morning without a toilet on board. So we signed up for a short trip to the Temple of Poseidon on Sat. 2:30–7:30. They will pick us up at the hotel.
Took a walk. Learned to cross busy streets by waiting for a traffic deadlock, which occurred every few minutes, & then darting between cars. Considering the frequency of apparent total jams, dearth of police, narrow streets, heat, & the volatility of Greek nature, the noise level seems less than one would expect. The smell & the lack of oxygen is, however, worse than I was able to imagine. Ate very nicely & comfortably at the Delphi restaurant, after lunch, had a nap & shower.
(Laundry: never got around to using a Laundromat in Ams. Had the hotel in Athens take care of our shirts (@ $3.25) while Phil got into the tub w. the rest of our used clothing — a la Moscow.)
Picked up at 7 p.m. by Prof. Kounadis, Prof. Armenakos, & Dr. Spiliopoulos; 5 of us in a car like a Corolla in the early evening heat! Toured the center of town, then out to Pireaus to see the “Turkish Port,” the waterside lined with taverns. In front of each a man tries to hustle you into a parking space & to eat & drink in his tavern. We parked at the quayside & walked & looked at private yachts. One in particular, shaped like a galleon w. a very high stern, beautifully white w. extravagant gold trim; British flag, no home port stated; much larger & more spacious-seeming than our apts!; 2 huge masts. Name: KYRA (wave).
Then went to a good outdoor restaurant high over the harbor, with a nice tho’ warm breeze. Very welcome. Had a “typical” & very good Greek fish dinner, a nice white wine, lots of water to drink, all light & delicious. Talked about population control, the problems of cities, etc. We left the restaurant at ~ 11:15 p.m.; the rest. was beginning then to really fill up. We had a fine time getting out of the parking lot!
First impressions of Athens: dirty, noisy, smelly, disorderly. An interesting place but I don’t believe it works well for its inhabitants whose health is probably impacted. Prof. Armenakos lives & teaches in NY part of each year. He says he’d rather drive in NYC than here! A very cordial evening, very hospitable.
Did more laundry, took it easy, all meals today in the hotel. Picked up at 2:15, arrived at Cape Sounion about 4:30.
In very strong wind walked up the hill to one corner of the ruins where we gathered around our guide Maria to hear the history of the place.
The ruins are the remains of the Temple of Poseidon, the patron god of sailors. After his son Theseus set sail for Crete to try to kill the Minotaur or be killed, Aegeus came to this temple to pray for his son’s safety & to watch for the return of his ship. Theseus did kill the Minotaur. However, returning victoriously home, he forgot (?) to change the ship’s sails from black to white. Aegeus therefore thought his son dead & in grief threw himself into the sea. Theseus became king of Athens & named the sea to the east of Greece the Aegean. The base of the temple is the ruin of that original temple. About 2500 years ago Pericles had it rebuilt on those older ruins. It became the place where sailors spent their first night of a voyage asking Poseidon to keep them safe. It fell into ruin again & disuse when Christianity took over.
Architecturally it is not in top form: a temple sh’d be in height 6 times the circumference of its base. This one is 7 or more because it was to be visible from the sea.
It made a strong impression on both of us, only a dozen or two columns & portions thereof left, but all of it still there after many centuries. These columns knew Pericles, saw the Golden Age, the birth of the first democracy, a civilization wealthy enough to provide leisure for art, literature, philosophy, early sciences. An imperfect democracy, true, but so is ours still today.
Maria emphasized that Christianity, a monotheistic religion, had in a few hundred years completely replaced the polytheistic religions which had persisted thru-out Europe for thousands of years.
Back in our room, Phil wondered why monotheism had wiped out multitheism — what is it about monotheism that grabs people. I suggested that it was not monotheism that was, & is, operative. After all, the Jews invented one form almost 6,000 years ago & it continues as a religion with few adherents. I thought that it is the feature of theoretical Christianity that is based not on the war-like vengeful god of the Jews but the loving & forgiving god of the Christians that won over the multitudes in the West & parts of the Mideast. Christians after all have in fact 3 deities — and don’t forget the Madonna!
Very glad we took this little tour ’tho it was hot & dusty & the wind on that high hill was almost too much for me, almost, but I won out! Returned in high spirits & slept the sleep of the just.
Food: so far we’ve eaten sweet fried fishes & squid, moussaka, various Greek salads, baklava, caifal, club sandwich! retsina.
Took little walks this a.m. Met our trip coordinator Kriton P. Will meet the whole group for dinner tonight at 7 p.m.
Had a low budget dinner w. 2 T of ice cream for dessert. Met some of our fellow hostellers. They seem like our kind: lots of teachers, etc.
School starts early tomorrow w. a wake-up call at 7 a.m.
Are taking a few photos & supplementing w. picture postcards. Not going in much for souvenirs.
A long day. Arose at 6:45 a.m. & went to b’fast. Then checked our packs: sun hat, sun glasses, sun cream, water bottles, camera, extra film, Kleenex (for t.p.), maps. Met Kriton & group & walked to the Hellenic American Union for our classes. At 8:20 it was already hot & the walk was uphill & fast… got my day off to a bad start. The room was not air conditioned tho’ we had been promised air cond. I had a very hard time concentrating on what our instructors were saying & was miserable all morning.
I used the bathroom 5 times in 3 hours, so it is clear to me that the proposed one-day round trip to Delphi is out of the question. If some of the group decides to make the trip, Phil may decide to go w. them.
At 11:30 we picked up box lunches & walked to the corner at the pink bldg. & got our private coach to Ancient Corinth… 30 of us. Comfortable bus, air cooled as promised, made a “William & Claire” stop after ~ 1½ hours next to the Corinthian Canal, an unbelievable cut (see pic. Card). Since 400 B.C. there have been 4 attempts to dig a canal across the Peloponessus Isthmus; finally it succeeded in this century. Kriton kept up a running commentary on both legs of the trip as well as at the ruins on Greek history & architecture, ancient & modern!
There were several Corinths, each in turn leveled by war or earthquakes. We wandered for some time around the Agora of the ancient city & took several photos.
Back home to shower & rest briefly, then we took a “short” walk to a tavern where we had a v.g. Greek dinner w. wine, al fresco, in a courtyard of a modern ruin!
Phil & I got lost on the way back but we made it. We really must stop going out w/o our city map!
Athens has little crime, no guns, very strong family attachments, no homeless (except illegal Albanians), no old-age homes. Population control is partially accomplished by the traffic.
A very long very hot day. As usual, we started w. 15 minutes of Greek language, then 2 hrs. of lectures in English on Greek art, with a 15 min. break.
At breakfast I had told Kriton that I was very uncomfortable on Mon. in the non-air conditioned classroom. When we reached HAU for class, we found he had arranged especially for cooling!
At 11:30 we picked up our lunches (ham & cheese on a long roll, a huge delicious peach, & a coke) & met the bus and off we went to the Acropolis!
A lifelong dream. I cannot believe I was actually there. The climb up, in the 90+°F, was exhausting. I truly would not have made it to the top without Phil’s companionship.
Kriton gave us some of his lecture in the shade down below but then kept us for 20–30 mins. in full sun at the top giving us the rest of the information. Then we explored & took photos on our own.
It is impressive, beyond my ability w. words, to be up there. Perhaps Phil will say a few words here to help us remember.
We heard more about the history of the Acropolis than I can remember. Suffice it to say that it has been many times destroyed & rebuilt. It is currently being restored, and the presence of various scaffolds — some rising taller than the temples — made it more difficult to capture the same feeling we had felt at Poseidon’s temple. Also, the background of an Athens of 4 million people stretching almost to the limits of smoggy visibility — in Pericles’ time the population was 4 thousand. From the hilltop of Cape Sounion we could stand so as to see only the temple and the blue sea. Our imaginations had only to subtract a few dozen tourists and change the distant steamer to a trireme (and fill in the missing columns) to go back over two millennia in time. Here I had to blot out hundreds of tourists, steel scaffolds, and replace a million or so homes by a few buildings surrounded by olive trees. I couldn’t do it.
But the details were magnificent. The Parthenon loomed beyond belief. The complete original building was built in 9 years in the 4th century B.C. — including quarry & transporting the marble. The restoration has been going on for longer than that and is nowhere near completed.
The Erechtheum’s top is held up by real Karyatids just like the pictures in Stite’s “Arts & Aesthetics.”
The Nike temple was smaller but beautiful — but we couldn’t get very close to it.
The distinction between Doric and Ionic columns was so obvious when looking at the real thing that I can’t understand how I had trouble with them in Stite’s class.
I would like to come again in ten years or so. Hopefully the major restoration would be done so that the big scaffolds would be gone. We would come at a cooler time of year. We would come to the hill early in the morning with lunch in our knapsacks. We would take an hour (in 10 years, maybe two) to climb the hill, pausing every few steps to absorb the changing views. Perhaps then we could get close to the temples.
Be that as it may, we have been on the Acropolis. We have seen the Parthenon and the other temples. We have pictures of each other there to prove it. Although I couldn’t quite make it live, ancient Athens isn’t quite as dead as it was yesterday.
(Something else that we’d make it worthwhile to come back in 10 years: to see Athens without subway construction. Many of the handsome squares are torn up in a drastic way. For instance, Omonia Square is only a huge crane peering over acres of board fence. Streets have been re-routed & there is great mess added on to noise, smog, smell & the worst traffic I have seen outside of L.A.)
Most of the group spent the rest of the afternoon in a museum but we felt that wd. be anticlimactic after the Acropolis. We went back to our room. My normally sallow complexion was a deep pink. It took a lot of cool water to restore me.
We had dinner in the hotel, chicken for the 3rd night in a row! Then thelo kotópoulo.
Kriton then introduced an adorable young woman who taught us 4 Greek dances. I loved that; I could have danced for another hour.
They were simple steps & she did a very good job of teaching us a bit at a time. I was surprised that some of the people had trouble with them. I got them right away as long as she counted or clapped the rhythm, but my ear had a little trouble getting the beat from some of the Greek music. Thea had no problem.
Up to Wed. we were quite disappointed in the food served us by Elderhostel. Eating on our own before the group started we had managed to find moussaka, lamb, eggplant, stuffed grape leaves, baklava, kaifas, good Retsina, on our own.
Elderhostel served us chicken, chicken, chicken, ice cream, flan, a mediocre wine! But last night made up for everything. We drove to a small vineyard several miles outside of Athens, run by a family known personally by Kriton, where we had a buffet dinner which included well seasoned roast lamb, veal cakes, stuffed grape leaves, spinach spanakopita, Greek olives, vine-ripened tomatoes with feta cheese, babaganoush, a decent light white wine made on the premises, and fresh-picked grapes & figs for dessert. Everything in sufficient quantity even for me. We ate outside in the vineyard.
Earlier in the day we had a lecture on Cycladic & Byzantine art & visited the museum (Cycladic & Ancient Greek Art); well worth the time. The art that has survived is almost entirely of women’s figures (always pregnant) & household goods. I loved the Cycladic Aphrodite and the red & black amphoras. If we had the room at home, I w’d take home some copies. As it is, I will be content with photographs.
We went to the National Art Gallery to see & hear about Byz. & Modern Greek art, an interesting mix. I found a favorite Byzantine by Moskos of the Nativity, quite beautiful w. that light from within that good Byz. art has. Three oils by El Greco are very good & in wonderful contrast to the Byzantine style or “maniére.” The whole group liked his “St. Peter with the Keys”; soft appealing colors & good folds of his robe.
The very modern works of Ghika, who died last week at 88, were influenced by Braque. They are interesting & offer further contrast.
Tonight we are scheduled to go to a taverna.
Phil has gotten tickets to the ballet for Fri. eve.
Wondered why all flags in Greece are now at half-mast: because of Ghika’s death! This says something about the place of art in Greece.
Dinner at the taverna last night was delicious, w. many interesting Greek dishes. We ate al fresco of course, under a grape arbor. Very, very warm w. no moving air. The taverna just beginning to fill up. It’s a tropical life.
Saturday (PG writing on 9/10)
More than a week in Athens. Tomorrow we board Zeus III. It has been a full week, but today we are on our own.
Typical daily pattern is well balanced. Breakfast buffet at our hotel. Compared to Amsterdam it’s class B except for coffee (class C) and yoghurt (best I’ve ever tasted). I’ve settled on a bowl of yoghurt with cornflakes on top followed by 2 (or 3) slices of pound cake topped with yoghurt & honey. With a couple of cups of flavored hot water (aka coffee) to cleanse the palate.
Walk to HAU for 15-minute lesson in modern spoken Greek taught by an attractive young Greek woman with very clear enunciation but not much idea of how to organize a language short-course.
Then 2 45-min. lectures with “coffee” break in between; 4 different lectures in the 5 days. All teachers young & attractive, very knowledgeable in their subject, all very enthusiastic, all good at answering questions, and all but one excellent lecturers.
Sandwich & fruit lunch which we eat at HAU or bring with us to squeeze into afternoon expeditions. These are about equally divided between historical sites & museums with historical exhibits. The sites are fantastic. These things are real. They were built by real people more than 2000 years ago (our country’s independence was little more than 200). We’ve written about these as we went along. I find a little museum goes a long way. Kriton is full of knowledge and an excellent speaker, but he tells me more than I want to know. In a typical museum I will find 2 or 3 things that fascinate me but am usually ready to leave before the tour is over. I’m not complaining — it goes with the territory — but a museum just doesn’t pack the punch of buildings & statues in situ.
Which brings me to last night.
Six of us (Valerie, Bobbie, Jack, & Barbara) got our dinner served a little early, then got in taxis & went to the Herod Atticus Odeum.
We walked up a hillside of broad marble steps towards the back of the theater — a massive stone structure that had been standing in the same place since B.C. We went through the portico (& had our tickets torn in half) and were on the vast semicircular “stage,” walking on the same marble floor that had received the footsteps of the Athenian chorae, facing over 30 rows of marble seats towering above us in one steep bank. Many of them already occupied (as usual, we were 30 min. early!). We climbed more marble steps to our seats in the 10th row center. I believe that if we had been the first people to arrive for open seating these were the seats we would have chosen. We sat down & were grateful that the marble slabs were covered by individual cushions (I don’t insist on too much authenticity!) & looked down on the raised wooden stage which covered the back half of the frontal semicircle. Behind the stage rose the original pitted wall we had seen on our approach. There were two rows of stone blocks ~ 2 or 3 feet high which were used for some of the action and archways in the wall behind which were used for entrances & exits.
We were here. Sitting in the same seats that Greeks had sat in to see the opening night of Medea, looking at the same stage where Melina Mercouri had watched “dead” actors rise for their final bows before “going to the seashore.”
We were here to see the Lyons ballet perform Prokofiev’s “Romeo & Juliet” — we had come from the U.S. to Greece to see a French company perform a ballet with an Italian setting & Byzantine music with a story based on a play by an Englishman.
The lights dimmed & went out & we heard the opening strains of P’s music. Taped, but with an excellent sound system which filled the vast hemisphere of the Odeum with big haunting melodies & harmonies.
The production was fascinating — but Balanchine it wasn’t. The Capulets were boot-clad Fascists. The Montagues were street bums. Romeo looked a head-shaved thug. Juliet was taller than Romeo & literally threw herself at him in the their first meeting. Tybault led a gang of helmeted soldiers or police in beating Mercutio to death with clubs rather than beating him in one-on-one swordplay. Romeo never avenged Mercutio & Tybault was still alive when the drama ended. The nurse was replaced by two young women in outlandish costumes who did ultra-stylized dances.
But the dancing was fantastic. Mercutio leapt and bounded with unbelievable agility as he battled Tybault & the club-armed gang. R & J’s love dance the morning after their marriage was athletically sexual (but not at all pornographic). Juliet would throw herself through the air towards his back & he would turn & catch her!
The final death scene left us limp. R refused to believe J was dead. He shook her, he hugged her, he threw her around — and she was as limp as a rag doll. Then after he stabbed himself & J recovered, she lifted him to a chair & tried to curl up in his lap only to fall off & roll away across the floor. And at the very end after the final chords of the music, Tybault appeared, looked at the two dead bodies and walked away without any expression.
I’m not sure I’d want to see this production again. I missed the character development of J. I missed her stern parents and her old nurse. As a story it was not nearly as satisfying as Shakespeare’s. But I’m glad I saw it once.
And I would have been glad to see anything at the Odeum. That’s what we came to Greece for.
Oh, one other outstanding effect. J. had escaped from T (after her marriage) to seek help from Friar Laurence & presumably T was looking for her. There was no light or action on the stage, but 2 searchlights moved slowly around the audience to P’s music. Very dramatic.
Cutting back to Friday a.m., we had a double lesson in modern spoken Greek, which didn’t help much, then heard a recording of the song “Athena” which is very catchy.
We picked up our sandwich & fruit & bussed to the Byzantine Museum, then bussed to the Kesariani (Ceasarian) Monastery where we sat in the shade & ate our lunches.
But before we left HAU for the last time, we had an excellent lecture on modern Greek politics & then a “graduation ceremony” over wine & cheese rolls. A little hokey but nice.
Later, with lunch, we had cool clear water from a spring that guarantees a woman will get pregnant. It will be interesting to see if one of our 60+ colleagues does in fact have a child in June!
The monastery was delightful, as described in Cadfael’s books but on a much smaller scale. A peaceful “spartan” place but w. some very nice frescoes in the chapel.
It appears to me to be even warmer than it was at the beginning of the week. It’s time to be thinking about getting on a ship.
After the theater we walked-taxied to the hotel & ate our late dessert before bed.
Sat., 9/10 (Still writing on Sun.)
Slept in this a.m. — ’til 8:14! Felt wonderful after 4–6:30 a.m.s.
Part of the group went w. Kriton to Delphi this a.m. We wish we had planned an extension to Delphi — a 3 day trip w’d be perfect, but a round trip by bus in one day we were not interested in.
Instead, we did things in the room for awhile, then taking our map in hand we went looking for Zeus of Olympus. The remains are of a huge temple right in the heart of Athens. We used a lot of film, especially since, from Herod’s Arch as well as from Zeus’s Temple, we got wonderful glimpses of the Parthenon far far above on the craggy hill. I keep saying (to myself so I won’t bore my companion) “I can’t believe I’m here!”
We carry water with us; it really seems to be important! I’m the lady who is usually looking for a WC, but in this heat my body tends to retain all its water.
When we got hungry, we went searching for the Delphi restaurant where we had a real Greek meal: spanakopita, eggplant in sauce, retsina (each restaurant has a different one!), caifal (sp?), baclava, Greek coffee.
Napped, washed hair, did a bit of laundry, read, wrote here.
The group returned & joined us for dinner: chicken, of course. Organized our stripped down possessions trying to allow for a lot of luggage & no maneuvering room in a tiny (we’ve been told) stateroom. To bed rather late.
(Had a little diarrhea this morning, a little un-ease in the upper stomach area.) Finished packing, put cases outside our door for pick up, boarded bus, headed for Piraeus & the “S.S. Zeus III.”
Pleasant surprises: our cabin is larger than we anticipated, 2 bunks (long enough but narrow), 4 drawers, a closet & a washbowl, 2 mirrors. In a separate tiny room a flush toilet & a hand-held shower which share foot-room. Reading lights of sorts.
A pretty ship, a motor sailboat, good-looking crew of about 10 men & our fearless leader & our professor Eric*!
Food is heavy & too much but wonderful local fruit.
(Stomach problem continues.)
After dinner walked ashore along the jetty & the taverna-lined front street.
Stars & waxing moon in a dark sky. This island is called Kea.
*Eric gave his first lecture this p.m. — not as scheduled. I wasn’t the only male who got nothing but sleep from it. He is a dry lecturer — and not nearly as good to look at as the young woman who lectured to us in Athens.
Sailed to Paros in a.m. & tied up there all day.
Did not sleep for second night; decided to report problem to Kriton. He gave me a Greek home remedy: Greek coffee w. fresh lemon followed by a glass of water. It had a calming effect immediately on my cramps. Spent the rest of the day on my bunk mostly, w. dry toast, cokes, an apple, a small piece of fish; mostly slept.
An adventurous lady named Thea
Embarked on a boat bound for Kea
While there she did seek
An adventure quite Greek
But the Gods gave her Greek diarrhea
Toured Paros by bus. The island is all steep hillside, but extensively terraced with stone walls — and there’s still lots of rocks in the fields. Saw a marble quarry & picked up a few chips as souvenirs.
Set sail at 5 a.m. after a lovely peaceful night in the harbor at Paros, and sailed all morning while we sat in a stuffy lounge & listened to a boring lecture on the history, art & archi. of the Cyclades.
At 11 a.m. we entered the caldera of the ancient volcano which blew its top in 1600 B.C. Many believe this was fabled Atlantis. In the center of the caldera is a small island which is the top of the current (active) volcano. Around the caldera are its walls visible above the sea as 2 curved islands. The whole is called Santorini or Thira. I can’t recall seeing anything like this before.
At a distance the rock looks utterly bare; up close one can see that it is partly covered with a green fuzz. At several different places at the very top sit clusters of the white houses of Greece.
Noon: we are docked at the base of the town of _________. A few minutes after docking we boarded the Teleferique to the top of the cliff. The rest of the group boarded a bus to town. I returned to the boat. The heat bothers me greatly.
I am sitting in the shade & light breeze on the foredeck watching the comings & goings in the little harbor. When the group returns, we’ll weigh anchor for Ios which has a good harbor where we will spend the night.
The bus tour was across the island to an active archeological dig. The current dig is about 80´ below the original surface. It seems big, but may be only a small fraction of the total. Barring a new eruption it may take centuries before it’s complete. It’s from the Minoan civilization & dates to sometime before the big volcano blew up about 1600 B.C. Place tremendously crowded with tourists but still an awed feeling to walk among houses lived in by people more than 450 of my lifetimes ago.
Bus back to top of hill. Main group tourist-shopped or gawked for an hour before taking the cable car back down. I elected to walk down a stone stepway shared with two-way mule traffic! A different kind of exercise than I had anticipated.
Hot, hot, & hot. But now I’m showered & sitting in the shade & breeze. What a life!
It is disappointing that I’m recovering my strength so slowly & that I’m so debilitated by the heat. This must be taken into account in our future travel plans! The current theory is that I am afflicted, not w. upset stomach, but w. heat prostration & its aftereffects!
His t-shirts & dancing are chic,
He is neither haughty nor meek;
A better tour guide you’d not seek.
We salute thee, oh Kriton the Greek!
Last night was Greek Night on board. We all tried to wear the Greek colors: blue & white. The salon was hung w. Greek flags. We had a typical Greek buffet supper. When the table was partially cleared, the crew started dancing to loud catchy Greek music. Soon the captain started drawing us into it & before long we were all (or mostly all) snaking around the salon, dancing, tripping, bumping the pillars, & making lots of noise. At intervals 2 or more of the crew plus Kriton did some real Greek dancing. Instead of breaking the dishes, we threw plastic cups & paper napkins!
I loved it.
Camera failed. Yikes! Battery?
Shower outlet clogged. Had an adventurous time using the bathroom during the night.
Awake & out on deck this morning about 6 a.m. Anchored in a cove so we did not see the sun come up out of the sea as we had other mornings.
I’m planning to skip the 9–11 a.m. lecture this morning & sit in the breeze & keep cool.
At 11 we anchored at Naxos & walked to the temple of Apollo. Uphill & in full sun. Phil went on up & sat in the sun & listened to the lecture (!) but I sat in a taverna at the base & sipped lukewarm club soda & watched a man drying cleaned fish & squid in the sun.
Bought postcards & the camera appears to be out permanently.
After lunch & a nap, Phil went swimming at the beach below Apollo’s Temple while I sat on deck in the shade w. a hat & dark glasses but was finally driven in by the glare.
So far we have been to Kea, Paros, Thira, Ios, Naxos
After dinner tonight, the VCR: Shirley Valentine – we skipped it & walked around the town — much pleasanter in the evening!
I finally got up early enough to get a walk in before breakfast since the ship wasn’t scheduled to leave until 8. Went up the hill to Apollo’s Temple twice. Rosy-fingered dawn had touched the sky, but Apollo was still behind a hill. Felt good to stretch my legs!
Finally got repaid for having had a lecture the first Sunday — we only had half a one today since we were due in at Delos shortly after 10. Had to anchor in the harbor, but eventually a launch came to get us. Thea stayed aboard with Jack & Barb. Lots of cruise ships also there, so mob of people at entrance to ruins. But the site covered so much ground that I could begin to get “into it” without being overwhelmed by other tourists. It’s well excavated, and so vast that we were allowed to roam freely with just a few special places roped off, one of which was Avenue of the Lions (Lionesses). I hope pictures came out. The camera seems to work, so we hope it’s just the flash that’s kaput. Hot, hot, and hotter — with virtually no shade. Patrick has a thermometer with him & it registered over 100 ° F. But I survived & climbed up to top of the island, mostly on a path of steps. Terrific view at top. And various other temples have been found and partially restored quite separate from the main area.
Kriton said launch would leave at 1:15. Most of us aboard by 1:05, but Patrick & ML came sauntering up at 1:14! They’d also been to the top.
Back aboard ship Kriton announced that we could swim off the lowered gangplank for 15 minutes before launch. Oh, did that feel good. Clear blue water so deep that those with goggles couldn’t see bottom. I estimated about 75° — perfect for cooling off. No current to worry about. 15 minutes of that, then stand on deck in the sun sipping a beer while I dried — it doesn’t get any better than this!
Sailed to Mykonos while eating lunch. Skipped the tour there in favor of a nap. Then had time to saunter briefly in town before sailing to Tinos for the night. Tinos waterfront least attractive of the islands. Lots of neon signs and motor traffic. A brief walk was sufficient, & early to bed. But a safe harbor for our ship.
After b’fast & the final lecture, which we skipped, we went ashore & took a private non-airconditioned bus to the church of the miraculous Mary.* The interior is so full of votive offerings in silver & many colors that it makes the eye cringe. An ikon that works miracles was found on Tinos. People have been seen going to beg a favor on their knees (!) up the long stairs of the church.
*Church of the Evangelista
The rest of the group went on by bus. We walked back to the ship, changed out of skirt (!) & slax to slax & shorts, had lunch in a taverna in the harbor, bought a picture card & a fan; then back to the ship so Phil could nap. I’m sitting on the afterdeck next to our room in shade & breeze.
I have spent a lot of time here in every harbor since I have been reluctant to commit to uphill walks in full sun with no hope of shade at the top. I’ve become an expert (sic) in arrivals & departures of a variety of ferries of all sizes & shapes. I find it fascinating. The Delfini (the flying dolphins, hydrojets) are particularly interesting. And timing the huge ferries which unload & re-load people, cars, m’bikes & fully loaded trucks & are in and out in 6–12 mins. keeps me entertained. Moved to the Kea harbor for the night.
Started the day with a brisk 2½ mile walk along the coast. Shower, breakfast; then ship underway from Kea to Piraeus. Eric gave a “seminar” on deck, which meant he took our questions as a springboard for more lectures. Supposed to last 45 min. I gave up after 1 hour and went for’d to watch Poseidon’s temple come into view again. We sailed just past it, then anchored well off shore & put the gangplank down to swim level. Exciting to swim in the clear clear cool water of the Aegean Sea and look up from the gentle waves to see his temple atop the hill. Then to come back and sun-dry on deck with a can of beer.
Now we are under way on our last lap to Piraeus. Delightful on deck with a stiff breeze in our face, but hot in our cabin on the sunny side.
Captain’s dinner last night was great fun. Patrick had challenged us each (all) to write a poem in honor of our guide Kriton. There 16 submissions, some of them quite clever. K will try to get them copied so we can include them all with our journals.*
It has been a wonderful two weeks. I’m sorry to see it end. But it will be good to get home. In fact, life is good!
*Phil sang his. I read mine w. a glass of wine in hand. Both were very well received. (see back of journal)
Yesterday afternoon Phil spent some time being very quiet, frowning. Once he asked me “who was/is the muse of music?” which I could not answer. I wondered but kept quiet. As dinner was ending, he arose, got the attention of the group, recounted “his dream” of the previous night in which he was visited by Homer who took him to Olympus (see “the dream”) and then he sang his second song. The group spontaneously joined in on the chorus. It was great! Phil, the media star.
The last night on our special little ship under Zeus’s watchful eye!
After 5½ hours in the Athens airport, ~ half of the time in the KLM Club, we flew to A’dam & transferred to the Holiday Inn — Schiphol. After the spartan (no pun intended) accommodations of the past two weeks, this hotel is a bit more luxurious than I need: it’s a shock. But I find the improved plumbing an asset!
Our reservations to home appear to be in flux but Phil will get it all clear, I’m sure.
As o’er the sea our ship doth pligh
Beneath the hot blue G. sky
With words & phrases I will try
A verse to Kriton to inscribe.
Of G. history & art
A goodly part he did impart.
Down to the bar I’ll now dart
A toast to Kriton to imbibe.
His t-shirts and dancing are chic,
He is neither haughty nor meek.
A better tour guide you’d not seek.
We salute you, Oh Kriton the Greek!