adventures

The Country That Stole My Heart

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“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Oh where to begin?! A piece of my heart is, & always will be, in Greece. I was so sad to see the fires going through this beautiful country this summer. It made me want to go back more to help & support these amazing people who allowed us into their lives.

The sites. The food. The people. The language. The history. Mamma Mia. Need I say more?

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MyKonos

I am a water person. I’m happiest in and around water. Whether it be in a liquid state, such as swimming at the beach or floating down a river, or even a solid state while ice skating or skiing. I cannot be around the water enough.

We stayed in a suburb of Athens called Rafina. It was a five minute walk to the beach and fifteen minute walk to port. Remember my train mistake in Venice? Well, I wouldn’t completely say this was my fault like that one was, but we did run into a road bump once we got off the plane. We were suppose to find a bus that didn’t have a stop sign, you had to flag down or they didn’t stop, and that said Rafina in Greek. Of course, we didn’t realize this, so when I walked about from the ticket stand triumph with 2 tickets I was feeling pretty good. Luckily, once we road the bus into Athens, our bus driver was able to tell us how to get to the actual bus stop we needed and 2 old men were able to tell us “no, orange bus, Rafina”. There are many orange buses and we didn’t know how the hell Rafina looked in Greek (so you know, it looks like this: Ραφήνα), but we eventually got to where we needed.

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Άγιος Νικόλαος Ραφήνας

During a destress run, I found this little Greek Orthodox Church built in 1947. One of the most simple and picturesque churches I have seen. I took many pictures of this little beauty. There was a little alter inside, but people were sitting in there so I didn’t want to be rude and take a photo. The views of the ocean and port were also next to none on such a beautiful, clear day. Maybe one day I’ll make Justin come back and renew our vows here.

The Parthenon

We went into Athens for one day during our stay & toured the Acropolis.  As most of our trips presented construction on historical places, we should not have expected any less of Athens. The Parthenon had on going construction, but it was still a magnificent site to see. It will never cease to amaze me that this was constructed in 447 BC and a temple to the goddess Athena. It sits 490 feet above sea level and it towers over the city of Athens.  I could not stop soaking up the history here.

The Theatre of Dionysus

On our walk up to the Parthenon, we also saw the Theatre of Dionysus. This is supposedly the first theatre and the birthplace of Greek tragedy. It could seat 17,000 and had excellent acoustics. The version of the theatre seen today is what it looked like after the Romans modified it to include paved marble slabs at the orchestra floor and additional seats of honor.

 

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The Arch of Hadrian

Next, the Arch of Hadrian sits between the rock of Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It was constructed in 131 BC and dedicated to the Roman Emperor Hadrian. He was known for his peaceful reign and interest in Greek learning.  He also rebuilt the fortification wall around Athens that had been destroyed previously.  Where it stands marked where Athens ended and Hadrian’s new city began. On either side are inscriptions, which I found interesting. One says “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus” while the other side states “This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus”.

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The Temple of the Olympian Zeus

 

The construction of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus was started in 515 BC & was not completed until Hadrian’s rule in 129 BC. It consisted of 104 columns, only 15 still stand today. Being an admirer of Greek history, Hadrian dedicated the temple to Zeus & constructed a statue of Zeus in the cella. Then, he placed an equally large one of himself next to it. It’s suspected to have been destroyed during an earthquake & the material used for construction elsewhere.

 

On our walk to the above ancient sites, we stumbled upon the Roman Baths by the Zappeion.  These baths were built at the end of the 3rd century AD. They were not discovered until excavations for the Athens Metro.  Once found, they were preserved, rooted, and allowed for public access in 2004. There are columns within this bathing area that would have allowed for the area to be heated! This baffles me that this sort of ‘technology’ was available back then.

Roman Baths by The Zappeion

Once we had seen what we had planned for of the ancient sites in Athens, we walked around a flea market district, ate some ice cream, and enjoyed looking at all of the vendors and graffiti.

If there is one recommendation I could make for someone visiting Greece, it would be to stay on the islands, NOT the mainland as we did. I wish I had planned better so we could have hopped around on the islands more. We only got to see MyKonos, which was gorgeous, but I plan to go back and see Santorini also. It was like something out of a movie. My heart aches when I look at these photos and reminisce on our time spent there.

These windmills use to turn flour into grain and were an important aspect of the island’s economy

When I think of our short time spent in Santorini, I am overwhelmed with emotions! I feel the pictures will do it more justice than my words would. If we go back, we will stay here or on Santorini. I hear that MyKonos is the calmer of the two.

So Greece, please, take me back! The food was decadent & we had been missing fresh, delicious salads & vegetables (BEWARE: Legit Greek Salads have no lettuce! Lesson learned). The people were friendly, even when we spoke no Greek. I met a lady who spoke no English, but somehow figured out we lived in Germany and we spoke very elementary German to one another (& I understood her better than Germans). And if there is one thing I can say about little Greek women, it’s that they have the eye for a pregnant lady! I was only 14 weeks pregnant with Baby C 3.0 on our trip & I can’t tell you how many ladies pointed to my belly and then cradled their arms. They all knew it before we had really announced it to family and friends.

I hope you enjoyed this post about my summer sabbatical. We soaked up a lot of vitamin D, ate lots of fresh veggies we had been missing, & swam our hearts out!

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