We explored the Agora the first morning, and this is a view of the Acropolis from the Agora.
Late afternoon, from the Areopagus, one of the birthplaces of democracy.
The Acropolis catches the afternoon sun, seen from the Pnyx, another crucial meeting place in the rise of democracy.
The view from our first-night dinner in Athens, at the Lontos Cafe, below the Acropolis.
The first full day, we went to the National Archeological Museum, on our own. This is a three-wall fresco found in Akrotiri on Santorini, where we will be going later in the trip.
A beautiful vase from the National Archeological Museum.
Still at the museum, this 2nd century BC figure is amazingly lively and fun: "Little boy protecting his grapes from a cockerel"!
Another lovely vase from the museum. About 440BC.
A funerary example - looks like someone from the Book and Beverage club, with all those bottles!
The sculptures were amazing.
A bronze head, intricately detailed.
This incredible, life-size bronze is called The Jockey of Artemision, about 150BC. It only survived being melted down before it could reach us by chance: it was lost in a shipwreck, and not found until the 20th century.
The "Mask of Agamemnon", pure gold, found by Shliemann at Mycenae. About 1550BC. Also at the National Archeological Museum.
Later in the day, we met our guide, Iris, for a great tour of the Acropolis Museum, and then the Acropolis itself. This shot shows how the Acropolis Museum is built completely on pilings above an active archeological site. Athens, and much of Greece in general, is rife with such accommodations for preserving the past while allowing life to continue around it.
Dusk behind the Erectheion, a smaller temple on the Acropolis.
Another view on the Acropolis hill. Note, next to the Erectheion, the Sacred Olive Tree. Athena herself supposedly planted the original olive tree, from which this is descended.
The next day, Iris took us to Delphi, site of the famous Oracle. Delphi was supposed to be the "navel of the world".
Delphi. This is a small 'treasury' or temple.
Delphi is still mysterious, and remote.
Delphi, looking down past the theater to the outline of the temple of Apollo.
At Delphi, picture by our guide, Iris.
At the Delphi Museum, a sphinx.
A beautiful cup, or 'kilik', shows Apollo playing the cithara and pouring out sacrificial blood. Apparently a very common image of Apollo.
The Charioteer, a life-size-or-larger bronze from about 476BC. It boasts amazing detail: onyx in the eyes, with even the eyelashes being visible.
After visiting the ancient site of Delphi, we ate lunch at a small place in the nearby town of the same name.
The next day our guide was Vasileos. Our first stop was Corinth.
The next stop was Mycenae, a much-larger site.
The Lions Gate, entrance to the city.
Vasileos explains the layout of Mycenae.
This gives some idea of the expanse covered by the excavated portion of Mycenae, and its remote location.
Near Mycenae is the so-called 'Treasury of Atreus', which was not a treasury, nor probably connect to Atreus. Blame Schliemann for the name. This is a huge 'beehive' tomb.
After the tour, lunch in the nearby seaside town of Nafplio.
Nafplio has had quite a history. The Venetians built forts all over the region, including this dominating edifice above the town and harbor.
The next day, we flew to Heraklio, on the island of Crete. From there, we were driven to our hotel in the charming town of Rethymno. This day was basically all travel.
The next morning, we walked around Rethymno, which has its own Venetian-era fort.
The harbor in Rethymno.
Bougainvilleas are everywhere!
Strolling and looking for a place to have dinner. As in much of Greece, the local architecture has elements from all sorts of influences. The airy balconies make a fine place to relax, high above the 'frenzied masses' - who do not, frankly, look all that frenzied themselves.
The next day, we went to Chania, where our guide, Sebastiana, took us on a walking tour of the city. This interesting building has been both church (bell-tower at left) and mosque (minaret at right).
Chania: a typical example of how ancient walls (portions of which may be Bronze-Age) can be incorporated into other walls, buildings, and everyday life.
Chania: the first mosque in the town still stands at the harbor.
I included this statue to a local hero simply because he looks like a warlike Santa! Don't p*ss HIM off, or you may be lucky to get coal!
Chania, a portion of the Venetian fortress walls.
Chania also has tons of bougainvilleas - that's Sebastiana at the right. Notice the official guide's badge she's wearing. Those seem to be required almost everywhere for guides, to prove they know their stuff. And all of our guides did, to the extent of seeming OVER-qualified, if anything.
The next day's tour was to the 'Palace' at Knossos, with our guide Manny. Much of Knossos has been renovated, or replaced. This 'fresco' is a picture of the original, which has been moved to the Acropolis Museum for safe-keeping.
Knossos: an ancient stairwell. The palace was huge, with three or four floors in places.
Knossos. Manny says this, the Royal Road, is one of the oldest and best-preserved roads in Europe. It's the remains of a Minoan road, which dates it to no later than 1100BC.
Knossos. Although a reconstruction, this shows how the buildings would have looked 'back then'.
Knossos: an old game board. About 1700-1450BC.
A model of the palace. Incredibly complex, with plumbing, skylights, and other features which would require massive and careful planning before doing any construction.
At the Heraklion Archeological Museum. This octopus vase dates to about 1500-1450BC.
The Phaistos disk, 1700BC. A mysterious clay disk, still not yet deciphered.
At the Heraklion Museum - a small bull dancer figure. Notice how life-like it is... the Minoan art will, sadly, be supplanted by the much-less-accomplished Mycenean art, when the Minoan era ends.
A Minoan rhyton (ceremonial cup or funnel) of a bull.
And this is what the art looked like after the Myceneans came in... so much cruder.
The next day, we took a ferry from Crete to Santorini. Then we were driven to our hotel in the tourist town of Oia. This is the view from the hotel's pool.
The view from our private patio, with our own hot tub overlooking the caldera.
Looking along the side of the caldera, and Oia.
The ancient caldera. The island arcs around to the left. Visible at the back right is an island that occupies the center of the bay.
This first full day on Santorini we just lazed, and strolled.
Just another shot from our 'lazy day'.
The next day, we took a 'Caldera Tour'. We were driven around the island to the town of Fera. From there, our guide (Thanos!) led us back along the caldera edge to Oia. This is the initial view from Fera. The whole hike is a little over 6 miles.
Thanos chats with Janine. We're hiking counter-clockwise around the caldera, with Oia being out of sight to the far left.
A small chapel along the way.
Thanos took our picture. Now Oia is just visible in the hazy distance, at the far end of the island's arc.
Oia - we're almost home! This is probably a bit more than 5 miles into the hike, out of 6.
Early morning in Oia.
The next day, we went to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which preserves items found in the archeological site at Akrotiri. Akrotiri is the main settlement on Santorini that's been excavated. Our guide, Xara, actually works on the excavations! This pot is a good example of a style much favored by the folks on Thera.
Also at the museum, one of the original frescoes.
The 'Papyrus Fresco', the original.
Yes, the lights went out! Apparently, it was closing time, and no warning was given! Just poof, and it was dark. Our guide tried to light up the Monkey Fresco. I included this shot mainly because the situation was funny. BUT, this is also a startling painting in its own right. If you can see, one monkey is looking directly at the viewer, and all other faces of people or animals are painted in profile.
Again, this is the original. To see what it should look like, just Google 'monkey fresco Akrotiri'. Sigh.
A gorgeous golden figurine from Akrotiri.
A diagram of the Akrotiri site, included to show the scope of the excavation.
The excavation at Akrotiri, now all completely covered.