Tuesday, November 28, 2017


The hotel in which we stayed on Milos, was called Portiani. A great place to be based as it was right in the centre of the harbour area and so close to everthing that was open.
We had a small suite with sitting area, large bedroom, bathroom and a huge balcony area over which we could view the happenings in the port.

The port town of Adamas as seen from our hotel balcony.
The weather, apart from half a day, was warm and sunny. It was important by this stage to find a laundromat. Washing everything by hand is all very well, but generally things at best get a very good rinse not a propper wash and drying heavy jeans is an impossibility in a hotel room.
Having sussed out the laundry, we decided to wait until our last day before washing everything. We priced a small hire car and borrowed it for two days so we could explore the island.

More scenes looking at the harbour from different angles. The island of Milos has a wonderful natural harbour, created by the half-moon shape of the island. The water is very deep and sheltered. So the port is really well protected and safe for all kinds of vessels. Unlike Sifnos, the ferries can land here even if the weather turns really nasty.

There are some really interesting ancient hustorical sites on Milos. These are the catacombs, dug into the teff (soft volcanic matter), where the Romans and later the Christians burried their dead. Many well preserved ancient artifacts were found here; most are currently being held in the main museum in Athens.

There is also a very beautiful ancient Roman theatre on the island. All of you will know of the very famous Venus di Milo, in the Louvre, France. Well guess where it came from? Here! I had never made the connection between the statue's name and this island before. As you probably know, Venus di Milo has its own space in the Louvre and is one of the greatest treasures of the ancient world.
The local story is that a farmer was ploughing his field one day and unearthed Venus. He fell in love with the beauty of the statue and hid it in one of his farm sheds. His wife became really jealous of the time he spent looking at and admiring the statue, so she contacted various authorities around the world. Yup, the French stole it!

The car we hired was a very small Chevrolet. It ran on the smell of an oily rag and had a very small engine. We were not allowed to drive on any dirt roads. Given the very low clearance and tiny tyre size, this was no wonder. With this small car, we travelled as far around the island as we could to discover its treasures.

Unfortunately most of the museums were closed for the season. This ruin, however was open. The ruins are Micean, but not well preserved and only one short path to follow.
There are tantilising glimpses of possible ancient civilizations at every turn with stone walls and stone terraces everywhere.

When the tourist season of seven months is over, the island returns to its fishing and mining.

Bentonite is mined here; used for the building industry, medicine and kitty litter. A general cargo ship at the bentonite terminal was filling its hold with the volcanic clay whilst we were on Milos.
Yesterday, after having returned the car we walked to the other end of the harbour. Here we found a thermal bath house, called Hippocrate's Cave. It looked really interesting, but like most other things of interest was closed for the winter.

Athens and travel to Milos

Our hotel, Hera, in Athens, was in a delightful location. Situated just a few hundred meters from the Plaka and not far from the Acropolis, we found ourselves in the cultural eating centre of Athens. Beautiful shopping and very kind and generous Athenians. The calm is happening now in Greece after a very busy tourist season, which is now over.
This is great for us as things are taken much more leisurely and greater interest is paid to these strange foreigners who arrive in the winter.
On our arrival we went to search for dinner. We spied a hairdresser just opposite the hotel, so booked for two haircuts in the morning. Dinner was in a small cafe that served fresh fish.
In the morning after the haircuts, (good ones too!), we strolled up the street towards the Plaka. Delicious sweet and nut shops as well a Greek cake shops aling with cafes and restaurants lined the streets. Sproukers from the restaurants invited us to try their fare.
The owner of the nut store gave us tastings of his various produce. Nuts, figs, chocolates and dried fruit made its way into our shopping bag. Good for the ferry trip, we rationalised.
Ferries are the life line for most Greek islands. Most of the businesses close down for the winter and so islanders are dependent upon the ferries for supplies and medical treatment.

The Acropolis, in Athens is being restored, as is the Temple of Zeus.

A restaurant on the streets of the old Plaka area.

A really old Greek Orthadox Church in the Plaka dating back to the 11th century; St Catherine's Byzantine Church.

It was a special holy day for this little church as seen by the flags and numbers of pilgrims.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Delfi and Meteora

Delfi - "The navel of the earth".
A magical ancient place, dedicated to the god Apollo.

This is the most photographed ruin of Delfi, but in fact is not a temple. This is a family mausoleum built by Alexander the Great to glorify his father, Phillip. Not a good idea in the eyes of the Greeks and in such a sacred place. But he was the king, so no one could really say anything.
The real temple of Guia, where pilgrims had to purify themselves was destroyed by a violent earthquake.

Pilgrims had to be admitted into the sacred area above the cleansing area by the priests and their handmaids. This was determined by pouring very cold water onto a lamb. If the lamb shivered you could be accepted into the sacred precinth.

This is the Plaka, where pilgrims could purchase food, souvenirs or things to offer the god Apollo for a good omen.

These are some of the artifacts held in the treasuries of the various towns that paid tribute to the Delfi site.

The following day we visited the Meteora monasteries. Some of them were very badly damaged during the second World War by German bombing. Today Meteora, along with 15 other sites in Greece is protected under UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
These remarkable buildings are built upon the tops of very high rocks.

The monasteries were built by the monks on these monoliths to protect themselves against the Persian invasion. In these times, you could only reach the tops of the hills by scaling the walls with rope. Later gondulas and rope baskets were installed to raise needed items up into the monasteries. Monasteries also owned land on the plains below which they farmed.

For the monks, it was very important to preserve the bones of past holy men, so these were kept in special repositories.

Other jobs for the monks included the copying of sacred texts, by hand. Some of these items go back as far as the 6 century.

For the first three days there were only five of us; two other Australians (sisters); Danielle and Helene and our guide Archangeles.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Olympia and Delfi

Today's main classical place was Olympia, home of the Ancient Greek Games and from where the Olympic torch is lit every four year before travelling around the world to its new host nation. The first Olympics with the flame wS Hitler's Germany!

An image of the wrestlers pavillion.

We found an olive branch wreath on the ground, so all took turns wearing it. Olive wreaths were presented to the winners.

The workshop in which Psaides worked to created a 20 meter high statue of Zeus was built in pieces in this area. Soon after the disciples came to Greece, the worshop was converted into a small community church. The slate plinths were carved with the Christian symbol, the cross to protect the bascillica.

The first temple built on the site was in fact not to the god Zeus, but the goddess, Hera.

The entrance to the stadium allowed the athletes to present themselves to the audience. They had to pass through this tunnel into the space behind.

Here is our tour group of four starting at the starting line, depicted by the marble lines beneath our feet. At the other end there is another marble line shoeing the end. The ancient games took place over five days. A truce was declared amongst all the Greek tribes for two months in order to allow the athletes to travel to and from the centre in peace as well as training and cempetition time.

These sculptures were on the facia end of the temple to Zeus. Built in marble.

Nike, the god of victory, once very colourful with blue tunic and red belt.

We crossed the Gulf of Corinth on this beautifully designed bridge, a collaboration between a Greek and Dutch consortium. The bridge is designed with expansion in mind. The gulf of Corinth lies on a tetatonic fault line and the span increases by 15mm per year, so the bridge is designed and built to be able to expand over time.

This afternoon we arrived at Delfi, navel of the world. This is the view from our hotel window.

And lastly we walked the streets of this beautifully quaint town.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Corinth and Mycenai

Oh! We weren't sure if we could do this Classical tour because Peter felt so unwell. But here we are, Peter still feeling dizzy and weak, but not as bad! So with stick in hand, he does what he can and I sprint ahead!

The Corinthian Canal originally began as a road dug deep through the hill to pull the Ancient Greek ships across the ismuth of the Penapolopian(?) Peninsula to mainland Greece. This saved an arduous sail right around the peninsula to reach safe harbours. This ancient road was later dug out by heavy machinery to create the canal we see today, to assist in the safe passage of ships from one side of Greece to the other. Made before the Suez Canal!

The theatre ampitheatre at the health resort of Asclepius. The theatre of Epidauros is the most perfect and reniwned monument od its kind. It combines perfect accoustics with symmetrical proportions. The theatre was an important part of the healing process. Patients needed to be well in mind and body and the Greek Tragedies and comedies were believed to help in the process of curing the mind.
The museum here holds Archaic and Roman sculptures as well as medical instruments and votives, many of which resemble what we still use today!

Napflios was the first Capital of Greece, surrounded by forts and castles from the medieval period and beautiful houses and government buildings.