Extreme Greece: Athens and Mykonos—two very distinct destinations. History and mystery surrounded me in Athens, and I could hardly wait. Beauty and mystery abounded in Mykonos. Greece truly captured my heart!
October 10—Piraeus, Greece; Visited Athens
Up at 6:30 AM, we started this amazing day early! ATHENS! I couldn’t believe I was actually here. We met the tour organizer, grabbed a bus, and headed to the metro subway station, where we met our guide. Interestingly, she toured us around inside the metro, which was an archaeology site. She said anytime they dig in Athens; they unearth ruins. And immediately she started telling the Roman mythology stories I had shared with my students as an English teacher as many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed every tale she told!
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
From there we walked to the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, like ours in Washington, DC, but so different. We watched as the pair leaving marched in a synchronized, high stepping manner with a distinct kick that appeared to be in slow motion with exaggerated movement. She told us that the Greek soldiers had knife blades in the pompons on the tops of the shoes.
Glued to the ceremony, I photographed the showmanship of the two guards leaving and two coming on duty. The whole ritual was breathtaking.
From there we walked through The National Garden of Athens, a beautiful garden, to the Zappeion, “is a large, palatial building next to the National Gardens of Athens in the heart of Athens, Greece. It is generally used for meetings and ceremonies, both official and private and is one of the city’s most renowned modern landmarks.”
From there we walked by a fountain below Zappeion. Our guide assured us it would start spraying water anytime, but it didn’t, so we walked away. One of our group lingered and shouted at us, “It had started,” so we all rushed back and took pictures, looking back at Zappeion.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Our next stop was the Temple of Olympian Zeus, all within proximity.
“The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a former colossal temple at the center of the Greek capital Athens. It was dedicated to “Olympian” Zeus, a name originating from his position as head of the Olympian gods.”
Here we saw tall pillars surrounded by scaffolding. So much care taken of these old structures! It was a massive site with rocks laying on the ground around the Temple. Ruins surrounded it too. And the Acropolis called in the distance!
Then we passed the Arch of Hadrian.
“It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, Greece, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus.”
For some unknown reason, I thought the Acropolis would be out of town, out of Athens, but we kept getting a peek of as we walked closer and closer.
So, I needed clarity—was the Acropolis different from the Parthenon? Our guide helped me get it clear. These are all terms I’ve heard and seen in history books, but it’s been years.
The Acropolis is the hill where the Parthenon sits.
“The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, that was dedicated to the goddess Athena during the fifth century BC.”
As we walked up the hill to the Acropolis, our guide told story after story from the Roman mythology and took frequent stops so we could rest.
On the way, we stopped at the Theater of Dionysius with special carved seats for the royalty out of marble—not super comfortable!
Climbing higher and higher, I marveled at our view of Athens—here I am in Athens, Greece, climbing up to the Acropolis! Wow!
As we got closer and closer, it felt like a crescendo of a lifetime of hearing about this place was about to explode. When we got inside the ruins, the crowds increased, and the size of the Parthenon overwhelmed me!
Oh my God! When we finally arrived and stood in front of the Parthenon, a pillared structure looming gigantic in front of me, I just couldn’t take it all in and then. Again scaffolding caressed the beloved structures. Then, the battery for my camera died!!
Our tour ended, but Lin and I lingered. I grabbed my iPhone and took pictures. Its magical draw kept me there, not wanting to leave. We took picture after picture, standing in a variety of places.
When we finally left the Acropolis, a guard directed us to go a different, shorter route out and we missed the masses of people.
From there, we joined some people from our tour, but we took a wrong turn and ended up wandering down a side street. Lin and I decided after quite a while to turn around, leaving the others. We walked right in front of Mars Hill, where St. Paul preached. I googled it later when we got back to the ship. I knew it had importance but couldn’t remember why.
After our wrong turn, we finally made our way back to a familiar area of shops and restaurants near the Arch of Hadrian, where our shuttle was picking us up to go back to the port. We ate Greek pizza, and I bought a delightful Greek dress made of blue and white cotton material. I also bought a gold leaf headband and enjoyed wearing it that night on our ship to dinner.
I will never forget this memorable day in Athens and the history and mystery that surrounded me that day.
October 11—Mykonos, Greece
We were up at 7:00 am for breakfast and out to the port to our tour, which ended up being a sizeable group. When we got on the bus, our tour guide said something about us being back to the ship by 3:00 PM. One of the other travelers told her we had to be back at 1:30 PM. The guide gasped and I could see she was flustered. It changed the plans for our entire tour.
Our tour first took us out of Mykonos eight kilometers to Panagia Tourliani Monastery. On the way, the guide told the history of the island of Mykonos. Mykonos is one of 56 islands which are a part of The Cyclades, and Santorini is also a part of those islands. It saw its first cruise ship in 1920. During the 70s, hippies and artist came, and the culture embraced a very liberal stance, being gay friendly. In the winter, there are 15,000 residences now; in the summer 60,000! They saw 50 million visitors from March to the beginning of November this year.
When we stopped at the monastery, we quietly entered and saw the inside of a beautiful Greek Orthodox church. Our guide explained all the different parts. At the back of the church were lit candles stuck in sand, so I bought one and lit it. I love doing that whenever I can.
From there we walked through this village to a restaurant and had Greek coffee and doughnut, delicious. Then we drove to a beach for picture taking. From there, we went back to Mykonos and had to decide what to do because we didn’t have time to continue our tour to the windmills.
So, our guide bought us Sea Bus Tickets, then we followed her through a crowded walkway. There, Lin and I left the tour group and shopped a little and bought gelato. I’m always wanting to be on time; Lin always pushes to the limit. When we got to the line for the Sea Bus, it was so loooong, but we made the second one.
Before boarding the ship, I shopped at the Duty Free shop. When I got back to the room, I put on my bathing suit for the first time and went to the pool to get some sun.
As we sailed away from Mykonos, we saw a volcano, Stromboli, erupting! Remember, I told you last week we were in volcano country!
Sadly, that night, we went to the Epic Beatles show, and I lost a precious piece of silver, a Zia which is a New Mexico symbol. I guess I lost it while we were up dancing, but it tainted that day for me!
Athens and Mykonos—two glorious ports in Greece. I will never forget either of them! Have you been to Athens? Mykonos? What are your thoughts about my experience?
News, News, News!
~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?
~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!
~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.
~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:
- Douglas Coleman’s show-August 5, 2022
- Chat & Spin Radio, from Friday, June 24, 2022. Join us for a lively description of all my books!
- Book Talk–June 3, 2022
- Live on Purpose Podcast–March 17, 2022
- Zbooks.com–January 19, 2022
- Apostrophes, A Writers Series with Double DD–January 10, 2022
- The On Purpose Podcast–January 10, 2022
~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A