By Sandra Elzie
If you’re just joining us on this month’s visits to Italy, Turkey… and now Greece, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to click on the link to read the first two articles. Wouldn’t want you to miss anything!
Like most of Europe, Athens, Greece is rich in history that dates back centuries. In fact, Athens has been one of the most important and influential cities of that part of the world. Athens became the capital of Greece in 1834, growing from approximately 6,000 residents at that time to the 4.5 million today.
In the 8th century BC Athens was considered the artistic center of Greece…reaching it’s peak in the 5th century BC during an era known as the Golden Age. During this period, huge strides were made in literature, architecture, math, philosophy, medicine, and, in fact, all sciences of that time. You’ll recognize many of the distinguished men from this area…Sophocles, Hippocrates, Socrates, Plato & Aristotle….just to name a few.
In the 2nd century BC, Greece was conquered by the Romans…and eventually the Byzantine Empire and centuries later by the Turks. The Greek War of Independence (1821 – 1829) prepared Greece for their rightful independence established in 1834.
Our tour included lunch where we had the opportunity to try some local fare. There was Taramasalata…which is a dip made from fish roe…and which (shudder) I passed on; Melitsanosalata which is made from smoked eggplant and is quite delicious; and Tzatziki which is a yogurt-type dip made with cucumbers and garlic that we spread on bread. I enjoyed it, but hubby scrunched up his nose. I think he preferred the fish eggs. A lot of the small eating shops served pita bread stuffed with grilled lamb, tomatoes and onions, but I also passed on the lamb. I’m not too brave when it comes to local foods, I guess. However, I never passed up an opportunity to savor the baklava (a sweet pastry filled with walnuts & honey).
Our tour took us out into the country where we got out and walked among the ruins of several cities & numerous temples. We visited the Acropolis which is one of the great wonders of the world and consists of four ancient buildings…the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike & the Erechtheion and the Propylaea. The Acropolis was built during the 5th century BC.
I found the Parthenon fascinating. They are in the process of reconstructing the huge columns by painstakingly fitting together broken pieces of the columns and making pieces to fill in spots where the missing piece is too crumbled to use. It’s like putting together a huge, huge puzzle. If you look closely, you can see some scaffolding behind the mounted charts of the project AND if you look closer, you can see the columns…with what looks like white patches. The white patches are the pieces they had to cut out of stone to fit the space on the column where the original column piece was too badly damaged.
The architecture of the Parthenon was obviously magnificent as depicted in one well-preserved structure circled by statues of their gods.
The site…perched on top of the hill overlooking the valley, gives it a spectacular view of the surrounding area.
When the tour was over and we returned to the ship, it was to sail back to Italy where our trip would end and we’d fly home. But that evening, during dinner, we were blessed with a beautiful view of a setting sun that captured the essence of our trip and bid us farewell…or adio, as they say in Greece.
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