Days 292-293; 4-29/30-06:
We arrived in Delphi after a three hour bus ride from Athens and were immediately confronted with a hotel owner. We checked it out but didn’t like the place, we walked for a long time until finally we settled in at a place above the center of town. Deciding not to go to the Delphi ruins today we went out for gyros and then returned to the hotel. The next day we started out a bit late and then completed the short walk from the town to the ruins on the mountain side. Delphi is the home of the oracle. Thousands upon thousands of people, kings to villagers, would come to consult the oracle in Delphi in and around the 6th century B.C. On her prophecies there were wars fought, adventures embarked on and business relations made. We started off with the Treasury of the Athenians, still relatively intact, used for the obvious. Next the path lead up the temple of Apollo, just a base left except for five giant columns towering over the area. I carried on up the path to the theatre, which was in good shape and there was also people singing there. Next I walked up to the stadium which could have been used for an Olympics at one time but we’re not sure. Paul and mom raced around the track while I walked over to the other side of the stadium. Soon we headed back to town and got some gyros at our new gyro stop. After finishing the quick meal we headed on back to the ruins to go see the museum whose fare was included in our tickets. The museum was the best we had seen in all of Greece, complete with a power room at end with over 10 intact statues. Afterwards we went back to the hotel to finish up whatever packing and travelogue left over to complete. The next day we got on a bus to Patra where we boarded a ferry to Brindisi, Italy.
Day 291; 4-28-06:
We arrived in Athens early in the morning and walked over to the metro station. The metro took us the Plaka district, nearby the Acropolis. There was a hostel that someone in Naxos had recommended and we decided to check it out because we knew that accommodation was very expensive in Athens. It took us a long time to find it and when we got there it was full, but they sent us to another place that the guy there owned. The other place turned out to be one of the cheapest so we decided to stay there. As soon as we got settled in we set off to see Athens on a route we had found in a free book. The first stop was the temple of Olympian Zeus below the Acropolis plateau. Out of the 104 columns originally only 15 tall pillars stand today at the site because most of the temple was destroyed. It is still an impressive sight and turned out to be one of my highlights of Athens. The first 14 pillars stand together so you can get an idea of what it was like when everything was intact. Afterwards we headed toward the Acropolis, stopping only at Hadrian’s Arch which marked at one time the boarder of the Roman Empire before it expanded into the Middle East. Before the plateau of the Acropolis we arrived a theatre that was not in the best of shape, still I always like the theatres and enjoy it. Finally we started to climb the hill up to the Acropolis. The gateway where we entered was under construction but we still got a flavor of the original piece. Upon entering I was immediately drawn to the majestic pose of the Parthenon. Although it was also under repair the famous Parthenon stood out among the other building with it sheer colossal size. After exploring the perimeter to get a view without the metal pools used to reconstruct it I continued on to the back where the Acropolis museum stood. The museum was full of finds from the Acropolis and Athens in general, although some of the pieces of work were missing because they were hanging in the Louvre, Florence, or Roma. I continued on past the Parthenon and passing a couple temples had a good design and built. Each temple or building was different from the others so it left lots of room to explore. At the lookout we could see the temple of Olympian Zeus and the original Olympic stadium where the first real (the first Olympics where held in 876 B.C. some people say, there is controversy over the matter) Olympics were held in 1896. Down from the Parthenon and the Acropolis we carried on to the Ancient Agora which had a long columned structure that looked new but was actually older, it had been repaired about century ago. From there was a similar building to the Parthenon but it was a bit smaller, yet it remained for the most part intact and whole. We decided to go back because it had started to get late and we were a bit tired from the days walking. The next day after a quick breakfast Paul, mom, and I went out before we had to get on a bus to Delphi at 1pm. First we went to an once-popular town which was pretty much just bases of the homes and some broken pillars. Soon we realized that we were running out of time so we headed over to Roman Agora. We didn’t get much time in Agora but we were able to see the Tower of the Winds, used for astronomy in the 1st century with four carvings on the north, south, east, and west sides. After getting a quick glance at the arch of Athena we headed back to the hotel and then walked to the bus station.
Days 287-290; 4-24/27-06:
The Blue Star ferry from Naxos Town to Fira, Santorini was the most grandiose ferry we had ridden. In total, the journey lasted three hours, arriving in the main port in the late afternoon. As we started to pass into the caldera of Santorini we were rewarded with break taking views of the sheer cliff surrounding the perimeter. In around the year 1650 B.C. the colossal volcano Thera (Santorini) blew, sending huge shockwaves around the Mediterranean Sea. Scientists speculate that the tsunami caused by the eruption wiped out the Minoan culture, causing their people to become extinct. The Minoans were very pervasive in Greece and surrounding countries at that time, and if the theory is correct it means that the explosion was one of the greatest in history. From a friend in Naxos we had been recommended a nice hotel on the cliff with an excellent view. As we stepped out of the ferry we found the man holding a sign with the name of the place, he took us to a van transport to take us to the place. Because we were unsure of the prices in Santorini it took us a long time to figure out a fair deal, and if we should look for cheaper accommodations. When we decided to take it, the manager of the hotel arrived and upped the price, saying that the rate his employee had quoted us was wrong. With inexpensive accommodation in mind we set off in search of a cheap room. Our journey was not a long one as we found refuge with the owners of Restaurant Romantica who owned a place over looking the caldera. We soon realized that if we had ventured further into the town there would have been cheaper accommodations. Settling into our place we had a quiet afternoon overlooking the caldera on the pension’s sitting balcony. That night we ate at Romantica and then watched the sunset from our pension. This next day I got to wake up late, due to perpetual tiredness from 9 months on the road. That alone was a gift. I also walked to the post office to try to get some stamps, along the way I picked up some maps, now I had a complete Greece and Turkey set except a map of all of Greece. At midday my dad and I walked up to this peninsula that we had seen the day before from our pension. We walked along a public walk way through the houses, restaurants and hotels on the cliff. Eventually we got there and on the other side was a classic Greek church. All whitewashed with three bells on the top and a blue dome. After considering waiting until sunset we declined and headed back to the pension to make dinner. Later we found out that my mom had walked out to the peninsula too, except she went when it was sunset. That night during dinner there was a match on TV, Arsenal v. Villarreal, semi-finals of the Champions League. In Naxos Villarreal played horribly and Arsenal won 1-0, but this game things switched and Villarreal had opportunity upon opportunity to score but they couldn’t put it in. That match turned out to be a tie 0-0 so Arsenal advanced to the Champions League finals in Paris. The next day I was forced up early and we started our walk to Oia. My dad left before us to walk to the peninsula again like the day before because it was good light. We soon after followed him and caught up right before he was about to descend into the peninsula. After dropped grandma off at a café we walked to the peninsula and looked out across the caldera from the church. Going back up we went to pick up grandma and then set off around island to the town of Oia. The beginning part of the hike was nice because we went through the lands and the towns on a foot path. Soon, though, we started out on the main road where we were forced to dodge cars coming down the freeway. My grandma stopped at a bus stop and waited for the shuttle to Oia, we continued on. Time seemed to speed up because soon we were entering the perimeter of Oia, we later found out that the hike was 13km. About half an hour longer brought us to the center of town where we began our search for a café to see the sunset, one of the best in Santorini. Settling down at a café we began to wait for the sunset. Dad had found a picture in a postcard so we went over to see the three churches next to each other. There was also a windmill at the tip of Oia where the town went down to meet the water. After sunset we walked to the bus stop to hop on a bus going to Fira. That night we watched the other semi-final game of the Champions League: Barcelona v. AC Milan. Barcelona had won the first match 1-0 in a great game, this time it was a tie 0-0 so Barcelona goes to the Paris finals to play Arsenal. Today was our last day in Santorini. We decided to make the best of it by going to the black sand beaches in Perissa. Dad and grandma didn’t want to go so Paul, mom and I hopped on a bus bound to Perissa at midday. Finally we arrived and we set off to find a shop where we could get some bread for lunch. After the mini-mart we set off to the black sand beach for our bite to eat. The black sand beach was mainly black although it had speckles of white, like salt and pepper. Because the wind and started to pick up and it was really cold outside we decided to go for a swim. Soon after our arrival the sky started to rain so we immediately packed up and dashed into the nearest café on the beachside. When the bus came we jumped on board and were soon zooming in the direction of Fira. That night we got on the overnight ferry to Athens.
Days 278-286; 4-15/23-06:
I woke up the next day and was immediately ushered off by my parents to Panos Studios where we had rented a studio for a week by the beach. Once we moved into the studio we walked up to a square and ate some breakfast before returning to our place. After a short siesta we walked through the town to the Temple of Apollo on an island. A manmade spit had been constructed to connect Apollo’s island and main land, protruding from another angle from the island, parallel to main land and 90 degrees from the other manmade spit, thus forming a bay untouched by rough waves. Centuries ago when Samos and Naxos were in the middle of a war, the people of Naxos were in the middle of creating the temple of Apollo. Unfortunately the temple went unfinished until the present day. All that stands now is a big gate, or the Greeks say “big door”, like a gateway to Naxos. Eventually we headed back to Panos for dinner. The next day we hung out at the beach playing soccer and running. As the afternoon turned to evening mom, dad, grandma and I walked up to a whitewashed church stark in color contrast compared to its setting in a rock cliff. When we reached it we were rewarded with a great view of Naxos, along with the possibility of spotting Ios and Santorini. We walked back to Panos where Paul was watching football, Liverpool 1-0 Blackburn. During the next few days we made stayed at the beach and swam. On Wednesday we decided to talk a walk from the mountain town of Apperantos to its neighbor Feloti. Nearing the end of our stay we took a cheap rental car and went around to a few sights in Naxos Island. After we gassed up we parked the car and started on a hike through three small hillside villages all in the same valley. During the hike we picked a bunch of oranges and lemons on community trees and some private orchards. Eventually we hiked back up to our small, yellow Hyundai that is about the same size as a bicycle. We carried on tell we arrived at a castle which we realized was up on this hill some 10km away. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to walk up to it because we wanted to go to the beach before the sky got dark and we still had other places to go see. Continuing on we stopped at a town famous in Naxos for the only place that brews the strong Citron liquor. A worker step by step showed us how in 1896, when the plant opened, they made the Citron liquor. At the end of the tour we all got to sample a shot, and it turned out to be not bad, with kind of a mint flavor. After lunch we carried on to an ancient olive press where Paul and I ran the millstone. From there we past through some marble quarries and picked up our own samples from the roadside. We also collected some more oranges and lemons from a grove. When we got back to town we dropped off the car and walked to the Catholic church for Holy Thursday mass. On Easter Sunday we woke up to chocolate bunnies about 10 inches tall, a delicacy when you’ve been deprived for 9 months. A couple of clues led Paul and I to a pair of Nestle chocolate bars, and a few more clues led to a soccer ball for Paul and a backgammon board for me. I lit my candle from Friday and set it up on a marble block we had found on our rent-a-car day. For the remainder of the day Paul and I played soccer on the beach with the new ball, soon mom and dad joined. When they got tired we started a brutal game of sudden death. What a great way to end our delightful stay in Naxos.