Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lost Cities of Greece Part IV: Eleusis & The Eleusinian Mysteries

If entrances to the Underworld, famous emperors, famous play writes, magical potions & a 5000 year old secret sound interesting to you then you may want to make a trip to Eleusis. For many different reasons I have always had an interest in Eleusis and the Eleusian Mysteries, but for one reason or another I had never made the journey there. The Eleusian Mysteries held in Eleusis was the most important, or the most populous,  Religious Event in Ancient Greece for the Greeks and the Romans. We can say that these mysterious religious ceremonies went as far back as the Mycenaean Period and didn't end till 392 ACE when Roman/Christian Emperor Theodosius I closed the sanctuary down by decree. Of course before Theodosius came in on the scene, Christianity was gain much popularity and the sacred rights of the Eleusian Mysteries began to loose its importance. The last  Roman Emperor to be initiated in these sacred rights was Flavius Claudius Julianus Augustus, or simply put, Julian.

Flavius Claudius Julianus Augustus

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Lost Cities of Greece
Part III: Pavlopetri

Someone had told me that Simos Beach on the island of Elafonisos was probably one of the best beaches in Greece, but it wasn't necessarily the crystal clear waters that got me thinking about Elafonisos. A number of months ago I remembered catching a documentary about the oldest underwater city in the world, a city going back to 3000 BCE. I had long forgotten the name of this amazing site, but knew it was somewhere near Elafonisos. After a bit of research I found the documentary online and rediscovered its name; Pavlopetri. Because there is still extensive research going on concerning this site I couldn't find much material about it other than the documentary; something I will do my best to include on this blog.

To get to Pavloperti, and to the stunning beaches of Elefonisos, isn't as difficult as one would think. In fact, its quite easy. My journey to these places started around 5 am in the morning waiting at the Terminal B bus station in Athens. To get to Pavlopetri I had to take the bus that was running to Neaopli, one of  the southern most villages located in the Peleponese. The bus ride, so I had been warned, would take about 6 hours. Possibly the bus ride would have taken only four to four and a half hours, as the official schedule said, but that schedule wasn't including the numerous stops along the way.
The entrance to Terminal B Bus Station in Athens

Friday, 13 July 2012

Lost Cities of Greece
Part II: Heraion of Perachora

Lower Sanctuary

Upper Sanctuary/City
 My friend Mike was hanging around the office when he heard me asking someone about road trips. I had some time to take one but didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go. When the conversation was over Mike, who was reading a magazine, dropped it on his lap and said, “I could take you to a pretty cool place a few miles from Corinth. I discovered it last week while I was hitchhiking.”
At this point I gave Mike a funny look. What with all the scarey movies coming out about hitchhiking and stuff I did'nt think people did it anymore. “Hitchhiking,” I exclaimed, “Why on earth were you hitchhiking?”
Mike’s response was innocent and simple: “Eh, I heard some people in my theater troop talking about it.”
Upon further inquiry, Mike had explained that he had stumbled upon an ancient city that was crumbling into a crystal clear sea, and as if this wasn’t enough there were also cliff-diving opportunities. For me it sounded perfect. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Lost Cities of Greece

So, it’s been awhile since our last blog. What can I say? Peak season in Greece hasn’t given any of us much time to think, let alone write blogs. On the personal side of things my wife and I (mainly my wife) have been making the final arrangements for our son’s baptism which is turning out to be something like a wedding. In Greece they don’t play around with baptisms or weddings, but definitely not baptisms. 

Because the baptism will take place on the Greek Island of Lemnos I have been left in Athens to fend for myself. So far it’s not been so bad. The only problem I seem to be encountering is that since I don’t have a lot of time to do simple domestic things, like cooking, I find myself eating out a lot, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t souvlaki and pizza all the time. I suppose I’ll have to try and make better eating choices until things get back to normal.

During this time of momentary separation I’ve found a little extra time to whittle away at my leisure. My problem with this is that I have absolutely no idea what to do with this “free time”. This all changed when a good friend of mine started giving me suggestions of places close to Athens to visit; places I have never heard of before. The funny thing about his suggestions was that he had never been to most of the places he was suggesting to me! By accident or whatever he had heard about a particular place from someone else, who in turn had never been either but had heard about it from someone else (I hope you see where I’m getting at). “But the sites have to have two things,” I said, “1) These places must have some sort of Archeological Site 2) A beach near-by would be nice.” So here we are with a new series of blogs entitled, “Lost Cities of Greece”.

OK, OK, they’re not actually lost cities anymore, but they are places that I would venture to say are rarely visited and virtually unheard of. As with all the blogs I’m writing I will include links for further reading, so just point-and-click. I’ll also do my very best to provide you with as much information as I possibly can on how to get to these magnificent places. However, due to the obscurity and utter remoteness of these sites you probably won’t have any other option but to take a taxi (expensive) or to rent a car for a day (30-40 euros). 

I hope you'll enjoy this first blog in the series, and hope you’re having a GREAT summer wherever you may be!

Part I: Rhamnous and the Temple of Nemesis

The Temple....

And the story.....

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pelion (Part III: 300 Year Old Mansions & Saying Goodbye)

The sun was out and the weather was near perfect as we got back on the winding mountain road to get to Makrinitsa.We had another late start and had to abandon our search for the old steam train. But I asked a local before we left Tsagarada and he said that we could always catch it near Makrinitsa, so off we went. Fate would have it that we took a slightly different route, unknowingly of course, that led us to the very top of Chania to where the ski lifts were. But this was quite nice because the road was free and clear. It was also really beautiful to see the Spring sunlight reflecting off the embankments of snow piled high on the side of the road. Eventually the road led us back into the dense forest, then to a mountain road  where we followed a panoramic view of Volos below.  Our son, lucky again for us, slept most of the way.
On the way to Makrinitsa we caught many glimpses of Volos in the valley below.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Pelion (Part II: Scorpions & Psychadelic Bars)

It turned out to be a really long day when the storm blew in. Rain and more rain brought everyone that was staying at Iris Apartments into the reception area. Those that had children, including us, let them loose. What else could a parent do? After a few hours of this those that didn't have children sought shelter in the rooms. On that day the reception was a virtual playroom for a bunch of children who woke up with a lot of energy. It was nice that other families with children were staying at Iris. I think the last thing a parent wants is to be stuck in one of those hotels that don't take kindly to children's innocent playfulness. All the staff didn't seem to mind one bit and actually seemed to enjoy children running around.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Pelion (Part I: Finding Tsagarada)

We're high up in the densely forested mountains of Pelion. It took a lot of winding mountain roads to get here but we made it. Currently it's 7:00 am and a strange fog is rolling in. Because we've been in Athens for so long without a real chance to escape into the countryside seeing fog is a somewhat strange and mystical sight, especially up here.  For reasons unknown I woke up early and decided now would be a good time to do some Blogging. Besides, it looked like my wife and son wanted to do some sleeping in. OK, to be honest there are other reasons for getting up so early, but Blogging was one of them.

Since a few days have already elapsed I guess I should start at the beginning. I'm guessing this is OK to do when Blogging, as I'm thinking this is something between Twitting and writing a column for a newspaper? Remember I'm the new guy so if I haven't got it right I'm sure someone will let me know eventually. Anyway, after the mad morning rush to get on the road and on our way we finally made it out the door around noon. It was a late start but what else could we do? The baby had to be feed, which is something like preforming a surgery, and we had to fill up the car with gas. Filling up wouldn't have been so bad if gas wasn't 1,91 a liter! You heard me correctly my American friends, 1.91 Euros a liter. So it was that finally when baby and car were full we were off.

With the baby sleeping and the roads being open we were quite lucky on this part of the journey. Looking back, there were only a few intermissions of crying and heavy rain, something that turned a four and a half hour trip into nearly six hours. I think one of the biggest delays we ran into was asking a guy on a motorcycle in Volos how to get to Tsagarada (our final destination). While giving us directions I think the guy could see we were having a hard time taking them all in so he told us we could follow him on his bike and he would get us in the right direction. Once he got us going in what he said was the "right direction" I asked him how far Tsagarada was before we parted. His response was, "20 minutes." We gave him so much praise till we found out there was a much shorter way. The way the motorcycle guy told us to go was the one hour way, where as there is a coastal road that's about half that time, so we were told. Regardless, I believe his way was the most scenic which led us to snowy mountain peaks littered with emptied ski resorts (Chania) and down into dense jungle-like forest.
Through Chania

Through Chania

Down the mountain from Chania

Down the mountain from Chania

Down the mountain from Chania

One of the many waterfalls/rivers you'll see on the way to Tsagarada if you take the motorcycle guys route

Friday, 13 April 2012

To Blogg or not to Blogg

Well, here we are. This is what happens when everyone tells you Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Trip Advisor, Flickr, Tumbler, Stumble Upon (I'm sure I left some out) aren't good enough to stay "connected". This has always fascinated me as I'm usually doing something on the computer for 8 plus hours a day. My question is, "How much more connected do i need to be?" Personally I'd rather be out there with a group giving a tour and having a few laughs.