I got to the Samos Island airport at 6:30 a.m for my 7:40 a.m. flight only to find out the flight to Thessaloniki on the mainland had been canceled. So rather than take a 5 hour train ride from Thessaloniki to Athens in the afternoon (which I really wanted to do so I could see the Greek countryside), I found myself on a plane heading to Athens. By 9:00 a.m. I had my baggage and was in a cab headed for my hotel in the historic Plaka neighborhood of Athens.
Now about my cab ride. I am usually pretty good about adapting to folks who do not speak English, but a cab driver who doesn’t speak English, is not sure where my hotel is located and is trying to act as my tour guide all at the same time is a new one for me. I got in the cab at the airport (one of the authorized cabs) and handed the cabbie my hotel confirmation with the address. The cabbie proceeded to look at it, smiled and nodded at me and rattled off some Greek. Uh dude I don’t understand Greek, so I am trusting you to get me to the hotel. As we departed the airport, the cabbie got on his cell phone and proceeded to talk to someone. He then handed me the phone and said to me “English, English”. I looked at him with what I’m sure was a WTF look, but nevertheless took the phone. “Uh… hello”. I then found myself talking to someone who spoke broken English. He wanted to know the name of my hotel. He managed to convey to me that the cabbie couldn’t read the English writing for my hotel name on the reservation I had given him. So I spelled the name and said AVA (apparently in Greek it is pronounced EVA not AVA so my pronunciation confused him). Anyway after the spelling lesson, the fellow on the other end told me to hand the telephone back to my cabbie. More Greek and a nod and and “ah EVA, EVA” so we seemed to be back on track.
As we drove down the freeway, the cabbie insisted on trying to talk to me. He kept rattling off words and pointing. I had no idea what he was saying, but I soon got the drift that this guy was a tour guide wannabe so I indulged him. He would point, I would nod, smile and say “ah beautiful”. Pretty soon he was trying to pull over on the shoulder of the road and point out things and saying “foto” “foto”. I had no idea what I was supposed to be taking pictures of, but figured what the heck. So I was snapping pictures at God knows what figuring I would just delete them later. The cabbie by now was smiling and pointing at just about everything. Then he surprised me and made a sweeping motion to the hillside and said “fire” two years. Aha… I knew what he meant. There had been devastating fires in Athens in 2007 (or 2008 can’t quite remember) and he was pointing out the hillsides that he been on fire. Right on. Now THAT I found interesting.
Then five minutes later he was pointing out the 2004 Olympic stadium (fortunately the word “Olympic” is a universal word). Again another interesting tidbit. The guy was on a roll. He then came to a stop on the shoulder of the road and insisted I take “fotos” of the stadium. OK buddy, one more foto, but I would really like to get to my hotel. (The joint in my index finger was actually mildly sore at this point… not really, but it should have been.)
We finally left the freeway and were heading into Athens proper. Then I saw a landmark I recognized: the Panathenaic Stadium, which I knew from reading was close to Plaka. Excellent. I was at least close to my hotel. Minutes later we were heading down narrow roads through what I believed was the Plaka area. Soon, however, it became clear that this guy had no clue where my hotel was located. (At this point I couldn’t believe I was in a cab with what was probably the only driver in Athens who was a better tour guide than cabbie.) We pulled up in front of one hotel. He pointed and I shook my head. Sorry buddy, but that does not say AVA hotel. So the fellow shrugged his shoulders, backed out of the narrow road, parked the car and got out to ask the cabbie parked across the narrow road for directions. (At this point I was seriously thinking about just grabbing my luggage and running for it since I had no idea if this guy would ever find my hotel.) Nevertheless, I hung in there and five minutes later I was rewarded. The AVA hotel. Thank freakin God! The cabbie helped me out of the cab, smiling and clearly apologizing. Now I actually felt sorry for the guy. He got an “F” on directions, but an “A” for hospitality. I gave him a 5 euro tip… this trip has really made me soft (and those of you who know me in my lawyer role will find that very hard to believe!)
Anyway, I made my way into my hotel and wowza. This place was ranked number 1 on TripAdvisor for Athens, and I understand why. Not only a lovely boutique hotel (12 apartment style hotel rooms), but the service was impeccable. I walked in and was greeted by name “You must be Ms. Crabbe” (how the heck did they know me), was offered a cup of coffee or tea with biscuits and told my room would be ready shortly. (Since it was only 10:30 a.m. this was far more than I expected.) So a half hour later I was ensconced in a beautiful room with a king bed, mini kitchen and gorgeous bathroom replete with a concave ceiling mural ala Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
I then found myself wondering what to do for the rest of the day. I was not expecting to be in Athens so soon on Sunday and already had a walking tour of the historic area planned for Monday so…. why not a visit to the new Acropolis Museum? A quick 5 minute walk from my hotel and there I was in front of the museum and talk about an entrance! (The museum’s not mine.) The museum entrance is built over an excavation site (which I learned was a series of residences for the townspeople near the Acropolis) and glass panels cover the excavation site so you can actually walk over it. Fantastic!
I passed through the security detectors and entered the building (btw NO PHOTOS permitted), which houses approximately 4,000 exhibits over three floors (ground, 1st and 3rd floors) from the Acropolis and area around the Acropolis and paid the 5 euro entry fee. I set off wandering around the ground floor, which featured an exhibit dedicated to the history of Athens, including the early stages of democracy. The most fascinating exhibit I saw on the ground floor was a tablet that was used to select jurors. Each juror was given a token and the token was placed in a slot in the tablet denoted as a white slot or a black slot. The tablet was filled with white and black balls and and when a ball was released from the tablet, the color determined if you were selected as a juror. Ingenious.
I then moved on to the Gallery of the Slopes, which included artifacts that have been recovered from the residences on slopes around the Acropolis including statutes, pottery, needles, wedding tablets, childrens’ toys and cooking utensils. The fascinating (and time consuming part) was reading the legend for each artifact or group of artifacts. In addition to providing information about the artifacts, the legends included historical information relevant to the artifacts’ time period.
My favorite legend was information about a series of statutes of the god Dionysos, who was the god of (get ready for it…) vegetation, wine, inebriation and ecstatic dance! Now THAT is a god I can get on board with (and I know a number of others who have been worshiping at the feet of Dionysos for years… You all shall remain nameless!). Of course, Dionysos was the most popular deity in Greece. (And why wouldn’t it be?!) Now I certainly get the association of wine, inebriation and “ecstatic” dance (voice of experience and no I will not post a picture of my version of an “ecstatic” dance, but think Elaine Benes – full bodied dry heave set to music), but I did not understand where vegetation fit into this god’s resume (unless the thought was grapes are vegetation as is barley for beer…. who knows …). The symbols of Dionysos included branches of ivy leaves, grape vines, theatrical masks and the phallus (must have to do with the inebriation and ecstatic dance). Anyway, the worship of Dionysos actually gave birth to theater. It was fascinating and humorous all at the same time (and certainly had me smirking for quite a bit … yeah I know.. grow up … but come on … this is funny stuff).
I moved on to the first floor and this floor was dedicated (primarily) to mammoth statutes depicting gods, emperors and their wives as well as relics from the early temples that sat on the site of the Acropolis. The area housing the display was enormous (think 1/2 a football field). My absolute hands down favorites of this floor were three huge limestone artifacts of the pediments (the arches) from the Hekatompedon, considered to be the first Parthenon and built in 570 B.C. The first artifact was the center composition depicting lions attacking a bull. The detail and remaining colors on the artifact was remarkable. To the left of center was the composition of Herakles & Triton, which depicts Hearakles battle with Triton and to the right of center was my favorite of the three, the three bodied demons which depicted three heads and partial bodies of bearded men ending in a tail of a snake. The carvings in the curling snake tail and the gray and white colors were still clearly visible, but what I really loved were the three bearded men and the amazing detail in the faces and hair. It was surreal to stare at the artifacts knowing they were over 2500 years old.
By now I had been in the museum over two hours so I took a break in the museum restaurant where I encountered very surely Greek waiters. Nothing and I mean nothing could get these folks to smile or display some level of interest in the guests they were serving. The food was equally unremarkable (I ordered the stuffed tomatoes), which tasted much better once I added a little pepper and olive oil.
I moved on to the 3rd and last level of the museum dedicated to the Parthenon. The display was essentially divided into three sections of artifacts that were originally part of the Parthenon: the pediments (the decorative arches), the friezes (the mural carvings on the inside “cella” of the Parthenon) and the metopes (the mural carvings around the outside of the Parthenon). The display of the artifacts was cleverly laid out with the pediments occupying the east and west sides of the floor as they would have appeared on the Parthenon, the friezes occupying the inside rectangle of the floor as they would have at the Parthenon and the metopes occupying the entire outside upper rectangle of the floor as they would at the Parthenon. (The dimensions of the rectangular layout of the 3rd floor are the same as the Parthenon.)
Unfortunately much of the Parthenon pediments were damaged when the temple was converted to a church, but fortunately a fellow named Jacques Carey made drawings of the pediments (as well as the friezes and metopes) before the damage occurred. As a result, there was a display of what the pediments looked like prior to the destruction.
As I said, the display was laid out according to where the artifacts were located on the Parthenon. The east pediment was dedicated to the birth of Athena (she apparently was born out of Zeus’ head which is why she became the god of wisdom and according to legend was the reason she remained a virgin – ie she not born in the “classical” sense) and there were remnants of Zeus and Athena. The west pediment was dedicated to the Eris (the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the protectorship of Athens) and there were remnants of the battle.
The friezes and metopes were actually in better shape, but these too had been damaged. This damage, however, arose as a result of Lord Elgin’s ransacking of the Acropolis from 1801 – 1804 when he brought back to London one whole caryatid (a large female statute) from the Erechtheion (another temple on the Acropolis site), huge pedimental figures, friezes, metopes and parts of columns from the Parthenon and other pieces representing over half of all the surviving sculptures from the Acropolis. In 1816, Lord Elgin sold the artifacts to the British Government which now displays the works of art in the British Museum. There is a huge ongoing controversy between Britain and Greece about the artifacts. (Greece desperately wants the artifacts returned to the Acropolis Museum and I don’t blame them). In fact, the Acropolis Museum takes every opportunity to skewer Lord Elgin and the British Museum. (I watched a brief video on the Parthenon that was playing on the 3rd floor and the words theft and steal were used in reference to Lord Elgin. In addition, the display of the friezes and metopes leaves huge blanks for the artifacts that are in the hands of he British Museum with reference to the fact that the artifacts are located in the British Museum (with the obvious implication that they should be returned).
Anyway, I really enjoyed the third floor exhibit. As you walk the perimeter of the floor you can visualize what the Parthenon would have looked like in its original condition. The legends tell the story of the Parthenon and the carvings and was probably my favorite floor. Very cool. So having spent the better part of four hours wandering around marble floors I was pretty much done for the day (and it was after 5). I wandered back to my hotel and took a nap.
I got up around eight and went in search of a restaurant recommended to me called Psara’s (in operation since 1898). One of the really cool things that they do in the old quarter of Athens is to light up all of the ancient ruins. So as I wandered the alleys, I was able to look up at the Acropolis and see the Parthenon and other temples awash in light. Spectacular. Anyway, after wandering through the narrow alleys and getting incredibly lost, I finally found a fellow who helped me out in locating Psara’s. (He even admitted that the Greeks lose their way in the mishmash of alleys). I was directed up a series of terraces (on which there were other restaurants), reached the top, walked down another alley and presto – I found myself in the middle of a tree lined courtyard at the top of another series of terraces. Turned out to be a great choice. I had a carafe of wine, bread, salad, the most scrumptious (and sinful) stuffed mushrooms (gorganzola cheese and what appeared to be a dusting of bread crumbs) and the grilled octopus. Along with the food, the atmosphere was perfect (outside under a tree canopy with waiters and others buzzing around everywhere making sure you were taken care of. Most excellent selection for dinner.
Next morning I got up and headed up the street to meet up with a guide at 9:30 for a 3 hour small group walking tour of old Athens through “Athens Walking Tours”. The guide, Vassiliki Aliferi, apparently is very well known in the tourism business in Greece having written a couple of the books used in the guiding schools. “Vassi” was indeed a walking tour book of knowledge. But what really amazed me was what I perceived to be her ability to speak for minutes on end without taking a breath (seriously). Once this woman got on a role she did not stop. Want to talk about the Athens subway systems and the historic artifacts discovered during the dig … she went on for almost 15 minutes. History of Athens … a half hour… and I swear she did not take a breath. She talked so much that the 3 hour tour (no Gilligan’s Island pun intended) ended up lasting 5 hours.
So we started out at the Syntagma Square subway site where Vassi gave us a brief (½ hour) history of Greece and the Athens area. We then had a look at the artifacts that were discovered in the construction and dig for the the subway before we moved above ground to Sytntagma Square and the Greece Parliament Buildings, which is the former palace of the King of Greece. The palace is guarded by Evzones, presidential guards who wear a uniform of short kilts and pom pom shoes (the ceremonial costume is the traditional costume worn by the rebels of the Greek War of Independence.) They stand at attention without moving for a half hour before they put on this brief marching show around the front of the palace and in particular the Tomb of he Unknown Soldier. The guard changes at the top of every hour.
It was blazing hot as we walked and very humid making it rather uncomfortable. Fortunately, we moved on for a walk through the beautiful and very shady National Gardens (a large park area adjacent to the palace) and on to a quick peak at the Panathenaic Stadium, which was the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. The ancient stadium was rebuilt in 1898 and still has the magnificent Olympic rings. No admission permitted though.
From there we walked back to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The temple was apparently started but not completed until the Emperor Hadrian came along in 131 BC and finished the temple. So they say the temple took 700 years to build. Originally, the temple had 104 marble columns, but only 12 remain. In addition, the temple had a solid gold and ivory statute of Zeus and Hadrian.
Across from the Temple of Olympian Zeus we walked to Hadrian’s Arch, which was built to honor the Emperor Hadrian, who lavished money and monuments on the city during his reign as emperor of the Roman empire. On one side of the arch the inscription reads “This is the city of Hadrian” and on the other side (which points towards the historical district of Athens) the inscription reads “This is the city of Theseus”. As a result, the Arch was considered a dividing line between old Athens on one side (including the Acropolis) and the new “Roman” Athens that was built up during the occupation of the Romans. (I got the distinct impression that the Greeks still don’t like the fact that the Romans has such a significant impact on their country, which may be a better explanation for the words on the Arch – kinda of like at dig at the Romans.. hey you folks have no claim to the creation of anything across THIS line….)
We then walked through the ancient promenade and on up to the Acropolis. Obviously the Parthenon is the star attraction of the Acropolis, but surrounding the base of the Acropolis are two magnificent theaters. The first we encountered near the base of the Acropolis was the Theatre of Dionysos (that fabulous god of vegetation, wine, inebriation and ecstatic dance), originally built in 500 BC and then reconstructed of stone and marble in around 350 BC. Originally, the stadium had 64 tiers of seating for almost 17,000 people. Today, there are only about 20 tiers of seating remaining.
The second theater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, was built in AD 161. The theater has three tiers in a semi-circle and was restored in 1955. Today, it is used for theater and musical performances. (There was actually a performance at the Odeon while I was in Athens, but I was unable to attend because I was at Cape Sounion).
As we walked up the hill to the Acropolis, Vassi would periodically stop and point out interesting ruins around the Aecropolis. The most fascinating was ruins for me were the ruins that were at one time used as a clinic for the sick. Vassi regaled us with the story about the history of medicine in Greece and how many of our principles in medicine today have foundations in Greek medicine. (As she was saying this, I kept thinking about the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where Gus Portakales (the father) would always find a way to twist virtually everything back to Greek origins.) Anyway, what I found particularly interesting was that when someone was sick they were first put on a very strict fruit and vegetable diet. They were required to exercise and in the evening attend comedy performances at the theater (on the theory that laughter was better than being depressed … because after all… laughter is the best medicine). The sick were also given medicinal herbs boiled in water, were required to be washed daily and the first night of the sickness they would sleep on animal skins. Fascinating stuff! (OK, maybe I find it fascinating since I have spent so much time in hospitals.)
We finally reached the top of the Acropolis, which is really a heck of hike up the hillside in the hot weather. Fortunately, by the time we got to the top it had clouded over and the wind had picked up a bit … it actually took so long to get to the top with Vassi’s running commentary and periodic stops that we actually may have changed seasons so that might have accounted for the cooler weather.
Anyway, as we learned from Vassi, the Acropolis is actually a series of temples built high atop a hill overlooking ancient Athens and includes the most famous temple, the Parthenon. We entered the Acropolis through the Beule Gate and under the Propylaia, which was the monumental entrance to the Acropolis built around 432 BC. For centuries, the Acropolis not only served as a fortress against invaders, but also was also a place of worship to the pagan gods and goddesses, and in particular, the goddess Athena. It was Perikles who actually transformed the Acropolis into a fortress of temples with his crowing achievement, the Parthenon (which means Virgin’s House) completed in 438 BC.
As we walked towards the Parthenon (which was to the right of the entrance) it was stunning how mammoth this temple is. (I look like a little dot in my pictures in comparison to the temple.) The temple originally had 8 columns at either end and 17 on either side. The amazing thing about the Parthenon is that the columns were all curved inwards (like the pyramids) to give the appearance of a perfect form. In addition, the end columns are slightly larger than those columns between the ends.
I had also wondered how the columns were built (there is no way the columns were constructed from single pieces of marble). Vassi said that the column stones were joined together with iron rods that were sealed with lead to join the stones together to form the columns. (I found this an interesting contrast to the way the Incas designed their structures using male and female stones (ie stone with hole and stone with protrusion) to construct columns.)
As I learned from the visit to the Acropolis Museum, the temple had metopes depicting battle scenes and the cella (or inside room) had friezes depicting a procession to honor the Goddess Athena. At one point, the cella contained the gold and ivory statute of Athena. The statute no longer exists.
Vassi finally left us, and I wandered around the site staring at the Parthenon from every side and angle. I also walked over to the Erchtheion, which had six huge column maidens called Caryatids. The statutes located on the temple are now just plaster casts with the 4 of originals (and pieces of a 5th) in the Acropolis Museum. The 6th was taken by that rat bastard Lord Elgin and remains housed in the British Museum.
After 5 hours of trekking around in the heat and humidity I was done in. I decided to wander through the Agora (the former ancient market place) and call it a day. As I was walking out of the Acropolis exit, the Sunshine Express was pulling up (a small motor driven tourist train that drives around the sites of old Athens. I was so damned tired I forked over the 5 euro and hopped on board. Talk about feeling like you are in a parade. The old part of Athens is filled with tavernas and shops and this little train takes you through the narrow streets to the sites past the tavernas and shops. As the train moved past, people would stop and stare. I debated about either making faces at the people staring or just adopting the Queen’s wave (I opted for the later). Most of the people just looked at me, but I got a few waves back… tough crowd.
Anyway, after we passed through the Plaka area (the old hotel, taverna and shop area) we wove through the narrow streets to the former site of Hadrian’s library near the Monastiraki area, which is a shopping and restaurant area I wanted to check out. (I had already found a Christmas ornament on Samos – a little blue top with the typical white Greek house with holly, but was hoping to find another one.) So as tired as I was, I hopped out and wandered around the narrow alleys until I actually found myself back close to my hotel. (I did find an ornament of glass – olives and olives leaves.) I stopped for a very late lunch (it was already 4:30), had some traditional Greek fare and called it a day.
Next morning I did not have much planned during the day, but was scheduled to drive to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon and the famous sunset over Cape Sounion. I decided to pay a visit to the Central Market to check out the locals (if you have been reading my blogs you know I absolutely love to hang around the markets) so I figured out how I could get there by subway, bought a pass and 20 minutes later I jumped off at Omonia Station and headed for the market. The biggest section of the market was the meat section (much more hygenic by the way than the market in Cusco), but there was also a huge selection of nuts and lentils as well as rack after rack of olives (seriously – you name an olive it was here).
After the market, I wandered through the alleys and by accident came upon a highly recommended spa. Looking at my poor beaten up feet after going on 6 weeks of non stop walking, I figured it was time to give them a break. So minutes later I found myself on this glorious heated chase lounge with a waterfall and Yanni music for relaxation. (OK maybe it wasn’t Yanni, but you know the kind of music I am referring to.) About a half hour later someone came and woke me up, asked me if I was OK, (I don’t know why they were surprised I fell asleep… who wouldn’t under those conditions) and escorted me to a lovely room for a pedicure. Forty minutes later, I was back on the street and headed towards Omonia Square and the subway.
As I approached the square I heard music. Sweet! A concert! Never one to pass up a show, I wandered towards the music and saw an enormous crowd. But… this was weird. Many of the people were holding large Greek flags… and uh why I am the only woman here. Suddenly the music stopped and …. a voice over a loudspeaker started yelling about something I didn’t understand (it was all Greek to me… come on you know I had to get that line in here somewhere) and then the crowd chanted back in unison. OK. Not a concert. I appeared to have stumbled onto one of the Greek protest marches against the government cutbacks. (Greece is in the middle of a severe economic crisis and the state subsidies and public sector are taking big hits.) Anyway, I figured as long as there was no violence I would hang around a bit and see what happens.
Twenty minutes later the crowd continued to grow and the chants were getting louder (I guessed that they were saying “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore”). The music continued only to be interrupted by chanting. I soon found out that these folks were public sector truck drivers who were on strike because of government cutbacks. I watched a bunch of guys climb onto the top of some building roofs and then saw the cops arriving.. Uh… time to go. I crossed the street, ran down the subway stairs and jumped on the train back to Plaka. (Turns out there was a bit of trouble later on. These folks marched to the Parliament and as a result there were cops everywhere in the Plaka that night ensuring there was no trouble. – The Parliament/Syntagma Square is close to Plaka. I actually did hear a couple of loud bangs like fireworks late in the night, but have no idea what was happening up the street.)
As I rode, I decided to take a detour to check out the port of Pierus I was curious what it looked like and had some time to kill so road the subway down to the waterfront. Huge container ships, ferries and cruise ships. Impressive area. I got back on the subway and decided to get out at Monastiraki and stop for lunch at one of the famous Souvlaki restaurants. I stopped at what I had been told was the most famous (and the best restaurant) Thannis, placed my order and waited. I was brought out the Thannis souvlaki which was a spicy sausage on pita covered in grilled tomatoes and raw onions. (I can’t stand onions so quickly removed those.) The food was basic and delicious and add in the cold tap beer and I was good to go.
I got back to the hotel. Rested for a couple hours and then my driver George arrived to take me to Cape Sounion, about 70 km from Athens. We stopped and picked up his wife Frances, who I had corresponded with, and off we set. It turned out that Frances was originally from Winnipeg. Manitoba Canada so she and I hit it off instantly. Absolutely gem of a couple.
George and Frances were terrific pointing out the sites to me as we drove through the suburbs of Athens. As we left the city center, the buildings went from high rise to low rise and the surroundings became greener. The road George took hugged the waterfront so I was provided a spectacular view as we drove. We ended up stopping in a very luxurious suburb of Athens called Vouliagmeni for some pictures out over the Aegean. It was beautiful.
We jumped back in the car and made a quick stop about a mile down the road at Vouliagmeni Lake, a gorgeous lake abutting a rocky hillside. The lake is apparently fed by both mineral springs and the salt water Aegean and swimming in the water is considered very therapeutic.
The remainder of the drive was through small villages and beach communities on a winding road that continued to hug the coast. About a half hour later the Temple of Poseidon came into view perched on the cliff overlooking Cape Sounion. The first glimpse was amazing. Beautiful white against a deep blue sky. George and Frances told me that the Cape was the southern most point of Attica (the province of Greece in which Athens is located).
The first Temple of Poseidon was built in 700 BC as a place of worship to the god of the sea. In 440 BC, Perikles built the existing Temple of Poseidon that sits atop the cliff. The original temple had 42 marble columns, but only 18 remain standing. In addition, the temple housed a statue of Poseidon. Gorgeous does not begin to describe it.
George and Frances stayed at the restaurant while I hiked up the hill to the temple. It was absolutely magnificent. The sun was just beginning to set and it cast a gold glow on the columns. I walked around the entire temple and took a myriad of pictures from various angles. Now while the Parthenon is truly impressive, this temple was spectacular not just for its design, but for its stunning, stunning location. I could have sat there for hours staring at it.
The other part that made it really special was that there were maybe 10 of us there to watch the sun set in front of the temple. And even better, there was just a tiny bit of cloud on the horizon, which made for absolutely spectacular color in the sky. The sun became this bright red ball in the sky and it seemed to almost drop behind the clouds right into the ocean as it set. I am quite sure I ran out of adjectives watching the sun set against the backdrop of the monument. The pictures I took are simply gorgeous (not because I took them, but because the subject was so beautiful).
I joined Frances and George for drinks on the terrace with another couple from Philadelphia and their driver. It was a very, very memorable way to end my stay in Greece.