Maddie & Dad

Trip to Greece

May 22 - June 4

Monday May 23rd to Thursday May 26th

Athens

To the left is a section of the Acropolis. It was fascinating to us how it’s been standing for 24 centuries and yet, much of it looked ready to topple over. Above, Maddie and I having dinner at St. George Hotel’s rooftop lounge the night before, with the Acropolis before us in the background.

The world’s first theatre and first actor, Thespis, the Theatre of Dyonisis is located on the south slope of the Acropolis. Built around the 6th Century BC, it was the stage for plays by Sophocles, Aristophanes and Euripides.

A handle made out of hands for carrying a pot from 520 BC.  No one can say the Ancient Greeks didn’t have a sense of humor.

Daughter of Zeus, Athena Promachos statue, around 500 BC.

Above is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a stone Roman theatre, also located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis. Completed in 161 AD, it’s still active today with live musical and dance performances. Below it is sunset in Athens from Lycabettus Hill.

Maddie’s cat Zeus getting ready for our trip and below his namesake ‘Temple of Zeus’ in Athens. Something about that look says it all.

Happy to have finally made the 500 foot hike to the top of the Acropolis.

Thursday May 26th to  Monday May 30th

Santorini

Sunset from the Capital Town of Thira, where we are staying. Dinner our first night at Niki Restaurant, also from where the sunset photo was taken.

GPS: 36.418900, 25.430904

The Town of Oia

Oia (pronounced ee yah) is located on the northern point of Santorini where the famous blue domed churches overlook the Agean Sea. 

GPS: 36.461626111772496, 25.375935407081172

Blue domed church looking south down the coastline and the Capital town of Thira in the far distance.

Santorini Beer Company has tastings along the store fronts of Thira and Oia. Crazy Donkey is Greece’s first IPA (India Pale Ale) and is produced with five kinds of hops, including Motueka from New Zealand and Carcade from Oregon.

Maddie found another ‘gem’ that serves vegan food. She had avocado toast with egg whites. I had the bar-b-q chicken with a Crazy Donkey beer.

Windmill on the farthest point of Oia, built during the 17th Century.

Pink church down one of the endless number of alleys in Oia.

Town of Oia seen from the sea. You can barely make out the blue domed churches from here, but you do get a sense of the devastation left by the 197 BC volcanic eruption. The homes along the coast all appear to be clinging to the island.

A small chapel in a cave below the town of Oia.

According to legend, the Roman emperor Decius Trajan, (around 250 CE), ordered the inhabitants to abandon Christianity and begin to worship Roman gods. Seven young men opposed this and fled to a nearby cave. The emperor walled them up to starve, but they fell asleep for 200 years until Christianity again became the dominant religion.

Volcanic Island of Palaia Kammeni

Our 3 hour tour boat ride to Santorini’s island volcano, Palaia Kammeni, can be seen just beyond the cruise ship and is still active under water. 

The Karavolades Stairs that lead down from the town of Thira to the port where our tour boat awaits. You can barley make out the cable cars along the hillside.

Maddie and I taking on the 588 steps (but who’s counting?) and 600 foot elevation. Instead of the donkey ride (my first choice) or cable cars (my second choice), Maddie decided to put me to shame with her Olympian walking prowess. (This was not the first time she turned to check on me)

I feared this donkey, much like myself, was contemplating a quicker way down the hill.

Our intrepid 3 hour tour boat, the Alkyon. I kept referring to it as the S.S. Minno. Maddie was not amused.

After a 20 minute boat ride, more hiking.

The mouth of one of the eruptions that occurred on the island. The first eruption of this volcano was in 197 BC, devastating Santorini and forever changing its coastline. It’s last eruption was in 1950.

One of the hot springs along the coast of the volcano where I went swimming. The green color (it’s actually this green) is from the volcanic sulfur. The closer you swam to the rocks, the warmer and more yellow the water appeared.

At last, some level ground and refreshments at Port Thirassia on the adjacent island.

A fun, but long, hot day of hiking and adventure. We both headed straight for the cable cars with just a glance and a nod.

Akrotiri Lighthouse

Akrotiri (meaning cape) is Santorini’s Pompee. The 3,600-year-old city was buried by ash from a gigantic volcanic eruption in 1650 BC. It was one of the largest volcanic events ever recorded on Earth. Santorini overall has had 211 well-dated eruptions over the past 300,000 years. The lighthouse was happily built in 1892.

Looking north back up the coast, you can see the volcanic island of Palaia Kammeniwe we visited on Saturday.

View looking northwest from Akrotiri. To the left, in the far distance you can barely see the island of Milos, our next destination.

There’s a small bar cafe, the Charoula Canteen, below the lighthouse, and if you like, you can sit in these chairs and enjoy your beverage. However, if you care to lean over and look down, the image you’ll see is the one here to the left, some 460 feet from the ocean.

Perissa Black Sand Beach

The same volcanic event in 1650 BC also covered the other side of the island in pumice, volcanic ash, and lava. These ingredients are what give the black sand beaches their onyx color. There are approximately 20 black sand beaches in the world today.

All along the beach of Perissa there are resort style cabanas with swimming pools and bars open to the public. The name of this one caught our attention.

Naturally, for Maddie’s cousin Jordans’ sake, we had to look deeper into this one to see if it lived up to it’s name.

The lounge chairs, smoothies and macramé umbrellas were wonderful, however we stayed in the ‘free’ section. The same lounges at the water’s edge will cost you 100 Euros!

Venetsanos Winery

Maddie had a wonderful knack for choosing our next memorable stop on the trip. The Venetsanos Winery was among her many great instincts.

The “backyard” for the vineyard.

Santorini is know for it’s white wine from a grape grown in the arid volcanic-ash-rich soil called Assyrtiko. Both the bottles here use the Assyrtiko grape, although the Anagallis Rose is their most popular wine and it’s sold in the States.

Maddie and I immersing ourselves in the Greek culture. Of Santorini’s 37 square miles, there are over 20 wineries.

Monday, May 30th to  Friday, June, 3rd

Milos

It was just after sunset when we arrived at our Cycladic, “sugar-cube” house in the town of Tripiti on the island of Milos. The next morning, someone was waiting outside the door to greet Maddie. Just the tip of the iceberg, we would soon find out.

Below, the rest of the iceberg and a panoramic view from our rooftop.

Klima: Old Fishing Village

These multi-colored fishermen houses are known as “syrmatas” and the area dates back to 1100 BC. The bottom served as the boat garage and kitchen, while the second floor was the living space. Today you can find them for rent on booking.com. Beautiful spot, if you don’t mind getting your picture taken every so hour.

All over the Greek islands you will find small white churches. This one is called Agios Dimitrios. Above it, on the side of the mountain is an ancient Roman theatre.

The inside of the church is even more striking than the exterior. Facing the alter and a place to light a candle, which we did.

Below is a panoramic view of Klima.

Sarakaniko Beach

This beach is unique for its greyish-white volcanic rock that’s been carved into smooth shapes by the wind and the waves. It all seemed like a natural, yet potentially dangerous sand castle to us.

The original man-cave to the left. Maddie and I enjoying the “beach.”

Town of Plaka

This view is from the very top of the town where a Greek orthodox church is located.

The town of Plaka was within walking distance of our house and its maze of narrow alleyways was built to fend off pirates. Plaka, along with the rest of Milos, took part in the Persian Wars and was later part of the Athenian Empire. It was destroyed by the Athenians when Milos chose to ally with the Spartans.

On the deck of the Utopia Cafe for our last night in Milos. The cafe’s name was inspired by Plato’s “Republic” the first utopian novel, and a 1615 quote from Thomas More referring to Utopia, “The good place they should call me, with good cause.”

The word for cheers in Greek is, “Yamas!” 

Below an amazing sunset from Utopia’s deck, wrapping up our last night in Milos.