Delphi: Day 10
Our group had to wake up early in the morning for bus ride to Delphi. On the way there our tour guide told us of the traditions Greek Orthodox people do for weddings and when a child is born. One thing that was interesting to me was that they do not name their child until it is a year old, when it is baptized. She explained the culture and traditions the people use in their daily lives. Once we arrived we got off the bus and went to the museum of Delphi that had artifacts, some more preserved then others. In the museum we were told to look for interesting items that were found at the archeological site. One was two twin brother statues, a baby angel, the sphinx, dancing ladies, and the most famous copper charioteer. When we were done with the museum we could walk to the Delphi fountain where people who went to visit the oracle would bathe. After a short time we headed to our lunch spot. We had lunch as a group but separate checks. The food had to have been one of the best meals we had on the whole trip. After lunch we headed back to Delphi to tour the ruins. Our tour guild took us around the sight and explained the history of Delphi. She also explained the culture and many important things that have happened in Delphi. After our tour we were free to walk up the path to the top where there was a stadium where they use to play their games. The walk up the top was steep and rocky with lot of turns. On the way up there was a rope to help with the steepest part of the climb. It was worth it to go up to the top to see what it once looked like. It was short in height but long in length. We had 30 minutes to have free time to explore more of Delphi and if you were quick you could make it down to the other temples by the fountain for bathing. On the car ride back to the hotel in Athens, Maria talked to us about funerals and the traditions. One thing that shocked everyone is that once you die, if you lived in the city, you rent out the burial site for a total of three years then your body gets pulled up and the bones go back to the family. If you did not decompose all the way you were put in a smaller grave until you were finished decomposing. If you lived in a rural village you got to stay in the grave. Back in Athens we had free time to do as we liked. Some went to the museums, others shopping, and some went out to tour the city. It was our last night.
Crete & Santorini: Day 8
Most of the group woke up at 6:30 to go to Knossos on the island of Crete. Crete is the biggest Greek island. Knossos is the excursion that ship offered, not EF Tours. If we wanted to take a tour, we had to pay for the trip which was roughly $53 per trip. Before I went on the trip I was not quite sure what Knossos was until my group told me. Our boat docked in the morning at the Heraklion port. At 7:30 in the morning we had to get on the bus to go to Knossos. Our tour guide took us an hour around the ruins. Some of the buildings were reconstructed. The people who lived in Knossos were wiped out by a tsunami resulting from a volcanic eruption on Santorini and earthquakes. The only way archeologists knew that the people have their own language was because they wrote on clay tablets that burned when the lanterns fell over and lit the tables on fire. After the tour we headed back to the bus where our tour guide told the bus about the mythologies of Knossos, such as how it got its name. When we arrived back to the port we headed to the theater to discuss our plan for the rest of the day. Our group had lunch after the meeting and went off around the boat to do activities or nap. From the top deck you could see Santorini and we were scheduled to arrive at 4:30 to take tender boats to shore. The group doing the volcano tour went first, then the people going to Oia (ee-ah), with its post-card-picture views of the blue roofs and white homes. Most of the group took donkeys up the hill to the city of Fira. On the way up the group decided to name their donkeys. Some of the names I heard were; Donkey, Flagler, Julio, Falcone, and one named after one of the Three Musketeers. Once on top of the hill there were restaurants and shops. At the end of shopping we were to meet on the ship before 8:30. Once on the ship we had to pick up our passports and then had free time to have dinner or enjoy activities on the ship. Everyone went to bed early because of the early morning and the late night. Everyone is safe and well-fed.
Patmos: Day 7
Today we woke up early to have breakfast and head to the cruise liner. Our bus took us around the marina, where we had to get off the bus, walk through the market and meet our bus on the other side of the road. We also had to wait in line for a few hours while security checked people in. We got to meet our new tour guide, Maria. She’s in her early 40s, with spiky hair and a bubbly personality. We were to meet up with her later. Once past security we headed to the ship, where we gave the baggage handlers our suitcases. We had our passports taken (they will be returned after Santorini, I hope) and we were give ship cards which would be our passport, our room key and the only way to get on and off the boat. When we were on the ship a maid took us to our room where we met up with our luggage. The room had a desk, a TV with a table, two lower bunks, and two dressers. There was also pull down bunk beds. After arriving in the room we had to make our way to the ‘Fireworks Lounge’ for a briefing of our tour. The talk lasted half an hour and then we were free to do as we pleased on the ship. Most of the group went to lunch at one the many buffets and restaurants. After consuming tons of food the food coma set in and it was time for a nap. We had an hour before we reached the shore of Patmos. Some of the group went to St. John’s Monastery and the Grotto of the Apocalypse with the excursion the boat was offering and some took it upon themselves to do a self-guided tour and others toured the city. We were to arrive back on the ship by eight, or risk being left behind. Good news is that everyone made it on board. On the ship everyone was free to do as they pleased. Most of the group are doing the night activities that the cruise line offers and some are going to bed for an early wake up call for tomorrow. Everyone is well and we are enjoying the trip.
Athens: Day 9
We had an early morning wakeup call at 6:30 and we had to be out of our rooms at 7:00. Our group had to meet in the theater to hear disembarking instructions and then we could eat a quick breakfast. As we made our way to baggage we had to look for our color tags we had put on our luggage the night before and head outside to get onto our purple bus. Our tour guide, Maria, took us to pick up our other tour guide who explained the monuments around the city and the history. We then got off the bus for a tour of the Acropolis. We used Whispers, which are headset devices that are almost the same thing as walkie-talkies but only one way. On the way up she was still talking loudly and most of the group listened to her without the headset. The Acropolis was filled with people from all over the world. The place was packed. The Parthenon was being reconstructed; they were cleaning the pollution from the old marble and adding marble from the same mountain the original marble came from to the old foundation. When looking down the right side of the Parthenon you could see Dieaniseas. We left the Acropolis and headed to Plaka for lunch. After a brief lunch we went on a walking tour around the sights we had seen on the bus tour. We stopped at the Parliament House where we took pictures with the guards and watched the changing of the guard. The march was quite interesting and very different than anything I have ever seen. We then headed down the street to a Christian church, which was also being renovated. Our group slit up at this point and we could go shopping in Plaka or go tour the town. At 6:30 we were to meet at the stop where we left for lunch to go to dinner. Dinner was at a little restaurant outside on a street in Plaka. We had Greek salad, eggplant lasagna (called moussaka), and ice cream for dessert. After dinner we had free time to stay out in town, go back to the hotel, or head to the church on the top of a hill, which is the highest point in Athens. I choose the church. We got there at 9:10 after 4 metro stops that we had to change 2 platforms, ask directions 5 times, climb 1000 stairs, and wait in line for a cable car ticket. In the end it was well worth the look on top of the whole city. Once on top my battery died and I did not bring my spare. I did not get any pictures but I have a mental image. We then traveled back to the hotel, now experts of the metro and the little town we traveled through. We arrived late and everyone was in bed sound asleep. Tomorrow we wake up early for Delphi.