|We spent about three days in Athens, Greece. One of the days we spent exploring the Acropolis, the Parthenon and Ancient Agora. Ancient Agora was first developed in the 6th century BC, but then destroyed in 480 BC by the Persians. It was rebuilt almost immediately and in the 5th century was the center of Athenien life for culture, economics and military power. This is also the center where our current democracy was formed with a Senate representing each tribe and a House to represent the people. There is also a location where Socrates used to talk philosophy and ethics with the locals. It was hard to imagine all this when there are just stones left in these locations.
We also got the experience of learning how to get fucked and break the law all on your way to the airport. We dragged about 70 pounds of luggage each from the hotel to the metro station. The signs advised we would take the blue line all the way to the airport. Great, it was only less than a euro one way. So we hopped on and rode it to one stop before the end when they required us to get off and wait for the next train. We did as we were told and when the next train came we got on it. Within moments officers started walking down the train aisles asking for tickets. Assured that we had done everything the correct way and followed the signs, we handed him our ticket confidently. At which time he informed us "we had broken the law" and would be fined immediately. We tried to explain that no where was there a sign informing us we needed to purchase anything other than what we did. He apologized and told us the system is a little flawed, but he is not the system, just the one issuing the citations. At that time I was prepared to rip his face off, but Melissa stopped me. He informed us the fine would be 10 euros each, had we bought the appropriate ticket it would only have been six. Melissa asked him how often this happens and he said he does this about six hours out of his eight hour day. She asked him if he thought that maybe they should be posting something at the metro stations. He advised us if we wanted to complain we could go back to Athens and make a formal complaint. He then wrote me a citation and asked me to sign. I refused (how Mark Wynne of me). He called his partner over for assistance. Melissa was sure I would be handcuffed and halled off to jail. Fortunately his partner just signed that I refused to sign the citation and after paying our fine we were on our merry way.
We made it to the airport where we rented a car. We headed south toward the beautiful coastal city of Nafplio. Along the way we stopped at the ancient citadel of Mycenae which between the years 1600 to 1200 BC was the most powerful kingdom in Greece. We spent three very relaxing days in Nafplio, one of them hiking up to the Palamidi fortress (built by the Venetians between 1711 and 1714 AD.
We then headed north again past Athens and into the mountains to the city of Delphi. In ancient times Delphi was regarded as the centre of the world, for according to mythology Zeus released two eagles at opposite ends of the world and they met here. The site is built on the slopes of Mtn. Parnassos so it makes for a very stunning setting. During this time of year it is very cold and not the tourist season which has been great for us because there is no one around when we visit all these very ancient sites.
We spent our last day in Greece driving for quite some distance to reach Meteora. Meteora is an extraordinary place. Judith again we thought of you. In the 14th century Byzantine power was on the wane and the Turkish incursions into Greece were on the increase. So the monks began to seek peaceful havens away from the bloodshed, building monasteries on top of shear cliffs. The earliest monasteries were reached by climbing removable ladders, later windlasses were used so monks could be hauled up in nets. All of the monasteries were closed except for Moni Varlaam. You are required to be in a long skirt for women, no long pants allowed. So they have them available before you enter. Some of the monasteries are still in use by monks and nuns and the chapels are untouched from their original decorations. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures so we can't show you how beautiful it was inside.
Tonight we are off to South Africa and we're not quite sure how accessible the internet will be. So we both wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!
Take care, Kathy and Melissa