Sunday, May 13, 2012

Calendar: May

It was never high on my list of Places To Go, but last summer I wound up going to Greece - hey, if your older brother is invited to be in the International Special Olympics, you GO. So I got to spend a couple of weeks traveling with my parents and two other siblings in Greece.

We started in Athens (and just barely missed some of the riots they were having to protest some of the austerity measures their government was implementing), in a hotel with a rooftop bar with a view of the buildings on the Acropolis. Then we rented a car and drove to Nafplio, where I'd found us an apartment. From there we did day trips and an overnighter.

One of our day trips was to Mycenae, which was the home of an ancient civilization from more than 3500 years ago. Not much is known about the civilization, which collapsed in 1200 BC. (!!!).

We also went to Epidavros, home to an ancient healing site, and a 15,000-seat theater, built in the 4th century BC, still famed for its amazing acoustics.

No Greek trip is complete without an island visit (we decided) so we did an overnight on Hydra. It was fortunate we chose an island so close to the mainland, as there was a strike and the ferry was cancelled. Fortunately we were able to drive to a tiny outpost that ran water taxis to the island, and we still got our adventure.

After our explorations in and around Nafplio, we drove on to Delphi. By showing up at the ruins around 5pm, we were able to explore them with very little company.

Finally we returned to Athens and got rid of our car. We had an epic subway/walk/bus/walk/cab/walk adventure in order to get to see my brother sail near Marathon, and returned to Athens for a few more days of exploring.

Lessons learned: Greece is full of friendly people ready to help you out if you pull out a map and look lost. Driving isn't nearly as bad as I feared (though we avoided city driving), once you understand that what looks like a one-lane-each-direction highway actually has TWO lanes each direction: everyone drives on the shoulder, so others can pass at their leisure.
Greek food is pretty much the same from restaurant to restaurant, and after a solid-plus week of it, it was a joy to find Asian and Indian restaurants in Athens.
You should not wander into a rug store unless you are prepared to purchase a rather expensive (but lovely) souvenir.
The traditional coffee is really strong but really delicious. You do NOT get to ask to have it with milk, but if you do, they'll teasingly oblige.
Street food gyros are really really delicious.

It's a bit odd to recap my GREEK trip from a year ago when I'm freshly back from another, but such is the magic of the calendar photo post - it gives me a reason to revisit my copious pictures from the past year!

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