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Old 07-07-2013, 12:32 AM   #1
sayhello
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Trip Report! Greek Odyssey, Part 1 - IMAGE INTENSIVE!

So here we go! Here's my Trip Report for my Adults Only Greek Odyssey ABD! I'd been eyeing this itinerary since it came out. When other plans fell through, with a little encouragement from friends here on the DISBoards (OK, they didn't have to work too hard! ) I signed up for a trip to Greece! I signed up for the May 24, 2013 Adults Only trip.

Pre-Days in Athens

Another DISer (NoraG) and her Mom were on the same trip (and on the same flight from Philly!) It turned out we were all spending 2 pre-nights in Athens at the ABD hotel. Nora invited me to join her and her mother on a private tour she'd arranged to see an area called Cape Sounion for Sunset. I had several things on my list for the rest of my pre-time, but nothing that needed advanced arrangements. I was also staying one post-night in Athens, also. The ABD ends on Crete, and the only way I could get from Crete to Athens in time to catch the only decent flight back home would be to catch a flight from Crete at around 6am in the morning, arriving back in Ohio *late* at night. It just sounded like a really awful, long travel day. So I arranged the post-night so that I could catch anything I'd missed in Athens on my pre-days, sleep in the next morning, and have a leisurely morning before heading to the airport.

So everything was looking good until about a week before I was to leave. Monday the 13th, I woke up with a mild eye infection. Yuck, but I ran to the eye doctor, got antibiotic eye drops, and was good to go. But then, in the wee hours of Tuesday the 14th, I woke up with a scratchy sore throat! I thought it was a bad cold, but by Thursday, I was hacking up a lung. I went to the doctor on Friday, and it turned out I had bronchitis! I wailed "I'm leaving for Greece in 4 days!!!!!" So my doctor gave me antibiotics and a prescription cough medicine, and told me I'd be fine by the time I needed to fly to Greece. Thank goodness I had a ride to the airport, because I felt kind of lousy after a short night (last minute packing!) but I felt much better by the time I hit Philly and got some lunch. I met Nora and her Mom waiting at the Gate for our flight. Very sweet people.

The flight to Athens was pretty uneventful. LONG, but not bad. The guy next to me in the center seat was a very sweet guy from one of the armed services; I can't remember exactly which. But I had some very nice conversation with him. I never sleep on planes, although I did manage a quick doze towards the end of the flight. I'm not sure how helpful that was!

We arrived in Athens, and were met by the ABD representative who helped us get our luggage, and got us to our driver who was taking us to the hotel. I made it a point right away to ask the representative how you say "Thank You" in Greek. (It's efharisto. That, and parakalo - you're welcome - was pretty much the only Greek I learned! Well, that and Kalimera and Kalispera - Good Morning and Good Evening, because Landon & Elena greeted us with those every day!) Anyways, it was a bit stuffy in the van, but it was an OK drive to the hotel. I was surprised to see a brown haze over the city as we got into town; I'd never read that Athens had a smog problem!

We arrived at our lovely hotel, the Hotel Anthenaeum Intercontinental Athens. It was a very pretty, very modern hotel in what seemed like an odd location for such a nice hotel. All the buildings around it had very heavy graffiti all over the ground level. I associate graffiti with bad neighborhoods. Apparently, that wasn't the case. We were told that it was not gang graffiti, but was, instead, Hooligan (soccer fan) graffiti. It was a shame, because it really gave the business district we were in a very run-down appearance.

But, as I said, the hotel itself was lovely! Lots of marble, large, open spaces, and the rooms were large, too.









Once I was all checked in (probably around 11am) and my luggage was brought up, I decided to spend some time unpacking. After about half an hour, I realized I was totally exhausted, and had to lay down for a bit. By the time I really woke up, it was 6pm, and I realized I really needed to get some food. The concierge recommended a nice little Italian restaurant an easy walk down the road. I had a yummy white pizza, then headed back to the hotel. And pretty much slept on and off all night, and most of the next day! I was totally exhausted. Fortunately, I knew I had the trip to Cape Sounion with Nora and her Mom at 6pm, so I managed to wake myself up, and make myself presentable in time to meet up with them. And I am *SO* glad I did!

We were picked up by a very personable driver who started driving down the coast to the southern part of Athens, giving us a running commentary as we went. I found out from him that it was not smog I'd seen in Athens that first day, but *sand*! They have windstorms blowing up from *Africa*, and it brings tons of dust & sand with it. They'd had a little rain, and you could see it caked on the cars around us! Who knew?



There is a *lot* of very beautiful coastline in Athens! We took a brief stop at an area where there is a small lake in a crater. There's a swimming club right there. According to our driver, Jacques Cousteau could not figure out how deep this lake was, it was *that* deep!



We made a quick stop for gelato along the way. (Oh! That's another Greek word I learned! Nero - water. The gal at the gelato store spoke very little English, and had NO idea what "water" was when I asked for it. Finally, she pulled out a menu with pictures on it, and I was able to point out "Bottled Water". Nero! A good thing to know!



Cape Sounion is a promontory at the very southern-most part of the Athens area. On top of the Cape is the Temple of Poseidon. This was the view (very zoomed!) as we approached the area!



As we were getting closer to the Temple, it became obvious the sun was heading towards the horizon, and if we wanted to catch the sunset, we were going to have to book it. Apparently the guide does not usually do this trip as a Sunset trip, but agreed to for Nora. But he mis-calculated the time. As we neared the gate to the area where the ruins of the Temple were, a woman began to close the gate! (The area closes at Sunset). With some begging and pleading, she let the 3 of us in long enough to watch the sunset and take a few photos. I'm *SO* glad she did!









Once we watched the sun disappear, and took a bunch of photos, we headed back down to the car, and back towards Athens. What a wonderful excursion, and I was *SO* glad I'd woken up for it! After we were dropped at the hotel, we walked to a nearby Taverna to have some late dinner. The food was very yummy, and the weather lovely.




At some point that day, realizing how awful I'd felt (with some vertigo as well as the crushing exhaustion) I decided to look the prescription cough medicine up on the Internet to see if maybe those were side effects of the stuff. And there, in large letters, it said "Opiate". DUH!!! No wonder I was so out of it! If I'd realized that, I'd've only taken a half-dose, as those kinds of drugs always knock me for a loop. So I decided to stop taking it. I didn't want to sleep through the entire ABD!

Day 1 - Athens & Welcome Dinner

I woke up the next morning (the first day of the ABD) at a *relatively* reasonable hour, rolled out of bed, got dressed & went to breakfast. On my way, I saw Landon and Elena, our Adventure Guides, set up at a table. I went over and greeted Landon, who had been one of the Adventure Guides on my Knights and Lights trip and was introduced to Elena, our Greek Adventure Guide. We discussed my dietary issues (no tomatoes!) and I let them know about my bronchitis, and the whole mess with the cough medicine. They also gave me a "Happy Birthday" button (yes, the first day of the ABD was my Birthday!) and gave me directions to the National Archeological Museum. I headed back to my room, showered & made myself feel reasonably human, and then headed out.

The National Archeological Museum was fascinating! The first floor contained an exhibit that was basically the History of Sculpture in Greece. It had examples of sculptures through time, from the ancient primitive, through the stylized to the amazingly realistic. Many of the sculptures only survived as copies, as the Romans really liked Greek art, and made copies of a lot of it.







This guy originally had a golden wreath on his head. You can see the holes where it was attached. (The wreath was long gone, of course!)



I'd downloaded several Rick Steves podcasts, and one of them was a running commentary on this exhibit. It really enhanced the experience (except, for some reason, he kept telling stupid jokes with the Greek tour guide who was also on the podcast. He doesn't have the best sense of humor in the world.) But aside from that, it was a nice way to do the Museum.

They aren't sure if this is a statue of Zeus or of Poseidon, because they can't tell if he was throwing a thunderbolt or a trident! But it's very reminiscent to me of DaVinci's Vitruvian Man (perfectly proportioned in a circle).



This is a scaled-down copy of the statue that used to be atop the Acropolis (another Roman copy).



Bacchus and Aphrodite



I got back to the Hotel in plenty of time to relax, get changed, and then meet up in the Lobby for our ABD Welcome Dinner. The Dinner was held in one of the restaurants in the Hotel (Cafe Zoe, which was where the buffet breakfast was each morning). We met up with our fellow adventurers. The Adventure Guides passed out a list of everyone on the trip, and there were 18 of us. However, I only counted 16. It turned out that Mike & Matt, a father & son, had experienced flight issues, and had not arrived yet (they did arrive just a bit into the Dinner).

Our group consisted of:

Me; Nora & her Mom, Sally; a family of 3, Dave, Amber & their daughter Lauren (this was her College Graduation present); Mike & Matt, a father & son who switched to the Greek Odyssey trip after their second attempt at taking the Egypt ABD got cancelled; and several couples: Judy & Bill, Rich & Mary, Bob & Sylvia, Peter & Robin, and Jamie & Bob, who had been on the Southwest Splendors ABD with me back in 2008.

After Dinner, a few of us went up to the bar/restaurant on top of the hotel for a bit. I'd heard there was a killer view of the Acropolis from up there, and that was certainly true!



It was then off to bed (and NO prescription cough medicine!) in anticipation of touring Athens starting the next morning!

Sayhello

Continued in Part 2. -- Day 2, Panathenaic Stadium & the Acropolis.

Last edited by sayhello; 07-21-2013 at 12:43 AM.
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:48 AM   #2
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Very cool photos, especially your sunset shots. We're heading out next week on our DCL cruise to Greece. Getting very excited. I'd love to do the ABD of Greece some day.
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:26 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Cousin Orville View Post
Very cool photos, especially your sunset shots. We're heading out next week on our DCL cruise to Greece. Getting very excited. I'd love to do the ABD of Greece some day.
Thanks, Cousin Orville. And how cool about your cruise next week. I looked it up; you go to Athens & Mykonos, right? You'll have to come back & tell me about Mykonos, as that wasn't on the ABD, and tell me what you thought of Athens. What kind of excursion are you doing in Athens?

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Old 07-07-2013, 12:14 PM   #4
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Thanks, Cousin Orville. And how cool about your cruise next week. I looked it up; you go to Athens & Mykonos, right? You'll have to come back & tell me about Mykonos, as that wasn't on the ABD, and tell me what you thought of Athens. What kind of excursion are you doing in Athens?

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Right - Athens and Mykonos. We're taking a private tour of Athens. I'm leaving it pretty much up to the guide. I believe we're going to the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the Plaka... maybe some other things. We're planning on a 2014 DCL cruise to Greece as well. That's a bit more Greek intensive: Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Crete (along with Ephesus and Malta). Greece really looks awesome. Looking forward to seeing your pictures.
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Old 07-08-2013, 03:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cousin Orville View Post
Right - Athens and Mykonos. We're taking a private tour of Athens. I'm leaving it pretty much up to the guide. I believe we're going to the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the Plaka... maybe some other things. We're planning on a 2014 DCL cruise to Greece as well. That's a bit more Greek intensive: Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Crete (along with Ephesus and Malta). Greece really looks awesome. Looking forward to seeing your pictures.
The Acropolis, Acropolis Museum and the Plaka are a great choice. If you have any time left over, the ancient Agora is in the same area, and definitely worth a look. I really loved the Acropolis Museum. They have an exhibit going on of how color was used in ancient sculptures, and figuring out what the statues looked like by analyzing the trace remains of paint on them. Very, very cool. And the view of the Acropolis from the upper levels is amazing!

We did Athens, Santorini and Crete. I'll have lots of pics & descriptions of them as my Report progresses!

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Old 07-08-2013, 07:19 PM   #6
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Shame on you, starting a new trip report before finishing London- Paris! LOLOLOL. :-)

Beautiful photos!

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Old 07-11-2013, 01:01 PM   #7
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I'm lurking to see what sites in Greece I may have missed when I was there in 2010! My husband and I took a cruise out of Rome that stopped in Sicily, Athens, Turkey and Crete. We only had a day in Athens, but we crammed in a lot I think. We even made it to Cape Sounion!
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:29 PM   #8
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Shame on you, starting a new trip report before finishing London- Paris! LOLOLOL. :-)

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Beautiful photos!

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Thanks!

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Old 07-11-2013, 01:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by RnbwSktles View Post
I'm lurking to see what sites in Greece I may have missed when I was there in 2010! My husband and I took a cruise out of Rome that stopped in Sicily, Athens, Turkey and Crete. We only had a day in Athens, but we crammed in a lot I think. We even made it to Cape Sounion!
Wow! You even made it to Cape Sounion? That's pretty good in one day!

Part 2 should be up this weekend!

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