Barb, a Grand European Travel Specialist, rediscovers Greece after 30 years. Part two of her story includes visits to Thessaloniki and Delphi.
We had a sightseeing tour of Thessaloniki that included an orientation around the lower part of the city near the harbor. We then went up to the upper part of the city, that has a Turkish influence, as it has been primarily inhabited by Turks. The streets are a labyrinth of winding, paved cobblestone, narrow ways between many houses and shops that are packed in close together.
At the top we reached the ancient ruins of the Ana Polis and the city’s walls. We then headed down to the Byzantine Church for a visit. It is a beautiful church that has been restored due to a devastating fire that occurred in 1917. We were able to visit the Crypt that had some of the original marble floors and relics inside it.
The rest of the day was free and I spent it visiting the Byzantine Museum and the Archeological Museum that focused mostly on Macedonia. Both were very well done, with great explanations in each of the rooms. I then decided to check out the market areas of twon, selling everything from cheap kitchen items, to old furniture, fruits, vegetables, antiques, jewelry, it was fun just to get lost in the maze.
I also took a walk along the waterfront where there is café after café teeming with people chatting and drinking coffee.
Traveling from Thessaloniki to Delphi I was able to take in the magnificent views of the countryside and on the winding roads up to Mount Parnassus. Upon arrival into Delphi, we first made a stop at the Temple of Apollo, dating back to the 4th century B.C. for our initial visit to this amazing site.
We then headed for the hotel to relax after the drive. Delphi offers such spectacular views from its location up on Mt. Parnassus, our hotel rooms had views of the valley down to the water. When the sky was dark, you could see the clusters of lights from the small villages in the valley below.
The next morning was the real treat – visiting the site at Delphi! We started out at the museum, where the relics that were brought as gifts are on display as well as some statues. We then toured through the site, climbing slowly uphill to the famous Oracle, then on up to finish at the stadium. Not only is it amazing to be walking on grunds that have been such an important role in history, but the setting is breathtaking.
The last day of the tour we departed Delphi for the relatively short drive back to Athens with free time to take in our last views of the Acropolis, visit a museum, shop for gifts, or just sit at a café and people watch. The Farewell Dinner was a wonderful end to the tour, with its rooftop view of the Acropolis lit up at night. We all had so many memorable experiences on this trip.
Overall, I had a lovely time in Greece! It had been 30 years since I was last there and I had such a great time exploring the country again. There is much history and great architecture there, but at the same time new museums and things to see too. I really encourage anyone considering traveling to Greece to go now, we all felt very safe and welcome.
Barb, a Grand European Travel Specialist, went on a tour of Greece this last fall to rediscover Greece after 30 years.
I first visited Greece 30 years ago and had been anticipating this trip for quite some time. I was really looking forward to seeing how things had changed over the years as well as visiting those sites that held a special place in my memory.
One week before I was to arrive to Athens a large demonstration took place in Syntagma Square against the austerity measures. When I arrived into Athens I was relieved to find a city that was business as usual.
After traveling from Portland, Oregon, I cleaned up and headed out into the streets of Athens. My first destination was the New Acropolis Museum. From the Divani Caravel Hotel, I waslked past Syntagma Square, curious about any activity, it was calm without any hint of protesters.
I meandered my way to the museum taking in the sights and sounds along the way – I had missed this, they instantly brought back memories of my first trip to Greece! I spent quite a lot of time at the museum, reading the interpretive signs as I viewed the relics on display. They have done a wonderful and thorough job of creating this museum. I needed a break and was told that the museum’s restaurant is good, so I had a bite to eat on a terrace outside with views of the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. Stunning!
Afterwards, I wandered through the Plaka area before making my way back to the hotel. During my free time the next day my plan was to visit the Central Market, the Benaki Museum and perhaps the Archeological Museum if time allowed.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the monasteries perched high on the monolithic rocks in Meteora but found our stop in Vergina to be truly fascinating. We visited a museum where Phillip’s tomb was found in 1979! After centuries, it had never been robbed. It was filled with gold and all of his and his wife’s belongings that they ‘take with them’ to the next life.
Then we proceeded to Pella, where Alexander the great ruled. It is famous for the beautiful mosaics made out of rocks and pebbles gathered from the river. Our Tour Director, Sandra, noticed that there were some archeologists on site, unearthing more relics. We ventured to where they were digging and were allowed to watch them in the process and have one of the archeologists give an explanation about the new area! That was such an amazing experience.