Taking a little detour overseas {Greece}

Some of you know that PT and I took a little detour a few weeks ago.

We escaped the normal routine of our lives and landed in a couple of awe inspiring locations.

He happened to be working.

Me?  Not so much! 😉

He had the great honor of being the co-advisor  for his high school’s Junior/Senior class trip this year.  Where did they choose to go on their “educational” trip?

Greece and Italy!

Who would pass up a chance to go overseas……have guided tours of some amazing countries that I have never been to…….and all I had to do was to show up on time each day??

Can you actually believe that I had to be talked into tagging along????

Instead of jumping at the chance, I had 2 visions swimming through my head.  One being money (could we really afford for me to go), but the biggest shark swirling around was my intense fear of flying over water.  I am perfectly okay flying coast to coast, but put a large body  of water under that plane and I start to quiver……even months ahead of take off.  I had to listen to my parents (love you!) tell me I would be nuts not to go, and PT’s excitement over not only this trip, but how they would be focusing future trips around history and the wars that shaped our World dynamics, and I felt a little left out.  I was not only envious of his enthusiasm, but I was a little green with envy over his calm with flying!

God bless him, he gave me a deadline.  If I didn’t have my passport renewed by “x” date I was out of the trip.

I am not going to lie and tell you that I got over myself and the quivering stopped (hell, I was such a mess I even wrote my kids long letters “just in case”) but I quietly met my deadline with the passport, and he signed me up when he saw it in the mail.

I am so glad I went!  I am also thankful we touched down safely on both sides……. just saying!   😉

The experience was eye opening.  Not only did I get to travel through breathtaking countries, but I got to know some of the amazing kids that PT teaches.

Now let me warn you, the rest of this post is veeerrryyyyy heavy on photos!

If you enjoy seeing other peoples vacation (sorry PT….educational trip) photos you have landed on the right page.  If you don’t want to see lots and lots of gorgeous landscape, scenery, statues you might want to sit this post out.  But I hope you don’t……. 😉

I tried to make them user friendly by putting most in a collage, but some were totally worth being singled out.  I also am only showing you Greece this time around.  Hopefully this time next week I will have all of the Italy photos edited and ready to go.

Educational Tours through Europe

Like I said…..some amazing kids……and these are just a few of them!

Educational Tours through Europe

Our first stop was Athens, Greece.  See that key above?  The only way to turn the lights on in our hotel (the Oasis) was to add in your room key.  Awesome!  The kids packed in early morning sunrises, gorgeous sunsets, a very cold dip in the Aegean Sea…..in the dark night….which made it even colder, and an evening walk in search of gelato and pastries.

Olympic Stadium in Athens Greece

Our first stop was to the Panathenaic Stadium, also known as the location of our first modern Olympics in 1896.  This stadium was originally built in 566 BC out of wood, but then rebuilt in 329 BC out of marble.  I know it has been refurbished over the years, but seriously….it blows my mind that I could touch something that was originally created in 566/329 BC……and the entire stadium is made out of marble.  Wow! 

BTW…according to google it is the only stadium in the world made entirely from marble!  Amazing is the only word I have for this!!! 

Another little tidbit……in ancient times, this olympic stadium was host to the athletic portion of the Panathenaic Games in honor of the Goddess Athena!

Tomb of the Unknown soldier in Athens Greece

The Athens’ Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a moving, quiet moment for all of us.  Just like our Tomb in the Arlington National Cemetery, Greece commemorates all of the soldiers that have died in service to their country.  The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day by the Evzones (the Presidential Guard). 

Visiting the Acropolis in Athens Greece
Visiting the Parthenon in Athens Greece
Visiting the Parthenon in Athens Greece
Visiting the Parthenon in Athens Greece

Broke my heart seeing this homeless cat curled up in a cannon at the Parthenon…

Visiting the Parthenon in Athens Greece

Look at the photo above the flag.  That is tree bark.  Crazy awesome!!!! 

Look at the bottom right photo.  That is part of the walkway surrounding the Parthenon.  Beautiful….but I imagine it would be super slick in a rainstorm.

Okay….this is where I will interject a little embarrassing factoid.  See that flag in the bottom left? 

When I was leaving that area (view of Athens was phenomenal), I thought I was younger than I actually am, lost my balance jumping off the last step, landing on one foot, knee gave out and I landed squarely on my left shoulder. 

All I can say is, crazy pain followed and I knew that something was broken. 

So when you look at pictures and you see a grimace  within the smile, just know that it was confirmed 10 days after the fact (by my orthopedic guru of a Doctor) that I had indeed “smooshed” my collarbone into a few pieces.   How is that for a run on sentence?!

Follow up xray is this coming Wednesday to make sure it is healing properly.  I will also get all the scientific medical terminology that I failed to get the first go-round, as I kind of tuned out once I had confirmation that I wasn’t losing my cotton pickin’ mind, and shouldn’t move it for the next 4 weeks.  That….and we got to talking about the wonderful trip and the places that he thinks we should visit in Italy next time we get there.  

Huh???!!  In my dreams Doc!

Visiting the Parthenon in Athens Greece

Next up was the Acropolis, which was re-built between  447 and 432 B.C.  Before visiting, I just considered all of these buildings and temples the Parthenon.  I was WRONG!   The Greeks refer to this entire area as the Acropolis Hill of Athens, or “Sacred Rock”, and it is considered the most important ancient monument of Europe.  I will not go into the history as it would obviously fill a book, and you can do your own googling, but I will say that it was originally a military fortress as it is located in a position where you can see all of the surrounding land and sea.  

**We all of an Acropolis in our area, as the official meaning of Acropolis is “the highest point”. **

See the beautiful ladies above?  They are holding up the roof of the Erecheion, which is a Temple that was built on the part of the Acropolis that is considered to be the most sacred.  It was a sanctuary where the cults of Athena, Poseidon and Erechtonius took place.  It was named after Erechtonius, who was a mythical snake-bodied king of Athens killed by Poseidon in a battle for the city patronage. 

I swear I could listen to these mythical stories all day long…….

These current ladies are not the original, as the Persians destroyed the original Acropolis in 480 B.C.  Thankfully archaeologists have been able to locate over 4,000 artifacts of the Acropolis and they are housed in the museum.   I was just happy that I could take pictures of these gorgeous “columns”.  No flash is allowed in this museum, and yes……there are plenty of guards and security to make sure that you not only don’t use a camera flash, but that you don’t accidentally touch something.

Acropolis Museum

Look at the top left and bottom left photos in the collage above.  The museum is actually built on top of an archaeological site and much of the first floor is made of glass so that you can see what is going on below.  WAY COOL!!!!!

I swear I was only going to show pictures and not say anything.  {SIGH}

Sightseeing through Greece

I will wrap up Athens with a few street scenes and just a few tidbits……..

  • I was so excited to have an authentic Gyro (which originated with pork, not lamb like I was led to believe years and years and years ago), but was a little disappointed as the pork was too crispy.  I was in the minority, as PT loved his chicken Gyro!  😉
  • The strawberry cheesecake gelato that I had was the best I have ever had.  In full disclosure, it is the only one that I have ever had, but it was so good that it will now be the baseline to judge all future gelato creations.
  • You must be very careful around the little kids and older woman walking the streets begging.  Never saw any men….what do they do? Sit at home and make the women and children do all of the dirty work?  I felt awful about the children, but I knew that if I gave to one, that I would be quickly surrounded by many.  The women were the worst….trying to shove flowers into your hand, saying that they were free, and as soon as you took it they held out their hands demanding money.  I never took a flower, had to say no waaayyyy to many times, but some of our kids learned the hard way.
  • There were some very interesting items that you could purchase, and the Greeks are a little to proud to show off a certain male body part…….
  • Some of the street vendors just plain scared the crap out of me.  I took that photo above from afar, as I thought he was going to come after me.

visiting the Posedein in Greece

Visiting the temple of posedein in Greece

On our way to Delphi, Greece we made a pit stop at the Temple of Poseidon which sits atop the cliffs in Cape Sounion (at the southern tip of Attica). 

The one thing that I learned quickly about these educational tours is that they keep you moving…..not staying in one spot for too long.  This is one of those places that I could have spent an afternoon, not just an hour or two.  Scroll up and look at those cliffs.  I was a little nervous as we were standing so close to the edge; one wrong move and we could have gone over the cliff landing in the Aegean Sea.

But the views were breathtaking.  I could have just sat on one of the rocks and reflected on my life for hours!  The sunsets would absolutely have taken your breath away……too bad we weren’t there to see it.

The Temple of Poseidon, named after the “God of the Sea”, has been the landmark for sailors from ancient times to current day travels.  It is the last piece of land you see as you are sailing away, and the first upon returning.

Factoid:  If you listen to the Athenians, they love to tell you that the Aegean Sea was named after King Aegeus, who jumped off the cliff and drowned when he thought his son, Theseus, had died during his expedition to Crete to defeat the Minotaur.

Places to see in Greece

We had the option of trying the local cuisine…or playing it safe by eating pork and chicken.  The menus were very interesting in Greece, as there were pages for any language that you could think of.  Obviously Greece is a very popular place for tourists!  😉

See those circles in the bottom right photo?  These are the local fish farms. 

See the rugs in the top left?  Those are some stunning rugs that we were brought in to see, and the merchant was hoping we would purchase.  The tour group needs to take that one off the destination sites, as they ranged in price from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand.  Do they really think teenagers can afford them?

See those two boys in the top right?  They are getting ready to eat the fish eyes from PT’s and another students lunch platter.  I still can’t believe they did it! 

Sightseeing in Delphi Greece

I think that Delphi, Greece was my favorite spot.  If a location can be termed “magical”, Delphi would be it!

delphi greece

These pictures DO NOT do it justice!

Imagine winding roads carved out of cliffs, and then think of our huge tour bus trying to navigate them (often 1 lane), especially when it came across another car. Yowsa!

delphi greece

The town of Delphi is built into the cliffs.  Want to get to the next street to do a little shopping or have dinner?  You will be walking up countless steps to get to the next street!

See the kids lining the stairwell?  This was the hotspot for internet service!!  If we didn’t have them off doing something you could find the kids perched on these steps!  PT was able to grab their attention with a very loud game of spoons!  This may be the only time that I snarled at my husband, as I was trying to sleep.  😉  All good though!

People of Delphi Greece

If you could only make it to one city in Greece during your lifetime, my advice would be to head on over to Delphi.

It has been inhabited since the 14th through the 11th c. B.C (I was told that this is the Mycenaean times) by small settlements who were dedicated to the Mother Earth.

Sightseeing in Delphi Greece

The Treasury of the Athenians is nestled in the hilltop.

ancient delphi greece

I am so thankful for archeologists who are devoting their lives to uncovering this ancient sanctuary.

We were informed that decisions (political and personal) were not made until they consulted with the Oracle in Delphi.

I saw many hidden items within the rocks along our climb up the hills of Delphi.  One was a cross (upper left), although some told me it looked like a simple key.  I saw footprints (bottom right), and I was blessed to see a simple flower floating in water……

delphi greece

I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but I found this stone formation very interesting along the steps.  I imagined that this is how they retrieved water during ancient times…..

delphi greece

I was not immune to the hardships of the homeless and injured animals.  This poor dog followed us throughout the town, even taking the tour of ancient Delphi with us.  Here he is taking a power nap while we stood and absorbed the history from our tour guide.  I do give the Athenians credit, as there may be a number of  animals that do not have a warm place to sleep or a warm body to snuggle with, but we saw countless store owners setting out bowls of food alongside their store fronts for them to at least have a full belly.

Pine trees in delphi greece

Tall evergreens pointing heavenward, constantly reminding you to stop what you were doing and pray!

ancient delphi greece museum

Just a few of the statues found in the museum…… 

The bronze statue at the top is the Charioteer of Delphi and is considered one of the most important sculptures uncovered from ancient Greece.  It shows him holding the tangled reins…..maybe of a race that was not victorious??  I was fascinated by his feet and how detailed they were, as well as, how his eyes just kept staring at me.  As if he was watching my every move!

Delphi Greece

While I was visiting the Delphi Museum my camera took a side trip, with some adventure seeking kids, to the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia.  The circular building above is called the Tholos and is at the center of this sanctuary.

How Greece population remembers a loved one who has passed away in a traffic accident

I will end this little tour of mine with the many roadside shrines that we came across.  You would find these in front of people’s homes, alongside the cliffs, and way too many to count in the hair pin turns of the roads. 

Some are elaborate small churches, and others were simple metal boxes.  No matter the simplicity or elegance, they all served the same purpose.  They act as a remembrance to a traffic accident victim, or in some cases, they were constructed by the survivor of an accident themselves, who just wanted to publicly thank a saint for his survival.  

I am certainly glad that I wasn’t sitting in the front of the bus to see all of the crazy one lane highways, or the figure eight curves we had to take to get up and down the mountains.  I would have been alongside our fellow Floridian cohort Carlos, who could often be heard saying “Jeeeezzzzuuusss” under his breath when we were traveling the roads in Greece.

What was my takeaway from Greece?

I am THANKFUL for every one in my life, and for all the blessings that I have in my life!!

                             Shaunna

4 thoughts on “Taking a little detour overseas {Greece}

  1. Beautiful pictures! Looks like a great trip! I’m so glad you were able to put your fears aside and go. I also hope you’re healing quickly!

  2. Beautiful pictures! Looks like a great trip! I’m so glad you were able to set your fears aside and go. I hope you’re healing!

    • Thanks Jennifer. Definitely worth the anxiety, and definitely recommend it on everyone’s bucket list!

  3. Pingback: Taking a little detour overseas {Greece} | anahikristian

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