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  The Chatter Box : Travel
I'm Back!!! by pandab on 22 October 2006 4:45am
I'm back, and Greece was wonderful!

I started in Athens, keeping myself to the immediate neighborhood of my hotel for the first afternoon. Jetlag sucks, and it makes me more directionally challenged than usual so I never wander far from the hotel until I've had a night's sleep.

Anyway ... We hit the Acropolis the first morning. Then I went to the National Archeological Museum on my own. I even made there without getting lost, thank you very much. Making it back to the hotel was another matter.

Remember how I've said I always get wretchedly lost at least once on every trip? Well, Athens was not designed for the directionally challenged. There are lots of streets that V off and turn into other streets. I took the wrong V and ended up way too far south. Still, with a little help from a policeman who obviously didn't understand how the heck I'd ended up where I was (which made two of us), I made it back to the hotel with only a pair of hot, sore feet as punishment.

The land portion of the tour was great. We hit Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nauplia, Olympia and Delphi.

While the land tour was great, the cruise around the Greek islands was FABULOUS. Not the cruise itself, actually. That was nice but pretty boring after a while. But the islands ... Ahhh ... I've never been anywhere so beautiful!

We went to Mykonos, Rhodes and Patmos. Then we stopped as Kusadasi in Turkey, and I got to see Ephesus. I was in history heaven, I tell you!

The flights back to the US were ... Well, let's just say I learned two lessions.

Lesson One, one can indeed run across the Munich airport, go through passport control and security to make a trans-Atlantic flight in under 10 minutes. Provided, of course, one has enough cash in Euros to bribe one's fellow passengers to let one jump line.

Lesson Two, one can lead a pack of 20-odd passengers in a minor insurrection in Dulles International (and get away with it) to "encourage" an airline supervisor to find one's plane a pilot so one can get home after one has waited for 14 hours. One was exhausted ... nay, shattered ... by the time one finally landed in Roanoke.

Still, the flight issues (while infuriating at the time) were minor compared to the trip as a whole!

Re: I'm Back!!! by tucsonmike on 22 October 2006 10:33pm
Glad you had a great time and I learned something about airport etiquette LOL!
Welcome back!
Re: I'm Back!!! by Spursfan on 22 October 2006 10:39pm
Ooh I see you visited Kusadasi, Pandab.

We have an apartment there, and have visited Epheseus a few times! We always advise people to visit Epheseus in the very early morning, as a) there is little or no shade so it is cooler first thing and b) fewer tourists!!

Did you manage to visit any other of the sites around Epheseus? Mary's house would have been worth a visit, as is the 'Seven Sleepers'.

Glad you enjoyed your trip.

Re: I'm Back!!! by pandab on 23 October 2006 3:28am
Tucsonmike, an addition to Lesson One is that one can also make the 10-minute race by using one's puppy-pout to encourage a security officer to let one slip into the First Class line. :+)

Spursfan, that was my one major beef with the tour ... not enough time in Kusadasi. Tours are famous for being a being a bit rushed, but ours was just about right for most of the places we went except Kusadasi.

We were in and out of there in about 3 hours, which was just enough time to make me feel overwhelmed. I opted out of the Virgin Mary's house because it gave me an hour longer in Ephesus.

You're 100% right about the heat. I was melting by the time we got back to the city. Actually, I don't think the temperature ever got above the low 80s on the whole trip, but with so little cloud cover, the sun just seared me. Even with sunblock, I got a bit burned on a couple days.

I can't complain about the tourists too much. After all, I was one myself! What got me were some of the comments.

A few folks on the ship were with another tour group specializing in religious sites. In Patmos, when we got to the Cave of the Apocalypse, they were still holding Sunday Mass in the chapel there. I've never seen a Greek Orthodox service before, so I found it interesting ... if a bit incomprehensible. We had to wait about 20 minutes while they wrapped up the service to proceed through the cave.

Well, a few of the ladies on the excursion were from this other group. While the service was still going, most of us kept quiet out of respect, but they kept talking to each other about idolatry and "almost heathen" rites. I was about to create a scene by smacking one of them when the priest made the last prayer and wrapped it up. Jeepers, I was ticked! We were guests in THEIR church, for crying out loud!

Oh, well ... Most everyone else behaved themselves. Still, I had to snicker at when one gentleman on our tour commented with a sigh about how he was looking forward to a steak dinner when he got home. He was a good sport about trying different foods, though, so I figure he was entitled to his wish. :+)

Re: I'm Back!!! by tucsonmike on 24 October 2006 1:33am
Those folks are what give rise to the "Ugly American." I was embarrased by such folks both in London and in Vienna. No point in smacking them, but exposing their ignorance might have been fun.
Re: I'm Back!!! by sighthound on 24 October 2006 5:38pm
Delphi, Ephesus, Rhodes..., you've brought back a lot of wonderful memories, pandab. Thanks. Glad you had a great time and Welcome Home.
Re: I'm Back!!! by peripatetically on 26 October 2006 1:12am
It sounds like you had a vacation from ehaven itslef. Glad you liked it so much. And thanks for the little rundown of your tour.

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