It’s All Greek

Four weeks ago today, I and three traveling companions (Paul, Michael P., and Aaron) were flying back from a ten-day trip to Crete and mainland Greece. For those of you who know me, you understand what a big deal this was. I hadn’t been on an actual, non-working vacation since 1999. And other than a short business trip to O’ahu, I had never left North America. Even worse, I had wanted to visit Greece, specifically the Parthenon and Knossos, since the 5th grade (some 54 years ago). Talk about delayed gratification!

We didn’t have the internet or cable TV back then. I had a set of World Book Encyclopedias at home, 1960s-era travel sticker books of Greece, a small foreign stamp collection with Greek stamps, and the public library, of course. I remember that we had to research and write a foreign country report in the 6th grade, plus prepare a little classroom display. I chose Greece and poured my heart into the project. I dressed up my Daniel Boone action doll in a white chlamys to stand in front of a little Greek temple diorama that I drew and painted.

Fast forward 50 years. I had made tentative plans to go on this trip in 2018 when I turned 60, but work commitments overwhelmed everything both that year and the next. In 2020 and 2021, the COVID pandemic wrecked pretty much everyone’s travel plans. This year – 2022 – I vowed to see it through before my head exploded. I announced our intentions to our gathered friends at my 64th birthday party, and so now we were on the hook for it.

It took several more months of dithering, waiting to see if COVID was going to ruin yet another year, before we finally decided to go for it. Airline tickets were purchased, car and hotel reservations were made, vacation time was blocked out, schedules were cleared, supplies/equipment were gathered, and travel documents were updated. Then the hard part began … setting our itinerary. Planning a dream.

Paul had traveled to Greece and Crete several times before, and had even spent some extended time in country, so he had some experience on customs and places to visit. Michael P. (as opposed to me, Michael L.) had been to Europe when he was younger. Aaron and I hadn’t. However, we are all fairly well versed in ancient Greek history, and each of us had our own individual “must see” items. For me, climbing the Acropolis and seeing the temple of Athena Parthenos and the Erechtheion was at the top of my bucket list, followed by the Minoan Palace at Knossos. Delphi, too, was high on my list.

The real trick was melding these lists, paring them down to what we could practically accomplish within our allotted time, and then plotting the logistics of routes and elapsed times (and rest rooms!) – and all with an eye towards staving off exhaustion. I have to be honest, though; we didn’t succeed on that last point. Not at all. But – dear Gods – the sights we saw!

So, here was our final pre-trip schedule:

9/2 – Finalize packing
9/3 – Air Canada flight to Toronto Pearson Airport, then on to Eleftherios Venizelos Airport (Athens, Greece)
9/4 – Athens: Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Tower of the Winds, Aeropagus at sunset
9/5 – Athens: National Archaeological Museum, Acropolis, Theatre of Dionysos (north & south slope of Acropolis), New Acropolis Museum, Shopping in Athens
9/6 – Ancient Athenian Cemetery of Kerameikos, pick up rental car, leave Athens, Sanctuary of Demeter at Eleusis/Elefsina, Ancient Thebes/Kadmeion, the Lion of Chaeronea and gravesite of the Sacred Band, travel to Delphi
9/7 – Ancient Delphi Site and Museum, Kastalian Spring, leaving Delphi, Korykian Cave, Thermopylae Monument, travel to Milina, Thessaly
9/8 – Kheirôn’s Cave (Milina), leaving Milina, Ancient Dion, Museum of the Royal Tombs of Agai (Vergina), drop off rental car, Aegean Airlines from Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” to Nikos Kazantzakis Airport (Iraklion, Crete)
9/9 – Iraklion: Iraklion Archaeological Museum, lunch/dinner with friends, pick up rental car, Palace of Knossos, Shopping in Iraklion
9/10 – Leave Iraklion, Vathypetro Minoan Villa, Mt. Psiloritis/Idaean Cave, Minoan Kydonia (Chania), Shopping in Chania, travel to Milia Mountain Retreat ecovillage
9/11 – Sanctuary of Diktynna/Menies Beach, Trachilos (ancient footprints), Ancient Olive Tree & Museum (Ano Vouves), Cretan Botanical Park & Gardens, Karanou village visit, Greek Winery (?)
9/12 – Leave Milia, drop off rental car, Aegean Airlines from Ioannis Daskalogiannis Airport (Chania) to Eleftherios Venizelos Airport (Athens), Shopping in Athens
9/13 – Air Canada flight to Toronto Pearson Airport, then on to home

Mind you, that’s how we planned it, not how it actually came out. Yes, I am aware that it was … ambitious (I believe my niece’s word for it was “insane”). In future posts, I’ll walk you through our adventure day by day, including what worked (and what didn’t!).

— Να εχεις μια ωραια μερα. —

Leave a Reply

Powered by

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: