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Greece and Its Islands

Yes, I wanted to go to Greece for quite some time. The ancient Greek history and, of course, the Greek mythology always fascinated me. After I saw the images of monasteries perching on sandstone towers in Meteora during the Olympic Games last year, we made up our mind and started making plans to go to Greece. Finally, we did it last May. Thank you for visiting this gallery and I hope you enjoy the images.

We explored Greece on land during the first part of the trip in five days and during the second part, we went on a cruise ship to visit several Greek islands, plus two cities in Turkey: Istanbul and Kusadasi.

Athens

Our trip started and ended in Athens; the capital of Greece, which took its name from Athina, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. This is where the marvel of architecture, the Parthenon, during the golden age of Greece was built around 447 BC. The ancient Athens was built around the Acropolis, which dominates the Athenian landscape. Nowadays, the suburbs have covered the barren plain in all directions and the city is packed with lively taverns and bustling shops, especially in the center area called Plaka. Athens currently has approximately five million inhabitants; practically half of the total population of Greece lives in Athens. In addition, tens of thousands of tourists visit the city on any given day; you can feel the pulse of Athens almost 24/7.

On Land

We drove from Mainland Greece through the Corinth Canal and arrived on the Peloponnesian Peninsula where we visited the ancient city of Corinth, the ruins of Agamemnon’s palace with its Lion Gate and his beehive tomb in Mycenae. Achilles, Hector, the Trojan horse/war became alive in our minds during this visit. Epidaurus was our next stop and is mostly known for its well-preserved theater which, since ancient times, has been very famous for its acoustics quality. Annually, the theater is the stage for the Epidaurus Festival, a recreation of ancient Greek classics. The performers do not have to shout or speak loudly. The merest whisper can be heard in the last row of this theater that accommodates 12,000 people.

The Greeks invented athletic contests and held them in honor of their gods. The most famous games were those at Olympia, a town in south-western Greece. The ancient Olympics seem to have begun in the early 700 BC, in honor of Zeus. No women were allowed to watch the games. Pottery dating from around 550 BC shows men taking part in the games naked or wearing only a thong.

Driving on the longest bridge in Greece near Patras, we traveled back to Mainland Greece and arrived in Delphi, which in ancient times was considered the center or the navel of the known world, the place where heaven and earth met. This was the place on earth where man was closest to the gods. Located on the slopes of mighty Mount Parnassus, home of the Oracle, we walked the Sacred Way to the Sanctuary of Apollo.

The land trip ended in Meteora near the town of Kalambaka in Central Greece. The peaks of over hundreds of pinnacles of unusually sculpted rock make Meteora, meaning "soaring rocks", one of the most dramatic geological areas of Greece. Several hermit monks decided back in 983 AD to settle in cliff-side caves with the intention of being closer to God. The frenzied monastery building, which culminated in over 23 greater and lesser monasteries, took place about 200 years later. In 1336, the monk Anathasios, from Mt. Athos founded the largest and still operational, "Big Meteora Monastery". Situated as they are, the monasteries are difficult to repair and most were abandoned. Today, only six are still inhabited and open to the public.

At Sea

The “Coral” set sail from Piraeus, the harbor of Athens to Istanbul,Turkey. The city is located on both sides of the Bosphorus, the strait that separates Europe from Asia. Although Hagia Sophia, an amazing 6th century church that was converted to a mosque in the 15th century and now it is a museum, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace are the highlights of the city, but the Spice Bazaar and the Taksim Square are full of energy.

“The good boys go to heaven; the bad boys go to Mykonos” says on a T-shirt. Windmills and Petros, the mascot pelican characterize this island, which is popular among young people as the “party” island. The outside walls of numerous houses on Greek islands are painted bright white and the doors, windows and trims are painted blue, similar to the color of the Greek flag.

Patmos is the island where John, the Evangelist, lived and wrote the book of Revelation in a cave. Currently, there is a small church at this sacred place. On the same day, we sailed and arrived in Kusadasi, Turkey. The main attraction here is located about a 30-minute drive from the modern city, the ancient city of Ephesus. Excavation and restoration work initiated over 100 years ago revealed the beauty of this ancient city. Temples, public buildings, including a library, shops, streets and a theatre have been revealed.

When I think of Rhodes, I think of the Colossus, one of the ancient Seven Wonders. It is ironic, however, that the exact location of the Colossus is not known. It stood there for only 55 years and was destroyed during an earthquake in 225 BC. The city of Rhodes itself is characterized by medieval structures; the inside of numerous medieval structures were converted to modern shops, offices and houses.

Crete was the location of the Minoan civilization some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago; they lived in richly frescoed palaces with provisions of modern drainage and air circulation systems. The palace of Knossos was the center of this civilization.

The final destination of our trip was Santorini; this island and its islets were formed as remains of an ancient and subsequently collapsed volcano that exploded around 1,500 BC. The main town, Thira, is perched 1,000 feet above sea level on the lip of the ancient crater. This town has some of the most scenic accommodations, restaurants and cafes along the edge of the cliff with a bird’s eye view of ships like toys in a bathtub down below. White houses sprinkle along the rim of the island like snow or salt crystals. This is the location of stark contrast; too bad, the weather did not cooperate and I had to make it work with hazy conditions and hazy sunset the day we were there.

Technical Note

It is very difficult to capture beautifully composed images with perfect lighting if you travel in a group, especially this large. Picture opportunities are plenty but the lighting conditions are not always the best, and mostly too harsh. In this gallery, the emphasis was put more on the photographic quality of the selected images, rather than documenting the completeness of the trip. The time displayed on the EXIF data is the Pacific Standard Time. A polarizing filter was used for the majority of the images captured at the ancient sites. This filter minimizes reflections of non-metallic surface and renders the blue of the sky to be more saturated and a tad darker. This effect created more evenly exposed images with less contrast. Two or three images with different exposure settings (over-normal-under exposed) were combined to increase the dynamic range; so, the details in the shadow as well as in the highlight area are retained under extreme lighting circumstances. However, only one or two images in this gallery were processed that way.

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Parthenon
Parthenon
Semi Closeup of the Parthenon
Semi Closeup of the Parthenon
Erechtheion
Erechtheion
The Caryatid Porch
The Caryatid Porch
Hadrian's Library
Hadrian's Library
Statue Near Olympic Stadium
Statue Near Olympic Stadium
Sharing Some Tender Moments
Sharing Some Tender Moments
Restaurant Row in Plaka
Restaurant Row in Plaka
Plaka at Dusk
Plaka at Dusk
Interior of a House in Plaka
Interior of a House in Plaka
Ceiling of a Small Church
Ceiling of a Small Church
One of Many Ikons at Athen's Cathedral
One of Many Ikons at Athen's Cathedral
Andronikos' Tower of Winds and Acropolis in the Background
Andronikos' Tower of Winds and Acropolis in the Background
Andronikos' Tower of Winds
Andronikos' Tower of Winds
Side Street Cafe
Side Street Cafe
Kindergarten Children Listening to the Teacher
Kindergarten Children Listening to the Teacher
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Hadrian's Arch
Hadrian's Arch
Parthenon at Dusk
Parthenon at Dusk
She Prefers Flowers Over Ancient Ruins
She Prefers Flowers Over Ancient Ruins
Theater with Excellent Acoustics
Theater with Excellent Acoustics
Interior of a Town Church
Interior of a Town Church
Interior of a Town Church
Interior of a Town Church
Herb Store
Herb Store
Temple of Zeus
Temple of Zeus
The West Pediment of Temple of Zeus
The West Pediment of Temple of Zeus
The East Pediment of Temple of Zeus
The East Pediment of Temple of Zeus
Tunnel Leading to the Stadium
Tunnel Leading to the Stadium
Pelopennese and Gulf of Patrai - A View from Mainland Greece
Pelopennese and Gulf of Patrai - A View from Mainland Greece
A View from Delphi
A View from Delphi
Shrine with a view of Ithea
Shrine with a view of Ithea
Museum: Gold Ornaments
Museum: Gold Ornaments
Museum: Plate Depicting Athina
Museum: Plate Depicting Athina
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo
Theater and Temple of Apollo
Theater and Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo
Monk Bevkis at Work
Monk Bevkis at Work
Swimming Pool at Hotel Amalia
Swimming Pool at Hotel Amalia
Meteora and Its Monasteries
Meteora and Its Monasteries
Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity)
Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity)
Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) with Kalambaka in the Background
Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) with Kalambaka in the Background
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas
Rousanou Monastery
Rousanou Monastery
Monastery of Grand Meteoron
Monastery of Grand Meteoron
Varlaam Monastery
Varlaam Monastery
Former Winery Inside a Monastery
Former Winery Inside a Monastery
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