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Greece - Explore Your Senses - 2005




Journey dates: 14th June - 23rd June, 2005
Travelers: Shwetha and Karthik

A week for a wedding. 10 days for us to recover from it. On the fourth day after our marriage, Tuesday, June 14th at 4 am, we left Delhi by Turkish Airways. We reached Istanbul around 7:40 am local time and spent a gruelling 9 hrs at the airport. Apparently as Indian nationals we needed an embassy visa to enter Turkey so we missed our opportunity to enter the famed city of Istanbul. From Istanbul to Athens it took us an hour. We reached Athens around 8 pm Athens time and took the subway train to Omonia Sqaure where our hotel, Dorian Inn, was located.

Day 2: We did a self guided tour of the historic sites. We took the metro to Syntagma Square and walked from the station to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. This is the biggest Temple of antiquity and is dedicated to Zeus - the father of the Gods. The imposing columns of the temple were magnificient. Hadrians Arch was right outside one of the gates and we could see the Acropolis stand tall in the distance. It was a long walk to the Acropolis through the winding steep cobbled streets of the Plaka. There were numerous shops for most of the way and the whole place wore a very festive look. The best times to view the Acropolis are early morning and late evenings. We choose high noon and were crisply sunburnt. The sun can get quite sharp and the climb left us breathless. But at the end we saw one of the most recognized monuments in the world. The Parthenon. The Acropolis area was filled with archaeological wonders and the 4 Euro lemonade we had didn't seem to matter anymore. We also went up Mars hill, where the gospel was first preached in Athens by the Apostle of the Nations, St.Paul.

We spent the rest of the day in Omonia Square. When sightseeing in Athens buy a combined ticket at any of the sites, which includes admission to the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Theater of Dionysos, Keramikos Cemetery, the Roman Agora with the Tower of the Winds and the Temple of Zeus. If you have a student ID take it along as you get a 50% discount on the 12 Euro ticket.

Day 3: We took a guided bus trip to the historic ruins of Delphi which is one hundred miles northwest of Athens, and nestled in the pine forested slopes of the holy mountain called Parnassus. The ancient greeks called this the center of the world or the "Navel of the World" and even without the ruins Delphi would offer a breathtaking view of the olive groves on the slopes and the bay below. We visited the Museum, the ancient ruins which included the Temple of Apollo, a grand sporting stadium and a theatre. There was a brief stop over at the village of Delphi as well. Avoid shopping here as most of the things are priced higher than what you could get in Athens. The trip costs 88 Euros per person including lunch. Ask for discounts from any of the travel agents.

Day 4: We took a ferry from Rafina (one of the ports in Athens) to Mikonos island. The ferry ride lasted about 5 hours. Mikonos is one of the most famous Greek islands and is a grand example of unique Cycladic architecture set around a picturesque fishing-village bay. It is often referred to as the 'Jewel of the Aegean Sea' and is lined with whitewashed cube-like buildings that fit closely together to form a kind of haphazard maze of narrow alley ways and streets. The earthen colors of the bare hills which surround the town's gleaming whiteness is set between the aura of an incredibly blue sky and even deeper blue sparkling sea. Its many well preserved windmills and hundreds of tiny red-roofed churches adds a flavor of culture and custom to the scene. We stayed at San Antonio's Summerland hotel. This was just 2 km from the port. There are plenty of taxis that take you to the hotel for about 4 Euros from the town center. The resort was very comfy and was family run so it had a very cosy and homely atmosphere. We spent the evening exploring the tiny streets of Mikonos.

Day 5 and 6: Elia beach. Yes, we spent two days just sunbathing. The pleasure of it all! Easily accessible by bus from Mikonos port and a regular boat service from Plati Gialos, Elia beach is the largest of the south chain of beaches on the island. Good restaurants, hotels and bungalows provide beach-side refreshment and accommodation with the added attraction of the island's only water park situated just minutes away from the beach. In designated sections nude bathing is allowed and Mikonos is known for its gay crowd so chances are you will see more naked men than women. The water is cold till around 4 p.m. when it warms up sufficiently for you to take a very relaxing dip in the sea. Take cash with you as everything from the beach chairs and umbrellas, to the food costs in excess of 10 Euros.

Day 7: We bid good bye to the 'gay' Island and set sail for the volcanic island of Santorini by ferry and the ride lasted again about 5 hours with a brief stop and transfer at Paros. The approach to the port of Santorini or Thira was beautiful. The bare brown walls of the caldera stood imposingly on the sparkling calm waters below. Santorini was called Greece's Sensuous Daughter of cataclysm by the National Geographic Traveler(September/October 1997) and in every way this place brings out the sensousness of mother earth. The tantalising aqumarine waters hug the towering caldera...its a breath taking view. Santorini's flooded volcanic caldera was created by a huge eruption in the Bronze Age. There are only two inhabited islands now Thira and Thirasia. Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni are the old and new burnt islands respectively, with Nea being created just 50 years ago from an eruption.

We stayed at The Costa Marina villas. Another friendly, cosy, family run place. You can get accomodation for as low as 10 euros a night in Santorini so finding a place is not difficult even in peak tourist season. However book early if you want a good hotel. The whole island is built around tourism. The villages are all built on the peaks of the volcano with the underwater crater being filled by the sea. You can go up to the villages from the port by either taxis or by bus. This time around we decided on the bus and it was just 1 euro. The bus is a very convenient way to move around in Santorini. Thira has a lot of beaches but do not expect white sands. Instead the beaches are filled with volcanic rocks and pebbles and end abruptly at the waterfront. We visited Kamari beach in the evening and it was quite a surprise.

Day 8: We took the cable car down to the port and boarded a Greek yacht for a trip around the crater and to the newly formed islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. At Nea Kameni we climbed to the peaks and was caught unawares by the 360 degree gasping view of the volcano. It was the beauty that made us gasp and not the sulphur fumes that could be seen slowly rising from the rocks. From there the boat took us to Palea where there is a natural sulphur spring and we were allowed to swim. I swam while Karthik took pictures of me. The water was lukewarm but very murky and shallow. It wasn't refreshing. The boat's next stop was at Thirasia another peak surrounding the crater and we climbed the 200 odd steps to the village and ate a deserving meal. There are always donkeys that you can rent for the climb, but rather than spend 4 Euros we decided to spend energy. After returning to the port, the boat dropped us at one end of Thira, below the village of Oia. A stairway snakes up russet layers of ash to link the cliff-top town of Oia with its port and we climbed again. Oia is a beautiful village that was destroyed in the 50s by an earthquake but has now been resotred as a traditional Greek village.

Any picture of Santorini that you might find, the blue domed churches, the beautiful villages adorning the slopes and the blue-green waters below, it has most probably been taken in Oia. We took our pictures and then took a bus back to Fira, the capital of Thira. Our dinner was most exclusive, sitting on the edge of the cliff, watching the sun set over the islands and into the sea. It is sight that neither these words nor the pictures (sunsets gallery) will due justice to. We read a very interesting note that said "In Santorini there are more donkeys than people, more churches than homes and more wine than water". This was almost true coz thankfully we saw more people than donkeys.

Day 9: We made a 8 hour ferry journey back to Athens and ventured out in the evening to Syntagma Square and shopped in the equivalent of 5th Avenue NY.

Day 10: We returned again through Istanbul, back to Gurgaon. To the grind.
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
Some stand, some fallen, Temple of Zeus, Athens
Some stand, some fallen, Temple of Zeus, Athens
Hadrian's Arch, Athens
Hadrian's Arch, Athens
Syntagma - Parliament Building, Athens
Syntagma - Parliament Building, Athens
Street cafes line the steps, Athens
Street cafes line the steps, Athens
Church of Holy Apostles, Athens
Church of Holy Apostles, Athens
Stoa of Attalos' columns, Athens
Stoa of Attalos' columns, Athens
Entrance to the Church, Athens
Entrance to the Church, Athens
Finding place of Relief, Athens
Finding place of Relief, Athens
Temple of Zeus from the Acroplois, Athens
Temple of Zeus from the Acroplois, Athens
Church at Plaka, Athens
Church at Plaka, Athens
Streets of Plaka, Athens
Streets of Plaka, Athens
The Acropolis, Athens
The Acropolis, Athens
The spirits guide us to the Acropolis, Athens
The spirits guide us to the Acropolis, Athens
Acropolis, The Upper City, Greece
Acropolis, The Upper City, Greece
The Parthenon, Athens
The Parthenon, Athens
Athens from the hill
Athens from the hill
Herodes Atticus Theater, Athens
Herodes Atticus Theater, Athens
The walls of the Herodes Atticus Theater, Athens
The walls of the Herodes Atticus Theater, Athens
The Parthenon, Athens
The Parthenon, Athens
Erechtheion, Athens
Erechtheion, Athens
Porch of the Caryatids, Athens
Porch of the Caryatids, Athens
Acropolis in the Evening, Athens
Acropolis in the Evening, Athens
After 11 view, Acropolis, Athens
After 11 view, Acropolis, Athens
The Parthenon at night, Athens
The Parthenon at night, Athens
Theater of Dionysos - Teatro Dionysiou, Athens
Theater of Dionysos - Teatro Dionysiou, Athens
Ancient Agora from the Acropolis, Athens
Ancient Agora from the Acropolis, Athens
Ancient Agora, Athens
Ancient Agora, Athens
Byzantine frescoes, Athens
Byzantine frescoes, Athens
Temple of Hephaistos, Athens
Temple of Hephaistos, Athens
Church at Monastiraki, Athens
Church at Monastiraki, Athens
The Roman Agora, Athens
The Roman Agora, Athens
Fethiye Djami - Mosque at the Agora, Athens
Fethiye Djami - Mosque at the Agora, Athens
Gate of Athena Archegetis, Athens
Gate of Athena Archegetis, Athens
Tower of the Winds, Athens
Tower of the Winds, Athens
Athens from Mars Hill, Athens
Athens from Mars Hill, Athens
Athens at night
Athens at night
An inviting flower bearer, Athens
An inviting flower bearer, Athens
Athens and Lycabetus hill
Athens and Lycabetus hill
Filopappos hill, Athens
Filopappos hill, Athens
Monument of Filopappos, Athens
Monument of Filopappos, Athens
Night Life - Paid performers, Athens
Night Life - Paid performers, Athens
Wanting to be paid performer, Athens
Wanting to be paid performer, Athens
Ancient site of Delphi
Ancient site of Delphi
Delphi, Temple of Apollo, Greece
Delphi, Temple of Apollo, Greece
Treasury of the Athenians, Delphi
Treasury of the Athenians, Delphi
Rock of Sibyl, Delphi
Rock of Sibyl, Delphi
The Theater, Delphi
The Theater, Delphi
Want to perform at the theater?, Delphi
Want to perform at the theater?, Delphi
The Oracle site, Delphi
The Oracle site, Delphi
Victory podiums at the Stadium, Delphi
Victory podiums at the Stadium, Delphi
The ancient gymnasium, Delphi
The ancient gymnasium, Delphi
The Gym, Delphi
The Gym, Delphi
View of the bay below, Delphi
View of the bay below, Delphi
Streets of Delphi
Streets of Delphi
Summer flowers, Delphi
Summer flowers, Delphi
Delphi village
Delphi village
Frieze, Delphi
Frieze, Delphi
White-ground kylix, Delphi
White-ground kylix, Delphi
Marble statue of Aghias, Delphi
Marble statue of Aghias, Delphi
Sphinx at the museum, Delphi
Sphinx at the museum, Delphi
Cleobis and Biton, Delphi
Cleobis and Biton, Delphi
Apollo, Delphi
Apollo, Delphi
Column of Dancers, Delphi
Column of Dancers, Delphi
Antinoos - World's most good looking man, Delphi
Antinoos - World's most good looking man, Delphi
The Charioteer, Delphi
The Charioteer, Delphi
Metropolis at Mikanos
Metropolis at Mikanos
Panagia Paraportiani, Mikanos
Panagia Paraportiani, Mikanos
Balloon seller, Mikanos
Balloon seller, Mikanos
Tourist population, Mikanos
Tourist population, Mikanos
Blue colors of Mikonos
Blue colors of Mikonos
Mikonos
Mikonos
Mikonos port
Mikonos port
Cubes in the hillside, Mikanos
Cubes in the hillside, Mikanos
Little Venice, Mikanos
Little Venice, Mikanos
Restaurant at Little Venice, Mikanos
Restaurant at Little Venice, Mikanos
Agios Nikolaos church, Mikanos
Agios Nikolaos church, Mikanos
A smaller church, Mikanos
A smaller church, Mikanos
The church at our hotel, Mikanos
The church at our hotel, Mikanos
Windmills of Mikonos
Windmills of Mikonos
The Mikanos bay
The Mikanos bay
Grecian urn tucked away, Mikanos
Grecian urn tucked away, Mikanos
Mikonos town at night
Mikonos town at night
The island's blue water, Mikanos
The island's blue water, Mikanos
On a boat ride, Mikanos
On a boat ride, Mikanos
Plati Yalos, Mikanos
Plati Yalos, Mikanos
Elia beach, Mikanos
Elia beach, Mikanos
Shouldn't this be Paradise beach?, Mikanos
Shouldn't this be Paradise beach?, Mikanos
Water sports - Skiing, Mikanos
Water sports - Skiing, Mikanos
Jetski, Mikanos
Jetski, Mikanos
Parasailing, Mikanos
Parasailing, Mikanos
Water surfing, Mikanos
Water surfing, Mikanos
Paddle board, Mikanos
Paddle board, Mikanos
Simple water sports, Mikanos
Simple water sports, Mikanos
Kids playing, Mikanos
Kids playing, Mikanos
The Mikonos Mascot
The Mikonos Mascot
Summerland Hotel, Mikanos
Summerland Hotel, Mikanos
Wellcome, Santorini
"Wellcome", Santorini
The land of churches, Santorini
The land of churches, Santorini
White and Blue, Santorini
White and Blue, Santorini
Houses, Santorini
Houses, Santorini
Blue domed church, Santorini
Blue domed church, Santorini
Blue domes and water, Santorini
Blue domes and water, Santorini
Lighter shade of blue, Santorini
Lighter shade of blue, Santorini
A church facing land, Santorini
A church facing land, Santorini
Church at Oia, Santorini
Church at Oia, Santorini
The frescoed dome, Oia, Santorini
The frescoed dome, Oia, Santorini
The beautiful sanctuary, Oia, Santorini
The beautiful sanctuary, Oia, Santorini
Donkeys, Santorini
Donkeys, Santorini
Metropolitan at Fira, Santorini
Metropolitan at Fira, Santorini
Guardians of the church, Santorini
Guardians of the church, Santorini
Stained glass windows, Santorini
Stained glass windows, Santorini
Overlooking the crater, Santorini
Overlooking the crater, Santorini
Oia, Santorini
Oia, Santorini
Streets of Oia, Santorini
Streets of Oia, Santorini
Restaurant at Oia, Santorini
Restaurant at Oia, Santorini
Sunburnt houses, Santorini
Sunburnt houses, Santorini
Old stone house, Santorini
Old stone house, Santorini
A backyard garden, Santorini
A backyard garden, Santorini
Fira at night, Santorini
Fira at night, Santorini
The crater, Santorini
The crater, Santorini
Thira port, Santorini
Thira port, Santorini
The Thira bay - Skala Thiras, Santorini
The Thira bay - Skala Thiras, Santorini
Manolas - Thirasia, Santorini
Manolas - Thirasia, Santorini
Nea Kameni, Santorini
Nea Kameni, Santorini
Palea Kameni and Aspronisi, Santorini
Palea Kameni and Aspronisi, Santorini
Thirasia, Santorini
Thirasia, Santorini
Aspronisi, Santorini
Aspronisi, Santorini
Caldera, Santorini
Caldera, Santorini
Mikri Kameni crater, Santorini
Mikri Kameni crater, Santorini
Daphni crater, Santorini
Daphni crater, Santorini
Twin crater, Santorini
Twin crater, Santorini
Sulphur fumes, Santorini
Sulphur fumes, Santorini
Life on a volcano, Santorini
Life on a volcano, Santorini
Village of Oia, Santorini
Village of Oia, Santorini
Sulphur springs, Santorini
Sulphur springs, Santorini
Springing to the springs, Santorini
Springing to the springs, Santorini
Kamari beach, Santorini
Kamari beach, Santorini
Greek men debating, Santorini
Greek men debating, Santorini
Olympic airways, Santorini
Olympic airways, Santorini
Costa Marina Villas, Santorini
Costa Marina Villas, Santorini
Iliki lake
Iliki lake
Andros, Greece
Andros, Greece
Windmill at Paros, Greece
Windmill at Paros, Greece
Paros, Greece
Paros, Greece
Paros Cliff, Greece
Paros Cliff, Greece
Port at Naxos, Greece
Port at Naxos, Greece
Naxos, Greece
Naxos, Greece
Portara Gateway Naxos, Greece
Portara Gateway Naxos, Greece
Bring up those sails, Series - Boats, Greece
Bring up those sails, Series - Boats, Greece
Hidden in the hills, Series - Boats, Greece
Hidden in the hills, Series - Boats, Greece
Boats at Nea Kameni, Series - Boats, Greece
Boats at Nea Kameni, Series - Boats, Greece
Skala Thiras, Series - Boats, Greece
Skala Thiras, Series - Boats, Greece
Mikonos port, Series - Boats, Greece
Mikonos port, Series - Boats, Greece
Creating waves, Series - Boats, Greece
Creating waves, Series - Boats, Greece
Skirting the water, Series - Boats, Greece
Skirting the water, Series - Boats, Greece
A fishing boat, Series - Boats, Greece
A fishing boat, Series - Boats, Greece
A row boat, Series - Boats, Greece
A row boat, Series - Boats, Greece
A Greek yacht, Series - Boats, Greece
A Greek yacht, Series - Boats, Greece
Boats at Palea Kameni, Series - Boats, Greece
Boats at Palea Kameni, Series - Boats, Greece
The Big Blue Star ferry, Series - Boats, Greece
The Big Blue Star ferry, Series - Boats, Greece
Basking in sunlight, Series - Boats, Greece
Basking in sunlight, Series - Boats, Greece
Boats at dusk, Series - Boats, Greece
Boats at dusk, Series - Boats, Greece
Fira port at night, Series - Boats, Greece
Fira port at night, Series - Boats, Greece
Billowing smoke, Series - Boats, Greece
Billowing smoke, Series - Boats, Greece
Lighting up the watchtower, Series - sunset, Greece
Lighting up the watchtower, Series - sunset, Greece
Clouds bring in the dusk, Series - sunset, Greece
Clouds bring in the dusk, Series - sunset, Greece
Sunset in Santorini - Thirasia, Series - sunset, Greece
Sunset in Santorini - Thirasia, Series - sunset, Greece
Nea Kameni, Series - sunset, Greece
Nea Kameni, Series - sunset, Greece
A church bears witness, Series - sunset, Greece
A church bears witness, Series - sunset, Greece
Sunset in Mikonos, Series - sunset, Greece
Sunset in Mikonos, Series - sunset, Greece
The glowing sun at Thira, Series - sunset, Greece
The glowing sun at Thira, Series - sunset, Greece
Slowly plummeting, Series - sunset, Greece
Slowly plummeting, Series - sunset, Greece
The sun sets over Athens, Series - sunset, Greece
The sun sets over Athens, Series - sunset, Greece
Orange glow, Series - sunset, Greece
Orange glow, Series - sunset, Greece
Sun bathing ships, Greece, Series - sunset, Greece
Sun bathing ships, Greece, Series - sunset, Greece
Blending with people, Series - sunset, Greece
Blending with people, Series - sunset, Greece