Posts tagged with 'Greece'

Ancient Thera

By Ross in Travel on Thu 19 June 2014. Tags: Greece

My original plan for the day was to take a bus to visit the archeological site at Akrotiri. After waiting at the bus stop for 45 minutes, however, no bus to Akrotiri showed up. I decided to get on whatever bus showed up next, and found myself heading towards Perissa.

Perissa is known for its black sand beach, but that was not why I was there.

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The revised plan was to visit the ruins of Thera, one of the ancient Greco-Roman cities on the island. Ancient Thera sits on a hilltop between Perissa and Kamari, and I decided to hike up to the ruins from Perissa and back down to Kamari. (It turns out this was the best direction to do this hike in, although I had no way of knowing that at the time).  When I reached the trailhead, I was offered a ride up on a donkey, but I respectfully declined.

As the trail wound up the hillside, I got some nice views of Perissa and the surrounding countryside.

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I also like this photo of a tree against the almost barren landscape.

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There is very little left standing in Ancient Thera. Most of the buildings have been reduced to nothing more than a ring (or rectangle, more accurately) of stones. Luckily there were handy signs describing what I was looking at. otherwise I could not have made any sense of the site.

The most intact building in the site is the Church of Agios Stephanos, which was built on the ruins of an earlier basilica.

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This building, with its central Doric colonnade, was the administrative center of the city.

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Here is the theater, much smaller than the one in Athens.

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This is the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods. During Hellenistic Greece, cults sprang up dedicated to Egyptian gods such as Isis. This part of the sanctuary was carved out of the rock. The niches were used for votive offerings, and idols were placed on the adjacent bench.

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After leaving Ancient Thera, I hiked down this switchback-laden road to Kamari. 

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I did not do much in Kamari other than grab a bite to eat. (I skipped the black sand beaches there as well). On my way out of town, I took a few photos of the agricultural side of Santorini.

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Atlantis Books

By Ross in Travel on Wed 18 June 2014. Tags: Greece, bookstores

While walking along the "main drag" of Oia, I came across Atlantis Books, a quirky gem of an independent bookstore. (I was immediately reminded of Acqua Alta, a similarly odd bookstore in Venice). 

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I spent a long while wandering around the store and chatting with Lucy and Chris, two of the booksellers, and it quickly became one of my favorite bookstores in the world. Pictures cannot do it justice (you'll just have to visit!), but hopefully they can convey a sense of the the character of the place.

The poetry section.

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The philosophy tower.

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The main section of the store, just inside the entrance:

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I had to duck to enter the second room.

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The children's section. Note the book That's My Pirate, a Pat-the-Bunny-esque book about pirates.

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Quotations abound.

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As do promises to never play U2.

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Here is part of the timeline of the store as well as a spiral containing the name of all of Atlantis's employees to date.

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A sign in the back room behind the philosophy tower points towards "sunset".

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The sign leads to a rickety set of stairs, then to a platform, complete with warning signs on the rail.

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Finally a small set of stairs leads up to the roof, where sunset awaits. (Unlike the cake, the sign is not a lie).

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Santorini

By Ross in Travel on Wed 18 June 2014. Tags: Greece

Another early morning, this time to take the ferry to Santorini. The Blue Star Ferry, while not the fastest way to get to Santorini, is certainly the cheapest. It left Piraeus at 0725, and eight hours later, the whitewashed buildings lining the rim of the volcanic caldera came into view. The ferry docked at the modern port (there is nothing much there apart from travel agencies and a few places to get food), and after disembarking, I hopped on the bus, which wended its way up numerous switchbacks until it reached the caldera rim.

After dropping my stuff off in Karterados, where I had found an inexpensive room (the inland towns are much cheaper than the ones on the caldera rim), I walked to Fira, the largest town on the island, and took the local bus to Oia to see the famed blue domes and white houses.

Here is Oia during the daytime. (It was an overcast day).

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Here are some of the famous blue domes.

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Here are some bell towers; the first is from the Orthodox cathedral in Oia.

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This is the tiny port of Amoudi, located below Oia.

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Here is one option to avoid the steep climb (roughly 300 steps) back up to Oia.

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And finally, here is a dog sleeping on the caldera rim:

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All in all, I took hundreds of photos in Oia. (How could one not!) There are more on my Flickr site and more to come in the next several days, as I am spending three nights here.


Acropolis

By Ross in Travel on Tue 17 June 2014. Tags: Greece

This morning I once again got up early so I could catch a flight from Istanbul Ataturk airport to Athens. Only one minor mishap occurred sometime between when I packed my bags and when I got to security. I had my shampoo and laundry detergent stored in travel-size flip-top bottles I got at Duane Reade before I left. When I opened my bag, I noticed there was concentrated laundry detergent everywhere. Somehow the flip-top flipped open, and the laundry detergent escaped not only the bottle but also the TSA-compliant ziploc bag. I ended up using this as an excuse to clean all the things, which was not so bad apart from the nontrivial amount of time it takes to rinse that much detergent out of a backpack and a small handful of clothes. Note to self: no more flip-top bottles. I have an empty 330 mL soda bottle which I am going to use for laundry detergent from now on.

After landing in Athens, I took the Metro to Metaxourgio, where I checked into my dingy hotel (the price was right, and the staff was nice, but that's about all I can say). From there, I headed to the Acropolis, where 12 Euro gets you a ticket to the Acropolis proper as well as most of the outlying archeological sites. Continuing with the theme from Istanbul, everything is under extensive renovation.

The first stop on the way up to the Acropolis was the Theater of Dionysus.

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Here is a closeup of the rear of the stage:

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From there, the path wound up the hill until it reached the Propylaea, the main entrance to the Acropolis. I had not realized just how high the Acropolis sits above the city of Athens.

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Here are two more pictures of the Propylaea, one close-up image and one image looking back at the Propylaea from the Acropolis proper.

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I could not get near the Temple of Athena Nike due to renovations, but I was able to get a picture of it from outside the Propylaea.

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When I passed through the Propylaea, I got my first view of the Parthenon, which, apparently, is still under construction.

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The construction is less evident from the rear.

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Here is the Ionic portico of the Erechtheion, the temple dedicated to both Athena and Posiedon.

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This is the Porch of the Maidens, which hangs off the Erechtheion like a barnacle. Five of the original Caryatids are in the New Acropolis Museum (one more is in the British Museum); the ones here are replicas.

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Leaving the Acropolis, I headed to the Ancient Agora, which contains the Temple of Hephaestus. This temple is notable for being in relatively good shape, especially compared to ruins of the Acropolis.

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I like this shot through the columns in the Library of Hadrian.

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My final stop was the ruins of the Olympieion, the Temple of Zeus.

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One of the surviving columns was toppled in 1852 during a storm, and has been lying there on the ground ever since.

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