Saturday, January 16, 2016


One of the first things we did on our arrival in Heraklion was to visit the Archaeological museum which was a fascinating collection of art dating back to 6000BC.

The little bee brooch was made about 1700BC and is gold and shows 2 bees dropping  a drop of honey in the honeycomb held between their legs.  Exquisite.

Below are a few shots of Knossos, a Minoan palace from 3000 years ago.  The intricacy of the building, and the fact that there were several floors is quite amazing.  And the pottery!  Jugs which were 6 feet tall are on display.  

 There is a wall around the old city and for about half of it you can walk on top giving great views of the city and sea.

The pictures below are from Chania which is on the other end of the island and has a lovely old quarter and fort.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas Day in Athens

Christmas day was a public holiday in Athens so all the museums and sites were closed, but we were lucky to find a "free walking tour" which had us setting off from our hotel at 9am.  Our guide was an archaeologist, unemployed due to the recession, and earning money this way while finishing a PhD.

We started with a walk past the library, and then the Academy of Athens pictured below with it's statues of Athena and Apollo and lower down. Plato and Aristotle.  It was built in the late 1800's and styled to reflect an older form of architecture.  I've included the colourful freize because it shows what many of the buildings from 500BC would have looked like.

 Below is the Panthanaic Stadium which was rebuilt, again in the late 1800s in time for the first modern Olympic games in 1896.  The original games were in 330BC on the same site. 

temple of Hephaistos

We had climbed Philopappou Hill behind our hotel and again another great view of the Acropolis.  Even our Christmas dinner restaurant, Strofi, overlooked it, all light up at night - quite magical. 

On Boxing day, again with everything closed we took a tram ride to the coast.  It was about 15C and there were a few hardy souls in swimming. 

 The next day our plans went out the window as there was a strike by maintenance people so again everything was closed.  But for some reason on our walkabout we found this site, Keramikos to be open.  This was the potters quarters but also a cemetery and was on a major road out of the city. 

That day we also climbed Lycabettus Hill (somehow we missed the funicular!) and enjoyed the view of the church on top and the view of Athens as we went down. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The hills of Athens

There are quite a number of hills in Athens, the most important of which is the Acropolis.  It was a very defensive hill and was settled over 7000 years ago.  Of course, we all know it for the Parthenon which has quite  a history of building, rebuilding and destruction over the last 2500 years.  It was originally a place where people lived, then became a temple to Athena, a church, a mosque, and an armory. 
one view of the city from atop a hill

the Parthenon

If you've seen the Elgin marbles, this is where they came from.

the Erechtheion, part of the Acropolis complex, dedicated to Athena and Poseiden
the original Karyatids now in the museum

Above is the interior of the Acropolis museum which houses many of the statues to protect them from further damage.  The building has the same orientation as the Acropolis and this top floor echoes where and how the statues were placed.  It's a must see if you are in Athens.  We unfortunately missed the Archeological museum due to a strike. 

Christmas in Greece

This Christmas our daughters had time to take a vacation with us, and with no other commitments we decided to go away for the holidays.  And we lucked into some lovely weather in Athens - 17C most days and sunny!  We also walked a lot - my fitbit registered 20 thousand steps for the first time - and then for 5 days after!

We started in our tour at the temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian's arch.  Both are in the arm of a busy section of streets.  Both of these date back 2000 years. 
Hadrian's Arch

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple with the Acropolis in the distance

A busy street scene - Christmas shopping in full swing. 

High stepping changing of the guard at the Parliament building.  

Did you know that the pompoms hid a spike - during the Ottoman regime the guards were not allowed to carry weapons.

We had a visit to a contemporary art museum called Frissaris where we saw an exhibition by European women artists from the second half of the Twentieth Century.  Below are a few pieces in the exhibit.  

the interior of the Frissaris.