v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Vacation look back: Greece

Roman Era Bathtub, Museum of Patra
In the last part of the vacation wrap-up we have Greece, where we spent the most time during this vacation. I guess if I had to give an elevator (or Doogie Howser journal blurb) to this it would be "seeing old things with new eyes, and meeting new people."

I guess the first thing to tackle is my Greek citizenship. After many years, and lots of back and forth about what papers I needed, the papers that I submitted to the consulate in Boston made it to Greece and I finally got my Greek ID card (yay!) which means I am a citizen of the EU as well as my native US. I have to say that I was amazed at how quickly the ID card, and passport were processed. In years past I think I would have been given the run-around (and I was!), but I guess things have changed in Greece at the moment.  Now, all I need to do is get a Greek military service waiver, which apparently is going to take a few months to review and approve or reject...I guess speedy service hasn't caught up with the military yet ;-)

We did visit quite a few museums while we were in Greece, including the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the Benaki, the Ancient Agora, the National Archeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum and the Museum of Ancient Elis (home of the original Olympics apparently), in my neck of the woods! There were quite a few things to see, both new to me, and things that I had seen as a kid (visiting these places with my grandfather), that were laying somewhere dormant in my mind. I have to say, going to museums, while fun, is tiring!  There were some pros and cons to museums in Greece.  For example, the prices are cheap. We got into the National Archeological Museum for 7 euros.  Now THAT is cheap, and the museum was huge!  The con was that indoor Museums open at 9:00am  close around 2:30pm which means that you just don't have that much time. You can, essentially, do a Museum per day.  External sites, like the Ancient Agora in Athens and the Archeological sites at Delphi stay open later, so your best bet is museums in the morning, until early afternoon, and then pair that with some external site. 

The museums in Athens were really easy to get to on the Metro, but other than that, Patra, Delphi and Ancient Elis really needed a car rental in order to get to them. Car rentals weren't that bad it seemed, so it's quite worth spending the money on the rental (and the gasoline) to avoid waiting for public transportation and bus/train exchanges when you are outside of Athens. Speaking of transportation, when in Athens, just get the 7-day unlimited Metro card. This gives you unlimited rides for 14 euros. The price is unbeatable as far as I am concerned (since I walk or take the train everywhere in Athens and the surrounding area).

Theater at Ancient Elis
We of course visited my neck of the woods for a week or so, that is Amaliada (city), Marathia (village) and Kourouta (sea-side village). I have to say that it was a bit weird to have been gone so long that my city, Amaliada, is no longer a Demos (Δήμος), or "city" of it's own, but rather it's now part of another group of towns that make up the "city of Elis" (Δήμος Ηλίδας). It feels like my city got demoted or something into a town.

It was nice to see the development of roads leading to and from the beach, the development of more stores and hangouts at Kourouta (some old favorites are still there), and heck, the development of bike paths, that no one seems to use.  We did eat out a lot, for one reason or another, but the prices weren't that bad! Again, Greece was cheap if you knew where to eat.  We are by a sea-side fish place a couple of times in Kourouta called Psaraki (Ψαράκι), or "little fish" which had some great food and friendly staff. It seemed to us that in most restaurants that we went to the potatoes for the fries or potato chips were cleaned and sliced on demand - nice!  In Amaliada there was also this one Souvlaki place that had great souvlaki, at unbeatable prices.  We seriously could do lunch for 12 euros (for two people) and be full and satisfied.

At Kristin's side of Greece, Sterea Ellada we stayed at a chalet type place called Metohi. We were the only people there other than the owners, but that was normal. Most people head to the beach in the summer. That place is apparently packed in the winter. Each room has a fireplace, and each day (I think) you get an allotment of wood for the fireplace.  This would be a nice place to visit in the winter, and go for some skiing. The breakfast at this place was phenomenal (included with our stay). It kept us going well into the afternoon. We of course visited Kristin's village (Oinohori) and some surrounding towns and villages for food and exploration. Some of the places included, the well known, Arachova, Bralos (which apprantely has a British WWII cemetery) and Lamia. I didn't think I would like the mountains as much as I did.  Perhaps now that my friends all have "grown up" responsibilities and we can't all just meet at the beach for the afternoon and do nothing, the beach seems a little less appealing.  That said, I still love the water.

While in the area we visited Hosios Loukas, something that was covered in my undergraduate Art History textbook. I have to admit, I am not a big fan of visiting churches for their architecture, but this was pretty cool! The architecture, the paintings, and the surrounding area were pretty cool. This is something to definitely go back and see again.  At the giftshop we got some local spirits and liqueurs, so I am looking forward to trying all those sometime soon. I have started trying out the Tsipouro that was sourced locally and it's pretty good (and strong!). Again, this is a place that you need a car to get to.  Tours will get you here, but if you want to be off the beaten path, you need a car.  Trust me, it's well worth it!

Kourouta Beach, Storm Coming In...
Finally Patra.  I think, all things considered, we stayed in Patra as much as we stayed in Amaliada. Patra was were we picked up our boat to go to Italy. It was also the port that Kristin's grandfather left from to come to the US back in 1914. Patra was one of those cities that we drove by when I was a kid, despite the fact that I had relatives there, and it's the third biggest city in Greece. We never really stayed, so it was not a city that I explored a lot as kid. I didn't really explore it much now, but I think that I would like to just spend a day walking around there, with no particular destination, just to see what the city is like.

All things considered, Greece was pretty awesome. I really wish I could have stayed more, but without serving my military time, I can only spend 30 days there (something I learned recently). The Peloponnese is a region I want to explore more.  For all the driving around and touristy stuff I did with my grandfather growing up there, I didn't really explore the Peloponnese that much. I guess one never really explores their own back yard...

Panorama of Hosios Loukas

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