Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

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Following our Dreams and Kicking the Bucket List.  Started on a yacht, now it's planes, trains, Trailblazer 5th wheel, camels, rickshaws.  Exploring our wonderful world.

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

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SLIDE SHOW of Worrall Travel R's 2014 ODYSSEY

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Now showing 2014 BEST Of GREECE

Monday, October 27, 2014

Athens - Days; 135-137

Saturday, October 25, Day 135 - View from the Top
Today, we bought a six venue ticket that would take us into the main ruins of Athens, 12 Euros each.  So in addition to taking the funicular inside Lycabettus hill to the top with a fabulous view of the city (not included in our 6 tickets),we also found a geocache, and visited the Kerameikos Museum (funeral, grave relics, tomb yard), the Olympieion - Temple of Olympian Zeus,  and the Panatheraic Stadium (not included in relics ticket).

The sun played peek-a-boo throughout the day, so we waited patiently for just the right light to take photos.

Looking Down from Lycabettus Hill:

Necropolis - Kerameikos Museum

Olympieion - Temple of Olympian Zeus

Looking Up to Tomorrow's Plan
As the day wound down we just walked around absorbing the sights and sounds of Athens,
Hadrian's Gate

Produce Markets

Flea Markets

Modern Art - Graffiti Everywhere
clocked in 8 miles of walking, sat in a restaurant that had an outstanding night view of the Acropolis, ate Moussaka, drank red wine, and had the traditional Greek Ouzo.
Old Buildings in Need of Repair
My Mom Would Have Love This!

 We even got a glimpse of a Greek wedding in progress as we passed this little church!

Sunday, October 26, Day 136 - Acropolis

After a month in Turkey after, we got used to the Muslim call to prayer broadcasted from minarets.  This morning the call to prayer came from orthodox churches from around Athens.  As in America, the clocks fell back an hour last night.

We got dressed and hiked up Moussan Hill, another overlook.  I took photos thinking I was my camera was on automatic daylight setting, and didn't realize until later when I checked the photos that they were over-exposed (pure white light), that I had forgotten to change my settings from taking the night scene photos the night before.  Grrrr, oh well....not planning to climb that hill again.  Okay so here is a stock photo

We also visited Socrates Prison, a cave.

 Socrates, was convicted of sedition, corrupting the minds of the young, and worshipping his own "god".  The death sentence was handed down by the jury, many of whom had been provoked by Socrates thoughts and outspokenness.  Socrates chose hemlock for his death sentence...a true Greek tragedy.  Socrates was a fairly obscure figure in his own time, and became a noteworthy historical figure only after his student Plato wrote about him and his demise. We are intrigued, and want to learn more.

Finally, after viewing it from the top, the bottom, and the sides, we ascended the hill to the Acropolis. This must have been a spectacular place during the golden age, and in someways it is even more impressive today as it is a giant puzzle of restoration, finding connecting pieces, manufacturing "lost" pieces in the same way and with durable materials, and creating unseen reinforcements for earthquake safety.

Much of the top area of the acropolis is a chunk library of pieces with catalog numbers, perhaps with the hope of putting it all back together again.

 Looking down from the Acropolis we had a great view of the Odeon Herodes Atticus Theater, originally built in the 2nd century CE and rebuilt in the 1950's, and used today for musical and theatrical productions.

Late in the afternoon, we visited the theater of Dionysos (ruins) , found another geocache, walked through the tourist section of the promenade, and returned back to our flat with another 5 miles under our belt.  It was too early for dinner, so we drank our wine, ate cheese and played cards until 7:30 then walked to the local eatery for quinoa salad, Greek salad, and lamb shank.  Delicious.

Monday, October 27, Day 137 - Last Full Day in Athens

There is a school across the street from our flat.  The last two days have been quiet, but today the voices of children filled the play ground.  The sun is out this morning belying the forecast that said it would not poke out until later this afternoon.  Our plan was to take advantage of the morning to catchup on blogs, reading, and laundry, and head out later this afternoon to visit the last of our sites, mainly the ancient and Roman Agoras, and finishing our day downtown where we can return to the same restaurant and repeat our wonderful moussaka experience.  We may speed up the timetable a bit if it looks like rain this afternoon.

Tomorrow, we will depart early for the airport and head to London.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Athens, Greece.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Goodbye Turkey, Hello Athens, Greece (Days 133-135)

Aristotle born 384 BC, Died 322 BC

Day 133 - Goodbye Turkey

After one month in Turkey, it was time to leave.  We were up at 4:00 and out the door to the airport by 4:45.  Our plane would be boarding at 7:25.  Traffic was non-existent at this time of the morning as we zipped along the freeway.  Returning rental cars here is a bit different.  You basically pull into the car park area, write the space number on the parking ticket, and drop the keys, paperwork, and parking ticket on the counter.  No one was available at the desk when we arrived.  Strange.  

Each time we fly, the check in procedure and security seems less and less tolerable.  On this trip we were only allowed to take 8 kilograms (about 18 lbs) of hand luggage.  Ordinarily, we are allowed 20-25 lbs.  We moved as much stuff as we could to our check in bags, creating concave hand luggage, but even that was overweight by a kilo.  We had already checked in our luggage when we weighed our hand bags at the checkin.  Fortunately, the clerk tagged our cabin luggage anyway, and told us to move some things into our backpack. (kind of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic), like it would really make a difference in the overall cabin weight.

We boarded the plane and took off for Istanbul where we would have one flight change.  We were concerned that we would not have enough time to change planes, but were assured by the check in clerk that it would not be a problem, as the airport was small.   We would arrive about 9:15 and boarding for transit plane would begin at 9:30, and take off at 10:15. (So if all went well, we would have an hour.)  Well, all did not go well.  First our plane did not leave on time nor arrive on time.  We arrived at 9:30.  

We were in the middle of the plane, so while they were unloading from both the front and back exits, we were still some of the last people off.  For the size of the plane, there should have been three large busses to take us to the terminal....there were two, and we had to push our way with our hand luggage onto a bulging bus.  Some passengers were left behind...at least we made the first round of busses.

When we arrived we followed the signs to international transit.  The doors were closed.  Two official workers told us the gates were closed and to go somewhere else, but the first worker told us to wait and the gate would open in about 5 minutes.  So we waited 10 minutes..  It is now 9:55.  We still had passport control, which was quite easy once the gates were finally opened.  Home free as we started quickly toward the gate, only to discover there was another security line 100 passengers long.  #$@@!  Why would there be an interior security for transit passengers?
No one was around to help expedite passengers who needed immediate boarding so we waited in the line, until 10:05 when finally someone came up and started a line for passengers leaving on 10:15-10:20 flights, about 1/3 of the line.

Fortunately, we were some of the first ones through security (yes, belts, hats, bottles out -- the whole enchilada...grrrrr).  We put ourselves back together, and started hoofing it to the gate.  Our plane, we hope is being held as it is now 10:15.  We run down the crowded halls, up a flight of stairs, more halls, down a flight of stairs, more running, but getting closer.  A clerk is yelling, "Athens", 10:15, this way, this way!"  Russ and I make it through check in and are shuttled out to the waiting bus. We are the only ones on, but we see some others coming behind us.  Another couple gets on.....and we wait while a young man is having an argument with the attendant at the check in desk.  Finally, as tempers seem to be flaring inside, the attendant rushes the young man on the bus, the doors close, and the attendant and man carry on their heated discussion.....his girlfriend who went to the toilet got left behind.  He was leaving and had her passport and wallet. They would not hold the plane any longer.  What a mess!

By the time we arrive at the plane, it is poring rain.  The plane is hot and humid and the passengers all of whom are seated except the five us are all grumpy looking.  We make our way to our seats, dripping with rain and sweat, stow our luggage and collapse in our seats.  It is now 10:30. Not a relaxing transit to say the least, but can't imagine being stranded in Istanbul without luggage, passport, or wallet.

Finally, we are on our way to Athens.

Hello Athens, Day 133

We arrived in Athens in the early afternoon, and were met at the airport by our AirBnB host who would also serve as our Taxi to his home near the Acropolis, and back to the airport in a couple of days.    It took us about 45 minutes from airport to to his place.  Christos lives in a 1950's flat.  Our room is very spacious and includes a sitting room, use of bathroom, kitchen, laundry, and roof garden.  

We do not have a rental car here, but everything we want to see is within walking distance of our flat. The weather is dark and rainy, and not conducive to any island hopping, so for this trip we will confine ourselves to Athens.  During a weather break, we walk to the local market and pickup some provisions, and stop for a meal at the eatery a block from the flat, then home to bed.  It's been an exhausting day.

Zeus reigns Over Athens - Day 134

The clouds are dark and threatening as we left with ponchos and umbrella tucked in the backpack.  Zeus is unhappy and threatening to be even more unhappy as the day progresses.  Our goal today is to visit the new Acropolis Museum and the Tourist Office.  We'll leave the outside stuff for a better day.  To get to the museum however there is a hill with ruins we must climb or go around.  We go over the top, watching as the black clouds get closer.  By the time we reach the museum, it is raining.  We don't want to be on top with the thunder and lightening.

The museum is beautiful and built with peek-a-boo glass floor over the ruins of ancient Athens.  The original archaic Acropolis buildings (before the Classical period 480-323) and the first temples were sacked by the Persians in 480 BC.

The Athenians did not lose this war, but when they returned, every structure on the Acropolis was leveled.  To preserve the old, sculptures, reliefs, and other artifacts were buried in pits, later to be discovered in recent times and are now being restored and displayed in the Archaic Gallery of the new museum.  Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in the archaic gallery, but the sophistication of the artifacts from 800-480 BC, are very impressive.

By the time we left the museum, Zeus was clapping his hands and throwing lightening bolts towards the earth.  We decided to go around the big hill to get back to our flat instead of over the top.  We did not want to be one of Zeus's casualties.  The wind and rain whipped around us as we trudged back.

Once we arrived at the flat, we cooked up a big pot of cream of broccoli soup for dinner, drank red wine, and played cards before turning in for the night.

Day 135 - Looks like the least rainy day!

We will be leaving as soon as I post this blog to explore more of Athens.  I'll post more photos this evening when we return.  http://worrallwind.blogspot.com

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Athens

Friday, October 24, 2014

Last Day in Turkey, Day 132, Underground Cities

We spent our last day in Turkey driving away from Kapadokya then back for a terrific farewell dinner overlooking the city lights of the Fairy Chimneys.
Mt. Hassan

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Because of the unusual geologic layering of volcanic ash and pumice, plus years of erosion, the valleys and hills in the area lent themselves to habitation by those willing to carve a niche for themselves in the earth.  Beginning in 2000 BC, the Hittites, were the first known settlers in this area.  They started digging into the cliffs and underground.  

In later years, persecuted Christians took the digging to deeper depths creating underground cities (up to eight floors down and 4 square kilometers in area))  inside caves and straight down in the valleys to build monasteries, churches, wineries, animal shelters, caravansaries, and homes.  

Bye, Bye Russ - As He Heads Down Under

Passages to different levels are narrow and steep where it is more like rock climbing or descent than stair passages.  Airshafts and wells built by the dwellers bring fresh air and water to the cities. Some cities that are combined with caves have some natural light on the first levels, but after that it is just dark and claustrophobic.  Today of course, these areas are lit with electricity for tourists, but it must have been quite dark and grim lit by torch and little lamps.
Monastery Valley Underground City

Dwellers Rolled Huge Mill Wheels Across Tunnels to Thwart Enemies

We visited two underground cities and a canyon with cliffside dwellings. 

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's - Our last night in Turkey