Again, a little catching up to do.
After climbing the daunting Ancient Thira site (see yesterday’s blog) and checking out the Thira Archaeological Museum in the morning and early afternoon, I headed back to Oia. I still needed to spend time looking at the hotel, thinking through logistics, familiarizing myself with the town layout, and confirming arrangements for dinner, hiking, sailing, etc. I spent a beautiful evening eating stuffed vine leaves on a restaurant mezzanine, watching the sun go down. Here’s a photo or two for you to drool over:
I had an 8:45 am plane to catch in order to meet the group in Athens, so I had to make an early start. Up, shower, pack, drive to the airport, top off with gas, drop off the car. Good … an hour to spare. Wait! The check-in line for the Santorini airport snaked out the front door and down the side walk. This could be trouble. It nearly was. I barely made it on the plane in time. Fortunately I made it to Athens in time to greet the group as they stumbled off their flight from JFK.
The group had an uneventful flight from Nashville to Athens, after some initial trouble getting Julie Woodroof’s passport scanned and bags on the plane. Uneventful or not, it is a long flight and the fatigue was evident in faces and posture when they came out of Customs and spilled into the Arrivals Hall at the Athens airport.
They were eager to get straight to the airport, shower and change, and begin the hard, diligent work of trying to stay awake until a decent hour this evening. So we caught the Metro into Athens (about 45 minutes from the airport to Acropolis Station) and walked the few blocks to the Herodion Hotel. Since it was before noon, only half our rooms were ready. Some of us had to wait in the hotel bar (Coke Lights and lots of water) until (finally) we could drop our bags and grab a quick shower.
About 2:30pm we headed back out again, grabbed a gyros pita, and then toured the New Acropolis Museum. What a magnificent place! And that just describes the building (finished in 2009). The holdings inside are beyond magnificent. What’s an adequate word? Uber-magnificent? Hyper-magnificent? The collections of the Louvre and the Vatican are certainly broader. And even the National Archaeological Museum holds more and more diverse artifacts. But each of these collections represents holdings from all over the world (or from all over Greece). EVERYTHING in the New Acropolis comes from the Acropolis. The sheer scope of this collection, drawn from one, compact site, is stunning.
After drooling over the Sandal Binder and the Critios Boy and the friezes/metopes of the Parthenon, we paused at the museum mezzanine for a reviving cup of coffee and (again/always lots of water). There was some debate about next steps, the fatigue and jet-lag pulling the group towards the hotel and bed. But everyone gritted their teeth and determined to get through the next four hours so we could turn-in at a normal (?) hour and start setting our body clocks.
So a stroll through the Plaka, past the Kapnekarea (an 11th Century Orthodox church), up Ermou Street (the most expensive shopping in Athens!), to Syntagma Square. Then back to a quiet restaurant to enjoy a light meal of appetizers (stuffed vine leaves, kalimari, tzatziki, stuffed mushrooms, spanikopia, feta cheese and philo, meatballs, eggplant salad, olives, and bread) and wine.
After putting it to a vote, it was decided to save the night walk around the Acropolis until tomorrow night (what a slaughter!). So wending our way through the happy crowds and the evening cool, we strolled back to the hotel, briefly touched on tomorrow’s schedule, and bid one another a restful evening.
A great first day. And some good portents for the rest of the trip. The group is willing, eager, and tough. We walked (according to my Health app) about 5.5 miles (13,315 steps!). And that was in a jet-lagged, sleep-deprived, state!