Last Night in Greece

We spent one last night in Athens before catching our home-bound flights to London and LA. Rob and I had dinner at Orizontes, atop Mount Lycabettus overlooking the whole city. It was stunning at night, with views of the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis. Here are some photos from the restaurant and our hotel.

0F024463-1E2E-41C7-9C15-2F01C092804D.JPG

The colossal Temple of Zeus, which took more than six hundred years to build. There are only sixteen columns left of the original 104. It's more than impressive when you see how enormous the columns are. 

IMG_8345.JPG
IMG_8344.JPG

I'll write more in coming days about the Greek island of Rhodes, and our visit to the Monastery of Saint Nicolas, the Sanctuary of the Cats, on Cyprus. I left my tzedakah dollar at the sanctuary, where nuns continue hundreds of years of taking in stray cats. The dollar was given to me by my dear friend Arthur Gross Schaefer, a rabbi. In the Jewish tradition, one writes a Jewish blessing for safe travels on the dollar, and at the furthest point of the journey, the traveler gives the dollar to someone in need or a charitable cause. The cats were first brought to Cyprus and the monastery in 326 AD to control venomous snakes, and they continue in that role today. 

IMG_8190.JPG

The mosaic above the entrance to the Monastery of Saint Nicolas.  

IMG_8192.JPG

Two of the residents. They do not necessarily have an easy life. One of the cats we saw was missing half of her face, no doubt from an encounter with a snake.  

IMG_8196.JPG
IMG_8195.JPG

Cyprus, Home of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love

We leave tomorrow after five nights on the island of Cyprus, the third-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. It remains divided between the Turkish territory in the northern third and the Greek Republic of Cyprus in the south, which is the only officially recognized state. We visited Larnaca, the largest city on the island, with beautiful beaches, and Paphos on the western coast, where there are many ancient ruins sites. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and romance, is said to have born in the sea near Paphos. We visited her famed Baths of Aphrodite and the Temple ruins that were devoted to her before the Roman era and Christianity. 

Paphos has a lovely harbor, where numerous restaurants and tavernas and souvenir shops vie for tourists' attention. We swam in the gorgeous aquamarine Mediterranean several times, and it was clear and warm. Here are some of my photos from our time here. 

702A707A-1EC4-4A57-87A2-BA6AB83CDD1E.JPG

The view of the Mediterranean from our hotel in Larnaca. 

FC6B3F2C-9741-432F-8C39-353140FF38BB.JPG

A traditional Cypriot meze, with sausages, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, ham, fried halloumi (a delicious cheese), and tzatziki (yogurt dip). And, of course Cypriot beer--Leon.  

1C58B619-29FF-4A60-A5EC-C92F5A30EE54.JPG

Rob at the ruins at Kourion, near Lemessos.  

622FC6DD-4806-4AB3-A684-9B2836817A06.JPG

Inlaid mosaic at Kourion.   

22560224-5822-4662-A1D6-4A01188CE9E6.JPG
900372E6-7EB2-4DCA-A9EB-70BA99D180CD.JPG
3A5CC69E-19FF-492B-83F8-C232D301E542.JPG
93953884-89C8-4FF6-8545-85A9E8B873E7.JPG
5BF8CE14-42F5-4B02-AAFD-2EF7F6FA636C.JPG

Crete's Chania and Red Beach Near Matala

Rob and I spent five nights on Crete, the largest of the Greek islands. We flew into Heraklion, then rented a car to drive to the charming harbor town of Chania. Our hotel, Domus Renier, was exquisite and the owner, Litsa Paraskevaki, was warm and welcoming. She spent three years renovating a very old building, and it is beautiful with attention to every detail.  

5313A460-95C9-47B4-9FF2-ACCB14541686.JPG

The harbor at Chania.  

1941089E-E2DC-4831-9F96-E4D3E80C02B1.JPG
35523CFE-ACFF-4C89-996B-26080AF599AF.JPG

Yup.  

8D6D5AC9-8B9D-4D9B-BB20-3661ACE7E8D9.JPG
8E7B0635-7D4F-4617-B579-3B6DEAFED01B.JPG

A BIG beer.  

3B12A2D8-F283-41CA-A3C5-5F79F6F502A3.JPG

Chania lighthouse.  

6E8F5EFE-96F4-4882-B58E-920C23EB1856.JPG

A detail--exposed original wall at Domus Renier.  

CFF1BAA7-9864-489A-A38D-76A7F8D3CCBD.JPG

Rob with Litsa, the owner of Domus Renier.  

A4DCF5CF-6FF8-4B97-A191-5B88035563CA.JPG

Original details were retained or re-created.  

E604F8E8-2FB8-4AE0-94C2-B285C66864EA.JPG

Red Beach, near Matala in southern Crete.  

A Whirlwind Week

It seems like yesterday when we were in Mykonos. In truth, we've been to Santorini and Crete, and arrived today on the Greek island of Rhodes. Somewhere along the way I lost several days to an upper respiratory infection and a trip to the urgent care clinic in Chania, Crete. Even so, we managed to do plenty and see much of these spectacular places. Rob even made me climb a steep mountain to get to Red Beach (a fav nude beach, especially for Germans, it seems) near Matala in Crete.  I've included several of my fav places below (sorry, no nude pics).  And, with antibiotics I'm back among the living. We're on Rhodes for three days, then Cyprus! 

 

Our hotel on Santorini, the Volcano View.  

Our hotel on Santorini, the Volcano View.  

897F3C2F-5010-423C-8D4C-655CF0FA3C6E.JPG

Early morning view to the west.

C5F751D0-866A-4037-8A63-4156F0361F21.JPG

Santorini sunset.  

We explored both Fira and Oia, the two tiny towns on Santorini, but they were both very touristy with tons of souvenir shops. We took lots of pictures though--there are stunning churches and mosques here.   

87FE00F4-F42F-4F81-A9E0-13DE6C597A0B.JPG

St. James cathedral in Oia, Santorini.  

3E1CF2EA-5A22-4360-925E-C08315D7119E.JPG
66AEE3A9-FEA1-4863-A538-1BD5CFB1B979.JPG
We spent a lovely afternoon on a catamaran cruise while on Santorini. 

We spent a lovely afternoon on a catamaran cruise while on Santorini. 

I'll put up another post with images from Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands, of which there are 150. 

F9A5C83F-83E6-4AD5-B0E5-DC9C26B6F41E.JPG

Two Nights in Mykonos

The island of Mykonos is known for its gorgeous beaches, white buildings with blue shutters and doors, and vibrant nightlife. Even the shops stay open till 2 a.m.  While we were here, we took a half-day tour of the nearby island of Delos, a World Heritage site with ruins that go back 6,000 years.  

D73A61DF-A5B5-485C-BCFF-20960C9E15D7.JPG

The Hotel Vencia.  

47A67EE4-8C20-4030-A71A-35F9C3B10C8A.JPG

The view from our hotel room.  

DD65AB65-A6ED-4D5D-B276-AA8042B6C1D3.JPG
CEF857F3-1E26-4453-ABEC-90928C6D86E2.JPG

Delos ruins and harbor.  

AEC64F14-50EA-472B-8C38-C1E926DC04A5.JPG

Inlaid tile in the atrium of a house on Delos--from the 6th century BCE.  

Photos from the Acropolis

On our last Day in Athens, last Friday, we visited the Acropolis, a millennia-old hilltop temple where the goddess Athena was worshipped. The history of the site is long and storied, and the ruins are stunning. Here are some photos. 

28045E32-A9A4-403B-9C20-8EF3592B4099.JPG
8A97E870-84BB-461B-8960-35CC0593D3DC.JPG
C442BCE3-C047-4693-A77F-29A696F2B352.JPG
4FB785FC-D580-4505-8D7B-AFE492EE9515.JPG
B8017CA8-6BBE-473E-BE57-9B29B07755BD.JPG
BF596A4C-85D4-4DF9-B710-7538C680B661.JPG

In front of the beautiful new Acropolis Museum. Not to be missed.