Memories of Greece Amongst the Snow

Walking about through the slushy sidewalks and salt-ridden streets of Washington, DC this time of year makes me nostalgic of the time I spent in Greece a year or so ago.

For every chilled passer-by here wrapped in woolen scarves and fleeced ear muffs I think of the locals walking the inner streets in the town of Mykonos, dressed in their traditional island attire, making their way to the local baker for their loaf of bread.

For every chain restaurant franchisee I pass by from the metro station to the office, I think of the local Greek cafe’s, serving local delights, lining the edges of the islands small inner harbor, in which the colorful local fisherman’s boats bob up and down in the warm Aegean waters.

For every chunk of rippled ice I see float by in the Potomac along the shores of the Mall, I think of warm breezes blowing across our ship bow as we sailed out of the caldera cliffs of Santorini.  The white-washed towns along the caldera’s edges almost appearing like snow-capped peaks rising against a deep blue sky.

Sitting at my desk, occasionally peering out the window over the street below takes me back to walking atop the Acropolis in Athens, and being both amazed of the view and absorbing the historical background of the fortified perch I stood upon.

It’s the brisk winter days like these in Washington, DC that make my mind wander back to Greece and the amazing vistas, warm sun upon my back, and the cultural richness that is,… well,  one of my favorite places to be.

Kalispera!

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Academic Travel Abroad and The Wonders of Ancient Greece.

Kalimera!  (“good day” in Greek)

Our group and the Parthenon

I recently had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Athens and the Cycladic Islands as a representative for Academic Travel Abroad with travelers from the Association of Yale Alumni and Smithsonian Journeys.  If you’ve never been to Greece or the picturesque Cycladic Islands, this is the trip to take!  We were accompanied by Eleni Zachariou, our Greek historian and local expert who added real value and distinct character to all the sights by giving us the historical background at each location.

Our tour started in Athens, where we visited the sights of the acclaimed Acropolis with the majestic Parthenon and Erechtheum temples and enjoyed a lecture by Elani which told the story of this location’s turbulent history through Greek, Persian and Mycenaean influences.  We then proceeded to the famous Greek Agora site where we were introduced to the extravagant complex that was once a thriving Greek marketplace where trade, entertainment and politics were daily cultural activities.

Chapel on Santorini

A picturesque chapel on Santorini

We were also treated to some excellent traditionally local meals throughout the small back streets of Athens while enjoying some time to shop and see more elusive sites along the way.  This was a chance to feel the very tangible energy that Athens has.  It was amazing.

On the third day, we drove to the port of Piraeus where we boarded our ship, the S.V. Panorama and set sail for the much-anticipated Cycladic Islands. 

Delos, the birthplace of Apollo, was an amazing landscape of ruins from 2000 -1500 B.C.  Mykonos was an island of quaint villages and amazing vistas of the Aegean Sea with tiny streets filled with friendly locals and enticing shops.  Naxos, the largest of the Cylcades islands, was covered in breath-taking views of mountainous landscapes and we had a unique opportunity to visit one of Elani’s friends who has refurbished a beautiful historical home on the hillside looking down over the island’s harbor.  Santorini is simply amazing.  An ancient volcanic caldera forms a partial ring of islands on which three beautiful towns line the cliff-tops and offer a photographers dream for finding that dramatic shot.  We rode the mules up the caldera’s rim and enjoyed a day of sites and shopping while basking in the warm Greek sunlight.

Our ship - the S.V. Panorama

The glories of modern and ancient Greece were  truly magnificent.  Between our boat staff, Elani Zacharriou – our tour expert and Marty Gane – our tour manager, we were professionally immersed into a culture and civilization that astounded us all.  The memories, experiences and friendships we all came away with from this tour will be something we will keep with us for a lifetime.

To see my slideshow from this tour, CLICK HERE.

Steve Muth
Creative Manager
Academic Travel Abroad 

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