The comfortable journey from the cradle of ancient Egypt to Greece the oldest civilization in Europe was two hours when we landed at Athens airport. Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the East Africa to Europe and is home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation. It is the country where the Olympic Games were conceived and launched. The land of from where, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western Literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC.
Lucky to be at the birthplace of democracy and in Athens, the vibrant capital of Greece, which is a world unto itself. The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and now contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. From the flattish topped rock that rises 150 m above the sea level the view is fascinating. One can see for miles together the city spread, giving glimpse of its attractive landscape.
The weather was fine and we could easily have spent all our time in Athens, but that would mean missing out on what lay ahead which seemed far more delightful
In the Hellenistic and Roman period Greece reached great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom, that of classical Greece, expressed in architecture, drama, science, mathematics and philosophy. In 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted the world’s first democratic system of government in Athens.
From Acropolis, the National Archaeological Museum is not very far. As we walked towards it we had an opportunity to wander through the colorful streets, as well as soak up the atmosphere of the hilly district. The largest of Athens’ many museums, National Archaeological Museum houses a vast collection of ancient artifacts unearthed from a variety of excavation sites around Greece. Fortunately our guide had equal proportions of both knowledge and girth; the former was useful as she took us around and briefed us on the museum’s world-famous Mycenaean collection that includes the 19th century finds by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, featuring golden funerary masks, relief stelae, alabaster tools, ivory carvings, and jewelry. We saw the staggering array of ancient figurines, frescoes excavated from the volcanic island of Santorini, and the oldest known mechanical computer, designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. There’s so much to see here, that it will take several visits to absorb it all.
There are many islands in Greece where tourist throng for rest and recreation and explore history. It took nearly six hours by boat, for us to reach the beautiful highly recommended Santorini island. It was devastated by a volcano many years back which destroyed its inhabitants and their entire property. The volcano is active and probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea? The islands that form Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic activity; there were twelve huge eruptions, one every 20,000 years. The Government has sanctioned excavation of to find the lost civilization due to the volcano, which is worth visiting.
Invaders subsequently rehabilitated themselves over the years on the island but it was only in the nineteen fifties that the real development started. The best wine distillery in Greece is located on this island Today, in my twilight years, personally I would like to spend rest of my days here! You get best of both mind and stomach!!
Santorini has a population of around 26,000 and has hundreds of churches both Roman Catholic & Greece Orthodox. There are many private Churches for the simple reason that all the properties including residential and commercial are owned by the Greece Orthodox Church! The Church rules in these pockets besides the Government.
However, the bright side is that the Church after celebrating a festival gives free wine to everyone who attends it.
One major attraction for the tourist is watching the sunset on this island. The beauty of the sunset can only be enjoyed from a particular location. We arrived half an hour early and occupied the chairs placed at vantage point in the restaurant. Soon the steward approached us and politely informed us that we can sit there provided we order for a bottle of wine or have dinner. When wine bottle ( value $50) was refused he gave us the menu card which had four course dinner menu and we had to order dishes from each course. After identifying the dishes when we totalled up their costs, it turned out to be $160 per head. We thanked him and left and stood outside the restaurant facing the sunset, along with the crowd. A middle aged couple from China occupied our seats and they ordered both the wine and dinner!
Our five days stay in Greece was relaxing and enjoyable. It dawned on me later, the Greek economy is in shambles primarily because of the weather and fine conditions all very much conducive for all play and no work!