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-   -   Greece: Athens, Santorini, Nafplio, Mycenae, etc. ............... Where DO they get those tomatoes?, what do you mean the green walk light doesn't mean to walk, queues don't mean queues, how do they make that chocolate cake, the Greek riots (

ParisAmsterdam Dec 18th, 2008 09:48 AM


Yes, there are many stray cats and dogs in Greece but they all seemed to me to be happy and well fed.

Each site of ruins we visited, Epidaurus, Delphi, Mycenae etc seemed to have their unique tribe of cats in residence.

I too am a cat lover but the cats in Greece are happy and free.

Rebook your trip!


brotherleelove2004 Dec 18th, 2008 10:23 AM

"there are many stray cats and dogs in Greece but they all seemed to me to be happy and well fed"

I'm guessing you've never been to Greece in the months between November and May, easily half the year. The only animals that are happy and well-fed are people's pets. The stray animals struggle to survive. The only time the strays get food (other than from a few kind locals) is during the summer season when sympathetic tourists try to help them. The rest of the year there is little or no water for them to drink. Food is very scarce. Don't be fooled into thinking that what you see in the summer is the way it is for them the rest of the year. If you want to know the 'real' situation go there in April or May and look at them. You will see something completely different. Many starve to death during the winter. Those that are still alive look like they've been through a war.......because they have.

Nikki Dec 18th, 2008 10:50 AM

I'm glad you made it up to Mycenae after all the effort. This was perhaps my favorite site in Greece. Just imagining Agamemnon coming through that gate returning from ten years of war in Troy, to be greeted and then murdered by his wife Clytemnestra on this very hilltop. Chills down the spine.

bdjtbenson Dec 18th, 2008 11:28 AM

I'm looking at riot pictures and notice a lot of red flags being carried by the protestors. What are they?

Also what is the significance of the slogan No Control that seems to be used often?

As far as Asian cuising goes.

We stayed at a hotel in Guam. They had a new walk overlooking the ocean with thousands of coconut crabs (look like hermit crabs only the size of a fist or bigger. Within days the Japanese at the hotel had wiped them out.

We went to a Korean Air Force officer's wedding. At the reception they had everything imaginable including jellyfish noodles and dog tongue. Great shellfish though. At the time they were trying to get restaurants to stop serving dog because they were preparing for the Olympics.

There is little that walks, swims or sits still that won't be on the menu at an authentic Asian restaurant.

Great report by the way.

TDudette Dec 18th, 2008 01:10 PM

You have reminded me that we drank the cold coffee in the 1980s when we were in Athens. They called it frappe (frap pay) and we loved it. Such a beautiful country. Get on over to Sicily and southern Italy if you haven't yet.

tableronde Dec 18th, 2008 08:03 PM

dfr4848, I am glad that your description gets beyond the traditional tourist attractions and restaurants... to some of the unexpected experiences.

Our trip report;tid=35166201 left out Athens in late September, figuring it to be superfluous. But here is a possibly relevant addition. I decided to walk beyond the "tourist districts" of Plaka and Monastiraki, so I tried out the so-called Historical District just north of there, between Athinas and Stadiou streets. Now the public market was quite enjoyable. But the twisted little side streets had dogs, cats, AND MICE running freely. And tough looking policemen patrolling at night.

Didn't think much of it until I ran into a mob at a corner: they were looking on as the police were roughing up an African, who apparently tried to sell his wares without a license. He didn't speak the language, was fighting to get his wares back. And I got the impression that the onlookers were on his side, against police brutality. An old lady even picked up his hat and handed it back to him.

Did your daughter's immersion into the Modern Greek society include any lectures into aspects like:
- the relationship between government, police, students, and the general population?
- the immigrant question
- the role of women and youth in this society, say compared to rural Greece, Western Europe and the US?

It is my understanding that American universities have programs that address Greece for two different, and amazingly disconnected, reasons:

- Classical studies, which address Ancient Greece's culture, archeology and language, with little interest in current affairs

- International (Hellenic) studies, which teach Modern Greek and East European (Balkan) history, and which consider the ancient culture as something between an honor and a heavy burden on this country trying to integrate into the European Community

milley_5 Dec 19th, 2008 03:08 AM

tableronde writes:

>I decided to walk beyond the "tourist districts" of Plaka and Monastiraki, so I tried out the so-called Historical District just north of there, between Athinas and Stadiou streets. Now the public market was quite enjoyable. But the twisted little side streets had dogs, cats, AND MICE running freely. And tough looking policemen patrolling at night.<

Goodness me. You've just described what can be seen in some parts of my local neighborhood and I am sure many, many others.

and then writes:

>Didn't think much of it until I ran into a mob at a corner: they were looking on as the police were roughing up an African, who apparently tried to sell his wares without a license. He didn't speak the language, was fighting to get his wares back. And I got the impression that the onlookers were on his side, against police brutality. An old lady even picked up his hat and handed it back to him.<

Oh come on. You have no idea what happened prior to you arriving. You have no idea what the same young man could have done beforehand. It's not too wise to presume and then use words such as 'roughing up' and 'police brutality'. Sheesh.

It looks like that on your first visit to Greece you have come across so many things that others who have traveled there for years have still to see. I get the uneasy feeling you probably feel very fortunate.


dfr4848 Dec 19th, 2008 05:10 AM

ms_go - That veal stew was indeed really good. Don't think we can duplicate that. [BTW - loved your trip report]

Nikki - I also tend to have those visions at many if not most of ancient sites we've been to. But I still think it's hard to fully grasp the scope of history sometimes.

bdj - I don't have an answer to your questions other than we heard and read several reports that referred to a black and red flag used by the "anarchists".

TDutte - haven't made it to Sicily yet, but really liked southern Italy.

tableronde - the short answer to your questions on daughter's studies is "yes". She has mentioned all of those issues and more. A number of her classes have been on modern and contemporary Greece. While we obviously spent a lot of time with her on this trip and talked with her often during the semester, we have not yet had the opportunity to discuss many of these issues in detail. We intend to when she returns.

Your comment regarding American universities' approach to Greek is interesting and I'd probably agree with it. Having said that, I will also say that her Greek professor in the US is married to a native Greek and they return to Greece at least once a year. So she has had a lot of exposure to more contemporary Greek issues than you'd probably find in the "normal" Greek study programs.

OK, last full day in Greece.

Dec 8

Another beautiful day. At breakfast, daughter is able to get on the internet. She checks email and has 1 from school and 1 from US Embassy. Both describe the unrest as being concentrated in central Athens, advise to use some common sense and caution in where they visit, and suggest they avoid the most affected areas of Plaka, Syntagma/Parliament, Polytech. Univ., and Monastiraki. She finds other reports suggesting that some demonstrators are beginning to pursue their own agendas/issues separate and apart from the reaction over the student's death. From the reports, it does seem apparent that there are many factions which have some issues with the current government.

We see no protests in Nafplio.

We pack up and head to the bus station which leaves promptly at 10:00. As we pass through Argos, the main square is packed with people holding signs (which we can't see clearly enough to read). Looks to be peaceful. Bus driver has to divert down some VERY narrow streets, and in a couple of instances has to honk to get people out of stores to move their cars so he can get through.

Trip to Athens is otherwise pretty uneventful and we notice that in several places people are now harvesting oranges, lemons and, closer to Athens, olives. Just a beautiful part of the county.

As we enter the Athens area closer to the bus station, we see a couple of overpasses which are filled with people and signs. Off to the side, we see a lot of smoke, but have no idea what the source is and whether it even has any connection to demonstrations.

Get to the bus station with no problems and take a cab to daughter's apt, then get some sandwiches at an outdoor cafe along with freddo cappucinos. We pack and repack the 2 extra bags we brought and reweigh them several times. I swear the 4 large ones we're checking are right at 49.5 lbs. So we have 4 large suitcases, 2 carryons, DW's large purse and my camera bag. Gez, it seems like we're taking half of Athens back with us!

Call a cab from Athens One, but have to make one last diversion. DW walks around the corner to the bakery and gets a piece of that chocolate cake to take with us! We ask the driver if he's run into any problems with the protests and he says not really other than the horrible traffic jams near the immediate central areas.

Check into the Sofitel Airport Hotel, which turns out to be the nicest room we've had so far. Very large, with big bathroom. The amenity kit even includes a toothbrush, small toothpaste and razor with shaving cream. Really nice touch.

We have an "early" dinner at the hotel since we have a 6:00 flight. Staying here was smart move on DW's part - really made things easier. Get back to the room and we stare at the chocolate cake. I then point out we have no utensils. DW thinks a minute and starts tearing the top of the cardboard box in cake is in. In a couple of minutes, we have 2 "spoons".

We watch CNN International and BBC - videos of riots, stores and cars burning, etc. Disconcerting to see stores and places burning which we had just visited a few days before. Obviously have concerns over daughter, but she's got a good head on her shoulder, isn't careless and the school and the embassy seem to keep them updated.

We talk about what a great time we've had and hope daughter has had a wonderful experience.

Tomorrow - return home and some afterthoughts about the trip.

dfr4848 Dec 19th, 2008 08:00 AM

Dec 9

Very cool this morning. Get our 3:30 wake up call. Gez this is early even for me. Turn on the news. Rioting still seems confined to central Athens. Greek PM says he might declare state of emergency. Not exactly what that means. Hope the best.

Pack up luggage and we have all of about 20 yrds to walk to departure entry. Really convenient.

LH 3385 leaves on time at 6:00 to FRA. The A321 is configured differently than incoming flight and is more comfortable. About 90% full. Where are all these people going at this crazy hour? (Besides us of course)

Served meal of cold cuts, cheese, rolls, juice and coffee.

Land on time and usual LONG walk to connecting gate.

LH 440 to IAH leaves 50 min late at 11:20. DW and I have an empty seat between us so much more comfortable. The service is pretty much the same as coming over (good, attentive FAs and very decent food and drinks) except that this time we get a second hot meal about 1.5 before landing - chicken breast, wild rice, veggies, rolls, cake, etc. I always find it harder to sleep on the west bound runs due to total daylight, so I do watch a movie: appropriately "Mama Mia".

Got some beautiful views and photos of Greenland. First time we've seen it in winter. We do take very long route (as in over Fargo, ND) due to eastern and midwest storms. So total flight is almost 11.5 hrs - really long. We arrive an hour late at 15:30. Pass through customs fine and our car is waiting.

Our fabulous first time to Greece is over.

A few post scripts:

Going in the offseason, our expectations were moderated. But we were not disappointed at all. Had great weather. Loved what we saw of the Peloponnese. Santorini was everything we expected and more. And we did often enjoy the fewer crowds and discounts we got on some prices.

We read in several sources that Athens was "a big ugly city with 2 world class museums".

Agree with the second point, but NOT the first. Admittedly we spent a lot of time there with a decidedly different perspective because of daughter. But, except for the traffic, we really liked it. Great people and neighborhoods, obviously fascinating history, plenty of green space and nice parks, and of course the food - and those bakeries.

For those who try to calculate some of the costs I gave, during our two weeks, the euro ranged from 1.25 - 1.29 to the dollar. Not bad considering where it had been.

I'll try and post some photos as soon as we get them into a manageable order and number.

Thanks again to all of you who directly or indirectly made this a very memorable trip!

tableronde Dec 19th, 2008 08:48 AM


What was it in my post that incited your response getting personal? I meant to describe two experiences off the beaten tourist path.
I've been to Greece before, I've also been to many other parts of Europe, from richest to poorest; and I am interested enough to immerse into each culture, to compare.

What I find unique about Greece is the contrast between the introspective traveler looking for an ideal ancient Greece, the mass tourist looking for recreation, and the real Greece behind the tourist brochures. I am also curious about one coming to Greece as a student or business person.

I mean to observe and learn, not to judge. So if you have a constructive comment, beyond "goodness me" and "come on", then let's have it.

annhig Dec 19th, 2008 09:01 AM

hi dfr,

great report - it's really made me consider whether we should move Greece further up our "to do" list.

we have friends who have moved to Crete [where we went on our only visit to Greece over 25 years ago] so I'm thinking about a trip to Athens and Crete and one other place. where would you go?

regards, ann

dfr4848 Dec 19th, 2008 09:11 AM

ann - thanks.

There are more experts than we on Greece who have been many times and hopefully they'll chime in.

We loved the cities we visited in the Peloponnese and Santorini, as did daughter. Our daughter travelled almost every weekend for 3 months: she particularly loved the island of Syros, Olympia, the area around Meteora, and Crete.

Barbara_in_FL Dec 19th, 2008 09:57 AM

Thanks for a very enjoyable report!

dfr4848 Dec 19th, 2008 10:37 AM

Barbara - thanks for reading. Glad you liked it.

Lynn_Gibson Dec 19th, 2008 10:38 AM

Awesome report. Makes me want to start planning my trip to Greece. Thanks so much for sharing.

And - the title of the report piqued my interest. So glad I read it.

travelchat Dec 19th, 2008 11:01 AM

Enjoyed reading your Trip Report. Good details, lots of information. And, it brought back memories of our trip to Greece visiting Athens, Santorini, Delos, Mykonos and Delphi. We were there in the late 90's. Those supposedly in the know said we would hate Athens. Dirty, smoggy, horrible traffic. Well, we didn't hate it, and built an extra day into the trip so we could see more of it.
Thanks for sharing your amazing trip, notwithstanding the most unfortunate and sad cat incident.

thursdaysd Dec 19th, 2008 11:19 AM

Thanks for the great report! I, too, thought Athens had been mischaracterized - but I was there in April. In addition to the two museums you mentioned, I'd put in a good word for the Cyclades Museum - just love those figurines. I also spent some time in the north as well as the Peloponnese, and that's another contrast to the islands.

dfr4848 Dec 19th, 2008 11:31 AM

Lynn and travel - thanks. Writing it was like reliving the trip. I do have to say we did not like Athens traffic. I've said traffic in Paris and Rome is "hectic" (London less so); but I'd call Athens' "chaotic". But there's so much else to make up for it. And we won't get over the cat incident anytime soon either.

Just a footnote: just got word daughter left Athens this morning without incident. Made connections in London fine and should land in about 5 hrs. Great!

mr_go Dec 19th, 2008 11:42 AM

Terrific report, dfr. Well done. I'm so glad the weather cooperated with you...and glad you got to spend such quality time with your DD. Good to see she made her way out of Athens without incident.

Also gratified to see that you enjoyed our report from last spring. Looks like we walked many of the same footsteps as you! I agree 100% that writing the report can be just like reliving the events.

Can't wait to see your photos.

dfr4848 Dec 19th, 2008 11:48 AM

Thanks mr_go. Yes your report(s) were extremely helpful.

Thursday - our daughter was really taken with the north as well, especially Meteora. Sorry we couldn't fit it in, but I love having excuses to return.

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