Well, it has been a while, and here’s why: Elizabeth and I took a last minute bus tour to Olympia and the sites in between. So instead of one long post, I’m going to break it up by the day.
We signed up through CHAT tours, which we didn’t expect a lot, but I was IMPRESSED. The bus was great, the tour was amazing, and the hotels were fantastic. Our tour guide, George, was a sweet man and we made many friends on the trip. The tour included everything from meals (save lunch), entrance fees, and hotel costs.
We set out from Hotel Amalia in Athens (A/I on the map attached) right near the National Gardens, from there we headed west to stop by the Corinth Canal (B). It is an amazing feat of construction. What is so genius about it is that the man-made canal connects two gulfs saving hours of travelling time. We stopped at a small cafe and made some jokes out of the souvenirs.
Next we headed to Mycenae (C), a UNESCO site. It was one of the most important strongholds in Greece during its time. I didn’t climb to the top of this site because I forgot to put on sunscreen, and I didn’t want to ruin the trip by getting burnt. Instead I headed into the museum, and I read all the legends of the place, including how the walls were built by the Cyclops. Honestly, just standing there on the mountain, looking out to the olive trees was breathtaking. I never thought Greece was this mountainous, I thought there would be hills but I never expected the view. This site also included the beehive Tomb of Agamemnon.
Next stop was a detour to Epidavros (D), another UNESCO site. Epidavros is in a place believed to have healing springs, so the Epidavrians built the Sanctuary of Asklepios. It is the most brilliant centre of healing in the ancient world. Basically, it was built as a hospital and a place to worship the Gods. There was even a hostel and school. The ruins were fantastic but the jewel of the site was the Theatre. This Theatre is the most well preserved ancient theatre in all of Greece. Another tourist got up on the “stage” and sang a Greek lullaby. It was the most soothing thing I have ever heard.
We stayed the night just outside of Nauplia (E), but first we stopped there to stroll in the town. Cutest town ever. It is right by the sea, and it seems so quiet and lovely. All the flats had balconies and beautiful flowers growing and the sea was a bright blue. It was my favourite town on the trip, I would love to go back.
It was a great first day, and other than the fact that both Elizabeth and I slept through the drive to these places, the tour was very enjoyable.
Part II and III coming soon!