Friday, October 24, 2014

Hello From Athens Greece!

 Dear Family & Friends,

After a week of furious sight seeing in Italy we took off on our cruise ship around the Mediterranean.
The first two days of the cruise were  totally at sea and gave us some time to rest up. For two days we ate, drank, hot tubbed, and “rested”, then repeated… A great time!
One afternoon while hot tubbing a couple our age came and in and joined us. Just to make small talk I asked them where they were from and they said Canada, I then proceeded to tell them we were from San Luis Obispo but before I could explain where that is the man said I know exactly where that is! “ I spend a lot of money there buying parts for my Jaguar!”. All I said was thank you, you just paid for this vacation, thats my company….!! We all had a laugh at what a small world it is.
Sailing down the sea from Venice to Greece was spectacular.. The sunsets were amazing and the seas were beautiful with bits of Italy and Greece showing from time to time… I think to really enjoy traveling you must use your imagination. Sailing down this ancient water way got me thinking that for thousands of years Romans, Greeks, Turks, and even Marco Polo sailed these same waters on adventures of trade, wars, and exploration.  I would look out over the horizon half expecting to see an ancient sailing ship.. or the Black Pearl…

On the third day we awakened very early to an amazing sun rise over Athens. We were so excited for another day of exploring a new part of the world neither of us had ever been to.
In California our history only goes back about 150 years, in America our total history only goes back a few hundred years, in London and Europe history goes back a couple of thousand years, but in Athens we were looking at structures built 3000 to 6000 years ago!!!  
We hired a tour guide and taxi driver to take us around. We were extremely lucky to find this man, a University educated man that really knew his history. We learned so much. 
For all the bad news you hear about the Greek economy the first thing you notice is how modern and prosperous Athens appears to be.  It is such a juxtaposition to see modern sky scrappers across the street from 5000 year old buildings…!
First we went to the Acropolis. A giant cluster of temples on a large mountain/rock in the center of town. Having seen this many times in photos and books it still left me surprised at the scale of it all. It is HUGHE! It was built as a home for the ancient Greek gods so the scale of the buildings are far bigger than any human would be comfortable in. The artistry of the carving and the size of the stones makes you appreciate how talented human skills were so long ago.  The use of perspective and optical illusions to make what appears to be straight is actually curved. An amazing knowledge of geometry from so long ago.
I asked our guide if it was every a city or did any one ever live there. He explained it was always a temple meant as a home to the gods. Originally there was a small building at the entrance where the priests would live and sell items to offer as sacrifices and souvenirs. Not much has changed…
From there we went to the Parthenon. Again giant in scale. One of the columns had fallen over and was broken into segments. Our guide explained to us that the columns were made of carved and stacked marble stones  and down the center was a hole from top to bottom. This was then filled with molten lead to keep the stones aligned, but that the lead had a enough give not to crack the stones during an earthquake. And to imagine they understood this kind of engineering thousands of years ago. The guide explained to us that during some war the armies took down the columns to get the lead out of them to make bullets. Sad that no one had any appreciation for the beauty and importance of these structures.
From there we went to old town Athens and explored ruins, shops, museums and had an amazing Greek lunch! Moussaka, Lamb, and great grill vegetables in olive oil.. Mmmmm.!
One thing I was not prepared for.. I figured Athens to be warm and sunny since it was on the Mediterranean, but most of the day it was cool and heavy rain. On top of that there was LOTS of thunder and lightening. Again using my imagination the thunder and lightening just added to the day. It really felt like Zeus was opening up the heavens and  welcoming us to Greece..
After a full day of site seeing we did our customary shopping and then headed back to the ship.
The perspective of life and the human condition is so expanded by experiencing these ancient places. I love it.
As I originally mentioned our guide was a University educated man, so knowing my name Jason comes from Greek mythology I asked him what god was Jason… I assumed I was named after a god.. :) He explained to me Jason was a mortal sent on a quest by Zuess to find the golden fleece.. Wow, was that disappointing, all this time I thought I was named after a god and it turns out I was named after a glorified errand boy… :(
Next stop is Turkey for two days and then back to a Greek island.
I am also really enjoying the time together with my spectacular wife, Bonnie!
So far a great trip.
For lots of photos go to my blog.


Sunrise over Athens, Greece!

So many antiquities in this city!!! Every where you look.

Currently undergoing a major restoration..

Ancient, old, and new all built right next to each other..

Hello Zuess, is that you calling my name? Still looking for the golden fleece..

Oops.... close but not good enough..... :(

The Krumholz girls enjoying the day... :)

The ruins of one of the wolds first "Health Spas"..

One of the Royal Guards at the Capital Building.

The capital of Greece.

We got to watch the official changing of the guard ceremony.

I was wondering..... was this goose step ever used in battle? For what? To make the enemy laugh himself to death??

Making friends where ever we go... :)

The University of Athens

The University library.

This was the first "Stadium" built almost 6000 years ago. Originally the word Stadium was a unit of measurement. About 192 meters for a running race held here...

An amazing structure.. The entire structure slopes about 3 meters from one end to the other so it will drain when it rains.. Not bad thinking for 6000 years ago.

Where ever you look the sights are stunning!

To much good food... I will have to do some serious dieting when I get home....:(

Old Town Athens..

Where ever you look, amazing structures and buildings..

A Byzantine Temple. Some many cultures intersect in Greece.

This is a GOOD WOMAN!! 

Did I mention we are drinking lots of red wine?? It is good for you...

The best Greek food!

I ate this terrific Lamb dish for my friend Duane.....

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