GREECE: Sun, water, centuries of stories
Fri, 11/15/2013 - 9:56am admin
Gary W. Meyer
Turkey and Greece have had mud huts for domestic abodes, such as the American pioneers of the past two centuries.
But the Turks and the Greeks also had running water, stored utilities and flushing toilets at 700 BC, along before America was in the history books.
Since New England was inhabitanted, our country has had roughly 14 generations of civilization.
In Turkey and Greece, they have had roughly 750 generations of civilization.
That is a difficult concept to get one’s head around. But our Inland Press group tried to - in visit after visit to spectacular sites of historical interest, stretching from Ephesus in southwestern Turkey, across the Greek Isles and into Central Greece in a recent tour.
Why has the Mediterranean been so popular over the centuries? Feel the sun - and look over the bluffs toward the Mediterranean; there you’ll find your answer.
It is truly mystical and romantic but yet sometimes harsh beauty with its place in the Universe, a place all should live at - for some time.
Our travels took us to many old civilizations, many with significant Biblical connections.
Our short stay in Istanbul, heavily Muslum, included a visit to The Blue Mosque, probably the most noteworthy of all Muslim religious sites.
In Ephesus, during the early Christian period, St. Paul visited the site and later wrote his Epistles to the Ephesians. The Basilica Church of St. John, as he had lived and died there, is remembered also for his grave. It was a remarkable site on a hill overlooking the city and the sea.
A day later, we were visited the Isle of Patmos, where St. John the Evangelist is said to have received his vision of fire and brimstone and dictated the Book of Revelation. We visited the small cave where he is reported to have lived for two years while he did his writing.
The Monastery of Hozoviotissa is a thousand-year-old structure overlooking (by some 1,000 feet) the Mediterranean on Santorini. It is a major tourist attraction, with donkeys or a lift to get you from bottom to top.
(Our guide, Maria, the wisest of guides, usually had us at these points of interest early in the morning, before hordes of visitors piled in.)
Delos, the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, has been settled for more than 5,000 years. Now it’s one of several
UNESCO sites in the region. Later, we were on to Mykonos, one of the most beautiful of the Cyclades Islands. And yes, it has a vibrant night life.
Following our eight-day trip across the isles by a cozy 50-passenger three-deck boat, we landed at the Port of Piraeus and ventured into Athens. The trip wasn’t long, for the most-pictured antiquity in the world awaited us, just a few miles away.
We climbed the city streets, then a hundred or so more to gain entrance to the Acropolis, with its beautiful Parthenon as its focal point. The Greeks and the world are attempting to restore the two dozen or so buildings that made up the major part of the Acropolis, but renovations are slow and much more expensive than the original construction tab.
We travelled north to visit Delphi, another UNESCO World Heritage site and Meteora in the following days. Delphi, 200 miles north of Athens, is one of the most revered places in ancient Greek culture. They have also created a wonderful museum with artifacts discovered at the site. Delphi stretches back to 500 BC.
We’ve talked about Meteora in past articles. It’s the wonderful place, Greek for “suspended in air.” Those were the Greek Orthodox monasteries built centuries ago on the top of mountains for safety from marauding tribes.
A fitting concluding scene was experienced from our hotel, the Hera, in Athens a few days later.
We sat atop the six-story hotel in an open air restaurant and gazed a quarter mile across the street and onto the grounds of the Acropolis, shining brightly into the night.
What wonderful things the Greeks have brought forth. We worry for their ability to cope in the modern world, however.