Athens/Mykonos, Greece May 24th-27th

I know it’s been a long time since we took this trip. Ooops. Let’s say I’m adapting to Italian culture 🙂

Allora…

Leah and I were lucky enough to be on the same rotation and work with each other during the past couple months leading up to this trip. So when we had a weekend off together, we cashed in a holiday and decided to go to Greece. It’s one of the last places Leah hadn’t been to yet and it was definitely on my list of places I wanted to see! The biggest “problem” was we were on night shift, we left for the airport the same morning we got off work and made Ben drive.

Whenever we travel with Leah, we don’t run into crazy obstacles on our way to the airport. Hmm if only she wasn’t leaving soon!

After all the news about unrest in Greece last year

greece riots

…We were unsure if that was going to be a destination the Navy would allow us to visit when we thought of our travels in Europe.

Luckily, the riots occurred last year. And nowadays, visiting the country is not off limits. In fact they’re campaigning hard to get tourists to start visiting again. The flight was reasonable, the hotels were cheap, and the travel agencies were abundant.

However, financial strain for even the tourist shops was pretty obvious, and the amount of children begging in the streets was huge. 😦

Regardless, we were all excited to take a vacation that was less focused on sightseeing, and more focused on beaches and relaxing, and food! always!

A short 2 hour flight and 45 minute taxi ride later…

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I call it husband quality control.

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okay time to be tourists

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once again, a city Lisa Bates would hate… 🙂 Birds everywhere!

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the main downtown area. it was beautiful mixed with old and new construction

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happy hungry husband

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 All of us were happy to be getting some food in our bellies!

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  Real Greek Gyros! They were sooo good

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and just walking around on our first day, we got to see a little reminder of home 🙂

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that dog was cute!

The owner of this store talked us up and guilt tripped us into coming in.
His entire family tried to get us to buy as much as possible, it was borderline sad.
We were the only ones in the store, it was a little eerie too. I had visions of the movie Taken…

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cats, cats, everywhere!

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Like I said, Leah and I had worked the night before and doing an evening tour was a good idea in theory, but not while sleep deprived.
I’m surprised we managed to stay awake through the whole thing!

The first stop on our tour. Temple of Zeus!

Most of the ruins were broken down by either the people or government of the time so that the material could be used to build other buildings or temples.
Makes sense right?

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Our tour guide, some Germans, and  a South African native. We had quite the tour group. Oh and more of the entrance to the park with the arch in the background and if you look in the way back and to the left, the Acropolis! Such a beautiful and historic city already.

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It was hard to get a good panoramic of this stadium. This is the place where the first Olympics were held in 1896!

It holds 50-60,000 spectators! If you want to train here, you can pay a fee and use the stadium.

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This is also the finish line of the classic Athens Marathon. The whole concept of running marathons was born here. More about that inspiring story later…
I’m already signed up to run the full marathon in November 🙂

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a view of the acropolis from the stadium

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This used to be a palace. Now it is a place where official ceremonies take place and the parliament meet.

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a view of Athens from the steps of the Palace

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of course I had to take pictures of these turtles just chilling in a pond. I could live here

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The back side of the palace

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Those guards were probably baking in their uniforms!

We treaded through A LOT of pigeons to get this close. The area in front of this building was just teaming with them, there had to be hundreds. And people were feeding them… and probably getting attacked. This was the only time I was kind of scared of birds. Pigeons with red eyes are scary!

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walking through downtown/shopping areas

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Taking a break on the tour so people could get water. it was hot, as Bens face and hair can tell you 🙂

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Roman argora, a place where businesses were assembled “back in the day”

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domani dogs in athens 😦
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5fMjhDLXfc
http://www.athensguide.com/straydogs/

if only i could take them all home

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a beautiful view of Athens. We climbed a lot of stairs for this view

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The Rock of Attis
(Greek God of war- the Roman God of war is named Mars)

This is the spot where great leaders and speakers would go and make speeches, there are rumors that this spot is even in the New Testament!

We climbed the rock (me in my dress and flats, Leah in her flats.. both of us almost fell and died! But hey you gotta live life right! :))

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I think the view was worth it!

Now brace yourselves for the history lesson.

You can skip it if you want, but it was this story that our tour guide told us that cemented my desire to run the Athens Marathon!

Off in the distance of the above picture, is the city of Marathon, Greece. It is the site of the battle of Marathon in 490 BC, in which the heavily outnumbered Athenian army defeated the Persians.

They used strategic measures to defeat the Persians in the only route through the mountains the Persians could take to get to the coveted and well protected by the landscape city of Athens. But the ships of the Persian Navy were also en route to the port of Athens while the battle of Marathon was going on. As soon as the Athenians won, it was imperative that the messenger Pheidippides ran back to the city and informed everyone of the victory, so they would not surrender to the Persian Navy, and continue to fight.

It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping, but moments after proclaiming his message “Nenīkēkamen” (“We have won!”) to the city, he collapsed and died from exhaustion.

In Ancient Greece, the messengers (day-runners) who carried the news of war from one city to another, enjoyed great esteem and respect; the roads were problematic, they had to pass through hostile territory, and traveling posed great dangers at that time. The states would assign specially trained “messengers” or “runners” or “road-heralds”, with great stamina and strength of character to carry messages in times of war as well as peace.

Now for more marathon info that may or may not interest you…

There are two roads out of the battlefield of Marathon towards Athens, one more mountainous towards the north whose distance is about 34.5 km (21.4 mi), and another flatter but longer towards the south with a distance of 40.8 km (25.4 mi). It has been successfully argued that the ancient runner took the more difficult northern road because at the time of the battle there were still Persian soldiers in the south of the plain.

The sport of Marathon was established during the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896. (at the stadium pictured above!) The idea to include the event in the program of the Olympic Games was of French philosopher and professor at the Sorbonne, Michel Breal, a friend of Pierre de Coubertin, the man who contributed decisively to the founding of the modern Olympic Games. He proposed the introduction of an endurance road race under the name “Marathon” which would start from the region where in 490 BC the battle of the Greeks against the Persians occurred and would end at the Pnyx of Ancient Athens, where, presumably, the messenger arrived bringing the good news of victory to the Athenians. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepted his proposal. Michel Breal did not know exactly what the distance was and how difficult the sport would be – the first marathon was 40,000 meters long. In 1924, the 42,195 meters long Marathon became the standard that is today, based on the distance for the 1908 London Marathon from Windsor Castle to the White City stadium in London.

okay that’s enough of that. I’m signed up to run the marathon there this November! 🙂 I’m so excited!!! And I hope I don’t die….

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The hill with the church on top of it is called Le Capitos

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the Temple of Hephaestus, the most well preserved temple in Athens

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We were in awe at the beauty of all of this. What a great spot to make motivating, inspiring speeches!

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After the rock, we walked to the Acropolis. This is a group of soldiers from the Greek Army, they march to the top of the Acropolis where the Greek flag waves, and lower it each night at Sunset. It was pretty cool to watch

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More outside views. We didn’t go in that first night because it was already closed. But don’t worry we do on our last day 🙂

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now time for dinner!

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lots of kids were in the streets late at night all playing Futbol!

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after 9pm at night and we still have some daylight!

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already in love with athens, regardless of the beggars and sad dogs. i think the ones who were fixed had collars on. We went to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel so we could wake up nice and early the next morning to catch a ferry to the Greek island of Mykonos.

Athens is an hour ahead of Italy, my little Italian cellphone needs to be told when we’re in different time zones.. and so does Ben’s.
So when we set our alarms for 0530 am, and they didn’t go off, we rushed to get ready when Leah knocked on our door at 0550. The taxi was due to pick us up at 0600 and we still needed to check out!
Good thing we’re fast!!

and good thing we could sleep on the ferry!

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sad because we didn’t get real seats on the ferry, we had to find a spot and stick to it!

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sleeping is never a problem for Ben!

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or Leah 🙂

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we went up on the deck of the boat for these beautiful views of other small Greek islands we were passing. It was absolutely breathtaking and so blue!

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in my newly purchased Athens dress, it was windy but the weather was perfect!

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finally on the island of Mykonos! Now to find our driver…

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on the bus to our hotel.

Ahh now this is what I picture when I think about Greece!

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QCing our new room. Tiny, hot, but wonderful!

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view from our room balcony

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and on our walk from the hotel to the city center. It was only about a ten minute walk

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but these were our conditions… 🙂 at least it wasn’t climbing a rock!

our tour guide in Athens had called Italians and Greeks cousins. I’d have to agree! At least when it comes to their driving skills…. 🙂

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hooray! we survived!

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dream come true!

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this sign was hilarious to me

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first on our list was to get some food! and then we could go to the beach

I’d say this restaurant had some of the best views and food we could’ve asked for

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an appetizer I think we got at each meal we had in Greece, grilled feta cheese with tomato and pita bread for dipping. Yum!! Must learn how to make this!

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our delicious lunch. I had to try some classic spinach pie with my salad

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these are the iconic windmills of the island. I wish they had the white linen? on them so they could spin!

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me leah mykonos DSC01793 DSC01794 DSC01795 DSC01796 DSC01797

mmm frozen greek yogurt for dessert!

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waiting for the bus to take us to one of the public beaches!

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ahhh this is the life! ben stayed in his clothes and shade the whole time, and did his favorite pastime, sleep!

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our beach!

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happy girl

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happy husband

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looks like a galway hooker! 🙂

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the water was still cold…

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little fishies if you look closely!

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the clearest and prettiest water I’ve ever seen

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a visit from a domani dog!

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this is the best place to watch the sunset as told to us by our super friendly hotel owners

i’d have to agree

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trying to get a picture of the guys camera, it was pretty cool, and Leah is trying to fend off the paparazzi 🙂

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i know, lots of sunset pictures. but now you can feel like you watched it go down too!

now time for dinner 🙂

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yum

we had stray cats begging at our table like dogs the entire time we were eating. it was kinda funny because they were so adorable and reminded me of the pugs when they beg. They made their rounds to the other tables too, i guess that’s what we get for eating outside!

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some post dinner wandering

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we found this bird by accident/surprise. He’s on one of the postcards I sent home to my parents! Local celebrity!

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“can I come in dad?” The waiter/cook/owner? just pat him on the head and walked back into the kitchen

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ooh seafood on display

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of course these pictures are for my mom. wanna visit yet? 🙂

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stunning!

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the best picture we could get, this is out of about 10 takes we tried

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the next morning Leah had to take a test for her online statistics class, she’s stinkin smart!

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and we relaxed by the pool soaking up the sun and relaxation before the taxi was coming to get us to take us back to the ferry

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the beautiful flowers around our hotel. if only this stuff would grow in Michigan!

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and then there’s our gorgeous pool doubling as a bird bath!

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and then me and Leah took a walk. There was a freaking Starbucks like a 5-10 minute walk from our hotel! we were on it

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hot and tired from walking up a steep hill, happy we didn’t get hit by crazy cars. the view, and Starbucks, was WORTH IT!

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back to the ferry we go

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on our way to the acropolis we meet this fine pup

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He started walking with us, all the way to the acropolis… it was like our very own dog tour guide! He’d even stop and look behind him to make sure we were still following. Easily one of the cutest parts of the trip

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Finally at the entrance of the acropolis, this time to go in. Surrounded by olive trees and domani dogs. Our tour guide pup knew he did his job and went off to join his friends.

The Olive tree grove was said to be started by the goddess Athena, the first one was planted at the top of the acropolis.

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The Parthenon! It’s a symbol of democracy!

http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-greece/videos#deconstructing-history-the-acropolis

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Sounds like the renovations are constant and ongoing. I wish we could’ve seen it without all the scaffolding. Regardless, it was still impressive!

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tired hubby

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a better, less scaffolding view of the Parthenon

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acropolis

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The Erechtheion (Greek: Ἐρέχθειον) is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis which was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.

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our buddy hanging out at the entrance as we were leaving. I left him some bread I took from the restaurant the night before, he didn’t seem interested but I left it there anyway, wish I had a water bowl for him!

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the Propylaia, or entrance into the acropolis

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and our trip was complete. time to go home

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Marco Polo? For real?! This was pretty awesome/amusing to me

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Ben knows how to take advantage of a taxi ride to the airport

We filled our 4 days in Greece to the brim. It was amazing and wonderful, everything I thought it could be.
I think I need some new synonyms to describe our trips. I’m excited to go back this November. After the marathon, I think we’ll go to Santorini instead of Mykonos and explore a different island. I could never imagine these are the decisions I would be making in my life, but I’m overly grateful!

Ciao, Ciao, Ciao, Arrivederci Greece!

Next up, Paris!

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