A Travellerspoint blog

Peloponnese Day 2 - a morning of contemplation

Monastery of Agia Lavra and Kalavrita monument

sunny 21 °C

We stayed on night in Kalavrita. Our group was split into two because the one hotel did not have room for all of us. I was with seven girls who got accommodations at the Ahilion Hotel. I'm not complaining at all. It was quite, it was clean, it was rather classy if not small and quaint. A very nice place to spend the night even if it is out of the way. We thought we were going to have to tote our luggage back to the middle of town the next day but our bus driver met us right outside our hotel! I thought that was sweet considering the narrowness of the streets it was located on. Most of the hotels over here do what is called "bed and breakfast", which means exactly that. You get a bed, and you get breakfast. Breakfast usually consists of various breads, fruits, yogurt, boiled eggs, sometimes scrambled eggs, honey, butter, jam, coffee, juice and tea. It usually beats what American hotels refer to as a continental breakfast! So once we had our breakfast we boarded our bus and headed to the other hotel to pick up the rest of the group. Then it was on our way to the monastery of Agia Lavra.

Agia Lavra was founded in 961 CE, so it has been around for a long time.The current building dates from about 1681. As are many of the monasteries it is perched up in the mountains, although no so precariously as monasteries such as Meteora and Mt. Athos.


It is still a beautiful setting none the less. No photography is allowed within the Monastery so I do not have a lot of photos to share. The monk who met us at the entrance was very cordial and full of smiles. It certainly is a serene place, but is not with out tumultuous history. It was here, at Agia Lavra, that the freedom call of "death or freedom" rang out starting the Greek war for independence in 1821. It is said the Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the revolutionary flag on these grounds. The scene is depicted in this statue on the grounds.


Some scenery outside the actual monastery walls....



Of course, as expected, there were cats at the monastery. Not sure why I expected it, but I did. The monks feed them and care for them and I suppose the cats probably keep vermin at bay. They did seem much more well fed than some of the Athens cats I have seen.



We left Agia Lavra and drove down to the Kalavrita monument which sits just on the edge of town. Kalavrita, while a quaint little town, has a tragic history. Most people do not think of Greece when they think of the tragedy of World War II, but Greece did not escape the horrific nature of the war. Germans had been after resistance fighters that were hiding in the mountains of the Peloponnese for a while. The resistance fighters of course had the advantage because they knew the land. At one point several German soldiers were captured by Greek resistance fighters and eventually executed. This in turn angered the Germans who decided to make an example of the people of Kalavrita. On December 13, 1943, the Germans locked all the women and children of Kalavrita in the school house. All the men and boys who were over the age of 13 were taken up onto a hill that over looks the town.


They were made to watch as the entire town, including the schoolhouse, was set on fire, knowing their women and children were trapped inside. The men and boys were then all executed, their bodies left lying on the hillside. Whether it is fortunate or not, a few of the women manage to escape. They went looking for their men and boys only to find their corpses on the hillside. Over 1400 died in the Kalavrita massacre. You recall the clock in my last entry? It remains stopped at 2:34, the time of the massacre.

The monument is moving. White rocks spell out the words Peace and No More War. A message we could take to heart in today's world. The museum was emotionally overwhelming. Once I got to the final room, a room with nothing but photos and names of those who died, I was overtaken by emotion and had to leave. It is a shame that such a peaceful town had to be scarred by such tragedy.



It somehow feels right to end this entry with Kalavrita and the message that should stay in all of our hearts....



Ειρηνη (Peace)

Posted by oceanchild 10:02 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

A four day trip to the Peloponnese

The Corinth Canal, a cheese factory, and the quaint town of Kalavrita - that's just Day 1!

sunny 16 °C

Wow, what a whirlwind 4 day weekend that was. Ok, admittedly it was a couple of weekends ago. I'm still trying to catch up, and when you take as many photos as I do it makes it hard picking just the right ones to blog about. But I managed and I think I picked some good ones.

The morning of October 9 the whole Arcadia group boarded our lovely tour buses and headed out of Athens to toward the Peloponnese. Seriously folks, if you saw the upholstery on the bus I rode you would think you were on the Magical Mystery Tour. Quite colorful. No, I didn't take a photo. I'm not in the habit of photographing upholstery. We finally get on the road at about 10. Our first stop was to be Corinth and the Corinth Canal. The canal has a long and interesting history. It is said the the first time anyone thought of digging a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth was in 602 BC. Yes, BC. Some guy called Periandar, Tyrant of Corinth is credited with the first coming up with the idea. But poor Periander was afraid the gods would get mad at him and abandoned the idea. People took the Oracle at Delphi seriously, as it was the Oracle that warned Periander. About 300 years later Demetrios Poliorketes actually started to dig, but was convinced to stop by the Egyptians engineers who feared it would raise the level and flood the islands. In Roman times it was considered by Julius Caesar as well as Nero. Then the Herodes Atticus followed by the Byzantines and the Venetians. Nobody succeeded. Not until after Greece won its independence in 1830. After several attempts it was finally finished in 1893.

Here is how it looks today. The Canal cuts 6346 meters straight through the Isthmus, is 24.6 meters wide at sea level and 21.3 meters at bottom level. Depth range is from 7.5 to 8 meters. The color of the water is, well, very blue!




After a break at the canal, and the purchase of some very expensive snacks, we boarded our MMT buses again and headed for the cheese factory. We were initially suppose to see them make the cheese but they were not in production because the sheep were pregnant or had lamps and not producing milk for the cheese at the time. But we did get to see lots of cheese and even taste this wonderful γραβιερα (graviera) cheese. While this cheese is not bad for eating, it is really delicious when used in pasta or an omlette. The warm, melted cheese is better than any cheddar I have ever tasted!

The cheese factory, with various Arcadia students milling about after the wonderful cheese tasting.


The cheese ages for months before it will be sent to market.



The sheep who give the milk to make this wonderful tasty cheese.


So, what do we do after tasting lots of cheese and smelling lots of sheep? Head to the hills! Nothing like a nice mountain drive on a colorful bus to make your cheese settle in your stomach! Thank goodness I didn't get motion sick though. The views kept me distracted. Although taking photos through a dirty bus window isn't always so great, I think I got some shots to show you the rugged beauty of the Peloponnese. It really is a nice change from the noisy and grime of Athens. The Peloponnese was unfortunately burned by fires last year and a lot of the lands devastated. You could see some of it along our drive. The drive was still breathtaking though.







I want to live here, but only if I had enough money that I didn't have to work!


You see the road cut into that mountain? We were driving on that...on a bus...thrills a minute!


So after a long drive we finally arrived in Kalavrita. Kalavrita is a small ski town located in the central Peloponnese. Very quaint, sort of alpine, clean air. What a fresh change from Athens! Several of us walked around the town, found some playgrounds, swung, did some see-sawing, shopped and did dinner.


The town square with the church and clock towers. The clock to the left is stopped at the time the massacre took place in 1943. I'll go into more detail about that when I post my Kalavrita monument photos.



After dinner several of the girls and I stopped at a neat little cafe for hot drinks. This is Mari, Melissa, and Kate on the cow couch.


Me and Maura on the sexy red couch!


Finally, my σοκαλατα ζεστοσ! (hot chocolate)...mmmmmmm...what a great way to end the first evening in the mountains!


Posted by oceanchild 08:14 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Temple of Zeus Olympieion

I believe I visited this grand temple at the perfect time of the day. The lighting on the marble was beautiful. Standing there among the grand columns you kind of forget that you are in the middle of the city. No matter how many ancient ruins I see, how many tall marble columns, I am always amazed at the feats of engineering the ancient Greek and Roman cultures managed. The fact that some of these columns are still standing in spite of centuries of weather and earthquakes speaks volumes to me.
Started in the 6th century BCE and finished some 700 years later, the Temple of Zeus Olympios is the largest temple on mainland Greece. It measures 41x108 meters (134.5x354 feet) and the Corintian columns, made of Pentelic marble, are 17 meters high (that's 56 feet).



It is one grand sight I can tell you. It seems to get overshadowed by the Acropolis and Parthenon, both literally and figuratively.


The columns are the flowery, decorative, ornate Corinthian columns. The Corinthian order is the most elaborate of the three (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian)




Some Greek inscriptions


I'll leave the Temple of Zeus with just a few more with the sun glinting off the marble.



Posted by oceanchild 01:18 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

I'm going to Turkiye!

and yes, I still have a lot of updating to do here

sunny 16 °C

Just a quick entry. I booked my travel plans for Turkiye. I will be flying from Athens to the island of Samos. I'll spend the night and part of the day on the island and then take a ferry to Kusadasi, where I will meet with my tour guide and see the sights around Kusadasi and Izmir for two days. I will then fly to Istanbul and spend two and a half days there! I am beyond ecstatic that I am going back to Turkiye after being there less than a year ago!

Ok...patience. The weekend is coming and I'll be updating all my adventures from the past two weeks!!

Posted by oceanchild 11:44 Archived in Greece Comments (0)


Entries don't always have to be themed do they?

Here is some good Greek randomness....nothing of importance, just some things I wanted to share....

Like the building near Syntagma that lights up and changes color. How long can an easily entertained American stand there and be amused by the changing face of a building? You don't want to know. Long enough to take at least a dozen photos of its various colorful faces though.

Purple and red....


Cars go by oblivious to my intrigue....


Blue and green......


More purple/blue and red....


You wouldn't want me to bore you with yellow and purple would you? Besides, it was blurry. I didn't have my tripod. I did buy a tripod for my small point and shoot camera that night. But had no way to open it.

Ok, I've given you a peek at the goodness of eating out in Greece. So how about a peek at the goodness of eating in? Eggs. Something we take for granted I think. What do we pay in the US? Maybe a little over a dollar a dozen? This nice little half dozen eggs (αυγά) cost me 1,49 euro. That is just over $2. For half a dozen little eggs. But they were yummy eggs. The yolk is darker than most eggs I find in the US. Pretty tasty. Add a wee bit of milk (,75 lepta or about $1 for half a litre) and some cheddar cheese and you have very satisfying omelet.



A stop at the laiki, or open air market, got me these fruits. These little sultanas grapes are so sweet they are like eating candy. You just can't stop. I am not sure what kind of melon this is and haven't asked around. It looks like a cantelope but is green like a honeydew. The taste heavenly. Undertones of banana and strawberry with a honeydew like flavor that dominates. Simply delicious!!



Last, but not least among my randomness is the Kalamarmaron stadium being prepared for the launch of MTV Greece. A free concert that happened on October 5. REM, Kaiser Chiefs, Gabriella Cilmi, and C:Real. 50,000 people. 8 hours of standing. Awesome!


But wait...what would a blog post be without a cat or two? Seen sitting in chairs outside a little cafe near the stadium.



Posted by oceanchild 12:41 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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