Thursday, July 28, 2016

Greece Trip, Monday, 7/18/16

As we checked out of our hotel in Piraeus, Don and I reflected about Greece. It seems backward to us due to a lack of potable drinking water. Perhaps because of this, the Greeks are conscious about the need to conserve and to develop clean energy sources. They conserve water out of necessity, of course, but we also saw many windmills generating clean power and solar hot water heaters on roofs almost everywhere we looked.

Windmills to generate electricity are common on windy Greek mountains and islands. These are on Samos.

My recollection of nearby Italy is of many a cool or even cold shower due to a lack of hot water, but that was never a problem for us in Greece. In fact, the shower could easily scald us if we weren't careful. Another interesting conservation device was a gadget in the hotel room that required either the hotel key or key-card to turn on the room electricity. This prevented guests from wasting electricity when out and about. Our group also had a positive encounter with Greece's socialized medicine when one member of our group briefly needed medical attention. It was efficient, effective, and free of charge.

Examples of solar hot-water system with solar panels and tanks, ubiquitous in Greece
One example of the use of a key to control and conserve electricity in a Greek hotel room.
After we checked out of our hotel in Piraeus, we traveled to the Peloponnese. It's technically still considered a peninsula, even though it has been separated from mainland Greece by the Corinth Canal. This short-cut for ships through the Isthmus of Corinth, dreamed-of since ancient times, was completed in the 1800s. Our group stopped along our journey to visit the canal and take pictures.

The Corinth Canal
Our next stop was Mycenae, the home city of King Agamemnon, famed Greek king and leader of the Greek army in the Trojan War. Like Troy, Mycenae was excavated by a German archaeologist named Heinrich Schliemann. This once-mighty fortress now lies in ruins, but we took time to pause beneath the famed Lion's Gate and admire the so-called Cyclopean Rocks, so huge that legends developed that only Cyclopes, one-eyed giants, could have built Mycenae's walls.

Mycenae's Lions' Gate
We also examined burial places where treasures such as the so-called "Mask of Agamemnon" were found.

This region is famous for its clay pottery, so we stopped for a pottery lesson to create a doll inspired by an ancient bell that looks like a distant cousin of E.T.

Our clay dolls made near Mycenae
At the nearby gift shop I splurged on a silver and opal necklace that combines two traditional designs, the Greek meander with an older, Mycenean circular pattern.

My one splurge from the trip, a silver and opal necklace. Pretty!
 Don didn't buy much, but did ask the goddess, Athena, for a spin at West Coast Swing.

Don invites the goddess, Athena, for a turn at West Coast Swing
We spent our afternoon and evening in the Hotel Soleil in a village called Tolo, which sported a swimming-pool and was a short walk to a lovely beach. It was one of our favorite spots.

View from our balcony at the Hotel Soleil in Tolo, Greece
View from our hotel room at the Hotel Soleil in Tolo, Greece
I hope the beaches in Sorrento are as nice. I am organizing an Italy tour in July, 2018.

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