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Greece 2010 - Delphi

We boarded the motorcoach and left the hotel for a scenic drive to Delphi. Again, we were treated to Andi's stories and knowledge - how does she know so much about everything?!?!?!
We walked through Delphi, seeing where the oracle had been, as well as many lesser-known components of the site - a stadium included. The hill was steep to the top; but worth the views of the area.
The museum here was also great and many of us were able to spend time enjoying the antiquities.
We left the site to get lunch, which included rooster, and enjoy a spectacular view from the restaurant.

Greece 2010 - Athens II

We were treated to a full day of FREE TIME in Athens - with lots of options to occupy our time.
Andi hosted an optional excursion, which about a dozen of us joined (and loved!).
The rest took to the streets for exploration on a beautiful day. Some bought tickets for the "jump-off" bus tour and got to see many of the sites. Others went by foot and saw many of the same sites (but endured a full day of walking). The sites included Parliament, the Plaka, Temple of Zeus, Hadrian's Arch and/or Library, the ancient Agora, the beautiful city Gardens and the Olympic Stadium.
More toured museums on their own, went shopping or spent a day of leisure in Athens. All reported back having a great day.

Greece 2010 - Delos

On October 8th about 7 of our group joined about 60 other passengers from the ship for an optional excurson as soon as we docked in Mykonos to go aboard the tender,the Orca, and make the 30 minute crossing to the uninhabited island of Delos. We arrived about 4pm,and hour after the island "closed" for visitors. Roxane, the guide for English speakers (about 30 of us) informed us that we had the special priviledge of an off-hours visit to the ruins of one of ncient Greece's most sacred sanctuaries. This meant no one at all (except the caretakers) besides us had the freedom to follow along with Roxane or to roam at will among the classical temples devoted to Leto, the mother of twins Apollo and Artemis.

The bareen island is overlooked by a mountain whose stairway to the tp looked inviting to those of us inclined to such folley - too bad (maybe?) there was no time, and we had plenty of other distractions - the herd-scented air under a blue sky (although it was windy) and Helle…

Greece 2010 - Athens 1

Early wake up calls and our final morning gathering in the Metropolitan Ballroom on the ship before disembarking in the port of Piraeus. We met our local guide Andi, oarded our bus and headed off to downtown Athens.

We enjoyed a sightseeing tour of the city - a great we to become acclimated to the new city. Our tour ended at the Acropolis, where we got off the bus and tour the site. Except for some wind on the top of the mountain, it was perfect. The ruins/excavation is awe-inspiring and the views overlooking the city were fantastic!

We returned to the bus, checked into our hotel - the Classical Imperial Athens- first class all the way - and then met up with Andi again for a tour of th Acropolis Museum. What a marvel just the building is. the glass floors outside (and in!) gave a fascinating perspective of the excavated ruins right under foot.

We then went our own ways and enjoyed the city, our hotel (and it's squigee-less bathrooms) and dinner in local tavernas.

Greece 2010 - Santorini

We boarded the boat after finishing in Crete and sailed the afternoon away until we reached Santorini. Some of us booked an optional excursion run by the ship and enjoyed a great tour - which allowed them to see the island from both sides.

Others opted to explore on their own. For the first time on the trip we needed to take tender boats from the ship to the shore. Then we looked nearly straight up the mountainside to see where the village was we wanted to tour. Our options were to ride a donkey up the mountain, walk up the mountain (on the same path used by the donkeys) or ride the cable car.

Once at the top, we enjoyed the most picturesque views found in the world. The winding side streets were lined with shops and cafes. But most importantly, the taverns were right on the cliff's edge with spectacular views of sunset each night. Breathtaking!

Greece 2010 - Crete

Our morning departure brought us to the island of Crete. The largest of the Greek islands, supposed birthplace of Zeus, and home to the "bottomless lake". We remain unconvinced that Crete is in the Mediterranean Sea and not the Aegean... those living on the island call it the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean.

We met our local guide Andonus and boarded a bus for an hour's drive through the hillside to reach the famous Palace of Knossos.

The Palace was home to King Minos and the excavation site is very impressive.


Greece 2010 - Rhodes

Rhodes may be one of the most beautiful places on the planet! Of course, it helps when you have great company and another day of perfect weather. Again - just over 80 degrees with not a cloud in the sky.

We began this AM at 7:00 when we gathered to depart for our excursions. Our guide Maria was super smart and switched our order to avoid the congestion of the other tour buses. There were 35 buses headed on excursions (from a number of ships) and 30 of them headed to Lindos first. We, instead, remained close to the port and took a tour of the medieval walled city of Rhodes. Very cool!

We then boarded the bus for about an hour's drive to Lindos. Along the way we passed some new hotels going up right on the beaches - book your vacation now! Maria shared some of the history of Rhodes and of the Acropolis of Lindos, our destination.

A few of us rode the burros up the mountain part of the way. Some stayed part-way up and enjoyed the shops and taverns. The rest climbed the sometimes treache…

Greece 2010 - Kusadasi

We had some down time after Patmos and took advantage. Mary Joan shared her thoughts about the Grotto of St. John, spoke about our next stop, Ephesus, and then shared some info about her current research (and book!).

We had a few hours more to enjoy lunch, catch a nap, grab a lounge chair on one of the ship's decks or gather and chat. Super relaxing and very enjoyable.

Then we left the ship upon arrival in Kusadasi (ku-sha-da-c). We took a 20 minute bus ride to Ephesus to visit the ancient Roman ruins. An entire city had been built and established here - a major city. Many world rulers - Antony & Cleopatra for example - visited the city during their time.

The excavations were amazing. Not just a column here and there - but miles of ruins. We completely got a sense for the entire city's layout and complexities for its time. The library and the stadium were most impressive. Words can do no justice - photos will need to be added!

We returned to the ship for Greek Night! Dinner me…

Greece 2010 - Patmos

We had early morning wake up calls for a departure meeting at 7:00am. We boarded a shuttle with our local guide Dimitrius (very close to our traveling sisters the Demetrius's). Dimitrius was a terrific guide. He was very knowledgeable, kept us at a good pace and was extra nice to Joe!

Our first stop was at the Grotto of St. John. This is essentially a cave - THE cave where St. John the apostle (either the Divine or the Theologian - ask Mary Joan to explain) wrote the Book of Revelation. While very modest it was very impressive - an honor to see.

From there the bus brought us up higher on the mountain to the Monastery - almost. There were lots of steps - ancient steps with no handrails and very uneven - but we all made it. And glad we did!

The first room was overwhelmingly beautiful with frescoes and portraits of saints dating back as far as the 12th century. We moved from room to room. Heard about the earthquake which fractured frescoes - only to reveal older ones beneath. Then we ma…

Greece 2010 - Mykonos

What a BEAUTIFUL day!! We had temps of about 80 degrees with not a cloud in the sky!!!

We awoke and had breakfast on board the ship before our meeting. The cruise director, Elisabeth, joined us for the life jacket/emergency meeting and she reviewed some basic ship info. We then reviewed some items on our Stonehill-list and had about 5 hours to enjoy the beautiful day on board our ship.

Some of our activities included: grabbing a chair on one of the many decks for sun and/or reading, a cooking demonstration by a singing chef, a Mr. Cruise Ship contest (we had no entries!), bingo, trivia and more! We also had a few options for lunch on board - and it was very good!

We then headed to the decks for a view of Mykonos as we neared shore and "parked". We gathered in the Metropolis Lounge and awaited our time for disembarkation. Buses brought us closer to the main section of the island so we could explore.

Many of our group took an optional excursion to Delios - Mary Joan is hard at wor…

Arriving in Turkey

We gathered (some of us on the shuttle from campus) at Logan and boarded our Swiss Air flight to Europe. We made it nearly an hour ahead of schedule and then waiting for our transfer in Zurich - with the oddest/archaic terminal system ever!

We then made it to Istanbul, Turkey to begin our trip! After some delays with our visas and nearly missing the boat - we made it to the port and boarded our ship - the Cristal.

With just enough time to change, we made it to dinner. Which was better than expected!
Some headed right to bed others are taking some time to explore the ship.

Tomorrow we dock in Mykonos but begin with a group meeting in the AM.

We're sure to have some great stories to share! Hope everyone is well at home!!!!

2010 - Grecian Odyssey

The fourth installment of the Stonehill Alumni Travel Program is called "Grecian Odyssey" and will be held in October 2010. A sell-out crowd of nearly 50 alumni and friends will take part in this journey, which includes 5 nights touring the Greek isles on a cruise ship and three nights in a hotel in Athens. Our faculty guide will be Associate Professor of Religious Studies Mary Joan Leith. Stay tuned to follow our journey through Greece!