July 2021 Greece – Greece birthed Western civilization: architecture, sculpture, philosophy, math, science, democracy, literature, and epic mythology. Warm temperatures, bright skies, and azure seas draw tourists to the islands. That is where we are headed, but first we will see the rugged interior as explore for the next ~50 days.
So, why Greece?
First, the stories. Greek mythology fascinates me and always has. In the stories, Theseus, Jason, Hercules, Bellerophon and Pegasus, Odysseus, Achilles, Persephone, and Oedipus all tangled with the gods, sometimes to their glory, usually to their detriment. Zeus, Apollo, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Venus were a jealous lot.
Add to those stories with some factual basis – the Trojan War, Thermopylae (“The 300“), The Battle of Marathon, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, the first ancient and modern Olympics. Some of these events occurred more than 3000 years ago. In more recent centuries, the Romans, Ottomans, Venetians, Italians/Germans have all left their mark on the country and culture. It will be fascinating to explore how the cultures blend and compare to what we have seen in Italy, Croatia, and the Balkans.
While most visit Greece for the sun and sea of the islands, we will also explore the rugged interior. Ancient monasteries at Meteora, treks on Mount Olympus, and the Vikos Gorge with its beautiful Zagori Bridges. The mountains should give a bit of relief from the heat! And of course, we will be on the sea: the Aegean and Ionian Coasts, the Peloponnese, and Crete.
Friends and Food
The people and the culture are always the most interesting. We are fortunate to have friends and neighbors we will join in Greece at Olympia and Athens. We are excited to see them and appreciate the hospitality and personal introduction to the culture.
Our planned journey through Greece is below. You can view and add as a layer in your own Google Maps if you wish. It outlines cities where we will stay, our road-trip route, and some historical sites and hikes along the way. Each pin has a short overview and often a link to our planned hike or other adventure. I plan to update the map as we go and tag any “Travel Bytes” we post on the map.
Here is our itinerary, downloadable as a PDF. If you are considering your own trip (or just following along), you will find detailed routes and research about each stop along the way. In planning the trip, I reviewed several travel blogs and found Greece Travel, written by fellow North Carolinian (and long tie ex-pat to Greece) Matt Barrett, to be most helpful.
We will share Travel Bytes along the way, and I’ll update this narrative after the trip!
Note: Credit to Wikipedia commons and Spirosparas for the picture. We haven’t been there yet!