Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I woke up at 5AM and got a taxi downtown to the Athinais Hotel.  I was heading out on a full one-day trip to three of the local islands close to Athens.   The 3-deck catamaran ship was only about  one-third filled with tourists since the high season here is slowly drawing to a close.   About 90% of the tourists were Asian which, around here, is pretty common.    They all seem to love coming to this area and have a peculiar penchant for wanting to take pictures of absolutely everything....even if it's dull and uninteresting.   The weather was bright and clear and the sapphire-colored Aegean Sea spread out before us, calm and gleaming in the early morning sunlight.   The Tour Guide gave us an Introductory orientation (in Greek, English and Chinese) about the ship, the islands and the tours that they were offering on Aegina, the largest island that we would be visiting.  After three hours, we pulled into the charming little port and village of Hydra.   There are very few vehicles on this small island and most of the heavy lifting is done by the many donkeys tethered around the port area which carry everything from the suitcases of tourists to unwieldy bags of grain, etc.   As usual, the waterfront is lined with restaurants and bars (most with open seating under canopies) that cater to the tourists who, most assuredly, drive and sustain the local island economies.  After we left Hydra, the ship provided a huge buffet for everyone and served us traditional Greek cuisine.  Our next island that we visited was Paros which was much bigger but, like Hydra, had a similar number of hotels, shops, restaurants and bars.  The last island was Aegina, and we docked there about 4 PM.  I had signed up for a one-hour tour around the island with a 20-minute stop at the well-known Monastery on top of one of the mountains.   It's considered to be one of the most sacred places in the Eastern Orthodox religion because of its relics as well as its association with a canonized saint.  Back on the ship, we were all treated to an hour long show of live entertainment with three excellent musicians and two male dancers who gave us samplings of a number of traditional Greek dances.   As expected, they pulled members of the audience onto the dance floor and taught them the steps.   Back in port, I had the tour bus drop me off at a Metro station and headed back to Kifissea.   A very long day, but now I've had a chance to visit five of the famous Greek islands.

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