From June 24 until July 6, Mark Weiser and his daughter Nicole Reich-Weiser took a tour of Athens and the Greek Islands. Nicole had just turned twenty-one, they both needed a break, and they had a terrific time. Here are some pictures and commentary.
Nicole and Mark, tired and happy, on the Olympic Air plane out of NYC to Greece at last. The plane was a bit dirty, but the food was plentiful and delicious, and there was lots of leg room (if little elbow room).
Nicole and Mark, tired, less happy, 24 hours later (1am) in an outdoor café in the Plaka (old town) in Athens. An old man with a polaroid camera took our picture, and sold it to us for a dollar. Nicole and I are munching on wine, beer, a cheese plate, and a greek salad. Yes, they do call greek salads "greek salads" in greece, and they are huge, and cheap. The Plaka was all there was to Athens until 150 years ago, and today it is a maze of little streets and cafes.
A wide-angle view of the Acropolis, showing the Parthenon and the old walls. The Acropolis was everything I had imagined it would be from dreaming of it my whole life. It pulsed with ancient life, it seemed to me. I cried.
Mark above the old Roman amphitheater, outside the Acropolis walls. This amphitheater is still used -- it was being set up for a rock concert there behind me.
Nicole in front of her favorite site on the Acropolis. Athens is visible behind. The statues visible behind Nicole are not the originals, but concrete copies. The originals are in the British Museum.
Mark outside the Parthenon. I felt in heaven, visiting these old sites of my philosophical readings.
Mark outside one of the temples at Delphi. Delphi was high in the mountains, and nonetheless extremely hot. The mountains form a cleft, and the experience is a bit spooky.
The view from Delphi into the surrounding valleys is spectacular. Far back behind me to the left is the crossroads where Oedipus killed his father.
One of the huge amphitheatres at Delphi. That is me in the middle. Not long after taking this picture by accident I ran into Charlie Perkins, a friend from the United States, completely by uncoordinated accident.
This is Nicole looking great in front of the ancient valley of Delphi, with ruins everywhere. Lost in the valley mists around the curve of the mountain to the left is the ancient crossroads where Oedipus killed his father.
Mark standing along the Panathenean Way, in the Agora (old Market) below the Acropolis in Athens. It is the Agora where Socrates taught. We got lost in the Agora, and never did find our way to the Temple of Hephaistos, the best preserved temple in Athens, although we could always plainly see it. The Agora is a kind of wasteland at the moment, with fences everywhere and stones strewn around and not much restored.
Nicole found this theatre of Dionysus much to her liking. Me too. We sat under a tree for quite sometime and just soaked in the atmosphere. Nicole is here sitting on an ancient marble chair.
After 3.5 days in a very hot Athens, we were ready for our cruise on the Stella Solaris.
Rhodes the city is dominated by the walls built the knights who dominated there for centuries (and who eventually ended up on Malta). The harbor where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood is still used. We did not spend much time in the city at all, preferring to take some recreation as shown in the picture below. However, we did encounter some wonderful cats, who are snuggling with me in the above picture. Later we found their home in a rowboat.
The island of Rhodes is one of the few places in the Greek islands with a site for scuba. (Apparently most places are restricted to prevent amateur archeologists.) The site is Kalithea, and it has some underwater caves, but never gets very deep (10 meters at most -- the above picture is at about 5 meters). Nicole and I had planned to do some snorkeling, and browsed around the harbor looking for rental gear and boats. We found a good selection, and got a chance to scuba too. I got hooked, and hope to be certified soon.
The captain of the Stella, his wife (just visible in the shadow next to him), Nicole and Mark at the Captain's cocktail reception.
Mark and Nicole, all dressed up at the Captain's dinner on board ship. It was fun to dress up.
This is the view sailing into Santorini. Below you under the sea is the caldera of an active volcano. The town is the strip of white on the cliffs high above, at the lip of mountain ring outside the crater. Two recent lava islands dot the sea nearby. The scenes from the bars and coffee shops on the cliff sides are spectacular. Nicole and I spent several hours just sitting, sketching, and writing in our notebooks.
In front of the ancient library of Ephesus, recently restored. In the four niches in front of the library are statues dedicated to Art, Science, Wisdom, and Truth. Inside where the books were (now open to the air) paintings are sold. The temperature was over 100F when we were there, but I nonetheless felt a chill looking at that ancient library wall. (Here is a longer Ephesus link.)
This is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Inside it is filled with beautiful tiles and stained glass with an overall motif of blue. Interestingly none of the stained glass is visible from the outside, which just looks like stone. Clever holes in the stones let light through to the glass while protecting it.
This is the Topkapi palace, as viewed from our boat. We spent an afternoon here. To me the most moving sight was the area in which no pictures could be taken with hairs from the Prophet Mohammed beard, the staff used by Moses (?!), and men praying loudly in each corner. A hush and sense of otherworldliness came over me. The palace also contained many jewels, clothes, sites of the harem, etc.
The ancient christian church of St. Sophia, which was later a mosque, and is now a museum, is filled with captured relics of ancient Greek and Roman sites that were collected here when the "pagan" sites were shut down in the fourth century A.D.
This is the harbor at Mykonos. The back streets are a winding maze, filled with interesting shops and places to get a drink. To the right out of the picture are windmills, and further to the right around a spit of land is the area in the picture below.
Our last night in Greece we sat at this little café with the waves washing at our feet and watched the sunset. We just made the last boat back to the ship. It was a bit melancholy that the trip was over.
At regular dinner seatings these were our companions aboard ship.
That was our journey! We took over 200 pictures, Nicole selected the pictures here (censoring out a few for aesthetic reasons that I thought should be included) and suggested the commentary, wrote the final text.
It is good to be back, and very good to have gone.
Thanks to Leslie for the loan of the camera.
Mark Weiser, August 16, 1998.