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A Traveler's Greece

Exploring the History and Culture of Mainland Greece

A Traveler's Greece
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US$ 8.50
Sit with Agamemnon in the palace chamber where he gathered his chiefs to plan the expedition against Troy. Stand on the knoll at Thermopylae where remnants of the Spartan three hundred were cut down by a storm of Persian arrows. Toe the mark at Delphi, Epidauros and Olympia, then let imagination revel in the crowd's roar heard from two millennia past. At Mystras stand in contemplation above the double headed imperial eagle marking the spot where the last emperor of the line that began with Julius Caesar underwent the ritual of coronation before marching off to meet death and empire's end battling Turks on the walls of Constantinople. Get a feel for the history of the land that is Greece of today and yesterday. It aligns perceptual, emotional and intellectual values such that these Hellenic adventures can be a traveler's most memorable experience, plus be a good read for his armchair cousin —or for the traveler himself as retrospection from the vantage point of his favorite armchair at home. Ah, but you have been to Greece already? Then join our traveler through the pleasures of recollection. Let your travels live again in the mind's eye, now seen more vividly than before as you gain more than a post card's view of things.
SynergEbooks; August 2005
299 pages; ISBN 9780744309430
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Excerpt
PROLOGUE This is not just another travel book. Nor is it your standard history book. It is a literary adventure that takes you exploring the history and culture that made Greece what it was and is. Sit with Agamemnon in the palace chamber where he gathered his chiefs to plan the expedition against Troy. Stand on the knoll at Thermopylae where remnants of the Spartan three hundred were cut down by a storm of Persian arrows. Toe the mark at Delphi, Epidauros and Olympia, then let imagination revel in the crowd's roar heard from two millennia past. At Mystras stand in contemplation above the double-headed imperial eagle marking the spot where the last emperor of the line that began with Julius Caesar underwent the ritual of coronation before marching off to meet death and empire's end battling Turks on the walls of Constantinople. That is what this book is about. It is see and get a feel for the history of it all. It aligns perceptual, emotional and intellectual values such that these Hellenic adventures can be a traveler's most memorable experience, plus be a good read for his armchair cousin—or for the traveler himself as retrospection from the vantage point of his own favorite armchair at home. Ah, but you have been to Greece already? Then join our traveler through the pleasures of retrospect. Let your travels live again in the mind's eye, now seen more vividly than before as you gain more than a post card's view of things. As to what you may expect to find: This book is not intended to show all of Greece to all possible travelers. The intent is rather to capture the essence of Greece that lies in its principal historical, geographical and cultural features. It achieves that end by means of a narrative locked into a highly-structured, self-guided motoring/walking excursion that fits within the limits of time and money that most travelers have in common. Why? So a literate working stiff like myself, with dreams about travels in Greece, can fulfill those dreams sans turning life and bank account upside down. Each chapter includes how-to and what-to directions and advice crucial for facilitating a traveler's first-time visit to a place. Such detail makes the book useful even for the least experienced travelers, including those who ordinarily would dare venture into unfamiliar lands only on escorted tours with a pack of fellow tourists—and that is exactly the sort of superficial travel experience this book allows the hungry minded traveler to escape. These pages also serve backpackers or aficionados of the Grand Tour equally well. The final chapter tells you how to work out your personal travel plan. But note: prospective travelers planning a first trip to Greece must accept a cautionary note. A Traveler's Greece does not deal with the nuts and bolts of travel (hotels, restaurants, money changing, etc.). The importance of such details for the traveler, whether novice or old trekkie, is not denied. Indeed, myriad nitty-gritty details are what make the well-known Michelin, Fielding, Fodor, Frommer and similar guides so valuable. Why try to duplicate them? Buy and use your favorite to supplement what you find here—which you won't find there. Read the first chapter, A Traveler's Greece, on the way to Athens. You already read it at home? Read it again for effect and familiarity as you approach your adventure in Hellas. Read the introduction to the chapter on Athens in your hotel while unwinding from the trip and adjusting to the new time zone. Other chapters also have introductory sections that are best read aloud as you and your companion(s) drive along or perhaps in your hotel before retiring the night before a new adventure. Also understand that in Greece you are in the "siesta" region of Europe. Normal business hours are from 7:30 or 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Many stores reopen at 5 p.m. for a couple of hours on some days. Best advice is to consult your concierge for detailed information on these matters in the various cities and towns along the way. Customs differ slightly from place to place. Many museums and archaeological sites in the cities follow business hours, opening at 8 a.m. or so, closing at 3 p.m. or even sooner. Some of the important museums and sites, however, remain open all day (although some buildings at the sites may close earlier). Practically all are closed on Mondays. That means you must plan to be up and on your way early each morning so as to visit the sites before siesta time; and you should schedule Mondays "free" or for the move to a new location. Otherwise, use Mondays for shopping and relaxation, or attending to mundane personal matters. The Greek National Tourist Office (GNTO) in New York provides free brochures on all the areas you will visit (see a current Fodor's Greece, your net browser or a similar source for address or phone number). The pamphlets include detailed hotel information, maps, etc. Order them well in advance of your trip so that you may have them in hand for planning as well as traveling. A further note: You will save money by renting your car at home, well in advance of your trip. As for hotels, choose before leaving home. Make reservations in Athens if you are traveling in high season, and preferably locate near Syntagma Square. The Syntagma vicinity is most convenient for our walks in Athens. Once you leave Athens, if you are uneasy about proceeding into the hinterlands without hotel reservations, then before each move have your concierge call ahead for reservations at the hotel (or alternate) that you have preselected. If you find yourself stranded with no accommodation, get assistance from the local offices of the tourist police (tel: 171) which are located at police stations. Even on a tight budget, take a taxi from the airport to your hotel in Athens. Taxis are cheap and the convenience is worth the pittance more of cash. Finally, your first venture out should be to the Greek National Tourist Office located just a couple of blocks off Syntagma Square at 2 Amerikas Street (phone 210-322-3111), you may find all sorts of brochures, bus schedules (intra and intercity lines), train and ferry schedules, and all about what’s doing in Athens and Greece. You can also make a currency exchange at a bank on the square if you did not do so earlier at the airport. On the way back to your hotel, visit the Greek version of a deli and obtain a couple of plastic liter bottles of drinking water. Local labels are cheap and as good as the name brands. Point: Athens has good tap water, but get adapted immediately to drinking bottled water and using care with raw fruits and vegetables. The standard bugs in Greece aren't the same garden variety you are used to at home. Imodium AD notwithstanding, there is no advantage gained by courting intestinal distress.