In April and May 2000, we took a wonderful holiday in Greece and Turkey. The first week consisted of a Globus guided bus tour of Classical sites in Mainland Greece. The second week we spent three days in Crete, mainly visiting Minoan (and Dorian) sites, followed by three days in Santorini. After an Easter Sunday boat trip from Athens to Ihdra, Poros, Aegina, and Epidauros, the final two weeks were occupied by a Globus guided bus tour of Eastern and central Turkey. Each week was different, each was fascinating. Having never before considered taking a guided bus tour, we were pleasantly surprised--indeed delighted--by it. Many of our fellow tourists had been on several previous Globus tours, and we can certainly recommend it.

This site is under construction, but it is intended eventually to be viewable in a variety of ways: As a daily diary of the holiday, as a description of the different ancient sites visited, as a discussion of ancient writing systems that we saw during the trip. There are many pictures, so it is advantageous to have a high-bandwidth connection to the Internet! Here is a cartographic overview of where we went.

Week 1: Mainland Greece

We flew Lufthansa from Toronto to Athens via Frankfurt, where we nearly missed the connection. On arrival, we spent the first day walking around Athens, through the Plaka, behind the Akropolis, and so forth. The bus tour started the next day. The main sites we visited were Ancient Corinth, Mycenae, the Theatre at Epidauros, Olympia, Delphi and Meteora. We ended by driving back to Athens, past Thermopylae, Marathon, and Thebes, and a final tour in Athens (with a short drive around Piraeus as well).

(Daily diary)


Week 2: Crete and Santorini

From Athens, we flew Olympic Airways to Crete, where we stayed at a hotel in Herssonisos, 30 km east of Heraklion, for three days. We rented a car and drove to several archeological sites, including the Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaestos, and Malia and the Dorian site at Lato. At Phaestos and Malia, we copied about 100 different "Mason's Marks" carved into the stones. These were said to be the precursors of Linear A writing, and have not been deciphered.

From Crete we took a ferry to Santorini, where we stayed in an excellent hotel with a magnificent view, on the lip of the cliff overlooking the caldera. Again we rented a car for a couple of days, and drove to most parts of the island, which is bigger than one might think from seeing movies set there. We took a boat trip to the volcano, and visited the Dorian site of Ancient Thera. It is quite likely that Santorini was the Atlantis described by Plato, based on stories Egyptian archivists had told Solon, who told Plato's grandfather.

From Santorini we flew back to Athens on Orthodox Easter Saturday evening. On Easter Sunday we took the three islands cruise to Ihdra (Hydra), as it was about the only thing open to do. On Easter Monday, we flew Turkish Airlines to Istanbul.

(Daily Diary)

Weeks 3 and 4: Turkey

This map is a picture of part of a mosaic in the entrance hall of the Museum in Selçuk (the town beside Ephesus)

We had a free day wandering in Istanbul before meeting the bus tour group. The next day, we embarked on a fascinating two-week drive through a wonderful country, which turned out to be very different from our preconceptions.

Our main impression of the country is that it is highly variable in almost any dimension one cares to use to describe it, except that everywhere the country and the people seemed neat, tidy, and friendly, whether we were in a rich or a poor region. Everywhere there are monuments and tributes to Kemal Ataturk, who seems to have been to modern Turkey much as George Washington was to the United States.

One unexpected place we visited was the Tomb of King Midas--he of the Golden Touch. But there were many other unexpected and wonderful places.

(Daily Diary)