FRIDAY, MAY 26, 1978
Group flight to Athens (Olympic Airlines flight No.
412). Depart John F. Kennedy Airport, New York at 7:15 p.m.;
arrive Athens 11:15 a.m.
The departure from K.C. to N.Y. (Kennedy) via Chicago was uneventful
and on schedule. However, we were delayed in leaving Chicago—not
by much—and then a bit of chaos hit us in N.Y. While we began
the boarding about on time (via mobile lounge), it was very time
consuming. Then there was a delay—quite a delay at the ramp.
There was a mechanical problem that delayed our departure 2½ hours.
There we sat, and sat, and people piddled, and sat. We were
given the big treat of a packet of peanuts and a small soft drink.
Then finally we started only to add another half an hour on the taxi[-ing]
and delays. So we were airborne about 9:15 N.Y. time As
it turned out we had (compliments of the captain, as they say) an
open bar in recompense. So we had plenty of wine with the
so-so dinner and finished it off with a dram of cognac. By
that time it must have been 10 o'clock or more K.C. time—and so to a
fitful sleep. The one other nagging note was an attack of the
gout that greeted me when I awoke Friday morning.
May 26th—22nd wedding
anniversary. Leave for Greece.
Steve comes by
& drives us, in our car,
to airport. Comments on small amount of luggage. Kisses
me goodbye after depositing us & drives off. The adventure has
begun! Leave 11:16 AM, eat TWA "sandwich": beef & Swiss cheese
with Poupon mustard, & cold. We have 45 minutes layover in
Chicago. They have to take on extra fuel, due to air controllers's "slowdown" (just our luck) in case we have to be in a
holding pattern for an extra hour. Even if we are late, TWA
#880 is the same flight number on that plane going to Greece.
During layover in Chicago we are inundated by a huge contingent of
loud & rather tipsy Italians—most of whom smoke in our non-smoking
section & one is carrying a plastic jug of Chianti(?) [sic]—loud laughter
& lighthearted banter. Even so, it was disconcerting since I
had just read in Newsweek of the
Italian Red Brigade!
Had "lunch" ("Italian," ugh) at 2:40. Didn't eat much.
At Kennedy tried to get Peter at ABT number
at Met opera—no answer, [or] at home (woman says never heard of
him). Found out later Peter was in Colorado! Real
problem getting plane to Greece off the ground. By 8:00 PM
we'd been on aircraft for two hours with possibly another one to go
before we took off. Workman (apparently)
were putting replacement parts on the rudder (tail). Everyone
is restless. The Captain made a strange announcement, to wit:
"Will the passengers who just came on board please deplane.
They're on the wrong aircraft." (!)
Not the Italians, surely? We didn't see anyone leave (but this
was a 747, remember—100 people could leave & we wouldn't see it).
Then, announcement—"They're plugging a unit in the rear." (!)
The child across the aisle from us (luckily we were alone to stretch
out) was tickier than hell. At this point, the condensation
was billowing out of the area below the lights & ventilation slots,
creating the effect of being gassed slowly.
Will we ever get there on time to leave
with the group? Stay tuned—
SATURDAY, MAY 27, 1978
Group assembles at Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens.
(Persons on group flight will be provided transportation from
airport to Hotel upon arrival.) AFTERNOON FREE.
Overnight: Hotel Grande Bretagne.
We arrived at the Athens airport at 1:20 their time, or 5:20 a.m.
K.C. time (8 hours difference). Deplaned, boarded a bus for
short run to terminal. There we stood in a mass of lines for
fifty minutes trying—patiently—to have the passport checked
and stamped. Then, believe it or not, we waited for the bags
to come up. Finally they arrived, and I dreaded customs, but
by then the terminal was so overwhelmed they waved us through.
Information got us oriented to the airport bus, and at 3:00 p.m.
sharp we were on our way to Athens.
The outskirts of Athens are L.A. at its
worst, but with one important difference. There is a
propensity to build neo-Bauhaus quadrilaterals based on the
skyscraper principle, even at two stories, using ferro-concrete.
Added to the rigorous geometry, there are balconies everywhere—and
canvas awnings. All in all, dull and repetitive.
As it turned out, the airport bus ends up a
block south of
Syntagma Square, and so we trotted the two
blocks to the
Grande Bretagne Hotel and shortly were ensconced in a
small but nice room that overlooked an inner court in the old
section. It was, therefore, quiet.
After a quick bathing, we armed ourselves
with hats, sunglasses, and appropriate maps and sallied forth.
I should note that the bus came in such a way that we saw the
Acropolis coming in, and flanked the
Temple of the Olympian Zeus.
I was immediately struck by the lofty rise of the Acropolis: it
really does sit "up there." Well, we excursioned toward the
Acropolis on our foot-jaunt, skirting the Plaka, and saw the
cathedral, new and old, and then cut in to the south, to skirt the
north side of the Acropolis. As we did, we also climbed up to
the walkway at the "foot" of the sacred mount. In doing so we
saw some interesting remains (as noted in the Blue Guide) and
suddenly we were also in a position to see the Agora from above.
I resolved to do the circuit again, when I was fully rested nd
properly prepared to study and (I hope) photograph. We
continued around the Acropolis, saw all the standard "exterior
shots," looked down into the Odeon. Then swung back into the
Plaka and looked at the
Monument of Lysicrates. That was, in
fact disappointing, considering its enormous influence on later
periods, especially the 19th Century. We wandered the Plaka,
most but hardly all of the shops were closed, [it] being Saturday
afternoon, late. After some [?miseries?], we found a Tavern
that had an awninged back area, and there had a dinner that was
O.K., not too expensive, and a welcome alternative to TWA, and the
The hotel is rather pretentious but
certainly comfortable, and the room is about 15x15x15, with a bath
off the room in the entrance hall The room has a door to add
quiet and security. The listed room rate for two is 2438
drachmas, and continental breakfast is 100 drachmas. The
exchange rate at the airport seemed to be $3.70 per 100 drachmas.
In any case the room for two is in the vicinity of $92/day on an
individual basis. I guess we'll find something else, later.
Fortunately, all of this is tour-paid.
Well, fatigue has really set in. We
must be up and at 'em early in the a,m. Bags in hall by 7:00,
and on the bus at 8:00 a.m.
on May 27th. Tried to sleep after finally taking off & having
late supper & lots of free booze, two or three bottles of red wine &
a little "Courvoisier" which George managed to ask for (I think he
finally passed out). TWA felt guilty, so we didn't have to pay
for drinks. Didn't watch movie. Kid across aisle was
bedded down on floor & slept the whole way. I envied him.
I think we arrived about 2-3 hours late. Staggered off plane
(all 300 plus) & stood in line with hundreds of other poor souls for
1½ hours for passport control. Did not have to go through
customs, but ran through it (or
did) with luggage to outside terminal, George asked me, "What
do we do now? You are acting so authoritative!" "Well,
we're not taking a cab," I announced (remembering those larcenous lecherous drivers of 1974). "Well, take care of it, then," he
snarled & I ran back into the pandemonium of the terminal to a
policeman, yelling "Grande Bretagne." You know
that everyone speaks English, especially police?
Ha, ha. Finally said "Hotels?" "Bus!" pointing to yellow
bus somewhat away from outside of terminal. We went to
it—asked where it went & deduced that it went somewhere into town &
was leaving soon. "BACK of the bus" yelled a woman.
Hell, I couldn't remember than one entered at the back. But we
paid something like 25 drachmas & got on, throwing our bags in
storage area at back. Not long after leaving (seeing ugly
suburbs with hideous stucco houses & gas stations) it looked
vaguely familiar & soon we swept into town. Before too long we
saw Grand Bretagne go by & we jumped off with other people, only
about three blocks from hotel. Imagine! A real bargain.
Checked in in huge lobby with clerk looking
both condescending & vague ("Society of Architectural Historians?").
Went up to room: rate 2438 a night, $70-91.25?? Small room
with two twin beds pushed together with mutual headboard, pale gray
walls, enormously high ceiling, with elegant old brass chandelier.
Two end tables by each bedside with lamps. A dresser/mirror
with little lamp; one easy chair. One uncomfortable armchair
facing mirror, two luggage tables, all rather tightly squeezed in
one room. Bathroom with old fixtures, bidet, toilet, big
bath—above which hung a pull chain which [George] inadvertently
pulled, thus calling the maid!! We take baths & tidy up &
venture out at 4:30 & take a long walk—down to Plaka, up to base of
Acropolis. Ate dinner in a sweet little outdoor patio with
cute little boy acting as "bus boy" for $5.00 apiece. Had
moussaka, beer, salad, very good.
I wash my hair & take care of necessities
of leaving the next morning. We gratefully
retire in nice air conditioning with quiet room facing the court at
SUNDAY, MAY 28, 1978
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Grande Bretagne. 8 a.m.: Bus departs for Olympia (Daphni-Eleusis
en route). Box lunch en route. Dinner:
Hotel SPAP, Olympia.
We began early, receiving a call to wake up at 6:15 a.m. I was
already washing up, so it wasn't a shock. By seven we were
ready, bags in the hall and a drab continental breakfast in a swank
dining room started. By eight we were checked out and on the
As we began the very long day, we left the
hotel with Paul Mylonas, our tour guide, describing some of the
notable neo-classic 19th Century buildings still standing, We
saw the more urban/modern section of the city and then the
industrial outskirts. We also were on the exodus to the
bathing beaches. Our first significant stop was the monastery
church at Daphni, which is a museum rather than a functioning
church. The exterior was very much what I expected, but not
the exonarthex which was
Gothic, representing the medieval Latin
influence. Inside was small, austere and (surprisingly to me)
quite lofty. The
pantocrator was genuinely impressive.
The other mosaics ranged from the fragmentary to the fairly durably
intact. On the lower section, badly mauled fresco fragments
were visible. The
precinct was fenced with a fortification
wall I somehow didn't recall.
At Daphni, we picked up
George Mylonas who
was our our guide to Eleusis. There he gave us a fascinating
and thoroughly detailed review of that site. It seemed to me
we covered it very thoroughly (and here once again trouble with the
camera). We clambered and scrambled over the ruins and noted
(as did the guidebooks) no rails or cautionary notes to warn of true
pitfalls. Our tour ended at the small museum in which there
were some interesting objects, but most notable for me were the
Polyphemus vase which was quite large and more impressive on
the whole than in photographic detail. The model (actually
two) of the sets in its glory (early and late) helped me to see the
ruins more meaningfully.
By the time we finished at Eleusis (and had
the necessary w.c. stop) it was 11:30. George Mylonas left us
and we then sailed off for Corinth area and the Peloponnese.
On the way we saw the vast anchorage and dock facilities in the area
between Salamis and the mainland, and we saw numerous new churches.
Most new churches imitate the Byzantine, even to details of
materials, with the stone and brick combination. At the
Corinth Canal, our first variant occurred, in that Paul Mylonas
suggested people could go look at the canal from the bridge, while
he phoned ahead re: our lunch. That created confusion, since a
specific return time was not noted, and then the bus was to cross
and wait on the other side. Then our count was wrong, in that
we did not have two empty seats but did not know it and searched
rather than called the roll. By the time that was done, Paul
Mylonas was off hunting for the non-missing missing. In any
case we finally got off, but a bit late.
Then we missed the turn-off or lunch at
Aigion (Egion) [sic]. We backtracked and found it, and had an
elaborate meal overlooking the Gulf of Corinth (about 2:30 to 3:45).
Then saw a Plane Tree, admittedly enormous, under which presumably
Pausanias sat in 200 AD. Then the mayor (?) [sic] of
Aigion gave us a short speech. Nice meal, finished with fresh
apricots and cherries. Then off to
Patras for a w.c. stop (the
restaurant had very limited toilet facilities).
Somehow, Patras extended into a longer stop than intended. Saw
19th Century and 20th Century architecture. Then off to
Gastouni we ran into a parade that
effectively cut off the highway. Without elaborating, people
did get off the bus and we were to be met by the bus at the other
end of town. I returned to the bus (gout trouble) and then bus
and others separated as an hour's delay getting parade
over and traffic unsnarled through the two streets ensued.
Well, finally people and the bus were reunited and we finally
reached the hotel at Olympia at 8:30 p.m. Dinner was at
9:15—10:15. It was a dreary Anglo meal of potato (?) [sic]
soup, Salisbury steak with a dead fried egg on it, and impossible
whipped potatoes. The salad was O.K. and there was a caramel
custard for dessert. The [St.] Austell beer was the best!
And the room bordered on the primitive.
It was 915 drachmas. However, the view is resplendent; took a
couple of photos in the morning o the 29th. Trees concealed
the view of the sanctuary.
early next day. Luggage in hall 7:00AM (first time we've done
this, so very nervous about it). Went down to lobby for our
continental breakfast, but eating area not open yet. (The
Greeks really are never on time.) Met
Rose Ann [Rosann] Berry &
[sic]. Had not adequate but beautifully served
breakfast of coffee (in silver pots—everything), croissants, bread,
cake, (sweet) butter, jelly & choice of juice. Nice company.
Group begins to assemble. I can't sort them all out.
Introduce tour director,
Paul Mylonas, who takes over mike in ride
out of Athens.
I might add that even this early in the
tourist season, Athens is packed with backpackers of all
nationalities & streets are clogged with traffic. We are on
route to Daphni. Mylonas begins pointing out areas of interest
such as Omonoia Square (a real business center). Omonoia means
concord. On Sacred Way to Eleusis, Mylonas points out that
Athens & suburbs house three million people!
The monastery at Daphni is beautiful &
uncrowded. The present church was erected in the late 11th
Century which he terms "an exceptional specimen." George takes
photos. At Eleusis we are introduced to Prof. George Mylonas,
naturally a real biggie in the archaeological field. This was
one of his digs. Eleusis was one of the centers of religious
activity in the ancient world—according to tradition part of
Demeter's cult, 5th Century BC. The Eleusinian Mysteries were
held in September, the beginning of Thanksgiving. It was very
interesting but rather hot sun. The Prof is quite spry,
leaping around on the rocks, making us younger types look awkward; &
he is funny & amusing.
Soon we are on main highway to Corinth,
driving through plain of olive groves, palm trees, oleander.
See in distance Mount Helicon! Area is pronounced "Pelephon'sus."
We see mesh strung on side of hills to keep rocks & slides off of
roadway. We eat (late) at Alyion [Aigion] at a lovely spot on
the water under huge plane trees & have a wonderful meal: fish
(obviously freshly caught), salad (tomatoes, cucumber, shredded
lettuce), lamb & potatoes, fresh cherries & apricots, with
(65 drachmas) & bottled water (10 drachmas). Ate with
Frances Richards. Lovely time!
On way down to Sparta, in going through a
small market village we run into an enormous traffic jam. It's
a parade! Huzzah! A flower parade. This livestock
town is called Gastouni & reminds me of something out of Madame
Bovary, everyone but everyone is out to see, photograph &
applaud. That is, everyone who isn't on a float, or marching
in one of the many bands (all of which sound terrible!). We
all pile off our elegant & oversized brand-new Mercedes bus, [with]
its slightly oversized driver (good-looking though) named George, &
run in numerous opposite directions to photograph (George [Ehrlich]
takes two). The floats are fabulous: one had a stork on top,
one with a revolving tower that spewed rosewater all over some of
us, one had a globe on top with a sign that said "Please don't
destroy out marvelous planet" that revolved. They threw
flowers at us & we ran out & grabbed all we could—rose petals,
carnations, you name it. There were queens & pom-pom girls &
everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.
Naturally it took a long time to assemble
all of us on bus again. [Rosann] was upset.
The hotel SPAP, Olympia, had lovely grounds
with pretty roses (George took photo), but the rooms were antiquated
& the floors & plumbing creaked. Hotel was quiet, but George
snored all night long. Ate with
MONDAY, MAY 29, 1978
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Hotel SPAP, Olympia. 8:30 a.m.: Visit to
antiquities and Museum, Olympia. 10:30 a.m.: Bus departs for
Kalamata (Pyrgos, Pylos-Methoni en route). Box lunch
en route. Dinner: Hotel Filoxenia, Kalamata.
Overnight: Hotel Filoxenia.
We began the day with a walk (very short) to the old museum where we
pedimental figures and the
metopes from the Temple of Zeus,
along with the Nike of Peonios
[Paionios]. I found the Apollo and side
figures missing, and the other pedimental sculptures
shockingly like plaster. After wondering to myself I learned
that they indeed were, for the originals were undergoing restoration
(more on that later). The wife of the curator (or museum
director, or director of the works—or whatever—was our
special guide. She explained that all the sculptures were
being dissembled (due to corrosion of the iron dowels used in the
late 19th Century), and reassembled with stainless steel plus other
previously unused fragments. Paul Mylonas told us her husband
was a leading expert in this (apparently missing items are
fabricated and added). The [Paionios] Nike and metopes were the
originals, and there were also a case or two of small finds,
including things from Phidias's workshop, including the
fragment with his inscription. We then went into the workroom
in the old museum where we saw the body of Apollo in process of
being cast in an elaborate piece mold.
From the old museum we toured the Altis,
the sanctuary itself. Our guide continued, very soft-voiced
she was. We had four major stops: the Temple of Hera, the
Stadium, the Temple of Zeus, and Phidias's workshop which had been
used to form the substructure for an early Byzantine basilica.
Other items in the vast area were noted. Many have Blue
Guides, and these are proving helpful in being able to follow along.
The camera is as usual mostly on the fritz, and only a very few
photos are succeeding (I guess).
The scale of the place is truly impressive,
and I saw the depth of the excavations, an average of four meters.
The quality of the stone is very coarse, with shells very visible in
it. The fallen columns of the Zeus Temple are more
impressively big than if they were upright, since one is readily
dwarfed by them The cella itself, however, seemed rather
narrow, and the statue of Zeus must have loomed within it.
From the sanctuary we went to the new
museum. There we were privileged to go into the area where the
pedimental groups are being reassembled. And there, casually
on the table, was Apollo's head, much as isolated on the guidebook
cover. Fragments and assemblies were all over the place, and
we were free to look and to ask questions. Knowing we had to
meet a bus at 11 a.m., I sneaked out (as did others) to see the
rest of the museum. My first objective was the Hermes.
He is complete except for his right arm and one can see the new
stone used to fill in legs, etc. The installation is an
attempt at grandiose, but it doesn't work too well. Mylonas
said a competition was likely to design a new installation of finds,
some of which are quite impressive, and they range from
[illegible] to Roman. Here I concentrated on selected items,
including architectural fragments in terra cotta (polychromal).
Well, we had to leave the very austere
building that is the new museum. Several impressions and
observations. The pedimental restoration has been underway
three years, and a fourth should finish it. One can easily see
the lack of finish on the part of Apollo's head farthest to the rear
(in his pose). The Hermes is impressive.
We received a grab bag lunch to eat on our
way. It was more than enough—too much for me—but most of it
eaten on our way to
Pyrgos. There we were told to get off and
see the old neo-classic market: about two-thirds of us did and we
found ourselves in the strange situation of being in the actual
market area (the old market was closed to be restored into a
museum). So as we strangers added to the confusion on the
narrow streets, we followed Paul Mylonas around the block, only to
discover no bus on our return, and Paul had vanished into some shop.
We waited patiently and eventually the bus returned, all of our
people were there and off we went to
Kalamata, going across into the
interior at Kalo Nero.
At Kalamata we ended up at the
Hotel Filoxenia, a quasi-American motel by the shore! There we were
given an hour and a half to rest, reorganize, etc. before heading
for Pylos and Nestor's Palace. The hotel in Kalamata is better
than in Olympia and is only 636 drachmas for the two (regular rate).
After a rest stop—some swam at the adjacent
beach—we took off for Pylos. This was over mountain
switchbacks and some gorgeous scenery. It was so picturesque
that it was almost artificial. After 90 minutes of this we
reached Pylos, a beautifully situated small port with houses
climbing up the hills. We paused at the harbor to stretch our
legs and have an ice cream. Then it was off to
some ten miles north. We arrived just after the site was
closed, and then issued [i.e. took place] a badly scripted play in Greek with the
Americans acting as a chorus. Bureaucratic authorities vs. the
"good guys." Anyway, in due course we were heading another
winding four kilometers to Ghora [Chora] to see more bureaucrats at
the little museum there—also closed. Eventually we were
allowed (or perhaps mandated) to visit the museum (which had
some interesting items including a gold hoard) and then back to the
site of the palace. The head honcho rode with us; we entered,
we saw, we were late.
Nestor's Palace is indeed interesting and
informative, but the color of everything, remains and surroundings,
is the same red clay. I had difficulty distinguishing one from
the other without the vertical relief.
So back to Chora to deposit the head
honcho. It is clear this town rarely if ever sees a Mercedes
tour bus. It us certain we were an unexpected sight with
numerous double takes. The bus driver (George) was hard
pressed to make the switchback turns in town. Well, we stopped
at the hotel there for a w.c. stop for those who needed it (almost
all) and then back to Kalamata by a short cut (and lesser road) at
dusk. We arrived at the hotel at 9:30 p.m. and ate a so-so
dinner from 9:45 to 10:45 p.m. The best parts were the cooked
squash (or zucchini) and the fresh apricots for dessert.
Sleep, however, was hard to come by.
In the Chora area we were in donkey/goat
territory and the most evident local automative vehicle is a sort of
put-put tractor pulling an attached (not hitched) cart in which
people, goats, produce, etc. was placed. Also saw many riders
of donkeys sitting sideways rather than astride.
breakfast of leftover bread, sweetish cake & coffee.
Interesting trip to antiquities. All of it was on foot.
Our "guide" was a quiet, non-aggressive girl. This whole
morning was totally disorganized. I like Olympian ruins
though. They looked romantic & Byronic, like old 19th Century
prints: fallen columns, huge trees, birds.
Trip to museum included off-limits
workroom, where we were shown restoration work done on head of
Apollo & in another studio making a cast of his body. We have
our first (of many) box lunches onboard bus: same old bread, cheese,
ham, two hardboiled eggs.
Afternoon drive to Kalamata, almost on
beach. End room has a gorgeous view of turquoise water, gently
rippling trees, with mountains on back & side—very quiet.
Soporific, while some of our group swim.
We leave at 4:00 for Nestor's Palace,
destroyed in 1200 BC. We have hair-raising ride there, only to
be told that it is closed (it's 6:15), Know why? Because
Paul [Mylonas] wanted an ice cream in your typical seaside port of Pylos (as you can see, he is very self-indulgent).
[At Nestor's Palace] this causes
consternation, gesticulation & maneuvering with petty officialdom—a
little man in a grey uniform who will not let us in
after hours. George the driver fingers the eight locks on
gates, while official makes a call. We'll be back!
We end up in a little town called Ghora [Chora]
to see museum which naturally is closed!! Mylonas strides
purposefully back & forth on museum's porch while guard called
official. Naturally we get in: Paul is a VIP. It was
interesting: bowls of gold flakes, gold objects found (I gather) in
Nestor's Palace. Speaking of which—back we go, with natives
staring up at unfamiliar, no doubt weird-looking American tourists
in huge bus.
It is now almost dusk. We do
get in. Everything is terra cotta color: ruins, ground, very
high, primitive. Unreal in that light. Back to Chora,
nearly ploughing down people going home to eat on donkeys [sic], people
leading donkeys, people walking, all with looks of incredulity.
We (most of us) are desperate for a WC & as
poor [Rosann] goes into a hotel (no doubt only one in town!) to
telephone our Kalamata hotel to say we'll be late for dinner, most
of us "rush" the hotel facilities (no one seems to be staying there)
& flush all 23 toilets simultaneously.
We eat at 9:45, served by surly crew of
overworked waiters—eggplant in oil, beef & potatoes, apricots in
water. Eat with
Charlie Hosmer who is hysterical with
enthusiasm. I have to crash around in dark getting ready for
bed later while George snores. It's such a lovely room, it's a
shame to leave Hotel Filoxenia.
TUESDAY, MAY 30, 1978
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Hotel Filoxenia. 8:30 a.m.: Bus departs for Sparta
(including Mani-Gythion en route). Box lunch en
route. Dinner: Hotel Xenia, Sparta. Overnight: Hotel
Today we tried to launch early, which given the late dinner the
night before was a task. But the crew was assembled other than
our shepherdess, Rosann Berry. She alone had not been awakened
and our departure (hoped to be 8 a.m.) was delayed while she was
discovered; it turned out that no
one—not even the hotel—knew her room number since she arranged all
of us. Well, all turned out O.K. and off we went to the
heading across some of the most striking country and magnificent
views and hair-raising roads I've ever seen or been on. It was
at times a real white-knuckle ride. We saw that part of Greece
that was never really conquered, though we saw remains (at a
distance) of medieval castles, some of which were Frankish in
origin. We saw small Byzantine churches, 12th/13th Century
The village of the Mani are austere
geometrical solids of imposing visage, marked by defensive towers.
It is an arid country, even the olive trees are small. The
ride south was quite an experience visually and it was a striking
contrast to the classical image given for Greece. We reached
Ithion [Gytheion] via
Areopolis [Areopoli], with a jaunt from there south to
Gerolimenas and back. We toured the Vlyhada
[Vlychada] Cave near Limonion
[Limeni]. On returning to Areopolis from Gerolimenas, we
stopped and saw the Byzantine
Church of St. George of Kitta
(Byzantine 12th/13th Century) (I by binoculars) and then the late
18th Century church in Areopolis. We saw Ithion (Gythion) [sic]
by driving along the waterfront, and thence to Sparta.
While it seemed as if we saw an enormous
amount, and we did, most was watching from a moving bus. There
were several stops (one to "pick wild flowers," men to the
right—women to the left) which was a prickly nettlesome experience.
It was not too far from another Byzantine church that had everyone
running—well, almost everyone. I'm pacing myself and using the
binoculars which help. I admit that if the camera worked as it
should, I'd probably clamber more. I am gettng some shots I
guess, but I'm trying to squeeze as much onto each roll as I can,
and the stoppages [by the camera] mean at least one destroyed, and possibly more
than one (halves?). So I've pecked away at tourist shots
rather than serious stuff given the possibility that whole sections
of treasured views and details could be lost in this frustrating
business. I admit it doesn't traumatize me as much as I
thought it would have weeks ago. I guess I'll have about ten
rolls or so used. I do hope a couple of shots of our wild ride
in the Mani (the middle peninsula) are operable.
The way the Taigetos [Taygetus] loom up,
down the peninsula, is awesome, with clouds at the highest points.
Sparti (Sparta) lies just to the east, and the city (mid-19th
Century, neo-classic with modern displacements) is dominated by the
mountains. The city has about 11,000 people, quite small, and
after dinner (8:30 for a change) Paul Mylonas encouraged us to troop
to the Plateia by the neo-clasic town hall to sit and have an ouzo
or ice cream. The Plateia's neo-classic arcaded buildings are
being violated and replaced, The marble area of the square has
been elevated a meter and is now concrete. The proportions of
buildings are damaged thereby. Paul M. is very much into
conservation and preservation of historic architecture, both
neo-classic and Byzantine (as I undertand it), and so we are seeing
[i.e. being shown] preservation problems as well as monuments.
The [Vlychada] Cave is a boat trip (mostly)
and is interesting but more of a "rest stop" than a must sight [sic].
We had access to the w.c. and a chance to sit on the terrace
overlooking picturesque bay looking past the Messenian Gulf.
I managed to hit my head twice and thus have the (my) first wounds
of the trip. The hat did help! The gout siege is down, but
I've tightened up the calf with my compensatory limp, so I continue
to gimp along.
We were informed that the roads we drove on
(very narrow, possibly 18 feet, maybe 20 feet at the most) were
built in the past ten years. The wild terrain resisted
invaders and thus was independent for the most part. The great
fortresses were near the sea. The defensive towers were used
in clan warfare—blood feuds—and such internal problems. The
towers were reduced in height after independence as the government
began to impose some order.
In any case we ended at Sparta where we had
a hotel room on a height overlooking trees and off in the
distance mountains. There was an outside porch/deck that had
its attractions; however we had no time to enjoy them as it turned
[Rosann] "overslept" so 45 minutes late start.
Yesterday was a biggie, as this one is to be. This is the day
in the Mani (white knuckle ride). In Kambos [Kampos] we (for a short
time) take on an additional guest lecturer, a town elder, who is
supposed to enlighten us on the bust of the ex-Prime Minister & his
home & the old cstle. I remember nothing about it except
how funny he was. Everyone in this country & on this bus is
straight out of Central Casting.
Medieval castles, Byzantine churches, the
Mani is quite different from other parts of Greece. ARID.
There is cactus like southern Italy. The
Maniotes are fierce &
independent people, very lean in style of ancient Spartans, fierce
vendettas in style of Corsicans. Some men have been locked in
towers for 30 years for vendettas. All the roads we are on
have been built since WWII. Before these were only mule paths
& I can believe it. This is wild country.
The language has lots of ancient words,
some related to dialects known in Homer. Interesting book of
Patrick Leigh Fermor called Mani. (We see lots of
communistic propaganda KKE—Paul says subsidized by Russia—in
red letters on the rocks.) The landscape gets drier as
we get further south. We see an old German machine gun tower
erected on top of an existing ruin.
We take a rest stop to "gather flowers,"
literally & figuratvely. One woman got burrs in her butt.
I got them inside my slacks. I see the advantage of wearing
skirts. Wild flowers include Queen Anne's lace, yellow
dandelions, small daisies, thistles, wild onion. Honey hives
(Dixie buys some along road). Paul &
Marion read aloud
poetry—Lamentations, 15 syllable verse, which usually is accompanies
by shrieking, scratching skin with one's nails, making abrupt
movements with arms in manner of ancient choruses.
We see rough stone walls piled loosely,
donkeys, olive trees. We leave Mycenaean Mani & enter
Mani. Ancient castle of Ithyion [Gytheion]. Paul says
this place shouldn't be ruined by tourists. Maniotes wont sell
land—they were [the] only people in Greece to never be subjugated by
Through Areopolis we go to huge underground
caves named Vlyhada [Vlychada] near Limonium [Limeni] which were discovered in
1958 . They destroyed two-thirds of the stalactites ([which]
grow a centimeter every 100 years, life span of 400 million years)
to make this into a tourist place. However it is still
(according to Paul) considered to be the most important cave in the
world of its size—water slightly salty, contains only eels &
spiders.... We go off in little boats, each holding
eight—Charlie is hysterically enthusiastic. I am merely
hysterical, The "boatmen" are teenaged Greek boys who seem to
enjoy slamming against things & hearing tourists scream. It was more funny than awe-inspiring, reminding me of a combination Fun House &
Halloween. We all behaved like kids on holiday.... Have
food overlooking water.
In roadside place we bought some ouzo,
honey, Mavrodaphne (Tom) & pass all around. Such good
fellowship & fun.
See 12th Century church, St. George of Kita
[Kitta] high on hill. Many tramp up (including
thistles to take photos. George & I look through opera
glasses, Paul rips trousers.
"Rest stop" at Areopolis to go to john &
See Gythion, port of Sparta.
The Trigetos [Taygetos] Mountains.
Sparta. Arrive at Xenia Hotel (they
are Greek government owned string of hotels throughout Greece—some
built by the "Colonels" during reign). We thought it a rather
nice hotel, though we later learned that others of our party had bad
(even filthy) accommodations & two of them even threw a mattress out
on the roof one night. About 599 drachmas a night ($20!).
Located on a hill overlooking trees, mountains, but sounding like
the Indianapolis 500: children screaming, dogs barking, cars, motor
scooters racing over hill & dale.
We have big bathroom with sit-shower.
I took bath, cleaned face, washed clothes. (George would do
Bus to leave late: 11:00-11:30. In
meantime, the hardy folk will take cabs up to Mistra at 7:30 AM.
Interesting meal: cucumbers/tomatoes,
patishio, a kind of meatloaf, homemade ice cream, then a walking
trip en famille after supper to the town square, to
take in the sights under the guiding eye of Paul.
Unfortunately, we seemed to dominate—the town's folk were few & far
between. It was sweet, though, having ouzo & brandy out in the
square & sharing our thoughts, then walking back to hotel.
I would have slept great, but George snored
all night & the cock crowed early AM & kept it up. I looked
out once & he was right under our window.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 1978
Continental breakfast: Hotel Xenia. 8:30 a.m.:
Bus departs from Hotel for Monemvasia (afternoon stop at Mistra).
Box lunch en route. Dinner: Hotel Xenia, Sparta.
Overnight: Hotel Xenia.
For the hardy folk, there was a very early taxi trip out to
Mistra to get the sun on the north facade. We elected to
remain dormant with breakfast at a luxurious 8:30. By 9:15 or
so, we joined Paul M. for a walk to the Museum of Antiquities
in Sparta. We had a directed tour by the curator, a young
softspoken woman whose English was O.K., but who was telling us more
than I wished to know about Laconian reliefs. There were some
interesting things in the museum, but not too much given the area of
the country. One fascinating thing was a combined Ionic/Doric
capital (actually a pair) that looked something like this:
It was so implausible as
to be confusing. It was dated 6th Century (which I had trouble
believing) and they were part of an architectural complex supporting
a large statue. In any case, it was peculiar.
Then a number of people went with Paul on
to the archaeological site; Mila and I returned to the hotel to
prepare for the afternoon jaunt (see). I had been given to
understand that the old Sparta complex was rather dull, with little
of consequence other than some walls, etc. Anyway, we needed
to "pull ourselves together" for our afternoon's visit to
The trip to the "Gibraltar of Greece" was
generally uneventful, with the usual winding across switchbacks.
It was precipitous enough for me, but George the bus driver did seem
to swing along with greater alacrity than I fancied. Near the
end of the voyage (some got motion sick) we stopped for a bit to see
a Byzantine Mill winding down a valley in three stages, using the
fall of the water thrice to power the works. The vertical
channels (and these were up and down by a considerable length) were
in cut stone drums. Some folk bailed out, I looked from the
bus by binoculars. I should add it was nearing 2 p.m., and we
had not as yet eaten.
We reached the sea ([illegible]) and there
was this rock of about 150 meters rising abruptly out of the
sea with battlements noticeable at the highest elevation. A
narrow and short causeway connected it to the mainland: hence the
title Monemvasia or single entrance.
We bussed across and went (about 2
kilometers) to the entrance. There box lunches were
distributed and we were taken up to a small square within the lower
town to eat, facing the sea. We had until four p.m. to explore
on our own before being met by a guide. Mila and I wandered
for about an hour, and as far as we could learn, there was no w.c.
Thus we elected to walk back to the new town for a watering location
(Paul was having a fish dinner with about a third of the group).
It had been shady earlier, now the sun beat down, and the walk was
hot. At the other end of the causeway we saw our group just
finishing the fresh apricots for dessert. We w.c.ed [sic]
and had something ro drink and with the bus headed back to the city.
There, in the square at 4 p.m., we were met by a Mr. and Mrs.
Kaloghera. They are both architects who have a practice in
Athens, but who also own and have restored a Byzantine house in the
town. She is working on a doctorate at U. of London on the
town planning of Monemvasia, which is a Byzantine town (fortified)
which has been slowly decaying and has virtually no inhabitants now
(total 15), since the rest live in the new town.
Well, we were given a tour, far more
extensive than that we took on our own. We saw a number of
churches, and here (as later at Mistra) we could see how integral
churches were with urban settings. They are smallish and often
tiny. They pop up everywhere. The town was stacked up
the hillside with narrow, narrow, cobbled streets (sic) [sic]
about 5 feet many 6 feet at the widest. The streets were often
steps. We clambered up to the middle town and following our
gray-eyed beautiful guide, before we knew it we were heading for the
top! I had muttered before clambering up that I'd be damned if
I'd climb to the top, and there I was. It wasn't the easiest,
but the bulk of our group of all ages were plowing upwards, zigging
and zagging, until we were near the crest, where the
Church of Hagia
Sophia stood. A big dome church of the Daphni type, it lacked
its interior decoration (though it is still used as a church).
The construction, with its combination brick and stone, was very
clearly revealed. And as we wended our way down. At the
very west was fortifications, but we were close enough not to feel
we hadn't accomplished something. At the end of the downward
climb we were received at the Kaloghera house for wine and olives
(both local), and we toured the room on top of rooms. stacked up
cubical shapes. It was ingenious but treacherous with small,
tight stairs and low, low portals. But what a setting, and
what a view from the small terrace. And, they had two w.c.s
that were most welcome of all.
I'm using w.c. since that is the term
(signage) most frequently encountered in the country (so far),
though I've seen toilette as well. There are visuals,
including shoe symbols in the Athens airport.
Well, a tired, tired crew headed back to
Sparta from Monemvasia—running about an hour late as usual. As
it turned out there was more than that to be concerned about.
Our battery was dead (on the bus) and we had to make sure the bus
would not stall or stop running. Apparently it conked out once
(earlier) on a downgrade but was started again through keeping the
bus in gear. We had the wild ride along hairpin turns not
knowing of our problem, and finally hauled into the hotel most
weary. Dinner was one of the best yet, with salad, large
tiropita, and fish with rice. We then learned about the bus
and that we would depart for Mistra in the morning using a fleet of
taxicabs. So with that we turned in tired and ready for a very
Early group took off at 7:00 AM. Late risers had "late"
breakfast at 8:30. We went to museum, narrated by tiny young
woman who had a cold, whispered her remarks, & shrugged a lot.
There were interesting copies of old masks used in ritual dances,
reminding me of similar ones used in American Indian dances.
Back on bus 11:45-12:00, going south & on
east coast of Peleponnesus. Goal is Monemvasia—another problem
resulting in complete confusion. Some want to eat fish dinner
at harbor, others want to swim "off the rocks," others just want to
sit in this lovely spot & eat the box lunches (George & I in the
latter). We decide to split up for two hours (no doubt a
mistake, looking back)—we climb & investigate shops & old
ruins—rather rough footing. I cannot find a john.
Frances decides to hell with it & "goes" behind a rock. George
& I walk back down causeway in blistering sun to our
"fish-eaters"—Paul & his little coterie—I use toilet & have a Coke.
We climb on bus, pick up some of the
swimmers, & go back to Monemvasia. Are met by beautiful
architect & PhD woman Mrs. Kaloghera (otherwise known as Blue Eyes)
with strange blue-gray eyes who shows us around & leads us up a
mountain. Everyone follows her, including the
halt & lame—even George—up a sheer cliff face. Looking down is
spooky. In one empty Byzantine house there is a gap & sheer
drop. When we get to the top we see only (sorry) an old
Byzantine church (Hagia Sophia). Everyone is ecstatic.
We see other old ruins.
Then we are taken to Blue Eyes & her
architect-husband's reconstructed Byzantine house. It really
was quite impressive—three floors & what's more important, three
bathrooms!! Only trouble is by the time we got through with
them none of them flushed! We had resinated wine & chitchat—was
very nice all around.
Staggered back to bus. Had dinner at
9:30. We were famished! Cheese pie, salad, fish with
rice. To "sleep" at 11:30. George & dog barked all night
THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 1978
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Hotel Xenia. 8:30 a.m.: Bus departs from Hotel:
morning visit to Mistra; tour then proceeds to Nauplia.
Luncheon: Hotel Complex "Xenia," Nauplia. 2 p.m.: Bus departs
for Mycenae. Dinner: Xenia, Nauplia. Overnight: Xenia.
As noted above we assembled after very little sleep and a most
meager breakfast to await the taxis. Finally they arrived,
nine small gray Mercedes, all in a row. The group piled in
(breaking the law at five passengers per) and away the caravan went.
It was five kilometers to Mistra and we climbed up to the fortress
gate. There the noble company of SAH'ers debarked and followed
our leader into the area behind the walls of the city. Paul
suggested that some would want to go up to the fortress, while
others could wait (at that level) at a nice church nearby.
Well, I started out with the troop, feeling very daring after
my Monemvasia climb. After going up some distance I began to
puff rather hard and then and there decided to back off. I
don't know if I was going too fast, or whether it was the higher
altitude (about 500 meters vs. 150 meters for Monemvasia) or
fatigue, or what. I thought that with my recent history of
high blood pressure problems I'd be crazy to do anything other than
retreat, which I did. Since the rest of the trip would be
downhill (I then thought), I saw no problem descending. In due
course the others returned, and we began our study of a number of
the Byzantine churches in Mistra. It was once a large
community, but now this medieval town is mostly in ruins except for
a number of churches which are intact insofar as superstructure is
concerned. The churches are small dome and some have rather
extensive frescoes in them. We also visited a living nunnery
in which the five-dome church was undergoing restoration of the
frescoes. Upon leaving this little oasis of life, it was
interesting to note that the Abbess wanted us to have water and
sweets. This, alas, we had to refuse since we were running (as
A word on running late. We are late
because Paul Mylonas is a kind, knowledgeable and fascinating guide,
and the group, by and large, is enthusiastic, disciplined and eager
to see and learn.
Anyway we crawled (so to speak) up and down—mostly
down, I'm happy to say—on this mountain, seeing the remains of
houses and visiting several churches. The churches exhibit
that fascinating combination of brick and stone exterior with tile
roof that is now so much part and parcel of that period's
architecture. I've restrained myself in buying books, but here
I got the guidebook and a sheaf of postcards (very necessary now
that the camera is no longer of use).
Well, our group wended down to a lower
exit, and Paul took the diehards (only half by now) up to see two
more churches. Mila and I found the group sitting and waiting
for George the bus driver and his bus. We were hungry and
tired and all in need of w.c. relief. Well, no bus, no George.
Was the bus fixed? Would we get to Mycenae that afternoon?
After some confusion the bus did appear, the group gathered, and we
started off for Nauplion [Nauplia, Naplion] for lunch (theoretically at 2:00
p.m.) We got away from Mistra at near 12 noon, and hence were
now an hour behind schedule.
Away we roared, and to make a long trip a
brief account, we finally reached Tripolis [Tripoli] where where it
was deemed necessary to halt near a hotel to use the facilities.
The group scattered, some queueing for the lavs while others began
hitting kiosks for snacks, drinks, etc. The queue for the
women's w.c. was the great delay, and so we left refreshed and
relieved, but even later. Then on the road we suddenly halted.
The doors opened and on board came a vendor of cherries. Large
amounts were purchased and consumed. Finally we see the sea,
and begin another series of hair-raising hairpin descending turns,
with brakes beginning to heat up and much flinging back and forth.
Later, we were informed that the road is used for the Greek races
(but only up the mountain). We hauled into
then Nauplion. We wheeled up to a concrete bunker (it is all
that one could call it) which seemed to be the hotel (more on that
later). Rosann and Paul debarked, along with George [the bus
driver], and after about ten minutes reappeared and we took off
again. We hauled up to another hotel and here debarked.
It was 3:15 and we were one hour and 15 minutes late. The
hotel staff in the restaurant was unhappy, and we were given 30
minutes to eat to be able to get to Mycenae to meet our new guide.
We wolfed down our meal in a rather elegant hotel and by golly we
were on board by 3:45. We arrived at Mycenae at 4:15; on the
way we zoomed by Tiryns. Paul said that maybe tomorrow we
would visit it.
At Mycenae we were met by
Williams, who is either at or the Director of the American School of
Classical Studies, which does its archaeology in the Corinth
precinct. He gave us our tour of Mycenae from the active
archaeologist's point of view.
The Lion Gate is big. As you move in
between the cyclopean walls (which are lower than originally built),
one is closed in—yet there is bigness. The Assyrian entrances
with the guardian bulls would be similar to this I suppose.
One thing about an archeological site of this sort, once you're in
the precinct the different levels become confusing to an uninitiate.
Thus Williams's commentary was very helpful. It went far
beyond pointing and naming. The acropolis of Mycenae, on which
the citadel stands, does loom up, and as one climbs (and climb again
we did) the view over the Argolid is most impressive. Our
primary stops were the Lion Gate, the grave circle, the
the palace, and the cistern. A recent discovery has unearthed
some strange cult figures, now in Nauplion museum, and thus we have
some new interpretations re: the role and function of religion,
changing the King-Priest concept.
Later, seeing Mycenae at a bit of distance,
one can see the way the whole builds upward toward the megaron of the
From the citadel we went to the two major
tholos tombs (Clytemnestra and
Atreus). Before commenting on
them I think I should note that most of the citadel's heavy
construction is of a conglomerate stone, which looks a bit like
concrete with a river rock aggregate. Earlier work hammer-dressed,
later sawn. There was apparently an
Archaic temple on the
site. Also, Williams is a firm believer in the
and pointed to evidence of fire, etc.
The Clytemnestra tomb (so-called) is
interesting because the lintel stone size is carried around as a
large back of extra-size stones that creates a ring. This is
not the case at Atreus. The side room of the Atreus tomb
(so-called) is rock cut. The tholoi are impressive, and
Williams is working on a paper restoration of Atreus, citing its
colorful facade which he feels was likely left in view at least
during the lifetime of the king.
We finally pulled away from Mycenae and
arrived at the "bunker" from which we would ascend by elevator to
the upper reaches. The hotel was built by the government
during the time of the colonels and was placed in front of a
medieval fort on the hill. This over the protests of people
like Paul. It is not very well built, not overly attractive,
but what a view. From our terrace we could see most of the
bay, including the medieval island fort right in front, and most of
old Naupflion [sic] below us. For once, we had a reasonably early
dinner (9 p.m.) and learned later that Paul and the
out for a fish dinner and had looked for us but we were not
found—alas. At the end of this extraordinarily hard day we
collapsed and slept soundly.
at 6:00 AM. Went up to Mistra in seven separate cars because
the battery in our bus gave up (too much winding up steep grades,
apparently). What a sight, all of those identical cabs
arriving at same time & taking off one after another, speeding of
course. Drivers enormously amused & we hysterical.
stopped ours to take a photo of Mistra up on hill.
Forgot to say, ran into
Betty Vandever &
Lottie Lichtor in hotel dining room at breakfast. Small world!
Incredible sight—gorgeous air, sky,
Byzantine red-roofed ruins. We climb & climb & climb, all the
way to top to a fortress at tip of mountain. Many Byzantine
churches. My feet are in ruins also.
We have a big mixup getting picked up
(George [the bus driver] was late). One funny occurrence when
Frances Halpin appeared in a cab with
Jack! Trip to Nauplia
"hairy" on twists & turns on road used for races! Good thing I
have strong stomach.
At Hotel Xenia (another one) at 3:00 PM.
Get to Nauplia an hour late or more.... Because [Rosann]
demanded air conditioning, we are not in usual hotel complex on top
of hill, but even higher in two-unit cabañas (bungalows).
Whole complex rather garish—California, but to us really lavish:
marvelous comfortable beds, armchair, two huge dressers, desk
mirrors (one whole wall was a dark mirror—hmm). Separate area
for wardrobe & bath could be closed off. Floor to ceiling
doors leading to private balcony overlooking bay, with yachts,
boats, Venetian fortress & all of the red-tiled roofs & houses
facing the water. Had our own window box filled with bright
red geraniums. Had Gerry take a photo here. Our camera
After lunch went to Mycenae. There
was a lady selling cherries on roadside—she came on board & sold us
the whole lot. It turned out to be an evil omen, right out of
Grimms fairy tale. We ate so many of the cherries that the bad
luck was doubly bad.
4:15! Went to Mycenae in very, very
hot sun (die, I thought I'd die). Paul said I shouldn't wear
black: it absorbs the sun. Met by Mr. Williams of the American
School of Classical Studies (which does digs in Corinth). He
was pure Abercrombie & Fitch in beige safari outfit—apparently
indefatigable up & down into site, up hills in blistering sun.
Lion Gate less impressive to me than when I
first saw it that blustery March day in 1974. Nothing could
beat that day. I swear I saw the Gods walk—saw gate, graves,
palace, cistern (I got into entrance & panicked!). Went into
Clytemnestra's & Atreus's beehive tombs. My feet & head were
in bad shape—others looked wilted too.
Back to hotel—got mixed up on when we would
meet. George & I got there early. I got tearful, but
darling Tom Middleton ? [sic] Ridington entertained us.
Apparently the curse started to take place.
Katie turned her
ankle in Mycenae,
Miss Edith [ditto marks under "turned her ankle"]
& was half in reflecting pool, & Tom &
Naomi swam in a contaminated
pool. God, what a mess!
It was an overwhelmingly demanding day &
most unfair on most of us, I thought.
FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 1978
Continental breakfast: Xenia. 8:30 a.m.: Bus
departs for tour of Nauplia area (including Epidaurus and Byzantine
churches of Argolis). Luncheon: Xenia. Dinner: Xenia.
Today was Tiryns and Epidaurus—a light day which actually
gave us a chance to swing back to the hotel in the later afternoon
to have some "free time," which I used to buy stamps and to visit
the Nauplion museum. But to do things in order[:]
Tiryns was a coastal (or at least
river/estuary) fortified citadel. It stands not so high as
Mycenae, but it has the advantage of standing more alone on its
terrain. The walls are badly crumbled insofar as height is
concerned, but nevertheless impressive by cyclopean [sic]. Very
little conglomerate used here. The site was virtually
unoccupied except by our group and a very active (but still
restricted) archaeological dig in the north [illegible]. We
went into one of the galleries that had the long, corbeled,
triangular vault, and the polished surfaces where sheep had rubbed
over the grain when the place had fallen into ruins and shepherds
had used it (perhaps in bad weather) for their flocks.
The site is seriously impressive, quite
different from Mycenae, mostly because it is starker and more
forbidding (and older) than its more famous associate. As with
all archaeological sites, the physical situation is treacherous, and
holes, precipices, etc. are awaiting a misstep. We've had one
twisted ankle and one pulled ligament so far. The former, on
an archaeological site—an elderly but dauntless woman, The
latter, stepped into a decorative pool that foolishly narrowed the
sidewalk at our fancy hotel. While she was a bit of a
fussbudget (so I hear) the misstep was more the hotel's fault than
Well, back from Tiryns, and then off to Epidaurus by way of Nauplia. But I forget. There was the
active archaeological dig at Tiryns. While we could look on
only from above (at the Megaron), we saw all aspects of the
operation, including the mining car, the rails, the
many plastic buckets for finds, etc. Well, on to other things.
We winged our way to Epidaurus. I'm
having problems by now between the Greek and the Anglo way of saying
things/names and I'm using neither it seems [as] I hear the phrases, but
I have a cursed link in the transmission to my tongue. It is a
kind of aural/vocal dyslexia. Well anyway, we arrived at Epidaurus, and we began in the museum. It is small but filled
with exquisite items, mostly architectural fragments in
reconstruction. (We skipped over the inscriptions which I
later learned were very important.)
From the museum we began touring the site.
Epidaurus was noted for its
and the tholos was extremely important in this case. I found
the area interesting, but not up to Olympia in its stimulation.
But there were interesting things, mostly the theatre. I erred
in my recollection. First, we had gone to the theatre, which
is truly impressive, then to the museum and site. My
recollection is faulty (though I have pocket notes) because I am now
two days behind on my journal, and one day's routine blends into
another. But some words on the theatre. It is a grand space and an effective one.
When we arrived, they were constructing a set/stage for the festival
to be held at the end of June/early July. We saw an ancient
theatre as still a living theatre. The theatre, and the tholos—even
in remains—seems to me the most impressive in situ aspects
I was very tired in the museum—as if there
were a lack of oxygen—and that was unfortunate. We have so
little time for the museums that are part of this tour.
Well, we went hauling back to Nauplion for
a "free" afternoon. By the time we finished lunch it was past 3
p.m., and after cleaning up we went down to the town. We went
to the post office, got some more stamps, and then I spent about an
hour in the Nauplion Museum. The most interesting things were
the Mycenaean items, including one large fresco fragment and some
smaller ones, the cult figures from Mycenae, a piece of the
"pediment" of the Treasury of Atreus, and some Mycenaean armor.
From there it was a slow retreat to the hotel, and for a change an
Oh yes. Paul made it very clear that
the metopes covered beam ends and the term means "space
between the openings." The triglyphs represent a grill of
In Nauplia we saw some interesting
architecture, one was an old morgue converted to a movie house.
Saw a real "dig" in action, with dust etc.
Medieval fortifications on hill (very imposing & stark). Dolph
[Adolf Placzek] has gone off with two ailing ladies to the hospital.
Two Oregon lovers [Wally Huntington & Mirza Dickel] choose not to attend morning session.
Interesting sight is one of polished marble stone in one "magazine,"
done by sheep kept there thousands of years ago.
Today, group is pleasant but more subdued.
After all, we have two cripples now: one turned a knee trying to
walk to dinner due to inadequate lighting by pools, one turned ankle
in Mistra, two swam in polluted pool. [Rosann] wants to make
sure hotel is responsible in case of liability insurance.
(There's two doctors on board, one,
Ben Schneider, 60-ish, from
Cleveland, distinguished, bent, wears same gray suit every day—no
hat; one a young girl married to money who just joined
group—extremely slight & childlike: dark straight brown hair, black
eyes, bad teeth, sweet; her husband [is] assistant curator of
Decorative Art—American Wing of Met Museum—tall, thin, black hair &
eyes—very intense but pleasant, looks in 20's.) Are preceded
by a Land Rover with a Malaysian license plate....
[Epidaurus has a] 14,000 seat theatre
(3,000 cars & 300 buses usually in parking lots). The theatre
was being readied for performance beginning in two weeks—erecting a
stage—two rows of eighteen steps plus sound equipment testing sound.
Paul drops a coin twice; then reciting in Greek, then translating
into English. Beautiful scenery—good air, cool breeze.
Camelhair seats (box seats).
WC says "Gentlemen" on outside but we are
ushered in by [a] little toothless woman—a co-ed WC. Sam
[Richards] says, "Well, Frannie, I guess we'll have to make the best
of it." Ladies in stalls (that don't flush), men in front in
urinals, heads facing carefully. "Has an Italian flavor."
Also at Labyrinth for snake cure (miniature
sacred well, circular snake pit) we saw a woman being pushed in
wheelchair, get up on crutches (she walks!). We remark that
the people in our group who really needed the cure were left at
Go to museum filled with at least 1000
children (rather well-behaved, considering) & Paul explains, in
painstaking detail, each aspect of the metopes etc. I really
don't understand any of it (or not much) but from him it's
Back on bus to hotel for a 2:30 "lunch":
huge omelet with chicken livers, peas & carrots, then a "sirloin"
steak with French fries, then a salad of shredded lettuce, tomatoes,
cucumbers, then a small silver bowl with cold water in which floated
cherries & two apricots. George made a speech toasting Pail &
calling us "the Mountaineers of Maestro Mylonas." (Paul went
back to Athens until Sunday.)
Staggered back to compound & Gerry took our
pictures in our little home, & Gerry, George, Naomi,
& I went to Nauplia to the P.O. (tried to no avail to go to bank),
bought wine; Gerry bought two blouses & one long dress & I tried on
three dresses, but all were "skimpy."
Back to hotel where I took bath & washed
undies. Drank wine. Dinner—veg soup.=, lots of rice with
chicken livers, lamb with potatoes, salad, ice cream. To bed
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Xenia. 8:30 a.m.: Bus departs for Athens (visit to
Corinth en route). AFTERNOON FREE. Overnight:
Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens.
As noted before, the journal is a couple of days behind
because of the long, long days we are away on tour, and the fact
that I keep my journal with the luggage, which is picked up at 7
a.m. (usually), and rarely back into my hands until past 8 p.m. (and
yet before supper). So, I'll try to catch up in
But now to return to the 3rd.
We went to Corinth via Argos. In
Corinth we were met by Prof. Williams again, and we started in the
museum. We got a quick summary of the economics of Corinthian
pottery, in which the excellence of early Corinthian ware, which was
so prized for export, began to decline as workmanship got careless
(to meet demand). This was by the second half of the 6th
Century. It was then that Athens assumed a primacy in pottery
which it retained as long as this type of ware was done. In
fact, the Corinthians began imitating it. Corinthian clay
fires a cream color, while Athens is redder, so the Corinthians
painted a red wash on their imitative ware. No local marble in
Corinth (the details are not clear to me) and so they specialized in
bronze and terra cotta, in fact being credited with the first roof
tiles. Because of the later rebuilding of Corinth by the
Romans after the sack in 146 BC by them, much of Corinth archaeology
We were taken into the Aescalapion [Asclepion/Aesculapium]
which had some interesting life-size anatomical parts signifying
Our next visit was to the site, and we
concentrated first on the Apollo Temple with its monolithic columns,
There we got some genealogical history, and Williams argued that one
could look at the Peloponnesian War as an imperial war between Athens
and Corinth, with Sparta helping Corinth. With Corinth's sack
in 146 BC, much sculpture etc. was taken to Rome. It was
Julius Caesar that felt that Corinth's strategic location argued for
its rebuilding, a rebuilding continued with Claudius. Earliest
temple on the site, in stone and with a tile roof, is dated to
around 700 BC.... On the site we were shown one rather deep
excavation that demonstrated the rapid accumulation of debris and
hence burial of levels. It must have been over 12 feet from
5th Century BC to mid-imperial Rome. Williams also spoke very
favorably of Greek tunnel engineering....
Bema is a Greek word which is the
equivalent of the Roman nostrum. All of this re: the
matter of St. Paul
and his situation with the Corinthians.
I found Corinth a most interesting site and
rather complex, what with its combination of Greek and Roman
After Corinth, we headed back to Athens and
arrived at the hotel in early mid-afternoon. Mila and I went
out to eat (got done about 3 p.m.) and then walked through the Plaka
to the Roman Agora, the
Tower of the Winds, and saw parts of the Agora from the north.
We returned to the hotel to rest, and then journeyed out about 8
p.m. for dinner. After Nauplion and Corinth, Mycenae and
Classical ruins, there was an epoch shock in culture-lag. But
then the next morning was to be Delphi.
Everything's fine, but all the fruit & Ex-Lax hasn't done a thing
(well . . . some . . .).
Start out for Corinth after having lifted
Miss Edith up into the bus (where she sat for some hours while we
toured the excavation). Almost run into by another Mercedes
bus. We had a long (boring) reading by
Morey from the Blue Guide & then a
semi-sermon by Charlie on Paul the Apostle's teachings in Corinth.
Got to site by 10:00 (too early for once) where we met Mr. Collins
[sic] at 10:30 & had a very extensive tour of the museum (including a
locked room with all sorts of votive artifacts that people used to
cure particular ailments—such as [a] rheumatic arthritic hand—there
were several disembodied breasts & hundreds of penises of all sizes
& shapes (!) I guess for impotency cure—feet, hands, etc., very
Then to the site where we had a painstaking
description (which impressed everyone) of the various historic
stages of each building—the mystical rites of the oracle (really a
priest hiding in a tunnel, turning water into wine)—I got a little
No WC (though there was one)
until Athens, six hours late[r]. Got into enormous traffic jam
in Athens (Saturday afternoon at 1:30-2:00). Checking into G[rande] B[retagne], usual hassle (I offered to help [Rosann] due to
her 2:30 hair appointment). George & I immediately to Delphi
Restaurant for very good moussaka &
dolmates & beer
(by 2:30-3:00 we are famished!) & walked to Plaka &
to hunt for Tony's Sandals—have a deuce of a time—finally go into
Stavros Melissinos (his brother-in-law)['s shop] & get directed to
right place ("There is no Tony—Adoni—Arthur"). His wife is
there, who remembered me: "You are a teacher> I remember
you, He gave you a book, etc." She's cool.
Tony is home "resting." We say we'll return.
We look many more places but are tired & go
back toward hotel. Cash traveler's check at bank at 5:00.
Take baths & do wash & rest. Go out & witness entire Greek
wedding at the large Cathedral, bringing in candy favors in little
ceramic holders, photographer with tic. Ate souvlakia in same restaurant.
SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 1978
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Grande Bretagne. 8:30 a.m.: Bus departs for Delphi
(Hosios Loukas en route). Luncheon: Hotel Xenia, Delphi. Dinner:
Hotel Xenia. Afternoon visit to museum and ruins.
Dinner: Hotel Xenia. Overnight: Hotel Xenia.
We left Athens fairly early in the morning and by a different route
than the one to the Peloponnesus (will I ever settle on a single
spelling of these names again?), and saw more of new Athens
architecture. It seems that all new construction is basically
reinforced concrete for structure, even for highrises. A
tile-like brick, with six holes through the long dimension, is
typically used for in-fill, partitions, etc. Stucco/plaster or
veneer is then used as finish, with marble slabs quite standard.
We saw some of Paul's buildings (though apparently he no longer does
new construction), and one was a hotel on top of a mountain.
Apparently it is a prize winner re: modern design. We also saw
some interesting neo-classic and early 20th Century villas on our
way out of Athens.
As we wended our way to Delphi via Hosios
Loukas, I noted how much quieter the band of hardy travelers has
become. We are all very tired but still quite attentive.
Polite applause is now the standard way of expressing appreciation
or approval, even to the extent of clapping for buildings.
As we neared Hosios Loukas, there was a
gentle rain, but soon after our arrival the sun came out.
Hosios Loukas is indeed a gem of a church—or rather
monastery. It is still very much active and the basis for
pilgrimages. We were, I think, the only significant group
(size) of non-Greeks who were there for pious work. We saw the
smaller, older church first. It has lost its interior
decoration, though still used as a church. It had 10th Century
ribbed groin vaults. The detailing and the plan were most
Then we went outside and saw the
brick-stone construction that Paul calls
cloisonné construction, so
typical of these early churches. The detail is truly
remarkable, especially when the two churches can be seen from the
apse end. After examining this, we went into the crypt (of the
larger church) and looked at the fresco program there. Then we
went into the big church. The combination of fresco and mosaic
is interesting, and the total ensemble is stunning. After a
detailed examination of that, we then went up to the gallery, a
restricted place but made accessible to us by the magic of Paul's
name and connections I assume. There saw the old graffiti of
From the church we went to the refectory,
which is now used as a storeroom for works and fragments. In
it were some architectural fragments and some detached frescoes from
a church in the area. Since this was a store area rather than
a museum, things were sort of stacked about. A major reason
for our look-see was to note the architecture (a very simple
basilican shape with timber roof). While we were filing in, so
did several pilgrims. And there, as in the church, a woman
kissed the individual saints as no doubt she had the icons, and then
crossed herself. The power of the place, even with its
non-church arrangement of the refectory's contents, has had its
Well, it was time to go, and so we turned
to Delphi. As usual, we were running a little late, but after
a rather hasty lunch at the hotel in Delphi, we headed to the Delphi
The Museum, as usual, was given less
emphasis than I would have liked, and here of course were some real
treasures. The curator (or whatever) that was supposed to
guide us was called away to Athens, and Paul guided us. We
also had a woman curator (who spoke only Greek) explain the Room of
the Bull, and then an English-speaking guard was assigned to help
We went up the stairs, turned left at the
Omphalos, and there were
Cleobis and Biton, bigger than life.
But we went right past them into a locked room where some fairly
recent finds (all found in one location, a room for damaged items
that were being saved in ancient times) were in final stages of a
very elegant installation. As we walked in we saw the
flattened remains of a larger than life size silver bull with gilt
parts. And there were other fascinating items (see Delphi
catalog). While this fascinated me, I felt I had to see other
things too. And after going out, I'm afraid I stopped
listening for the most part to look at old friends known from
photographs. Cleobis and Biton are truly impressive though very,
very block-like. Some restoration of lower legs, etc. have
been done. Singly I think each would lose much; but as a pair
they are tremendous.
Then off to see the frieze of the
of the Siphnians. It has lived up to expectations, though the
display at eye level may add to their impact. It is intimate
in scale. Some paint remains on the insides of the shields.
The caryatids are less impressive and even more fragmentary.
But in the same room, there is the
Naxian Sphinx. It is
genuinely awesome and big!
Well, I hustled off and went past the
downward gaze of Antinous and there he was, the Charioteer,
My, he is something! He looks much younger and more lifelike
than the photos show. I was especially entranced by his
extraordinarily realistic, more so than the head. The other
fragments, parts of three legs of a horse and a boy's arm, add to
the impact and mystery. After seeing things on my own, I moved
back to the group and followed along on the tour. As I noted,
we didn't have enough time in the museum, but I did get a decent
chance to study the "major" works, at least insofar as my courses
Then it was off to the site. We
entered by Gate A' on the guidebook map, and soon found ourselves on
the Sacred Way next to the
Treasury of the Athenians. The
setting for the Sanctuary of the Pythian Apollo is absolutely
staggering. Coming up from the seaport of
Itea by the old road
must have been a true spiritual experience. Even in its ruined
condition, as you enter the sanctuary and wend your way ever upward,
moving back and forth across the area, to the temple of Apollo, and
then up to the theatre, is quite an experience. Somehow I had
not grasped the fact that Delphi is on the rather steep slope of a
mountain, quite a ways up from the plain below, which was a
gray-green carpet of olive trees. We went all the way up to
the stadium, and soon it was nearly six p.m. and being Sunday, we
had to exit. As we wended our way down, looking over the site
and its setting, the beauty of the place was overwhelming.
Architecturally, two things struck me
forcibly. One, the engineering ability of the Greeks, to
erect ancient and medieval structures in such difficult places.
Second, the polygonal wall, here with curved sides, used to offset
the shear action of earthquakes. Very ingenious.
From the sanctuary we went to the spring (I
wasn't moved there) and then down to the Tholos. By then I was
ready to call it a day. Some (more than half) of my fellows
are indefatigable and nothing seems to daunt them; but then many
know how to sleep on the bus. I don't and can't. Well,
it was back to the hotel in order to prepare for the next day.
is raining—things seem very green & lush. Mountains are
obscured by mist (very poetic). We stop at "The Levadia
Friendly Stop." We went in as a busload & ended up with six
buses outside, at least 20 stalls in dark red with carefully
lettered signs in dark in three different languages, saying their
toilets will not tolerate tampons or toilet paper, so to kindly
deposit in plastic....
We are in [Hosios Loukas] on a Sunday
morning—candles being lit, pilgrims kissing icons or frescoes—very
touching—cool with new rain. This was a terrific
experience. Not many people (tourists) around—except Greeks &
us. There was a Central Casting monk who rambled on in
American-type English about "Santa Klaus"—we sort of left him
babbling on in a dotty way. Each church was fascinating, the
crypt especially, which I couldn't see last time because it was so
dark & late in the morning. One of the Apostles in the fresco
of the Last Supper looked just like
On to Delphi for a very good
lunch of stuffed tomatoes with rice, lamb (beef?) shank with okra,
apricots for dessert. Hotel Xenia very pretty, overlooking
Itea port (Isthmus of Corinth). Rooms rather primitive: two
hard beds, no rugs, bare floors, hardback chairs, but with little
balcony overlooking patio, overlooking bay (filled with oil tankers
that stink of oil). Only problem is that our room is right
next to the bar (maybe sensational this evening).
[Insert:] Tomorrow morning—Monday. No, no noise
at all, apparently no one in bar from our party (we are among the
few who stayed here last night). It is 6:00 AM: I am sitting
on [the] stone railing of our little balcony watching the sun come up
over the mountain (Parnassus?) & listening to the birds, bleating of
sheep, & roosters. I heard the donkeys early—maybe about 4:30
or 5:00—that we heard last night at sundown. Maybe it marks
the beginning & end of day that way?
Delphi is enchanted. I'm convinced
there can be many people around & one still feels peaceful.
There was such noise in that lovely serene looking
museum yesterday with the guard hissing at them, but it still didn't
bother me somehow. All of the frenetic scrambling up & down
paths was the same thing. High points (could there be any low
1) When the guard—attendant—etc.?
opened the door of that special exhibition room (not yet finished) &
all I saw was gold necklace etc. & then the huge bull without any
glass in front of it (still gold on head, balls & hooves?)
[Insert:] —George is shaving in the
room—no outlet in bathroom—
2) Of course the Charioteer, who has
his own special magic: very confident, well muscled & proud—stands
at once aloof & still human-like amid hustle & bustle of crowds.
Our interpreter is short handsome little man (some official? in gray
suit) with those striking gray-blue eyes & two gold teeth
3) Of course the site itself which no
words can describe. This one features beetles—[insert:] there goes the
donkey again: Maw, maw, wah, wah—& thistles & tons of wild flowers
The planting immediately ahead of me features terrace of honeysuckle
to left; some sort of succulent in front; then flagstones, then
horseshoe of pots; then lower terrace of what looks like larkspur &
formal hedge cut in oval ribboned pattern roses, larger pruned
hedges with little tables & chair overlooking hills—sheer drop off
to front—then the sea.
The Sacred Way was approached from
reverse side (they opened a gate for us) with the Treasury first.
Temple of Apollo still the most sacred to me. Stadium the
highest point & hardest to climb to. By this time the sun was
out in earnest & the burrs & thistles & rocks were in alliance to
catch our shoes & clothes. I had some red mud at starting
point—it had rained here for two days before. The Roman
theatre is horseshoe-shape & not so good acoustics. They tried
performing in it 1928-31, but haven't since (true?)—it would be
quite an experience. I can't get over the sheer scenery to
examine the minutia of architectural details, so don't go down all
of the way to the gymnasium, etc. but sit on bank looking over it,
hearing our group "chatter."
Back by 7:00—have bath in very deep
tub—then go our for brandy & soda outside our room on bar-patio—then
a delightful dinner of
[sic] & wine with [Rosann] & Gerry &
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Hotel Xenia. 8:30 a.m.: Bus departs for Kalambaka (Skripov
Church and Minias Thesaurus en route). Luncheon: Motel
Divani, Kalambaka. 2 p.m.: Bus departs for Meteora.
Dinner: Motel Divani. Overnight:
Well, I didn't catch up in Thessaloniki; this is being written (from
notes) on the 8th, early in the morning.
On paper we are on our way to
the foot of Meteora. So we leave Delphi as we arrived, but
instead of going along the route as before, we turn off on a new
road before we enter Arachova and up the mountaian we go. We
are in pine country, and rather alpine in character. It is
shepherd country that doesn't see the typical tour, and up in a very
high valley one can see an occasional wee village and even here in
the upper reaches, small scratched out fields. Agriculture
(it turns out even in the large areas of Thessaly) is labor
intensive, and a lot of stoop labor is used in cultivation.
Also, given the terrain, the donkey becomes a necessity
rather than a relic. Here in these high valleys, stones are
placed on the tiles of the roof to ensure their security against the
wind. Stones are in little piles—clearly extracted from the
little fields—but all fields are very rocky.
Paul noted the "doric" characteristic of
the short, sturdy pines—an interesting point. We go through a
couple of tiny towns, one in particular is most picturesque,
clinging to the slope of the hill, none on the maps we hve.
The bus barely squeaks through a street that was designed for
donkeys rather than motor cars, much less buses. Finally we
are down into a low valley and I gather we are slightly lost.
We are very definitely on back roads. I'm beginning to think
we are providing just as much a new visual experience to the
countryside as it is for us. After several shouted inquiries
by George [the bus driver], we seem headed in the right direction
and in due time we arrive at the national road. But we are
down by Skala and rather far removed from our destination—indeed, we
are farther away than when we left Delphi. Apparently Paul
wanted us to see
Thermopylae. And so up along the
shore we drive, past
Cape Artemision and we stop, so to speak, at
Thermopylae. Regardless of its historic importance, I'm not
overwhelmed by its appearance. Duty done to history, we head
dutifully for Kalambaka. And it becomes a long, grueling
drive. Eventually we move into the
plain of Thessaly, and it
is like western Kansas, except for the structures and the type of
stoop cultivation going on.
And on we go—finally we can see the
mountains again and it is Kalambaka and Meteora in view As
usual, we are late! We rush in for lunch (about 2:30) and it
is really fairly good, but we wolf it down and board the bus for the
ride up behind the extraordinary splinters of rock rising up, with
buildings perched on their summits.
This is the location of monasteries, some
still active, that were inaccessible except by a windlass hoist.
However, some now have steps and bridge access. We went to the
big one first, the Meterion [Meteoron]. First, it was downhill
by ramp and step, then across a bridge, and then many steps up and
up and up. Once again I began to puff. It has to be a
factor of the altitude. We finally reached our destination,
right by the ancient windlass, a
Some brave souls walk out on the wood platform to look out; I lean
against the wall and try to catch my breath.
Then we begin a tour. The church is
our primary objective, and it is in fact quite impressive, though
smallish (given the location, etc.). The fresco work is in
very good shape. Then we see the old kitchen, and finally into
the old refectory which is now a museum. It is a living
monastery and so all is very decorous. Paul is, as usual, a
special person and we have special treatment it seems. Anyway,
we are given a sweet and a postcard by one of the young
monks/priests. We descend, reascend, and at that point I'm
puffing again. So, I call a halt and stay with the bus (and
thus miss one small church in another monastery that seemed about
thirty stories above us).
Meteora is a quite special place; and while
it has its commercial aspects, e.g. the cautions at parking stations
and even a small gift shop in the monastery, the very existence of
these structures situated on the top of shear thrusts of rock
reduces everything else. Here and there are caves which were
hermitages, and in one apparently totally inaccessible place on a
cliff there was the remains of a fresco. It is for me totally
different from Monemvasia and Mistra; they were after all fortified
cities. This is different.
Well, we finally wend our way back to the
hotel. It is Greek-modern, already falling apart in spots, and
really oppressive in some peculiar ways. On the other hand we
have a magnificent view of the Meteora, including a couple of
Fatigue is with us; and after an
indifferently served but much appreciated meal we retire.
Tomorrow we head for Thessaloniki and new adventures and sights.
Trip began through a kind of Alpine forest studded mountains.
Hair-pin turns, scary backups & turns. Hal has to pee & we
have hysterical suggestions as to where he can go (in a plastic bag,
umbrella). Finally a cut-flower stop by some gravel &
bushes—many get off, only to be greeted by "holly" (really leaves of
pine or what?) scratching them. More twisty turns. After
hours of this we are either dizzy or so desperate to go to the
bathroom that we beg for a rest stop. It is not to be yet.
Eventually stop at a seaside spa where all
44 (women in an endless line for two stalls) [go]; then an endless line
to get baklava & coffee (I have espresso)—walk on beach & collect a
rock (very pretty marble type).
Another endless uncomfortable ride (it's
either too hot or too cold). When we get to Motel we are
immediately ushered into dining room: [though we are] dizzy, dirty & with full
bladders (some of us took care of that). Meal was nice: dolmates with Dolphe, Beverley, Paul, etc. but awful mixup about
what we had to wear to the monastery (women had to cover arms—men
too; wear skirts etc.). Paul suggested that women put skirts
on over slacks! All luggage was in hallway, so I
lugged mine (two [bags]) up three flights of steps & changed in room.
Didn't set off until after 4:20 & by this time we're tired to begin
Thus began a rigorous
routine: a very strenuous climb up what George calculated as 40
stories of steps to one monastery—very interesting 16th Century
frescos. I saw a gorgeous face—silhouetted in a window was a
tall, gorgeous monk who looked like Burt Reynolds—very animated
face—long hair in ponytail & obviously conscious of the effect he
was making (posing)—had great conversarion with Paul as rest of us
furtively tried to photograph him. The frescos are interesting
& view spectacular, but it is late (sun setting & we are very tired
& sweating) & George draws the line at going up another 40 flights.
Several of the monasteries are closed at 6:00, but B[urt] R[eynolds]
offers to meet us at one of them at 7:00. He bounds up the
path for permission to drive his Monkmobile (panel truck) to other
monastery. Most of us stagger up to next place, risking heart
attacks or strokes. Very small & creaks ominously under our
collective weight—old woman (servant? sextoness? keeper?).
Stagger back down & have dinner (souvlaki)
though service is awful. We are all terribly tired. I
wash hair & turn in at 11:00.
TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 1978
Luggage in halls by 7 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Motel Divani. 8:30 a.m.: Bus departs for
Thessaloniki. AFTERNOON FREE. Overnight: Hotel Makedonia
Up and at them, and we head for Thessaloniki via
of Tempi, and Katerini. Presumably we are to stop at
then have the afternoon free. Paul has gone back to Athens to
take care of some business, he will meet us on Wednesday.
Well, away we go: however, George the bus
driver is now without his driver Paul, and George's command
of English is modest and when convenient is nonexistent. We,
on the other hand, are bereft of Greek, though we know some words
and have phrase books which rarely relate to our type of situation.
We don't go to Pella but straight to Thessaloniki, but on the way
there is a crisis of sorts, and that may help explain it.
Just before entering the Vale of Tempi we
are stopped by a very military-looking highway police officer.
I gather it is a routine check of documents that tour buses are
supposed to carry. In any case, whatever we were supposed to
have we apparently didn't. The dialogue was raising in
crescendo and happened to be broadcasr over the bus's loudspeakers,
since we were hearing about the Vale of Tempi when all this began
and the mike was left on. Back and forth it went while the
SAH'ers were a very interested but ignorant and ill-at-ease
audience. Several papers were waved, and after still another
barking lecture we were let to go on our way. Dolf Placzek,
who was in the front (and the official SAH officer as President on
this trip), had remained silent letting George handle matters.
This was wise, for we always had the last resort of calling Paul if
we were really in difficulty. Dolf was able to gather the
sense of the problem, which was that we had a Xerox and not the
original of some key document. Bureaucracy at work again.
Into the Vale, a clove in the mountains
with shear graggy [sic] walls. It was what released the
lake that is now the Thessalian plain, and the great and long-ago
earthquakes that created the fissure is presumably what gave rise to
the Gigantomachia myth.
Now up the coast and finally into
Thessaloniki. As we arrive, there is discussion about eating
lunch, going to Pella, the archaeological museum, etc., and one of
our party with some special info tells us the site and museums are
noted as closed on Tuesday. So we decide to look at the city
on an individual basis instead. (The next day we learn that
special arrangements had been made for us to visit both Pella
and the museum in Thessaloniki, but somehow no one of our group had
been adequately informed of this by Paul. I defer comment and
judgment for I simply don't know anything firsthand.)
Mila and I strike out on our own, Blue
Guide (map) in hand, looking for a likely place to have lunch (we
are on our own for meals). After a rather convoluted path we
hear a familiar voice. Our path and that of two SAH'ers [Tom
Gary Menges] have
intersected. They too are searching. There are, in fact,
a lot of restaurants along the waterfront, but we were looking for
something more modest. I led the way and we found a Grill,
there are tablecloths, and I lead the band in. Everything is
fine except the menu is in Greek (damn their alphabet, especially
lower case) and the waiters do not speak English. I haul out
the phrase book to interpret the menu. I discover we're in a
chop/steak house. So much for Greek food. But all is not
lost. Somehow the waiter comes up with the word-question
"fish?" We nod doubtfully. He disappears and comes back
with a plate. "Small fish?" he says. Points finger at
the larger of two species and says "sardine." Gary (one of our
group) tells us the smaller are mullets, and recommends them.
We point to them and nod vigorously. We say salad, a word
close to the Greek version. Wine, beer are also universals.
So we eat broiled small fish with salad, bread and beer (our
companions share a small bottle of wine. It is all good and a
successful meal was had.
Then off to explore the town. Soon we
pass a very fine pastry shop. As we later discover, there are
pastry shops everywhere and they seem to stay open all day.
The aroma of honey and other goodies permeate the air. So in
we troop, purchases are made (while I try to figure out where we
are) and off we go for a shady bench somewhere to have our dessert.
We end up in the university grounds, amidst much painted
graffiti/slogans, young lads at soccer, and students returning to
classes after the afternoons siesta.
Then up to the fortifications. On the
way, we are confused witnesses to an altercation that has one man
with a stool threatening to brain another, and soon a motorist is
involved and there is much shouting and what all. We finally
move on and look at some old walls. Then returning downhill
toward the water, we make a turn and we are on a narrow street with
Turkish period houses. Most extraordinary. Then another
turn, and we begin to reach more modern Thessaloniki, which is
interspersed with old Thessaloniki.
The province was under Ottoman rule until
1912. In 1917 there was a devastating fire in the lower town,
and a major rebuilding along Beaux Arts formulae took place.
Now there is a population explosion and we are told 700.000 people
live here. The "rip down the old, put up the new" seems
haphazard to us, and so we have extraordinary juxtapositions,
ranging from Roman ruins, Early Christian, Byzantine (of all
periods), Turkish, Neo-classic, Art Nouveau, Art Deco,
Fascist-Modern, and Greek modern. Incredible.
We looked here and there and elsewhere.
Finally fatigue began to get us, and Mila and I stopped at a shop
and got crackers and cheese and a bottle of wine. We looked
for a fruit shop but now curiously none could be found. We
wended a long way back to the hotel and sat on our balcony
looking at a hazy sunset and had our meager repast. While Mila
did some wash, I went out to look for fruit. Again it was a
fruitless search. I found everything else (except a butcher's
Finally, after a long narrow U-shape search
and almost back to the hotel, I found a bakery that had some bread.
When I went in I saw something that looked (vaguely) like tiropita
and next to it was a cylindrical type of pastry that I intuited had
some sort of stuffing inside. I got two of these and a bar of
chocolate and returned to our balcony. We bit into them and lo
and behold—and taste—a hot
dog within a flake pastry. We wolfed them down. Rather
spicy sort of things. Then a day was called.
(Must fill in yesterday's activities because last night [I] was too
tired to write.) Sitting on balcony of Motel Divani in
Kalambaka facing huge rocky mountains, one with a monastery on
top—on lower levels sheep graze, just saw two shepherds leading
three mules & many sheep down path—sound of bells & roosters
crowing, alternating with sound of motor scooters & such warming up
(diesel fuel mixed with thyme & wildflowers).
Ate breakfast "served" by surly waiters
with Mirza & Wally—seemed pleasant enough. Yesterday was [so]
taxing [it made] the prospect of morning drive to Thessaloniki & an
afternoon & evening free most inviting. Another climb up 40
flights of steps straight up would do us in.
On bus—still gypsy campers
(tents) along side of road. They appear to travel about six in
a group on motorbikes.... They are very dark & swarthy & look
As Beverley reads from thr Blue Guide we
are stopped by violent & aggressive policeman about having a
photocopy (Xerox) document instead of having original. Vehement
discussion. We are properly deferential & George [the bus
driver] promises never to do it again (tense situation). Dolph
said the policeman was a Persian.
Mt. Olympus out of our window.
1:00. We were supposed to go to Pella
but George [the bus driver] takes us straight to the
gosh, very very posh on Esplanade—our room in the Ma[k]edonian Palace
looks over sea as seagulls circle dangerously near our
balcony—marble table with two picturesque but uncomfortable rattan
chairs—next in line is a glass-over-wood table with two other
chairs, two beds together with end table, very elegant bath (gray
marble) complete with Kleenex !!! (scented).
Go out to hunt for food & meet Tom & Gary.
We look in at the very few places open—all same seedy places,
but end up in very nice New York-ish place which lets us select our
own mullets & we have huge salads of gorgeous tomatoes, cucumbers,
hardboiled eggs, anchovies & beer. They had wine. It was
a charming meal & companions: quiet & rather un-Greek, seeming like
NYC, Paris/Marseilles with its waterfront; combination of old
decaying structures & brand new high concrete monsters. We
sought out a sweet shop & got a huge conglomeration of baklava,
macaroons filled with chocolate, etc. & ate them on a bench in the
square of the university, watching a group of boys play soccer.
Strolled around very old & rundown (fallen down) Turkish Quarter
with old Byzantine churches etc. Went in one—everyone looks
Turkish & Bulgar. Not terribly Greek features: wide faces,
same light hair, very very very loud main streets—buses with
accordion middles & awful smell of diesel fuel—everyone seems nice
enough. Young boy (teenager) sold us cheese, wine, crackers to
take back to room. George goes out (as I do wash) to buy hot
dogs in flaky cylindrical rolls & chocolate. Sit out & watch
sunset, watch people & dogs stroll & try not to hear
unmuffled motorbikes. Very humid, we have to keep
sliding doors open.
breakfast: Makedonia Palace. 8 a.m.: Bus departs for tour (including
Pella, Roman Thessaloniki and Byzantine churches). Luncheon on
own during tour. Overnight: Makedonia Palace.
Paul joined us again, arriving on the morning plane from Athens, and
off we went to Pella, stopping first at two sites in Thessaloniki.
We went to see the Rotunda,
the  AD building that started our as Galerius's tomb, then was converted to a church with the addition of
an apse, and then into a mosque (minaret still stands, the only one
in the city), and is now a museum after a return to a life as a
church. It is a great domed space with some very early mosaics
still retained. Really quite impressive. There were
square holes in the masonry, a thing I had noted on other
structures. Finally an explanation. These were scaffold
holes, which later were covered by veneer, mosaics, or whatever
(which was then varnished). I must ask Paul if they are ever
included as permanent features.
We then walked down to see the remains of
the Arch of Galerius. From there is was on to the bus and off
to Pella, the Macedonian/Hellenistic city out west of Thesoloniki [sic].
(I should interpolate once again that the variant transliterations
of Greek, plus the pronunciation lessons we're getting, plus
fatigue, have all compounded confusion to the point where I am not
certain whereof I say or write. Even simple English words are
puzzling to me, as this journal was testify.)
Well, at Pella we went into the museum.
It is small and the pebble mosaics are really the most spectacular
things in it, with a couple of other exceptions. We saw the
archaeological site, but Paul urged us on. As it turned out,
the museum was as much a w.c. stop as a cultural goal. Then on
to Vergina, outside of
Veria. Vergina is the site of a
Macedonian Palace, and there are some tombs. We toured rather
quickly the site of the Palace, which seemed most interesting for
its double column-pier structure of a now defunct stoa. Then
on to the Macedonian tomb.
This was interesting, for here was a tomb
with an Ionic/temple facade (which had been buried), with an
antechamber and cella, the latter was the buried place. In it
was a large stone throne and next to it what appeared to be a
cubical sarcophagus of stone. Large stone doors (apparently
simulating wood and bronze) were on the floor of each room. It
had been looted long ago. It was a vaulted chamber.
Then we headed on toward town to another
site. There we heard bulldozers, etc. and as we trooped
forward we were greeted by the sight of a large earthmoving
operation and a gentleman in a blue velour cap. Much formal
greetings Paul and the other man, who turned out to be
Professor Andronikos, the archaeologist who had discovered the unlooted tomb
of a Macedonian king, possibly
Philip himself. In fact, this
was the site.
The site had been worked for some time, but
the tomb was discovered within the past nine months, and the area
was really off limits to even Greek scholars. What magic our
Merlin Mylonas has. As it turned out, even he—an old
friend—had not visited the site. Paul said it was our group
that had Andronikos tell him that he would not invite us, "but if we
came by, he would be in!" An at-home at the excavation, so to
So on a knoll, actually part of the mound,
we watch a high loader, a bulldozer, and dump trucks remove debris
and overfill, while Andronikos told us the story of his discovery,
step by step. In some ways the most fascinating aspect was his
references to ancient sources, such as Plutarch and Homer, for
evidence that helped him in his search, interpretations, etc.
Then the coup. We were allowed to peer into two openings in
the sheds that covered key finds. One was a looted tomb with
some important wall paintings in the anteroom. We peered
through a hole in the wall of the tomb. The other was at the
facade, still mostly buried, of the tomb. Scaffold was
erected on which technicians were cleaning wall paintings above the
exhumed portico. Below one could see the top of the doors,
painted architectural ornaments, etc.
The tomb had been entered and examined and
then sealed again. An air temperature and humidity control
unit was being devised and after its installation, work on the
interior controls would begin. Only such items as those of
gold had been removed to the labs in Athens and Thessaloniki.
What a treat, a special, special treat.
And what an honor. I think even Paul was floored.
But the day wasn't over, far from it.
Then on—back to Thessaloniki. But what
about lunch? Several suggestions were advanced by Paul, with
the best named last. That is the one we took. Outside of
Veria we stopped at a roadside restaurant, with tables under old
plane (sycamore) trees. There we spent about 90 minutes eating
grilled lamb, potatoes, salad, and various beverages. The
kitchen, geared to a smaller and more casual clientele (such as
truck drivers), rose to the occasion. Then on to town.
There most of us took up Paul on his offer
to tour Byzantine churches. Several were under his guidance,
but then we were met by Prof. Fokodopulos (sp) [sic] of the
University who took us on [a] tour of them. We did a lot of
walking, ending up in an old section of the city, poor by the
looks if it and with old Ottomon period houses.
Services were under way and all around
children were playing, people were visiting and all in all it was
very social and very communal. Paul said to me (I paraphrase),
"See how pagan we are? This is the way it has always been,
from ancient times. Only the buildings have changed."
Very, very tired, without an adequate
supper, we tottered off to the hotel and to bed.
hilarious breakfast. "Bus leaves at 8:00." It left at
8:30 (we always run behind). Went to Pella museum first (it
was closed the day before). Especially interesting mosaics:
personages of mythology with lions, griffins, etc., rather small.
On the Vergina & various sites of digs.
Tomb of Macedonian (which most people thought was Philip's but his
was yet to come). Prof. Andronikos (little
Dr. Pakula type man
with blue skull beret hat & glasses) talked to us in an impassioned
manner of his dig & [why] he dug where he did—part intuition, part
experience, part literary reference. They were alternating
digging in red dust with huge loud earthmovers & heavy trucks
carting it away, along with painstaking picking away in small areas.
Very dusty & loud.
Actual "finds" were covered over with
protected (plastic) coverings. We got to look into two.
You could make out faint figures & brilliant blue underneath.
If this find is definitely authenticated, everything previously
found will have to be predated a half century. He explained
that everything up to this time had been looted but that [at] this
particular site, the door was closed fast. They went in at top
(dislodged rock-bricks) & saw gold things. All was
undisturbed. Found pair of
greaves with one side shorter than
other (Philip was
lame). Everything in relatively perfect
condition. Found votive figures, one with image of Alexander
& one Phil—had one of eyes staring & with
scar above it.
Found skeletons with bones of blue tint (royalty was buried in
purple robes) & one particular one with evidence of gold in buried
robes. Sealed back up. They are presently waiting for
air conditioning & preservation units to come from Athens.
Had lunch in roadside cafe (they managed to
cook up 45 lunches of lamb shoulder, fries, salads) out under plane
trees. Very jolly group though we were all hungry & our table
was served last (including drinks—I grabbed beer right off).
WC was hole in ground with roll of TP by the side.
We got back to Thessaloniki & visit many
(3, 4, 5, 6?) Byzantine churches, most of which are having vespers
or services to commemorate eve of Ascension Day. Everywhere
are women (mostly old or middle aged), an occasional old man &
hundreds of children playing outside—a form of jump rope where one
stands on the end & others jump between strands (girls) or
(boys). Soccer balls stuck up in drains of church. Noise
is deafening—constant confusion outside & around church.
Nothing of the overt quiet & sanctity of Protestant or even RC
church. People mill in & out—people lighting candles &
kissing ikons (icons?) [sic]. Paul calls it "pagan" but
(after the initial shock) it is warm, comforting & rather
reassuring. This is the home, the hearth, the center of the
community. As Marion says [about] the church, "it's the
woman." The men are off playing backgammon, watching soccer
games on the TV or ogling the girls.
By this time, I am so tired I can barely
stand & agree with John that "if they showed me a Ford motor car I'd
believe it was a Byzantine church."
As George runs across the street to buy
food, we all load on the bus & have to wait for him. We
stagger into the hotel & George & I throw together a "makeshift
meal" of chocolate, cookies, wine, out overlooking the beautiful but
polluted & exceedingly noisy harbor. The noise
increases as the night falls. Two hot-rod motorcycle-scooters
trying to out-wheel each other with unmuffled mufflers.
I write a letter to Mother & we turn in
early. Apparently we are the only ones who sleep, due to both
outside noise & an inside political meeting. Bureaucracy.
THURSDAY, JUNE 8, 1978
Luggage in halls by 6 a.m. Continental
breakfast: Makedonia Palace. 7:15 a.m.: Depart for Thessaloniki
airport. 9 a.m.: Group flight to Athens (Olympic Airlines
flight No. 090; arrive Athens 9:45 am.m.) Bus transfer to
Hotel Grande Bretagne upon arrival in Athens. AFTERNOON FREE.
Bus trip to Sounion (time announced during tour). Overnight:
It was up very early in order to get the Olympic airline flight to
Athens. Luggage had to be out in the halls by 6:15 a.m., and
we had to be on board the bus by 7:15. In due course we were
at the airport. While the terminal (modest in scale) was fully
equipped, nowhere did we see an arrival or departure schedule board.
And when the flight in from Athens was announced, it appeared
to be the only passenger ship in evidence. It was this we
took, going to Athens.
Arrival in Athens, in the domestic section,
was a bit confusing, but bags were received and a group arrangement
worked out to transfer them to the bus to take us back to the Grand
Bretagne. We arrived and got settled and in due course went
out to eat. We had a substantial lunch since we knew we'd be
heading for Sounion
in the evening. Upon completion of lunch and a few errands we
returned to the hotel and suddenly intense fatigue hit us. The
arduous day before, plus the very early wakening had had its effect.
And so after bathing, naps seemed to be in order.
We got pulled together and by 5:30 we were
on the bus and fighting traffic in Athens, heading to Cape Sounion.
The drive took about an hour and a half, and in time we got beyond
the Athenian suburbs; eventually we saw Sounion, and then arrived.
Sounion is a striking location and it is
both a thing/place to look at and to look from. The
temple now is basically a platform and a number of [illegible],
and a couple of antae.
On the accessible marble there are many scratched names, small and
large, but generally old. Now guards strive to prevent that
sort of thing. The inscription of importance for proper
Romantics is that of
Byron's. It is on one of the antae and there the marble is
polished quite smooth by the reverent fingers tracing the incised
(As I write this, we are in the
Dardanelles, and the glop and scum in the water is something to see.
It varies in density and concentration, but always evident.)
As this stage in our journey to ancient
sites, there wasn't as much excitement as had occurred earlier, and
Paul Mylonas was not with us to develop any special points.
Had he been I think he would have stressed the matter of the site
and the aesthetics associated with ancient Greek architecture's
After clambering around the remains, I went
off toward the west where I was away from the temple ad situated
somewhat below the level of the platform. There I found a rock
I could sit on and did so for an extended period. Mila joined
me and as we sat looking at the temple's stark remains, we had
apricots and cookies (and later an orange) which was to be our
Then, as the sun set, everyone gathered at
the temple to watch. It is apparently a ritual—Sunset
at Sounion—and there were a lot of fools photographing the sun as it
set. No clouds, only haze, and so they have a red ball, the
silhouette of hills and little else. Happily, these were not
our people. At the very least, one would try for a view
through the colonnade.
The site closed at sunset, and so back to
the bus and back to Athens. Rest was welcome, despite a fairly
light schedule, and as it turned out we needed it for the next day.
George gets up at 5:00. Wakeup call that was
supposed to come at 5:30 didn't come until 6:00, but everyone was up
anyway. Considering that we conveyed 45 bodies & 68 pieces of
luggage around, it was done efficiently (though George's big bag
didn't get to our room until 2:00 at the G[rande] B[retagne] since
they sent it to the wrong room. Thessaloniki Airport is not
much. Olympic flight [takes] 35 minutes. Seems
uncomfortable somehow, more crowded, less legroom (shorter legs?).
We get choice of coffee or orange juice (orangeade?) & a toffee of
some sort. Getting on the bus was a real thrill, since it was
too small to accommodate all of the luggage & had to be thrown in
the aisles also. Getting to park by G.B. was major undertaking
since the entire area was filled with official cars flying Greek
flags & many impressive-looking officers in uniform stomping about.
Finally get $60 in Travelers Cheques cashed, get letter from Kris.
Wash: jacket, skirt, George's slacks, two T-shirts, one shirt, three
pairs of George's hose, handkerchief, & T-shirts of mine.
"Italian slum," indeed! We also buy fruit from little
toothless man on street, who uses weights to weigh fruit.
We are to start for trip to Sounion at
5:30, not to return until 10:30. So we rest & take naps with
air conditioner going full blast. It seems to be terribly hot
outside (or is it just the sun & all of these bodies pounding the
pavement—very, very crowded & loud).
Trip to Sounion was pleasant but ride out
with sun on our side of the bus was very hot & ventilation in bus
inadequate (we long for George [the bus driver] who is driving back
from Thessaloniki). There were lots of tourist buses &
tourists, but not overwhelming (Germans have definite
voices). We stayed through the sunset which was
quite breathtaking. Saw Byron's signature on smooth
marble—many hands on it had caused it to turn dark.
Walked down steep & gravelly path (really
hazardous since someone had left an open cistern) to water's edge &
sat on boulder & ate cookies & apricots. Drive home was quiet
& I slept. Get back 10:00. Washed hair. To bed
breakfast: Grande Bretagne. (Early morning visit to the
Acropolis)—time to be announced. FREE DAY. 8 p.m.:
Reception, as guests of Professor and Mrs. Mylonas. Overnight:
We were scheduled to depart, by bus, for
the Acropolis at 8 a.m. Paul joined us. The official
schedule indicated an early visit to the Acropolis, time to be
announced, with the rest of the day a FREE DAY. Hah!
Granted, there was to be an 8 p.m. reception hosted by Paul and his
wife, but that was in effect an extension of the free period.
Well, to explain.
On the way to the Acropolis we saw the
President's residence (with guards) and other official buildings
(ever being instructed, but gently and with interesting facts
listened to by genuinely interested people).
Then up on the "hill of the muses" for a
look at the Acropolis. It [the hill] is a great place to see it, best in the later afternoon if one wants the best light.
Then, on to the Acropolis. We took it in the standard
sequence, Propylaea first of necessity, then the
Parthenon, then the
Erechtheum, then the Museum. We also received special
permission to go past a barrier to get near the east facade of the
The Propylaea. I've been shamefully
neglectful. It is, in fact, a very impressive experience.
There is a sense of baroque movement and complex spaces that I had
not anticipated. Paul felt it had all been carefully
programmed, and perhaps it had. He pointed out one place where
on turned, at the right, on the path that switch-backed up to the
entrance itself, and as one turned and looked at the Pinakothek [Pinacotheca] portion of the Propylaea, the columns and the door and windows were
in alignment—what Paul called oblique symmetry. It worked, and
so did other subtleties. Another I found interesting was the
use of the Ionic order within the Propylaea to gain the additional
height as the roof level changed from lower to higher. And
then the scale of the entire unit, it was far greater than I had
On the other hand, the Parthenon was much
as I anticipated. It is, of course, big, and that alone has
impact. We circled it, and special note was made of the older
temple platform, and other features nearby that reached back before
the Persian sack. One cannot get up on the fabric of the
Parthenon (little men with whistles keep you honest) but one can get
close enough to see the curvature of the
stylobate. Beside the
obvious, I noted that now there is a shield of plastic roofing over
the section of the frieze that remains on the west facade.
Then it was off to the Erechtheum.
Scaffold now surrounds the caryatid porch, and scaffold (which
looked like structural support) was being erected in the north
porch. One could see portions of the exquisite detail, so all
was not lost.
I noted on our entrance through the
Propylaea that the Erechtheum does in fact provide balance to the
Parthenon. First, the former is hardly tiny; and second, it
provides a complex visual effect in contrast to the simpler (but not
less grand) image of the latter. Since I plan to revisit the
Acropolis after the cruise, I plan to restudy that.
Then it was over to the Museum, where the
Director gave us an extraordinary tour. He spoke excellent
English and was obviously dedicated to and in love with the objects
in the collection. His name escaped me, but he was identified
to us as the Director of the Acropolis. Mayhap it was the
entire operation. Anyway, we received an hour tour (11-12
noon) that was a remarkably skillful summation of the evolution of
Greek sculpture from mid-Archaic to late 5th Century BC. I
won't even attempt to recapture the flavor of it; but using only
what was in the museum (but naturally great pieces) and only stone,
he carried us step by step, forward and back. The Archaic
pediments, the Peplos Kore, the
Blond Boy, the
Kritios Boy, with
other works, was a real treat.
Some isolated observations, no special
order. The museum is beautifully installed, and uses natural
light while still recessed beneath the standard views. There
is a descriptive sense of intimacy despite the size of some of the
works. The Peplos Kore is really rather small, and there is a
very delicate painted ornament still visible, especially on the
back. The recently removed sculpture fragment from the
pediment of the Parthenon, when contrasted to earlier removed
fragments, is grim graphic evidence of the damage done by pollution.
Nike tying her sandal relief is really more richly detailed than
I had anticipated. I'll have more to say after my second
After leaving the museum we took a quick
look at the Nike Temple from the east, after receiving special
permission, and then we hurried off on foot to visit the
Attalus in the Agora where we were supposed to meet Prof.
Thompson at noon. We arrived at the south (or upper) entrance
about 12:30, and we were held up by another tyrant of the ticket
booth that was not informed (we were, I think, expected at the
northern entrance) and our tyrant was not impressed by Paul.
So another loud voice exchange. But, as usual, in time we
entered. Another petty official came by (to explain?) as we
walked toward the Stoa, and more sharp words (of complaint by Paul?)
and soon we were out of the very hot, merciless sun within the Stoa
where [a] magnificent cool breeze miraculously played over our
bodies. Soon Thompson appeared and he is a real winner of a
charmer. Princeton-based, he seemed to be a character out of
an older English film. Alec Guinness or Margaret Rutherford
should have been waiting in the next scene.
Thompson told us much about the rationale
for the reconstruction of the Stoa and gave us a non-technical
account of technical details. We went along, south to north,
and then went upstairs by a service stair. Then on the second
floor he showed us some few things (including models) and then led
us through a work/study area behind the scenes back down again.
But now we were locked in. So, down another flight and we were
in the basement storerooms. From there we were able to ascend
to the main floor.
We then walked across the Agora to the
Hephaesteum [Temple of Hephaestus]. Its preservation is due in
part to its early conversion and long use as a church. It had
been vaulted quite early and given an apse (all within the
After a discussion of that, we exited (with Thompson still along) to
meet the bus by a small Plateia near the north entrance. Alas,
no bus. It was now 2:00 p.m. and very, very hot and no food
since a continental breakfast at 7:00 a.m.
I won't recount the confusion and
alternative discussions on what to do, but one of our party intuited
where George [the driver] and the bus were located, found him and it, and
returned in triumph. We finally arrived at 2:30 at the hotel.
We dashed out to eat, and returned to the hotel to rest and
recuperate for the reception to begin at 8:00 p.m.
Paul's apartment is the top floor (or two I
think) of an older apartment building that faces the Russian Church
(Byzantine, restored years ago by Russian money) on a tiny side
street between two major thoroughfares. He also had the roof,
a terrace on which the reception was to be held. We walked
over, and up we went by tiny elevator. Then up additional
I had anticipated a view of the Acropolis.
Well indeed, this he had. Also Lacavitos [Lycabettus], the Biological
Garden, and a goodly portion of the Stadium. Incredible.
We had drinks and all sorts of delicious munchies; and as the last
rays of dusk departed, a thunderstorm to the northeast churned up.
Dramatic flashes of lightning and soon the rain. It took
awhile, but we held on to the bitter end and all of us (which
included other guests) descended to the main quarters below,
carrying food trays, etc.
Happily, before this happened, the
presentations were made. The SAH presented Paul with a copy of
Pevsner's History of Building Types, with suitable
inscriptions of his dauntless band. In addition, the SAH medal
(Jefferson I think) had been prepared and inscribed for him.
We were quite a crowd in the apartment,
which was decorated with quite an eclectic collection of objects.
It was obviously a case of things meaningful to the Mylonases, and
ranged from painting and prints (old) to ancient fragments, etc.
When the rain ceased, we returned to the terrace for ice cream and
baklava. I was now thoroughly whipped and needed to go to bed
Tomorrow was another so-called free morning!
go to Acropolis to meet Paul & George [the bus driver] (hurrah!) in
bus at 8:00. Paul, per usual, takes a roundabout route, past
new palace, [illegible] guards, shaded streets—get off at Muse Point
(which is good place at sundown, he says) to observe the Acropolis.
We then join others (about 8:45) & have painstakingly long tour in
hot, hot direct sun of all points of Acropolis after climb up (which
didn't seem like much after all we've been through). I feel my
skin melting on me in spite of sunguard, etc.
Finally go to Museum to be met by Mr.
Thotháse, "Director of the Acropolis,"
a very nice-looking 50's-ish man with blue eyes (always my downfall)
& a safari jacket (another one) who gave us really a
beautiful tour of each room—compressing into one hour all of Greek
sculpture from 6th Century to 4th. The Classical, the Severe,
etc. With the Blond Boy he turned the head for us to see all
angles & left it staring to the left, at me (much laughter).
The man was very articulate & charming & interesting.
Paul had some altercations today, one with
[a] guard around repair work in Erechtheum (was it because the
guard allowed [a] group of archaeology students to climb around
under scaffolding or what?), Much shouting & gesticulating.
Next, with a guard who didn't positively respond to the magic name
of "Mylonas" as a previous one did—when we were trying to get into
We are really running behind now....
Next we meet Prof. Homer Thompson, head of restoration
group—American School of Classical Studies, who guides us around the
Stoa which is incredibly cool & breezy (with WC's yet!). Very
elegant, with lovely vistas & artifacts—very quiet. I don't
know where all of the other tourists are. Unfortunately, we are
so late now that George [the driver] & the bus have disappeared, but
finally reappear with Marion directing the way.
We go with Eileen to the Delphi for a huge
luncheon & stagger back to hotel. 8:00 AM until 3:30 is a
long haul!! Seven hours & more without food or
drink (though we did have a Pepsi) is a long haul. We go to
Paul's for a party tonight so I must clean & rest. More later.
George is "shanghaied." Paul's party
is a humid & smoggy evening. All of us meet in lobby,
wondering if we should get there at 8:00 (because of Paul & "Greek
time"). Some of us go on over amid crowds of strolling
promenaders & more frenetic types. We find the Russian Church
& the apartment with some SAHers milling around. The "lift"
has been newly painted & one shouldn't lean on it, making it hard for
people to get into a small enclosure. We arrive (a few have
preceded us) to be greeted by shy & nervous maids &
Mrs. Mylonas (not too clear in her English, in a gray lace dress).
She doesn't look like what I expect somehow (no Paul, of course).
We are in a roof garden area with views of hyacinth, the Acropolis,
the city & the Byzantine Church. There is a bar & table of
hors d'oeuvres, lamb, fried zucchini, bacon wrapped around chicken
livers, stuffed eggs with blue cheese. Everyone is dressed up,
but it is very muggy with overcast sky. The sunset is
lurid & there are flashes of lightning. As
people arrive there is more lightning & an occasional drop of water.
Dolph makes his presentation & as the last guests arrive the rain
begins. It's very comical with everyone running around
grabbing plates of canapes, the bar things being dismantled and
carried down narrow steps. Poor Mrs. Mylonas! They had
to roll up blueprints on dining room table, put down a cloth, bring
in things were it was raining in—all of those people crowding in—the
hostess's nightmare. I stood in doorway & talked as rain
stopped. We leave early with
Lyle & the Halpins.
[Letter from the Hotel Grand
Bretagne, Athens to 5505 Holmes, Kansas City MO]
Dear Paul & Matthew: We are winding down the fourteenth day of
our trip by having what our schedule called Free Day. (Early
morning visit to the Acropolis—time
to be announced.) We began at 8:00 a.m. and returned to the
hotel shortly before 3 p.m Almost every minute of it on our
feet, most of the time in a searing sun, three different
distinguished guides and a visit to the Agora as well as the
Acropolis. That gives you a sample of the schedule and routine
we've had since we arrived in Greece. We have a coffee and
toast breakfast at 7:00 a.m., a meal of some size between 2 and 3
p.m., and sometimes something late in the evenings. Bathrooms
are scarce and so we drink very little water during the day.
But despite this, it has been an absolutely extraordinary experience
for all of us. We've been to places far off the tourist track
and have seen wonderful things.
Now to other matters.
I have no way of knowing how well the postal
service has worked. We've sent six cards to keep you posted,
and given an anticipated 5-7 days for a letter to arrive in Kansas
City. This will be our last written communication home except
for another card which we'll send tomorrow (I think). Let me
We board the ship for the island cruise
tomorrow afternoon. It will return to Athens on June 17th.
During that time it seems impractical to try to mail things.
We still do not have a hotel reservation for the five days of June
17-June 21. I hope to wrap that all up before we board shop,
and as soon as I know, we [will] send a card on to you. If
this does not work out tomorrow, or if you don't hear from us (what
with the mails), and you want to get in touch with us, do so through
the American Express in Athens. They have a mail room.
We'll enclose the
address for you, but if there is any confusion at
your end, contact the American Express office in K.C. for advice.
I'll check the office on a regular basis until we leave for home.
I won't burden you with other matters or
gossip or travel notes except to say that I think we're both losing
weight, given our strenuous routine. If so, this is the most
unusual way to do so that I heard—namely, climb every excavation,
tour every church. Mom's note below:
very much doubt that we are losing weight, or at least me, what with
all of the beer & wine & baklava & sweets we consume!
Certainly we are on our feet most of every day. Paul, would
you do me a favor and look up a July issue of the National
Geographic? (I imagine it might possibly come out before
we get home—maybe not.) It is supposed to contain an
on the recent finds of the digs at Vergina (Veergee'na) by Prof.
Andronikos (Andro'neekōs)—possibly it is the tomb of Philip of
Macedonia. We are supposed to keep hush-hush the fact that we
were there & met him & saw some of the finds, because another group
of Soc. of Arch. Historians is making the same identical tour in
Sept. [or] early Oct. & will not have our tour guide & will not meet
all of the celebrities we have been hobnobbing with—we don't want
any petty jealousies to crop up, now do we?
For instance, this morning our new guides
were the "Director of the Acropolis" and the director of the
restoration work on the Stoa. We have also had as a guide
George Mylonas, head of [the] archaeological group that supervised
digs at Mycenae & the Head of the Amer. School of Classical Studies.
Our own tour director's name is Paul Mylonas & he is so VIP that we
mention his name & doors open automatically (all we really know for
sure is that he is a leading architect in Greece & his wife is a
leading choreographer & dancer). He looks like
The hotel we are in is equally classy
(noted for old & fading luxury & where the German & British Army
were headquartered in WWII—not at the same time). It is
crawling with staff who are very condescending toward us "Americani"
but allow us to stay here & eat a small breakfast each morning.
In contrast, almost everyone else is very helpful, especially in the
outlying areas of Greece. We have made stops to a remote hotel
in southern Greece to use the WC's for emergency reasons & I don't
think their toilets will ever recover from being flushed 44 times in
We have a marvelous bus driver named George
who is almost totally unflappable (except when being stopped by
police once for a silly reason—at which point he reacted in typical
Greek histrionic way) & can maneuver this big Mercedes bus in a
miraculous way—though some of the peasant people in tiny towns came
running out of shops to bring in chairs & furniture when our bus was
trying to turn at a precarious angle. George (the driver) [sic]
is semi-good-looking, wears tight shirts unbuttoned to reveal gold
cross on chain & chest hair, & he has a spare tore waistline & walks
in a stomping manner. Speaks NO English!
We leave for the 7 day cruise tomorrow.
We need to assume that it would be restful, but with Paul along we
now know that we'll probable be watching architectural slides until
2:00 AM every night & taking trips to remote archaeological sites by
day. He seems to be totally indefatigable & is still going
strong at 8 PM even though he occasionally goes away to maintain his
office & home. Occasionally one of us whimpers "Water" or
"Please, may we rest?" but usually we do not dare admit we are mere
Please share this with Goppy [Grandmother
Smith] & our friends?
Love xx Mom
[P.S.] I would sleep well every night
but have to combat your father's snoring, donkeys braying, roosters
crowing, motorcycles doing "wheelies," & dogs barking (though there
aren't many dogs here—probably eat too much—lots of skinny
cats—this is a very poor country). Not all in
same night, but it does seem to be a conspiracy. Mules do most
of the work in the country—they are strong & patient & don't require
much food. I am beginning to identity with them.
[Address to mail to:] c/o American
Express / Constitution Square (Syntagma) / Athens, Greece
SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 1978
breakfast: Grande Bretagne. FREE MORNING. Luncheon on
own. Luggage in halls by 1 p.m. 3 p.m.: Bus departs for
Piraeus to board TTS Atlas
[sic]. 6 p.m.: Ship departs; dinner on
board*. (*All meals during cruise on board TTS Atlas,
commencing with dinner on embarkation day through breakfast the
morning of disembarkation.)
arranged a special tour of the National Archaeological Museum for
us. We were to meet at the entrance at 8:30 and then be
inroduced to our guide, Mr.
Kalogheras (sp) [sic] (brother[?]
[sic] of the architect at Monemvasia). He was a smidge
late, and there I was in the lobby, able to see the Mycenaean gold
in a case, Finally we got started. First Mycenaean, here
called (as usual) Prehistoric. Very interesting. A few
quick observations. The Tiryns frescoes are for the most part
very small, and quite fragmented. The gold was far more
impressive than I ever dreamed; the so-called
diadem is huge.
The Vaphio cups are very much like their replicas, therefore I was
prepared for them. I am so grateful I can return for more
detailed looking. Then on to the sculpture galleries.
One extraordinary treat was the chance to see some mid-7th Century
[BC] sculpture, very badly worn, but very Egyptian-like in
configuration. A number of
Daedalic things, which I gather are
labeled as early 6th or very late 7th BC. Some
old friends came into view, I missed others for we were going
through very quickly (it is a very large museum). Then we saw
some "recently excavated" works which have not yet been published.
A Kore of extraordinary state of preservation and a companion Kouros.
Large, impressive and demanding of return. And so it went.
We did some small bronzes and saw some large bronzes, The
Poseidon, which our guide felt was Zeus (because of the placement of
the throwing hand, which would have a trident obscure the face), was
all it was cracked up to be. Another room had the
boy, rather smaller than I expected, and nearby was a remarkable
bronze—life size—of a woman. Well, more on this later.
We then went into the
The frescoes were something. Both as restoration exercises and
as large size remains. Then into Greek vases. At this
point I was very concerned about our time. We still needed to
nail down a room for use on our return from the islands, and this
required some time. So we excused ourselves and quickly walked
through some of the other galleries on our way out, and headed for Sindagma [Syntagma] Square. I should add this was on foot,
there and back.
We went to the tourist office that faced on
the square and sought help in finding a suitable room. Part of
the delay in doing this was some "chaos and confusion" associated
with an innocent remark of Mila's: "Paul [M] [sic], can you
recommend a hotel?" He said he would, then he said he had a
girl in his office working on it, and we were sort of stuck while he
had this pending. We passed a couple of deadlines and I was a
bit worried. At the reception, things still had not been
worked out and when he asked us where we would be at noon today, so
he could phone us, I suggested that perhaps we should not be
bothering him. He demurred, but we left it inconclusive as
usual. I gather he felt obligated, but had delegated the task.
He could not now say, "Sorry, but maybe you should do the search."
The best he could say was, "Perhaps you would prefer to make your
own arrangements, but if you do, you should pay beforehand to make
sure the contract is firm." On that basis I later muttered to
Mila, "That's what we do tomorrow after the National Archaeological
So in the tourist office, the kind young
lady very quickly found us quarters, right in the Plaka, near
everything including the Monastiraki Metro stop (for the ride back
from Piraeus) and not too far from the air terminal bus stop,
American Express, etc. Ideal! We had to pay a
commission, but I was glad to do so. The room is 855 drachmas
per day with breakfast, a "B" class hotel.
We changed some travelers checks, since the
deposit and commission drained my cash, and then we walked over to
the Omiros Hotel on Apollonos Street. It was great! A
very narrow street, with every type of shop from fruit to cleaners
to sundries, etc. We met the manager, confirmed the fact that
the reservation had been made, and got the address and phone number
to send on to the boys. We noted that the building seemed
modern and there was a roof garden from which to see the Acropolis.
Well, it was time for lunch, and as we
strolled down "our street" and a bit beyond, we found a nice
restaurant that had tables under awnings across the street in a small
park. We sat, rested and refreshed ourselves with a leisurely
lunch. Then, having mailed a card to the boys, we returned to
the Grand Bretagne to wait the boarding of the bus for the ride to
While sitting in the G-B, Mila returned
from some brief excursion to say, "Wouldn't you know it, there was a
message to call Paul." I was close to "heart in mouth" for I
our Paul, and I thought, "my mother,
Mila's mother?" Well, Mila meant Paul Mylonas. At the
National Museum, the group went on to a library at which the message
had been received. This must have been at noon. Later,
on the bus, we learned two alternatives had been found, one with
shared bath, the other [illegible] bath. Both represented less
drachmas than the Omiros, but I'm glad we went at least B class.
We patched things over with Paul (who was prepared to phone from
Piraeus for us) and that was that.
We finally boarded the bus, and after some
delays in Piraeus we finally boarded the
We found our cabin, unpacked, went up on deck to see the departure.
Later, we saw Sounion from the sea. There was an enormous meal
(late) and then collapse. The end of a very busy day.
to meet at Archaeological Museum at 8:30—we walk, leaving at 7:50.
Get there early. Mr. Kalogagra [sic]
doesn't come until about 8:50. He is very reserved & is some
relative (brother?) of young man we met in Monemvasia. Many of
us are put off by his less than charismatic personality but George &
I stick it out until 11:15 when we apologize & leave. We walk
to tourist agency & arrange for a room for [June] 17-22. It's
in the Plaka with a fruit seller across street & a liquor store next
door. Walk around that area with many charming shops.
Eat at sidewalk cafe & walk back to G.B. It's hot & humid &
most of our weary band is there slumped in chairs.
Get underway about 3:00 with George the
driver in an altercation with the G.B. staff. Hot & sticky
trip to the Piraeus. We get in & on board (sort of thrown in)
with Halpins & Tom & Hal next to us. The boat (Jason)
is 11 years old, vibrates. Room very small; has two cots (one
of which closes up to make sofa) & a closet—built in end
table, mural on one wall, carpeting lime green, dress with mirror,
tiny bath with shower stall, tiny sink & toilet. The big surprise (I had forgotten) was the
food: seafood cocktail, soup (bean with macaroni), choice of
fettuccini or fish, roast beef or lamb chops with French fries,
salad, Napoleon or ice cream, cheese, fruit,
Ship arrives Istanbul**. (**Shore excursions to be arranged on
individual basis with ship's personnel after boarding TTS Atlas [sic].)
All day (until 7:30 p.m.) aboard ship and at sea. It was a day
of sitting, resting (desperately needed) and trying to catch up the
journal. As an index, I'm writing this on the morning of the
13th, and thus have caught up about half a day. Perhaps I'll
be caught up before the day is done. This is possible because
not much happened on Sunday other than voyaging through the
the Sea of Marmora,
eating (really too much), and attending the Captain's reception.
There was an "Istanbul at Night" jaunt
after docking which we skipped, so the evening was spent on board
ship. Before dinner I stood on deck watching Istanbul appear
through the haze. The first recognizable forms were not domes
and minarets; they were high rise apartments and smokestacks.
So much for romance. But then, one could barely see them, and
slowly they grew larger and domes were visible, as were minarets.
Hagia Sophia? Finally, I could see it—or rather
to the left, and Hagia Sophia. When we finally docked they
were, along with the
Topkapi, as a picture framed by our cabin's rectangular
porthole. What a sight. And what a harbor! The
traffic was fantastic. So after dinner, which ended about 10
p.m. (we're the second sitting), some of us went up onto the top
deck, by the now drained pool, and with a cognac in hand watched the
activity of the harbor at night, with the city's lights on both
sides of the Bosporus. Then we saw the minarets of the Blue
Mosque light up! Then go off, and so on, then the dome, and
for a brief moment, both Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque were
lighted. Then they went off and the sea walls were
illuminated. Then they went off, and finally Topkapi lighted
up and remained so. We had witnessed the
lumière without the son, or sans son. A
wonderful treat before going down and getting sleep before our full
day's excursion in Istanbul.
Since we are going on a whole day bus trip in Turkey tomorrow we
are trying to stash away things to eat (rolls, cheese, fruit)
since we've been told not to eat anything or drink anything in
Istanbul or Ephaseus. Breakfast was choice of juice, fruit,
rolls, cereal or eggs or omelet or bacon, ham, etc. What will
It is much colder than I anticipated though
people are running around in swim gear and sunsuits (in the sun it's
OK). I feel disembodied, rather alienated. I don't like
to see all of the gross huge bodies with surgical scars & hairy legs
& oiled brown bodies. (Lyle just appeared in a little
coordinated suit: white shorts, shirt with stripes in red & blue &
white sailor hat & sneakers).
We're supposed to go to Captain's party
tonight at 5:30 with George balking.
Mitch just appeared in a figured long
Kabuki robe worn with his socks and short boots. The outfit
got quite a reaction.
Lots of Australians on this boat....
The Australians are straight out of Central Casting, & talk in usual
almost impossible dialect.... English, French, Germans,
[about] 250 passengers & crew. Orders, orders, very
For the Captain's cocktail party there was
a semi-receiving line with Christine the Cruise Director at the head
in an off-white crinkled dress (she is tall, blonde & unbelievably
thin) introducing each guest to the Captain, who is short, handsome
& looks like Oscar de la Renta. Each person or couple was
photographed by a bald, perspiring, heavyset man who was the ship's
photographer & having a whale of a time dancing to "If I Was a Rich
Man." Soon (after many hours of developing prints, no doubt)
he will display all of the photographs for the passengers to buy
The reception was crowded & wildly
pretentious with the Australians horribly overdressed, displaying
large quantities of boiled or browned flesh (the upper deck with all
of the sun is called by [Rosann] the "flesh deck") with backless
haltered flowered long dresses in shades of hot pink & fuchsia with
plastic transparent shoes with gold metallic high heels. Lots
of extra hair in either dyed black or blonde with pompadours or long
curls. The men are hale & hearty, overweight, red & wearing
shorts & sandals. Eileen says "gross [illegible]." We
are terribly insular, sticking together in conspiratorial groups
("mutineers," Lyle says). The Captain introduces his "senior
officers." There are others, he says, but someone must run the
ship. There is a combo: flute, guitar, drums, electric organ
playing German polkas, Strauss waltzes, Spanish rhythm in a
We have a choice of watered martinis,
watered Manhattans, or glasses with a strange pink liquid (Shirley
Temples). How can they go through this over & over with the
tourist bit? The Captain's Welcome Meal is huge (especially
after huge lunch): soup, blini [blintz] with caviar & toppings.....
The hour preceding dinner was wonderful,
watching Constantinople appear in the mist, barely making out
buildings (looked like suburban high rise), then minarets, then
churches. Moved around to other side for clearer sight of
coastline, little fishing vessels, the boat bringing in the Turkish
police (in beige uniforms with briefcases—they are to stay on board
while our boat is here), then the tugboats bringing us in. Sat
on fan deck with Jack, Eileen, Muriel & watched sound & light show
from shore—quite attractive. (Jack is very funny & amusing.)
MONDAY, JUNE 12, 1978
Istanbul. 7 p.m.: Ship
sails for Izmir.
I won't recount the complex and appropriately Byzantine maneuverings
that got us a special bus with sack lunch and our own itinerary for
the same price as the others had, but it was arranged. We also
hd a Turkish guide (a woman who was quite good), a German
archaeologist working in Istanbul (very knowledgeable), and Paul M.
who was more an observer than mentor as our authorities and guides.
And so onto the bus at 8:30 a.m.
Our first experience was seeing the chaotic
traffic of Istanbul, made up of all sizes, varieties, and age.
These were inevitably jammed to beyond capacities. Cars and
cabs of all sorts, including the finest collection of 1950s American
cars to be found (I suspect) anywhere in the world. Then there
were horse-drawn vehicles, and push carts, and finally people on
foot, many working as beasts of burden. Finally we got away
from the dock, and this traffic was with us everywhere until our
return at about 5:10 p.m.
What did we see? First there were the
remains of a Roman Palace, seen from the bus, as were some other
views of the "Old Town." Our first stop was
Sts. Sergius and
Bacchus. It was an interesting place to begin, since it was
opened just for us, and we had real solitude there. We also
had our first experience of removing shoes while in a mosque.
From there we went to the
the Egyptian obelisk, and from there to the Blue Mosque. The
latter is being cleaned and repainted inside, to a much lighter
blue, hence there was an enormous wooden scaffolding in one section.
But the grand space, the tile and painted decoration were readily
seen. It was also our first experience with the very low
chandeliers that create a plane about 10 feet above the floor.
From the Blue Mosque, which is very
handsomely decorated on the exterior (in contrast to the converted
Byzantine churches), we went to the ruins of a
basilica of the
mid-5th Century, which our German archaeologist was working on.
This was in fact quite interesting, and the space of the atrium
still existed as a garden. It is the oldest church in the
Then we drove by the
Golden Gate, did the
land walls, and we also did the sea walls as part of our struggling
in and out of the old city, and over to the
Kariye and its wealth of
mosaics and frescoes. It was here we had a w.c. stop and our
sack lunch. From there it was to the
Suleiman Mosque, which is
really quite splendid, inside and out, and that set us up for Hagia
Sophia. There was a delay that created considerable
apprehension. This was confusion over our admission at 2 p.m.
Mondays, Hagia Sophia is closed except for prearranged tours.
As usual, there was nothing in writing to show the stubborn gate
tender, and the Director was out to lunch. Somehow the matter
was resolved. While the extended delay passed its endless
minutes, I stood by the gate and studied the exterior. The outside is not only plain (an
ochre-like color), but the attendant structures and buttresses, etc.
obscure a great deal when close up to it. In contrast to the
Blue Mosque or the Suleiman Mosque (both Ottoman I believe) the
exterior of Hagia Sophia is just plain dull.
Finally we were cleared for admittance and
our German guide took us to the atrium side of the exterior.
The space (or at least part of the space) of the atrium still exists
as a garden. The three entrances do not operate that way and
this has been true for a long, long time. Apparently quite
early the principal entrance was into the south end of the narthex.
On entering we were greeted by a cold draft, the building stays
cool, and we passed some very ancient bronze doors which I
understood to be, in part, earlier than Justinian.
Then into the narthex, a splendid shaped
space with its restored mosaics. Then, the entrance into the
nave. A lofty opening, and as one turned to enter, the
enormous cavity of the interior loomed up. Walking in, one is
overwhelmed by the vastness of the interior. It works, it
really works as a coherent space, with everything seeming to be as
logical as one could ever want. The low chandeliers do disturb
me, but nevertheless one can see past and through them.
The colored marbles and other materials are
not gaudy, and the interior is sedate but with quiet richness of
effect. Though we were not there at the best light-time, the
interior was without deep shadows, and was easy to study.
We were in a press of time if anyone wished
to see the Topkapi. Since they were going to close Hagia
Sophia at 4:30 (and that would rule out Topkapi afterwards) most of
us elected to see the Topkapi. We viewed the treasures—rather
gaudy in my estimation—and then
saw the Chinese (with a few Japanese) porcelains. These were
indeed stunning, and apparently they were the actual dinnerware
items once used by the Sultans. It began with some superb
celadons, and then a bit of everything else thereafter. These were housed in the old kitchens,
large domed rooms in serial order with a chimney at each
The architecture was fascinating and the exhibit superb.
Unfortunately, we had very little time and besides, we were tired.
We did see other parts of the Topkapi—at least the exteriors and
some of the gardens.
We finally got on our way through dense
traffic and made it back to the ship on time.
Final impressions. A city of enormous
contrasts, ranging from derelict old wooden houses with people in
them, to new construction with elaborate small tile exteriors.
Obvious poverty and apparent hunger, if the experience at lunch al
fresco is relevant. There the guide suggested that we "leave
our unused food for the children." And the dirt, the dust, and
the hordes of people. Even the poorest Greek village seemed
better off than many sections of old town Constantinople, but then
Istanbul is a special case, like New York.
Strange day. We arrange for special tour bus & to meet German
architect who lives in Istanbul, Mr. _______ [sic].
We're supposed to take off at 8:30 but there is some confusion about
driver (?) [sic] taking whiskey off boat. So we don't
start until 9:00. Watch people assembling in swarms on
collective taxis, collective omnibuses; huge, big buses with people
hanging on sides, packed in literally like sardines.
Hot, dusty, loud, crowded. Visited
numerous churches, none of which I can sort out. WC with
little boy (they don't like drachmas). Have "box" (bag)
lunches. Sit out on little tables & benches. Children,
some with sores & rickets (?) [sic] hover around, big-eyed,
eager to be helpful. Terrible poverty. We leave them our
"eatable" food & stash the rest around garbage pail, but I'm sure they'll go through that after we leave. Beautiful children,
with round heads, big black eyes, very alert & eager & active.
Mothers & other women with covered heads. Kids & men selling (pushing)
postcards, flutes, souvenirs, awful looking rugs "cheap," only
$1.00. They like American money.
(They are throwing garbage out of kitchen
[cruise ship's galley?] for the seagulls now.)
Worst part of day was having to take off
shoes to go into mosques. Everything, including carpeting
(prayer rugs) seemed filthy, & me with foot infection to begin with.
Some of us have visions of [our] toes turning green & falling off, or
developing terrible sores as the cruise continues.
The bus was very stuffy & hot, the tour
guide (who was Austrian—married to a Turk) was knowledgeable &
understanding—since she had to put up with us & the German professor
who wanted to lecture at length on each place architecturally.
She was pleasant but had an irritating German accent which Tom
imitated wickedly the next day.
We reached back to ship with 15 minutes to
spare & I jumped in shower, washing everything including eyeballs
(it's hard to adjust spray & cold water rumbles & roars ominously)
as we pulled out of port, saying farewell to Istanbul. Joined
George on deck & had a gin & tonic. We were all very hungry
(due to box lunch & feeling guilty eating while those big-eyed
children looked on) by second sitting.
Porthole opened in room makes things more
comfortable (humid, though—too humid to dry
clothes very effectively).
2 p.m.: Ship arrives at Izmir (Smyrna, Ephesus).
9 p.m.: Ship sails for Delos.
Today was Smyrna/Izmir and Ephesus. The morning was spent
sailing, and we arrived at Izmir in the early afternoon. Soon
after docking we were on board a bus heading for Selçuk (Seljuk) [sic],
the modern or fifth city
at the general site of Ephesus. Our guide was a teacher at the
Turkish University of Aegean, an
historian with some training in archaeology. He spoke several
languages, including English quite well, but he sounded exactly
like Dom DeLuise doing his chef or magician routines. The
similarity in mannerisms, intonation, speech patterns and choice of
words was so close that it created problems in coping with what was
really a good tour.
The drive from Izmir to Ephesus, about 60
kilometers, took over an hour, and along the way we saw the
agricultural aspect of Ionia. One interesting sidelight were the on the site, open air, brick "kilns." One could see the
old way of burning brick in huge stacks, surrounded by fired brick.
Then into the archaeological site
It was a well planned tour that took us down through the excavated
areas of what [were] in fact Hellenistic/Roman ruins. The remains
were quite impressive, and at the site of the old
brothel there was
a pump at which we could refresh ourselves. This was highly
desirable since the temperature must have been near 100° F.
The library is under restoration by
Austrians, and it was one of these archaeologists that was supposed
to help guide us. However, he did not show. The
restoration is well along and it will be quite striking when
complete. We continued to the theatre and got into the tail
end of a bit of Turkish folk dancing put on for a large French tour
preceding us. After they left, our guide told us that before
the season of the tours, he would sometimes come with his family and
place a tape recorder/player on the "stage" and [listen] above to
Bach or Beethoven. He mentioned the Chorale of the 9th as a
favorite. So, as the SAHers trooped out they la-la-ed a
passage from the 9th. My, how cultural we are.
And we were alas warned that if we were to
do the same, to be sure to have our guide guard the tape recorder.
We were assaulted below and above, at the end and at the start by
hucksters of all sorts, ages, etc. Turkey is different—from
what little we saw of it. Much stoop labor in the fields,
mostly women working in groups. We saw some women still with
veils, and in one instance we saw one with her entire head covered
with a black veil.
We got back shortly after 5:00 p.m. and
several of our group (through the offices of the guide) bailed out
ahead of time to look at rugs (small ones). Three made
purchases and made it back to the ship about 15-20 minutes before
sailing. We were under way by 6:30 p.m.
Izmir is very modern looking, splendid new
buildings and considerably cleaner than Istanbul. The setting
is gorgeous and picturesque. Paul Mylonas kept a very low
profile on this excursion. It was his first visit to Smyrna,
which also happened to be the birthplace of one of his grandmothers.
His family had been in Constantinople but I gather they might have
left before WWI, but in any case had to in 1923 after the
war with the Turks in 1922. He told me that 1½ million Greeks
were expelled in two weeks times and Greece, with 3½ people, was
forced to absorb them. Paul called it the first action of the
"cold war" re: Russia's actions in the Near East. This I must
read about and learn more of it. So for Paul it was his first
visit to Ephesus as well. He was invisible except that he
turned up miraculously in time to catch the bus.
That evening we had dinner with the
Captain, and later we had the Miss Jason and Mr. Jason election.
We put up Rosann Berry and Dolf Placzek as our candidates.
Rosann was second runner up and Dolf was elected King of the
Jason. There was dancing thereafter, but I conked out.
Izmir (Smyrna). Very hot (between 100° and 104°, seemingly
humid also but not like K.C., of course). Spent morning lazing
around. Left on #5 bus (special for Mrs. Berry's group) with a
guide who was a smaller version of Dom DeLuise's Italian chef act.
Small, theatrical archaeology & history teacher, he wore navy
T-shirt, white slacks & medallions of ancient tourist design of
"tourism." Punctuated each statement with "Yes!," arms akimbo,
& flashing teeth & dimples.... The bus trip was excruciatingly
hot with sun baking down. Scenery & sights were quite
interesting: making bricks, gypsy encampment with tents &
horse-drawn carts & smell of burning brick kilns. Camels (some
with loads) but guide claimed they were just for tourists.
Storks in nests on walls, chimneys. Lots of traffic &
Got to Ephesus & confusion about Paul
meeting his friend—kids crowding around with postcards, flutes, etc.
Finally start off—turned out to be very interesting—occasional cool
breeze, & one place we could drink cold water & wash & cool face &
heads. Multiple hole public toilet for [illegible].
Wonderful moment in huge theatre, 25,000 seats. There was [a]
troupe of tourist dancers & singers performing. The stage was
wet with sweat from their bodies, since they were wearing heavy
clothes & it was terribly, terribly hot. But the effect was
very nice & appealing.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14, 1978
7 a.m.: Ship
arrives at Delos. 12 noon: Ship sails
for Mykonos. 2 p.m.: Arrive Mykonos. 9 p.m.: Ship sails
We arrived at Delos fairly early in the morning, and Paul was our
guide. Here was our first experience with tenders to take us
in to the island. They packed us in to the point where I was
convinced it was really an old sardine boat. Well, the island
(which is small) looked black and desolate. We scrambled
onshore and proceeded to review a good deal of the site which was
excavated by the French. Paul was a good guide and he took us
selectively over the enormous site. As it turned out (for me)
the most interesting remains were of the houses, mostly Hellenistic.
Many had been excavated and in sufficient groupings that one could
traverse streets and such. Of particular interest were the
atriums which were typically built over large cisterns (either
timber beams or some vault). These were found both open and
still covered with mosaics.
After excursioning in one area, we
adjourned to the refreshment stand and then climbed the "small
mountain" in the center of the island. It was not too arduous
a climb, but I was blowing a bit at the top, and from there the
impressive panorama of the site was evident. Also, one had a
splendid view of the Cyclades surrounding Delos which Paul called
(meaning Delos) the center of the Aegean. Well, down we
clambered, and as we wended our way back to the dock we went by the
theatre and the other houses, one partially reconstructed that had
some truly splendid mosaics. And soon it was time to board the
Jason. So back onto the tenders, and back to "home" for
a lunch while making the short trip to Mykonos.
Mykonos was another "tender stop," and here
nothing formal was planned; it was an open afternoon. Mila
wanted to get on the island quickly, and so—as
it turned out—we spent close to
wandering through the picturesque and labyrinthian village.
The narrow streets, winding every which way, [were] said to be
deliberate as a defense against pirates. Possibly so, for I
proceeded to get lost (so to speak) even after buying a map.
It was mostly a matter of absorbing the picturesque village and
sitting and watching the sea, and popping into shops here and there.
We finally made a few purchases. A dress for Mila, a shirt for
me, and a superb small sponge for Steve Gosnell. That and a
few cards [was] it.
The SAHers were asked to meet with Paul
Mylonas at the "center of town" to have a last baklava with him, for
he was leaving us at this point. The announcement had been
made at lunch aboard the ship. And so at 7:00 p.m. we gathered
at a cafe that Paul had arranged, and there we had our sweets and
with modest speeches by Adolf Placzek and Paul, we said our auf
wiedersehens. It was nice and it was touching.
Back aboard ship we had a Greek dinner with
ouzo as complimentary aperitif. The meal was good and then
afterwards there was dancing by a few of the crew with bouzouki
accompaniment. The evening ended late, fatigue was with us,
and the morrow would bring Rhodes.
Delos. Lizards everywhere; also thstles & burrs
(which I got embedded in me when I slid down a hill trying to get to
see the theatre from above & couldn't get down gracefully).
Lizards were all sizes & apparent shapes & colors (chameleon-like,
they change color with whatever they are near).
Delos was our last session with Paul as
mentor with all of the benefits & deficits: he goes either too fast
or too painstaking—he seems abstracted at times & becomes
alternatingly remote or charming. Our group became completely
fragmented & separated. Some went back early on the little
boats (earlier fishing boars) they they claim they can
get 34 aboard, but it's uncertain—we were packed at times today.
Delos is quite interesting in a very pretty
setting—many things remain or are carefully restored, so that you
can see the way upper middle class lived in the Hellenistic Age.
Beautiful mosaic floors intact—atrium etc. (Room of Satyrs) which
was Muriel's favorite area, given she had translated a paper from
French to English on this particular aspect of the site. Very
lovely town & island—whitewashed (even touristy aspects are
charming) houses & churches on hill. Lovely afternoon just
walking around, drinking beer, looking at view, sampling squid &
octopus ([illegible]) from Phil Stone's plate. Bought: gold
necklace, $20.00. Green gown, 1440 drachmas. Sponge, 10
drachmas. George's shirt, 350 drachmas. Met rest of
crowd at waterfront at 7:00 to share a last baklava & to say goodbye
to Paul (not goodbye, but "see you again"). The baklava was
messy & very honey=sweet & drippy, and we all hated saying goodbye.
We left early so we could clean up—took a little boat back to the
ship at 7:30.
This night's meal was Greek night. Started
out with ouzo, then appetizers—fried squid, dolmates, olives,
yogurt & garlic dressing, soup (Easter soup with Kael [sic]
or something floating in it)—we could have had red snapper but we
went on to shish kebab with okra. Vanilla ice cream [with]
honey. There were Greek dances in lounge done by Christine &
some of the waiters ( not terribly good but the cute young waiter
7 a.m.: Ship arrives
8 p.m.: Ship sails for Herakleion, Crete.
All day in Rhodes. We elected to "do the medieval city" on our
own and started out quite early, early enough to see shops begin to
open. We wandered until noon (about four hours) and returned
to the ship for lunch and rest, and then back for another two hours.
Our first major activity was to change some
money, and we went into a bank that was housed in a what?—15th
or 16th Century building. It was quite an experience, for
despite the enormous number of touristy shops, the old city was
still a medieval walled town with much of the architecture and
certainly the street pattern intact. I had obtained a map of
the city from a vendor, and it did help (up to a point). One
thing, all the little byways were not on it. Also, some of
these byways were labeled to indicate the street to which they
connected. So on more than one occasion I got "lost," but it
was fairly easy to orient oneself in a short time since the area
within the walls is really quite small.
We went into the museum at 9:00 a.m., a
building that was built as a hospital by the knights who had been
expelled from Jerusalem. It is an interesting building, and
the additions (while rather sparse) are of some interest. The
stone looked like a sandstone, and much of it was badly eroded and
one can anticipate severe conservation problems in the near future.
From the museum we saw the Knightly inns
(from the exterior) and in due course we headed for the new
agora—the city market. It was just outside the walls and very
active. Architecturally it was no import; [as] cultural
insight into contemporaryGreek life on Rhodes, it was excellent.
From there we wandered outside the walls, saw an old market in what
appeared to be a filled portion of the old moat.
After several false starts, we went back
into the old city and went to the Palace of the Masters, a large
structure that had been badly damaged through a variety of causes,
and which had been restored (based on the 15th Century drawings) by
the Italians just before WWII. Rhodes had been under Italian
rule between the end of Moslem/Turkish domination and WWII.
The Palace was to have been the official residence for Vittorio
Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini, and here for the first time I
grasped the real megalomania of the Fascist dictators, who linked
themselves with the pomposity of Imperial Rome and the
authoritarianism of uniforms and jackboots. The building was
presumably as authentic as they could make it while introducing
electricity, central heating and other amenities. Also, they
set into almost every room's floor a classic period floor mosaic
from the island of Kos. There weren't very many people in the
place when we wandered through, and since there was also very little
furniture, it was a stark experience. Massive timbered
ceilings, quite high, stone walls, marble and mosaic floors, and
lamps made of 18th Century? [sic] figurative torchiers (quite
large). The windows, with inside shutters, looked out on
either the central court or out on the city.
Everywhere we saw large stone shot,
either from cannon or catapult that had fallen on the city in a
22-year siege during the 16th Century. These had been gathered
and were used for decorative purposes. On a later excursion
back through the walls, I saw an area between the outer and inner
walls, not the moat, that had ruined, vaulted structures, much like
magazines. Here and there in the area were such shot.
Could these have been there since the 16th Century, or were they for
tourist consumption? Since the area was out of the normal
tourist section, and one had to go to the parapet of the bridge and
look down, I felt it could really be that we saw old things.
In the afternoon, we did the residential
areas of the old town, and we really got into some non-tourist areas
(insofar as shops, etc., were concerned). The crooked, narrow,
cobbled streets with center drains, the austere houses (through
magnificent flowers and flowering shrubs were very much in
evidence), the occasional buttress between houses over the street,
the covered passageways must all reflect a tradition long practiced
and now virtually gone. Here and there sections had been
demolished, and one could still see the narrow cobbled lanes within
the stripped, dusty "plateia."
In some areas the facades were decorated,
at least around the door; these looked Romanesque and this may date
to the Venetian rule of the island. In some places, facades
were painted. While whitewash is common in the rural areas to
seal the exterior, here one was orange and another was a
light-valued purple. Very inappropriate for a medieval city.
Very little wood was in evidence, mostly an occasional Turkish
enclosed balcony or belvedere. We also got into the walls a
bit, inadvertently existing through a convoluted passage through a
gate that retained its defensive complexities. An ancient door
leaf was still in place.
Rhodes was, and it had to be given it
complex history, extremely picturesque. But the medieval city
had been built on an ancient site, of the Hellenistic period.
We saw a couple of excavations that showed that level and some
remains, mostly walls. One aspect that was a bit surprising to
me was the character of the small cobbles used for the older
pavement (flat stone paving seemed to be the newer). It was
(for me) uncomfortable to walk on, but it did seem durable enough.
Well, six hours of walking almost all of it
on the small cobbles, despite the mid-day break, argued for a
retreat to the ship. That evening, before our sitting for
dinner, the Captain had a cocktail party for our group. As it
turned out, hbe made only a token appearance at the end, and Rosann
Berry our "den mother" and the Placzeks were ar the Captain's table
for the Farewell Dinner. The latter was an attempt at
festivities, including music, and flaming baked Alaska brought in in
a parade by all the waiters in a darkened cabin. "Auld Lang
Syne" was played. It was also a rolling sea, and so I had
popped by first cruise Dramamine, excused myself and went to bed
while others carried on with the party on deck and I guess
elsewhere. Tomorrow was Crete and I needed my rest.
Up early (docked at Rhodes at 7:00) & washed self & hair. Went
into town of Rhodes alone. Apparently we were the only ones,
excepting [Rosann], who didn't go on the bus trip through
countryside & to Lindos. But we had a lively time watching
Rhodes "wake up"—saw a man baking bread, people opening shops,
cleaning streets, etc. George bought a map to help guide us
along & I cashed $100 of my traveler's cheques.
missing the next page, unless Mila left off writing here and
resumed later, in a different color ink, without filling in
Folkloric of Rhodes very good—main male dancer looked Irish.
Captain reception at 8:00 for members of the SAH in Orpheus Lounge
(Captain didn't arrive until late due obviously to leaving Rhodes
late)—all of us in new gowns & generally one-upmanshiping each
other. Had choice of drinks (we had ouzo) & many canapes &
especially good fried zucchini. Staggered down back steps to
dining room for Gala Dinner, most of which I've forgotten, due to
the fact that we (Dixie, Katie, George, Eileen & I) got stuck with
the most boring man on board who looks like British squire & speaks
as though he'd landed from NYC!). Ended with music ("Cielito
Lindo") & flaming baked Alaska, the flames of which threatened to
turn on the water spouts (?) [sic]. Champagne with
Captain toasting us in a carefully rehearsed speech (though I found
ut he's married to an American girl). We were so desperate to
get away from Mr. Boring we didn't drink much. Went up on deck
with Gary & Tom—salt spray & terrific wind—like something out of
Reap the Wild Wind—then Jack & Naomi who wanted to go to the
disco, but boring Mr. Moffat appeared & I fled down to my bed.
(How awful to have that effect on people—snort, snort.) Two
boring men in ONE night!!
FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 1978
9 a.m.: Ship arrives
12:30 p.m.: Ship departs Herakleion, Crete. 3 p.m.: Ship
arrives at Santorini (Thera). 9 p.m.: Ship departs for
We arrived in Crete at Herakleion fairly early in the morning, and
soon were aboard a bus heading for Knossos a few kilometers south.
We knew we were in more southern clime because it was hot, and it
was only going to get hotter.
Our guide was good (insofar as she had
worked out a solid routine and was efficient and accurate in her
information, but she needed to exercise a bit more authority.
In any case, I stayed close to her and I am glad I didn't try to do
all of the Palace on my own; it is a labyrinth. The Palace at
Knossos presented problems for me. While it is easy to spit
the use of reinforced concrete (now painted brown) substituting for
wood (and all columns), it was a real problem with walls. What
was original and what was reconstruction was a real question.
Also, Evans (Sir Arthur) had made a lot of decisions as to what was
what and where it should go. Since he had bought the site with
his own money, and in fact had done a tremendous job of recovering a
culture, it is a bit hard to put him down. But nevertheless he
went too far in my estimation. The end result is that I found
Mycenae more impressive though less easy "to see." I am glad I
saw the site, but I think the plan is more revealing than the
From the site we went to the Museum.
We had an hour scheduled there, and I told the guide I preferred to
do the museum on my own and did so. I made a quite tour, and
some special old friends like the small Harvester Vase and the
fresco fragment of La Parisienne, and the Hagia Triada
Sarcophagus were quickly spotted and looked at. Then it was
back through the rooms, more slowly and with the guidebook in hand.
Greek museums are rather skimpy on labels,
and often a case will be labeled only with the place of origin.
Transliterating place names is not too taxing, but other information
escapes me. Some museums or sites have Greek and English, or
Greek and French, and on rare occasions all three. But
individual labels are rare, even in major museums. Usually
only masterworks are identified. On the other hand the works
do have numbers, but the guidebooks rarely are hand lists. So
doing a museum requires some advance knowledge (in my opinion).
Well, on the second go around, I was able
to refer to the guidebook that was a room by room list wutg cases
identified and major items or groups identified within. This
is the Minoan collection (plus other things) so it was an
intersting museum collection. The late Minoan idols (e.g. from
Gazi) exist in a fairly large number, all very much like, though
some had tiny feet sticking out of holes in the "skirt." The
fresco restorations are exercises in extraordinary imagination.
They are placed within a painted background that fills in the
missing elements. In almost every case the filed in portion is
in the vicinity of 75 to 85%\, for the fragments are quite small.
Once in awhile a grouping of these exist, and tell us more.
La Parisienne, which is in fact quite small, well below life
size, is one of the largest fragments. One reason the Thera
frescoes are important is their size and subject matter. Well,
more on that later.
Soon it was time to return to the ship, and
in short order we set sail for Thera (Santorini). I studied
the Blue Giide and it was clear that the three hours we'd ne tjere
would not suffice to do anything other than go up and come down.
So I elected to remain on board ship—as did some others.
The arrival at Thera is dramatic, as one sails into what is in fact
the crater of the volcano. The town is most
picturesquely situated at the top of the cliffs, about 700 feet
above the water. Mila elected to go ashore, and then elected
to take the donkey ride up. Some others walked! I
watched from a comfortable place on deck where I had the entire
panorama, and some closeups via binoculars.
Almost all elected to walk down.
While the view from above was impressive, the trip was a little like
Mykonos with shops, etc. But there was a dark cloud. One
older woman (one of the cruise passengers, but not an SAHer) was
knocked off her donkey by others racing back down to gather more
passengers, and she suffered both a concussion and some wound that
bled profusely. (Later I learned she had been on foot.)
One (actually there was more than one) of our party was a doctor and
went back up with the victim, who was carried to the village clinic
on a stretcher. More details are not readily at hand, but some
medic in the village helped, and there was also a nurse as part of
the cruise company who helped. The option of flying her to
Athens was vetoed, and so it was decided to bring her back to the
ship by [a] small boat, the long way around. Large vessels can
be moored only near there, but there are gradual slopes elsewhere.
Those who has made the ascent were, I
think, both disappointed and now a bit distressed that the journey
was a bit pointless and proven dangerous in its operation. The
victim was genuinely innocent of wrongdoing. Our departure was
delayed about two hours, and once we got underway, we really were
cranked up. I was trying to pack while the ship tossed and
rolled (not excessively, but enough for another Dramamine).
Needless to say, it was an early bed time for me, even though I had
expended no energy in the afternoon. Tomorrow was to be the
distraction of docking and the dispersal of our tour group.
MILA JEAN: Crete. Up
early (6:15)—didn't really wash. Ate breakfast (this time
two poached eggs) with Hal, Jack & Lyle. Assembling
for the buses to be mowed down by those whgo wanted to get taxis
early—finally got underway late (8:40) to Knossos.
Without sun, it was almost pleasant (Heraklion seemed nice) but
in sun—watch out! We had young pretty guide, who
reminded me of Nancy Sies [and] conducted a pretty knowledgeable tur
of Knossos site. Very interesting terrain—hills, etc.
Some of the reconstruction is interesting. It's easier for me,
at least, to understand the way things used to look, but George says
that the paintings are misleading because you can't tell where
original ones were. (I still can['t] understand how they can
tell all of those details from a few scraps—imagination?)
Anyway in the sun it was like sticking your
body in a lit & heated oven. Inside, to me it
was pleasant—others felt that it was still uncomfortable. The
labyrinth is a fitting name for the site: 14,000 rooms at one time
arranged in a maze-like pattern—three stories in some places—massive
Doric-type columns (deep rust red)—skylights, bathtubs, Queen's
toilet, efficient sewage system—4,000 years ago! What new have
we learned? Bull motifs everywhere. Guide efficient &
cheerful—doesn't always understand the intricacies of the question,
but who cares? Very comfortable new Mercedes bus
but no air conditioning, so when we were sitting still it was
awfully hot. Eileen terribly uncomfortable so she retreats for
part of trip.
Back in bus—joining our group are some
"chatty Kathy" English/Australian/Italians who talk more than they
listen. Disconcerting becaue there are many, many people &
tones at the site & the chatter, plus the lectures, cause confuson
at times. However, it was good to have a guide
there because the ground plans were misleding & confusing.
Back in bus after an "orange drink" (5 drachmas in a dispenser that
went berserk being used so often in rapid succession) to go to
archaeological museum which was interesting. George & I cut
out from rest of group & toured both floors fast & then each one
more carefully. Particulary enjoyed "La Parisienne" fragment
of mural which George compared to me (ha).
Back to ship & another huge meal.
Rested & packed. We docked at Santorini & were off ship at
5:00-5:30. I decided to go (even though George demurred)
because I could never face my friends back in K.C. if I didn't take
the donkey ride. I latched on to Muriel, since she is
sufficiently flankey & that was my mood, too. The ride
alternated between almost hysterical hilarity & near-tragedy, & it
will probably stick with me longer than a lot of more "meaningful"
She & I were almost at the very end of our
particular line, mainly because we hadn't bought tickets beforehand
(Gerry was last). Muriel & I apparently got warring donkeys of
the same muleteer because hers kept trying to pass mine, thus
causing hers to slam her into walls or me as we went up. (My
donkey was lagging, no doubt because of its heavy burden. It
panted a lot!) Their master beat them good which bothered me,
& held on to Muriel's donkey's tail (to guide? to hold back?).
There was something like 50 steps (or was it 500?) up a sheer steep
cliff. Toward the top, the first set of donkeys started coming
back down, really running fast, for new paying customers. (158
drachmas!!!) It was a real traffic jam & rather scary though
by that time I was too hyperactive to be totally afraid.
Muriel's donkey overtook mine & mine hers & others came slipping
Suddenly we rounded a corner & saw a riding
crop, then a donkey standing alone, then some people crouching over
an elderly lady who had obviously sustained a terrible fall, the
whole back of her head was bloody & she didn't show any signs of
life. Pandemonium—muleteers shouting, people gawking.
Some of our group got down immediately. Marita & David & our
donkeys slowed down (thak God) & after some odd steps we got off.
We leaned over the wall to see & lots of other people had collected.
It was horrifying—the wind was terrific & blew horribe lava dust &
grit in our faces & eyes.
To make a long story short—we left & went
shopping. Muriel bought a horribly expensive dress (1600
drachmas) & I bought some worry beads. The old woman, it
turned out, was an Australian on our boat & sustained a concussion
because both Ben Schneider & Feella examined her [sic].
They brought down a stretcher & the town doctor took her up to town
(supposedly to be flown out to Athens but the wind was too stiff, so
they delayed our boat 1 hour 45 minutes & brought her down to our
When we finally got underway (strange &
wild dinner with Tom, Gary, Naomi, Lyle) we ate so late, it was
almost 11:00 before we were through & the boat was lurching &
heaving the way boats are supposed to in choppy seas. Tom & I
went out on deck afterward & were nearly blown away—very dramatic
salt spray & wild winds. Went to Gary's cabin for a glass of
wine, but was definitely feeling poorly & "heavey" by then—so went
to bed (sustained by Dramamine)....
7 a.m.: Ship arrives Piraeus.
9:30 a.m.: Bus transfer for group flight to New York City.
(Approximately) 1:15 p.m.: Group flight for JFK Airport (Olympic
Airlines flight No. 411; arrives JFL 4:35 p.m. Tour ends.
Participants remaining in Athens must make own reservations.
To my surprise, we arrived at Piraeus only fifteen minutes or so
after our scheduled time, despite the lateness of our departure.
We were off the ship around 8 a.m., and by 9 a.m. the SAH luggage
had been gathered on the very dirty, oily dock. The injured
passenger was carried out on a chair/stretcher and whisked away in
an ambulance. We were whisked away through customs and by the
bus that was to take part of our group to the airport, we separated
out our luggage. Then three of us took a cab into Syntagma.
It was, in fact, rather reasonable. Then off we went to our
hotel. The quarters are adequate but nothing to rave about.
We are hardly soundproofed, but then that is hard to come by in
Athens. We get "air conditioning" at the siesta time and early
evening only, but it does help. Fortunately there is enough
space so that we can get about in our activities without stumbling
over each other. A "third bed" is actually a couch, which
eases life a bit.
Once settled , we walked over to the
Archaeological Museum to do the first
floor, exclusive of the small bronzes—and other bronzes that are
under the new part of the museum. Thus we did—slowly this time
and as I wanted—the sculpture in stone plus a few key bronzes.
The Sounion Kouros has been re-restored
without proper left arm and possible other removals, Frankly I
don't remember. One thing, there were other colossal kouroi.
The Artemision Zeus was studied very carefully, and I am persuaded
that compositionally a trident won't work, but a thunderbolt (being
short and bulkier) would. Must look for other bronzes to see
if there is a Poseidon with a trident for comparison. There is
at least one Zeus we saw last time. Also the opening of the
grasping hand seems rather large to me, and we did see one
thunderbolt fragment last time. I'm persuaded. The
museum still calls it Poseidon, maybe because they have a smaller
bronze, slightly older, with very similar head, that is inscribed as
Poseidon. He is, however in a kouros pose.
The old Philosopher, Hellenistic, has other
fragments: both feet and lower legs, a right arm and a left hand
(with portion of wooden stuff) in an adjacent case. The Stele
of Hegeso is disappointing, there are much better sculptures in my
opinion that are of the funerary type, and the museum has many of
them. We also saw—this time—the exhibit on ancient medicine.
Instruments, votive members, and other curios.
We retreated to the hotel for a siesta—most
welcome. Then, around 5:30 we went to the Benaki. That
was a most pleasant experience. It is indeed an eclectic
collection, ranging from ancient items to Islamic to folk costimes,
to War of Independence memorabilia (including Byroniana), and 19th
Century watercolors of Greece. The Blue Guide's description is
really not adequate. It is a major textile collection I am
sure, and it has a wide variety of icons, some of which must be
special (but I don't know). The collections are displayed in
what was his mid-19th Century townhouse. It is worth study in
its own right. One special attraction for me, and possible me
alone in Greece, was a group of drawings by a Joseph Scherer, made
in 1844 and '45, of Greek (and possibly other) people in picturesque
costume, and they were first cousins of George Caleb Bingham's
drawings. Scherer's were in pencil, but otherwise they were of
the same time frame, same visual and technical orientation.
What an unexpected confirmation (in my prejudiced opinion) that
Bingham was being an ethnographer. An early exercise back in
K.C. is to find out more about Herr Scherer.
After the Benaki it was dinnertime (we
really didn't have any lunch) and a stroll (as if we needed one),
and then to bed. Then was when I found out the air
conditioning did not run at night, and that we were not in a quiet
neighborhood (but that I knew).
MILA JEAN: Uo ar 6:10 (see
land already) breakfast 6:45—they claim we'll land at 7:15 (didn't,
due to having to "land" twice). Everyone a bit tense due to
whether they'll make connections, get luggage off & hangovers.
Start seeing Piraeus soon. After confusion, waiting, re-waiting,
all of our luggage is taken off two by two (very inefficient) the
lady is taken off in a chair with blood plasma & put into an
ambulance (apparently her donkey collided with one coming down) & we
all part. It's not really emotional. We're all too
preoccupied & tense but am kissed by Jim (!) [and] Lyle (!!).
Had Gary & Tom "See you again—bye, bye!"
Go off in cab to Syntagma Square with
Naomi, followed by Gerry & Van Meters in another. Arrive at
10:00-10:30. Get in Omiros, check in, place is OK bit hot &
loud. Go off (on foot!!) to Archaeological Museum. It is
a long, hot, & frenzied walk & hot when we get there but still quite
fascinating. We only cover one floor. (Beforehand we
spent too much money on a lemonade—sour lemon with extra bags of
sugar and water & awful ice cream). Walk back to hotel which
is, by now, "air conditioned" & take naps (very pleasant), then at
5:30 walk (not so far, not so hot) to Benaki Museum which is
fascinating, filled with wonderful things: folk costumes,
Coptic, Cycladic, Mycenaean, Oriental, Byzantine, all in old
Walk at 7:30 to Delphi Restaurant & have
nice big dinner. Walk back through Plaka. It's now 9:30,
hot & noisy (air conditioning went off) but we are clean—I've washed
everything (got Santorini dust out of my hair &
ears—how do they ever keep clean up there?).
[click on the > at
the end of each Note to return to that date's entry above]
1974: The Nine Days Wonder
● Mila Jean's mother,
Ada Louise Ludeke Smith
(1907-2011). Grandfather Francis See "Frank" Smith (1896-1973) had
died the previous Dec. 16th. >
● George was
chairman of the Art & Art History Department from 1964 to 1975. I have almost thirty
years of his At-a-Glance pocket datebooks, but the earliest one does not
begin until Nov. 1974. >
● $75 was deposited on Nov. 5,
1973, with the balance of $306 paid on Feb. 8, 1974. (By way
of contrast, my first semester's tuition at UMKC would cost $245
that August.) >
Mila Jean first met Evelyn “Kris” Huffman in 1959 during a KCU
Playhouse production of Le Bourgeois
Gentilhomme, in which they portrayed Dorimène and Lucile
respectively. They would remain close friends for over half a
century, though Mila Jean sometimes grumbled that Kris (an
indefatigable traveler) was “never home.”
● 5505 Holmes in Kansas City MO was
The Old Ehrlich Place from 1962 till 2016.
● Ion Alexandre Paleologue
(1911-2004), painter and printmaker, and wife Jordis (Ruth Hjordis:
1918-2007) came to KCMO in 1964, taught at UMKC, and in 1972 opened
the Jordis Sterling Shop & Galleries in the ill-fated River Quay
development (soon encroached upon and ruined by the Mob). Britt Gusterman was their niece. Ion was the son of
Paléologue (1855-1942) aka PAL the
celebrated poster artist and illustrator, aka Prince Jean the
descendant of Byzantine Emperors. (A 1909 article remarked
that "Jean Paleologue has never been insistent about the matter of
title and has preferred to be known as plain Jean Pal." Even so, his
entry in the 1942 Miami city directory would be "Paleologue, Prince
● White Lightning,
released in Aug. 1973, was the first in a series of
epic-Southern-car-chase pictures starring Burt Reynolds.
● "Streaking," the run-naked-through-public-places
fad, was at its peak (so to speak) at this
time. Ray Stevens's novelty song "The Streak" would be
released on Mar. 27th, and the televised Academy Awards would be
streaked on Apr. 2nd. >
● As of 2018, the Hotel Stanley
is still in business at 1 Odysseos Street on Karaiskaki Square, "in the center of Athens."
● Tournedos are small
round cuts of beef from the tip of a tenderloin. (Haricot
verts, pomme de terre au jus, petits pois au beurre, fromage, gateau
mocha = green beans, potatoes in juice, peas in butter, cheese,
mocha cake.) >
At this point in Mila Jean's first-impressions notebook, she wrote
"Why would they have a revolution here?—in quote marks, apparently
citing another passenger's reaction to the in-flight dinner.
● The Bransbys were
in Room 719, Nea and Polly in 745, the Turpins in 700, Selma and
Mary in 729, and Debbie in 742. >
● In Sep. 1923 József, Matild, and
Márta Ehrlich stopped for a couple of days in Piraeus during their
emigration to America on the S.S.
Constantinople, a Greek ship that broke down mid-Atlantic and
took twenty-seven days to reach New York instead of the anticipated
ten. "We heard later on that if we’d taken any other line but
Greek, this wouldn’t have happened."
● Ouzo, like
served as an anise-flavored wormwood-free substitute for absinthe
when that beverage was outlawed in 1915.
● The Plaka, built atop Athens's
ancient residential district on the northeastern slopes of the
Acropolis, is known as "the Neighborhood of the Gods."
● An acropolis is a
hilltop citadel and many existed in classical antiquity, but the one
in Athens is considered to be THE Acropolis. Pericles coordinated construction of
its Parthenon and other Golden Age structures during the 5th Century
National Archaeological Museum was built between 1866 and 1889.
During World War II its contents were (re)buried to prevent their
being looted or destroyed.
● "Nea" was most likely Nea P. Willits,
faculty advisor to KCU's Sigma Beta sorority in 1959 and one
of UMKC's Pharmacy Wives in 1967; her name frequently appears in
Ancestry.com's database of crew manifests and passenger lists.
● The statue known as the
Artemision Bronze or God from the Sea was recovered from
an ancient shipwreck and represents either Poseidon or Zeus,
depending on whether it originally held a trident or a thunderbolt.
● The Jockey of Artemision
(a young boy riding a racehorse) was recovered in the 1920s from the
same ancient shipwreck as the God from the Sea.
● Demestica is a fruity red
wine, said to be go excellently with Mediterranean dishes.
● Jean Milstead, a
longtime leader in Lawrence KS banking and city/county planning, was
named Lawrence's Citizen of the Year in 2015.
● E. Virginia
Calkins (1918-2009) taught history at KCMO's private Sunset Hill
School for many years; she was then involved with the creation of UMKC's School of Medicine, serving as its Dean of Students until her
● Since nearly all Van
Winkles associated with Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri academia seem
to have been nicknamed "Rip," I am unable to identify Mila Jean's
● Evidently Clarence
L. Turpin (1910-2005) who taught mathematics at KCK's Sumner High
School in the 1950s. >
● A drachma was
originally a handful of metal sticks used as currency, before
becoming the standard unit of ancient silver coinage.
Reintroduced in 1832, it was issued in both coin and note form till
replaced by the euro in 2001. Mila Jean brought back a handful
of unspent drachma notes. >
● Omonoia (Concord)
Square had been named after King Otto till he was deposed in 1862;
its new title reflected the oath of peace sworn there by warring political
● Mila Jean returned from
Greece with a taste for espresso (and tendency to spell it "expresso"),
concocting this aromatically at home during the mid-Seventies.
● Argolis (aka the Argolid) is the eastern part
of the Peloponnese peninsula, separated from central Greece by the
Gulf of Corinth. >
● Ancient Corinth was one of
the leading Greek city-states of antiquity; modern Corinth has had to be
rebuilt multiple times, after disastrous earthquakes and a great
● Corinth Canal
effectively separates the Peloponnese from the rest of Greece by
connecting the Gulfs of Corinth and Aegina.
● Mila Jean's
was employed by Mobil from 1946 on, first as a commission agent
and then a marketing salesman.
● Souvlaki (plural
souvlakia) is Greek shish kebab.
● During the Late Bronze Age
Mycenae dominated mainland Greece and, after the fall of Knossos,
the entire Aegean. >
(born 1916) and his wife
Mary Antoinette Hemmie: 1921-2011) met and married while they were
students of Thomas Hart Benton at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Both went on to renown, Eric as painter and muralist, MaryAnn as
silversmith and watercolorist; both also as teachers. They
came to UMKC in 1965 and became close friends with the Ehrlichs, who had numerous Bransby works on display at 5505
Holmes. During our western trek
in the summer of 1970 we stayed with the Bransbys at their Colorado
Springs home/studio, where the mountain air was refreshingly cool
(though tinged by a recently-departed skunk). Eric, still a
working artist, reached his centennial in 2016.
● The celebratory
ritual of smashing plates was banned in 1969 by dictator George
Papadopoulos, "to the great disappointment of Greeks and foreign
tourists alike"; apparently that ban was lifted (or at least
after he was overthrown in late 1973.
● The Lion Gate, main
entrance to the citadel of Mycenae, dates back to the 13th Century
● A tholos or
beehive tomb (plural tholoi) is built in masonry with a false dome; in Mycenae they
were usually cut into hillside slopes.
● Naplion (aka Nauplia, Nauplion, Navplion,
Nafplio) is a Peloponnese seaport that served as the
capital of Greece from 1821 to 1834, and is now the capital of
● In Classical times,
Epidaurus (Epidauros, Epidavros) had a celebrated healing sanctuary with a
large open-air theater famous for its acoustic quality; this has
been restored and preserved very much in its original form.
● It's unclear from
Mila Jean's handwriting whether this should be "Michelsons,"
"Michaelsons," or (as
on Mar. 16th) "Michalsons." A Fred Michelson (aka Michaelson)
appeared in KCU Playhouse productions during 1957-58, including
The Cherry Orchard and Teahouse of the August Moon.
● Pat Lawson taught
English at KCK Community College. Her fiction appeared in such
publications as New Letters, Pleiades, and The Chariton
Review; she was also a neighborhood group leader.
● A. Papahadjis
was the proprietor of Tony's Sandals at 52 Adrianou Street,
Monastiraki, Athens. Today this is the location of a Hard Rock
● "Worry beads" (kombolói
or kompoloi) are a string of beads manipulated for
relaxation or used as an amulet. Many different materials are
used; Mila Jean brought me back one whose beads were made of
miniature dice. >
● G. Vlassopoulos and
D. Karakonis, "Designers, Makers, and exporters of Greek fashion,
Specializing in blouses, shirts and dresses, Greek Souvernirs," had
their shop at 31 Adrianou Street, Monastiraki, Athens. Today
this is the Agora Andrianou Grill House.
● An agora was a Greek
city-state's central public gathering space; as with the Acropolis, Athens's
Agora is the
best-known of its kind. >
● The Temple of
Hephaestus was built in the 5th Century BC,
instead of repairing
sanctuaries ruined during the Greco-Persian Wars.
● A stoa is a portico or
covered walkway. There are several in Athens's Ancient Agora—the
Stoa Basileios, Stoa Poikile, and Stoas (Stoai, Stoae) of Zeus and
● Moussaka is a dish of
eggplant or potatoes with minced meat; Greeks serve it hot while
Arabs serve it cold. >
● The Delphi at 13 Nikis
Street on Constitution Square ("Home Cooking and Greek specialties,
You will find it at the 'Delphi,' If you are satisfied, send your
friends, please") is one of the longest-standing restaurants on the Athens Plaka.
As it is quite small, tourists are advised to order
food to go. >
● According to
mythology, Mount Lycabettus was created when the goddess Athena
dropped some of the limestone she was transporting for construction of the
Acropolis. It can be ascended (as Mila
Jean did) via funicular railway.
● "Gymnasium" in the
European sense, i.e. a secondary prep school.
● Steve Lawrence (born
Sidney Liebowitz) performed for many years with wife Eydie Gormé.
His trademark song, from the Broadway musical Golden Rainbow,
was "I've Gotta Be Me." >
● The Theatre of
Dionysus Eleuthereus, less well-preserved than the one in Epidaurus
or the nearby Odeon of Herodes Atticus, was built at the foot of the
● My brother Matthew had
an extensive coin collection,
which he would eventually sell in adulthood for a tidy sum.
● Among Mila Jean's notes from
this trip is "head of Hermes / God of Commerce / (I say it's
● José Jiménez was a
dimwitted character portrayed by comedian Bill Dana from 1959 to 1970, when he bowed to increasing protests
from Mexican-Americans and declared José muerto.
● Hephaestus (Vulcan to
the Romans) was the god of fire and smithying, consort of
● Oedipus slew his
father Laius "at a place where three roads meet."
● When Pindar the Theban lyric
poet wrote “In one short span of time winds quickly shift
direction, veering back and forth,” he may have anticipated The Mila
● Mount Kitheron (Kithairon,
Cithaeron) was where Actaeon got turned into a stag, Pentheus got
torn to pieces by Bacchantes, and the infant Oedipus was left to
● Livadeia, the capital of
Boeotia, was one of the first towns to revolt against occupying
Turks during the Greek War of Independence in 1821.
have been unable to discover anything further on Eve Parker or her
starving poet Skilionossos, by that spelling or near-variants.
● The mountain town of
Arachova is famous for its wine, cheese, textiles, and panoramic
● Much of Mila
Jean's first-impressions spiral was filled with hasty notes on
of the world ... cradle of Gk civilization & whole antique world,"
plus crypticisms such as "sun sets too late with 6 big blondes."
● Pilgrims coming to
consult the Pythia (Delphic Oracle) would quench their thirst at
the Castalian Spring. >
● The bronze Charioteer
of Delphi dates from the 470s BC and was discovered at the
sanctuary of Apollo in 1896. >
● The Sacred Way was the
road from Athens to Eleusis, taken by processions to celebrate the
● Hosios Loukas, a
walled monastery on the slopes of Mount Helicon, was founded in the
10th Century AD. >
● Roy Culver was an
instructor at the Kansas City Art Institute; he and his sculptor wife
Vika (née Kotzamanis), who hailed from
Thessaly, settled in Athens in 1973.
● The Hotel Stanley's
Mar. 15th dinner menu (in Greek, English, and French) was Florentine
style pie, Greek style stuffed lamb braise, salad and ice cream—for
80 drachmas, "service included."
● Mila was named not for a
Greek apple (at least not directly) but her paternal grandmother;
click here for
speculation on the name's origins in 1859 Ohio.
● "I circulate" serves
very nicely as a summation of Mila Jean's lifestyle. In Greek this
would be Εγώ κυκλοφορώ (Egó kykloforó).
● Mila Jean's customs
declaration list: long robe, necklace, five sets of worry beads,
sweater, pottery vase, woven bag, leather hat, seals and pendant,
copper sieve, blouse, belt, bag, mohair rug, and quart of Irish
● "George" in this
case being George Ehrlich, not Ion's-friend-at-the-Athens-Plaka.
● Mila Jean returned
just in time for the six-week strike by beleaguered Kansas City
School District teachers. This lasted from Mar. 18 till Apr.
29, but did not prevent Mila's accompanying George to New Orleans
for the Apr. 3-7 convention of the Society of Architectural
Grandmother Smith imported to keep The Boys in line at 5505.
1978: Forward into the Past
● George and
the knot twice: first on May 26, 1956 with her family in KCMO, then
again on June 16th with his in Urbana
● Steve Gosnell
(1941-2012) was a longtime neighbor of the Ehrlichs (on both sides
of Holmes Street) and
colleague of George's in the UMKC Art Department, to which his
monumental portrait of George and Mila on their back patio would be
donated in 2016. >
● The Red
Brigades (Brigate Rosse) was a guerrilla movement that
kidnapped Italy's ex-Prime Minister Aldo Moro, and killed him on May
9, 1978. >
● Syntagma ("Constitution")
Square, in front of the Old Royal Palace, is the
commercial-and-political epicenter of Athens.
● The Hotel Grande
Bretagne opened in 1874, served as Greek GHQ during World War II,
then as Nazi GHQ during the Axis occupation, then as Greek GHQ again during
the 1946-49 Civil War. Renovated in 2003, it is now ranked as
a five-star luxury establishment.
Temple of the Olympian Zeus in Athens is also called the Columns of
the Olympian Zeus, since those are all that remain of what was
intended to be the greatest temple in the ancient world: sixteen
columns, one of them lying flat.
● The Choragic
Monument of Lysicrates was provided by a
wealthy patron of the arts in the 4th Century BC, to commemorate a prizewinning musical
performance he'd sponsored in the Theater of Dionysus. It
represents the first use of Corinthian order (as opposed to Doric and
Ionic) on a building exterior.
● Paul M. (Pavlos) Mylonas
(1915-2005), Chairman of the 1978 SAH Architectural Tour to Greece
and Turkey, maintained a practice as a professional architect
while serving as Professor of the History of Architecture at the
National Academy of
Fine Arts in Athens from 1956 to 1982. He designed the National Gallery,
the Goethe Institute, and two wings of the Gennadius Library at the
American School of Classical Studies, as well as directing
restoration of several Mount Athos monasteries.
(See below for Mila Jean's
● Daphni is an 11th Century
Byzantine monastery northwest of Athens, on the Sacred Way to
● An exonarthex is a
covered walk, vestibule, or "narthex situated before a narthex"—i.e.
an enclosed passage (in this case outer) between a church's main
entrance and nave, which in turn extends from the entrance to the
chancel around the altar. >
● A pantocrator
("almighty" or "all-powerful") is a specific depiction of Jesus as
ruler of the universe, especially as found in Byzantine church
● A precinct, in this sense, is an enclosed or clearly defined area around a church.
● After earning his
doctorate from the University of Athens,
Mylonas (1898-1988) taught at Washington University in St. Louis
MO from 1933 to 1968, and was the first chairman of its Department of
Art History and Archaeology. He directed excavations at
Mycenae for many years, and served as Secretary General of the
Archaeological Society of Athens after retiring from teaching.
(If there was a family connection between George and Paul Mylonas,
it has gone uncited.) >
● The secret annual
initiations for the cult of Demeter and Persephone, representing the
latter's abduction by/to Hades, took place at Eleusis and were known
as the Eleusinian Mysteries. >
● The Polyphemus Vase
or Eleusis Amphora, dating from the 7th Century BC, is a child's
funerary vessel painted with the earliest identifiable images from
Greek mythology. >
● Salamis, a short distance
from Piraeus, is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf.
● Aigio (Aegio, Aegion,
Aeghion, Egio, etc.) is a port town on the Gulf of Corinth.
● Traveling geographer
Pausanias wrote the ten-volume Hellados Periegesis or
Description of Greece in the 2nd Century AD.
● Patras is the regional
capital of Western Greece and the nation's third-largest city.
● Gastouni is a rural town
about five kilometers from the Ionian Sea, and fifty or so northwest
of Olympia. >
● Olympia's Hotel SPAP
owed its acronym to the Sidirodrómon [Railways of]
Piraeus-Athens-Peloponnese, which constructed it. The SPAP
operated from 1908 to 1984, and was renovated in 2004.
● Rosann S. Berry
(1919-1980) was the SAH's first
Executive Secretary, a position she occupied for over a
quarter-century. "She never wrote a learned article, but
throughout much of the English-speaking world her name was more
closely associated with architectural history than were those of
many who did," commented her SAH obituary, and a fellowship was
created in her memory. Mila Jean (who usually added an E or
two and often a space to Rosann's first name) described her as
"big Momma—heavy, sweating, wears
tenty-type clothes; super-efficient, tight permed black (dyed) hair,
round face, smokes in holder, married, four kids."
● Dixie Sayre Miller
(1923-2009), onetime president of the Ohio Historical Society, was a
leading figure in the Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus
Landmarks Foundation. Mila Jean described her as "wearing six or
seven dresses made exactly same way with 'cute' designs—elephants,
doggies. Very nice—quick & clever & sharp. Went back to
school & now is getting M.A. late in life. Her late
husband must have been loaded with money. She has handsome
jewelry, owns a castle in Scotland!"
● Mila Jean
lyrically described "Paul Mylonas—in
torn pants, light-colored sports shirts, espadrilles & straw hat, he
could pass as a 'cracker,' but the stance, the bearing belies this.
This is an aristocrat, the leader, the educated man.
Victor Jory appearance, long aquiline nose, bushy graying eyebrows, lean
face, graying hair (full), an aristocrat who gives orders
gracefully, kisses hand of abbot; the teacher who answers
questions comprehensively; the actor who waits & paces
gracefully to read Greek in center of Epidaurus Theatre—enigmatic,
with a profile like George's father.
Still yet to 'read,' apparently wealthy, designed some of 'biggest'
stuff in Athens, etc.; the peacock (well, I'm used to that,
right?), arrogant & probably basically cold & used to getting his
own ways & explodes when definitely thwarted (which doesn't happen
very often)." >
● Retsina derives some of its
flavor from exposure to pine resin, originally used to keep air from
spoiling the wine. >
Richardses, Samuel D. (1905-2000) and Frances V. F. (1915-2006),
hailed from South Bend IN and "traveled extensively throughout
Europe," according to Frances's obituary. Mila Jean's description:
"He is C. Aubrey Smith—big, huge
tummy, florid face—wears either a safari-type jacket or a red
plaid jacket for dress (apparently wealthy), very nice,
good-natured, kind, good pleasant wife. He photographs
everything (must have taken 100 rolls of film in nine or ten
days). Bought wife a gold & emerald necklace in Turkey,
is given to homilies or clichés... 'You'd think people would keep their hands to themselves'
(noting ancient graffiti in [Hosias Loukas]), 'I hate being exposed
to those boys' (Istanbul). They (as all of us are) are
straight out of Central Casting."
● Wallace K. Huntington
(1926-2015) of Portland OR was a distinguished landscape architect;
in the 1970s he presided over the SAH's Northern Pacific Coast
Chapter, and served on Oregon's first State Advisory Committee on
Historic Preservation. Mila Jean's description: "Florid, full
face, glasses, curly graying off the head hairdo, laughs a lot
rather nervously." >
● "Traveling with (but not
rooming with)" Wally Huntington was Mirza Dickel (1922-2012), also
of Portland: "interior decorator and restorer... gray haired,
toothy, semi-attractive, classy dresser (lots of stylish
clothes), seems alright but is considered to be a snob by some on
trip (she's not)." Her obituary
called her "the grand dame of design in Portland"; she and Wally
Huntington won the 1979 American Institute of Architects
preservation award for restoring a 19th Century house (in
which, after marrying, they would live for the next thirty years).
figures are decorative statuary in the triangular gable (pediment)
atop the horizontal superstructure (entablature) above columns
resting on capitals in classical architecture.
● A metope is a square space
between grooved tablets (triglyphs) in a Doric frieze.
● Paionios's statue
of the goddess Nike, which he sculpted in the 5th Century BC, was discovered in
the 19th Century AD and reassembled from many fragments.
● Phidias (Pheidias) was a
5th Century BC sculptor and architect, and the leading instigator of
Classical Greek sculptural design; his status of Zeus at Olympia was
one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
● An oenochoe is an
ancient Greek wine jug. >
● A cella or naos
is the inner chamber of a classical temple.
● The Cyclades are a group
of Aegean islands, southeast of mainland Greece.
● Pyrgos is in the
western part of the Peloponnese, four kilometers from the Ionian
● Kalamata is the
second-largest city of the Peloponnese, and chief port on the
Messenian Gulf. >
● Kalo Nero (Kalonero) is a
village on the Gulf of Kyparissia, a bay of the Ionian Sea.
● The Filoxenia
("Hospitality") is still in business, modestly billing itself as "a
luxury hotel in Kalamata, the pride of [the] region, in southern
● Pylos, the main harbor on the
Bay of Navarino, was a kingdom in Mycenaean Greece.
● The Palace or "lofty
house" of King Nestor ("shepherd of the people") was visited by Telemachus in Homer's Odyssey.
● The Archaeological Museum of
Chora, focusing on Mycenaean civilization, was founded in 1969.
● Charles Bridgham
Hosmer Jr. (1932-1993) was the historian of the preservation
movement in the United States, author of the now-standard texts
Presence of the Past and Preservation Comes of Age.
He was professor of history at Principia College in Elsah IL from
1961 to 1992, and presided over the Historic Elsah Foundation from
1971 to 1993. Mila Jean described him as "'The Boy Scout,' he
is so eager & enthusiastic he's driving people mad. He's five
feet ahead of everyone, bounding up steps, placing tripods on walls,
talking about his 'emotional' experiences. Wife [Jeralyn/Jerry]
fading pretty, 'second fiddle' (three kids!), quiet, good-natured,
short hair—wears dresses all
the time, hose & sensible shoes. They are Christian Scientists
& teach in C.S. school where all faculty are likewise. They
drink no spirits or coffee or tea. We think they are
very pleasant." >
● The Mani is a mini-peninsula
extending south from the major Peloponnese peninsula, with the Messenian Gulf to
its west and the Laconian Gulf to its east.
● Gytheion (Gytheio, ancient
Gythium), largest town in the Mani, was Sparta's seaport till
destroyed in the 4th Century AD.
● The town of Areopoli
("city of Ares") is near the Mani's west coast, and is not to be confused
with ancient Areopolis, now the Jordanian town of Rabba. >
● Gerolimenas ("Old
Harbor") is a village at the southern end of the Mani.
● Vlychada ("nature's
underground cathedral") is one of the Diros Caves, first explored in
1949 and tourable by boat. >
● The fishing village of
Limeni is Areopoli's port. >
Church of St. George (Ag. Giorgios) of Kitta is a village chapel
dating from 1321.
● The Taygetus (Taygetos,
Taugetus) is a Peloponnese mountain range in southern Greece.
● A plateia is a Greek
town square. >
● As an ardent
preservationist, George was not speaking lightly when he spoke of historic architecture
being "violated." >
● Kampos is another village in
the Mani. >
● The Maniotes (Maniots,
Maniates: "people of the Mani") are considered descendants of the
ancient Dorians and thus related to the ancient Spartans.
● Sir Patrick
Leigh "Paddy" Fermor, "a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and
Graham Greene," was not only Britain's leading travel writer but
took significant part in the Cretan resistance during World War II.
● The Kommounistikó Kómma
Elládas or KKE is the Communist Party of Greece. After losing
the Greek Civil War in 1948-49, it was banned until 1974.
● Marion Husid-Bensky taught
art history at Kean College (now Kean University) in New Jersey.
Mila Jean described her as "divorced, small, thin, wears jeans or
jean skirts but obviously has money because clothes are designer
type... lots of well-fitting gauze outfits—lots
of white that sets off her deep tan. Good dancer. Very
opinionated & intense—sounds off. 'I could get things cheaper
in New York.'" (Also listed among the SAH tour participants
was a Professor Marian B. Davis of the University of Texas Art
Department, whom Mila did not describe.)
● Laconia is the southeastern
(Spartan) region of the Peloponnese. The word "laconic" was
derived from Spartan speech habits.
● Mavrodaphne (Mavdrodaphni,
Mavrodafni) is a sweet fortified wine produced from black grapes of
the same name. >
● Thomas M. Ridington
taught art at La Salle College (now La Salle University) in
Philadelphia. Mila Jean's description: "Very nice, charming,
aims to please, tall, black hair, mustache. We've hit it off—[he's] Charles
Nelson Reilly without frenetic quality (Billy de Wolfe in a few
● Geraldine E. "Gerry" Fowle
(1929-2011) was a key member of the UMKC Art & Art History
Department for over forty-five years, and a close friend of the
Ehrlichs. As with George, a scholarship was created in her
honor to provide support to students seeking an art history degree.
● The "Colonels" were the
military junta that ruled over Greece from 1967 to 1974, led for
most of those Seven Years by Georgios Papadopoulus.
● Patishio (pastitsio)
is Greek lasagna. >
● Mistra (Mistras, Mystras) is
a fortified town near ancient Sparta (for which Westerners mistook
it during the Ottoman occupation).
● Monemvasia (Malvasia
in Italian, from which Malmsey wine was derived) is located
on a small island off the east coast of the Peloponnese, linked to
mainland Laconia by a short causeway.
● Regrettably, I have been
unable to find anything further concerning the remarkable-eyed
Mrs. Kaloghera. >
Church of Agia Sofia (Hagia Sophia, i.e. Holy Wisdom) is one of the oldest Byzantine
churches in Greece, originally established in the 12th Century.
● Tiropita is Greek
cheese pie. >
Frances Richards, there was another Frances on the tour: Frances
R. Halpin (1904-2006), married to James H. Halpin (1903-1992),
onetime leader of the New York Bar Association and a director of the
SAH. Mila Jean's description of this couple: "He talks like
laconic Maine man, one squinty eye—very
funny in dry way. Apparently loaded (lawyer). Wife is
everyone's friend—sweet, helpful, good-natured, makes best of
everything. Dyed black hair. Claimed she got ptomaine
poisoning on boat." >
● Tripoli (formerly Tripolis)
is the capital of both Arcadia and the Peloponnese.
● Argos, the largest town in
Argolis, was a major Mycenaean stronghold and rivaled Sparta for
domination of the Peloponnese. >
● The hill fortress at Tiryns
was first occupied prior to the Bronze Age; associated
with Heracles, it would be called "mighty walled Tiryns" by Homer.
● Charles Kaufman
Williams II was Director of Corinth Excavations for the American
School of Classical Studies in Athens from 1966 to at least 1993,
when he awarded the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archeological
● Cyclopean masonry was
made with massive irregular blocks.
● A megaron is the great hall
of an ancient Greek palace. >
legendary Queen of Mycenae (or Argos), was the wife
murderer, by most accounts) of Agamemnon.
● Atreus, legendary King of
Mycenae, was the father of Agamemnon and Menelaus (husband of Helen
of Troy). >
● The Greek Archaic Period
lasted from c.800 BC to the Persian invasion in 480 BC.
● The theory of the
Dorian invasion holds that Classical Greece's Hellenes mass-migrated to the Peloponnesus, displacing southern Greek
traditions and dialects.
● Adolf K. Placzek
(1913-2000) was Director of Columbia University's Avery
Architectural Library and, in 1978, President of the Society of
Architectural Historians. Mila Jean described him and his wife
Beverley R. Placzek (1913-2014) as follows: "He's [like actor] Jack
Gilford. She has a nodding tic, dyed short blonde hair,
pleasant face, indefinable accent (British)—she's Canadian (turned
ankle in Istanbul). [They] act like a loving couple—he rests
his head in her lap on bus to sleep—she calls him 'Dolphe.' He
is Viennese... very knowledgeable, eager, intense (ulcer-type)—very,
very pleasant. She used to sing professionally (opera)."
● Harold N. (Hal)
Cooledge Jr. (1922-2011) was a Professor of Art and Architectural
History at Clemson. Mila Jean's description: "Occasionally
shrieks, witty but nasty at times, southern accent, tall, white hair
in crew cut, comes (so he says) from moneyed family, mother
was on original Board of Directors of Met Opera. Wears
glasses, has skin cancer so always carries multi-colored umbrella
with a spike base so he can sit on handle as a seat, also has
prostate problems so must get off bus frequently; also has headaches
& knee problems ([but] dances well)."
● Elizabeth (Betty)
Vandever (later Titus: 1918-2015) was a KCMO lawyer, history
professor, and violinist with the Kansas City Philharmonic.
● Lottie Ohringer
Lichtor (1921-1996) survived the Holocaust to marry an orthopedic
surgeon, raise four children in Johnson County KS, and sponsor the
Penn Valley Community College German Club in 1969-70.
● In 1978, John W. (Jack) Parker III was Assistant Director of Museum Education at the Chicago
Art Institute. Mila Jean compared him to Speaker of the House
Tip O'Neill: "Tall, fleshy, walks in rolling gait, glasses, gray
hair... Swims & then wears white shorts. Is really
adorable—eats four kinds of cereal mixed up together for breakfast,
dances at disco on ship." >
Baldwin Woodbridge (born c.1905) of New York was headmistress of the
Nightingale-Bamford School from 1958 to 1971, and the widow of
Fredrick J. Woodbridge (1900-1974), consulting architect to Columbia
University. Mila Jean called her a "very old, thin lady who
turned ankle but has gone on anyway—a real trouper, head of school
for exceptional(?) [sic] children in New York. She
wears strange & unusual clothes—very interesting & strangely
attractive taste. Good spirit, smart, good sense of humor."
● Edith Skidmore
(1901-1982) graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1925, did
graduate work at Columbia, attended the Parsons School of Design in
New York, and taught school in her native Harlan KY. Mila Jean
referred to her as "'Miss Edith' Skidmore—another Character out of
Central Casting. Little vague, wears white gloves, fractured
(broke) ankle (turned while almost falling into reflecting pool in
schlock hotel). Spent thirty years taking care of her mother.
Had to be 'sent home' [from the tour]" >
● Naomi Miller was a
Professor of Art History at Boston University. "Tiny, quick,
talks constantly—loud laugh & voice," remarked Mila Jean. "Does things
like swim (inadvertently) in contaminated pool with Tom. Uses
Greek-American phrase book to great comic effect. Entertaining
to be with, always good for a laugh."
● Tailings (aka dumps or slimes)
are the residue left over when a valuable component has been
extracted from ore. >
● A Greek Asclepion or
was a temple with medical facilities, dedicated to Asclepius/Aesculapius the
Graeco-Roman god of healing.
● Dr. A. Benedict
Schneider Jr. (1913-2004), who taught at Western Reserve
University's School of Medicine, had "a longstanding relationship" with the
Cleveland Museum of Art. Mila Jean described his "nice head,
dark eyes, slicked back gray hair. 'Strange,' bent over,
always wears gray suit, 'proper' but seedy... Asks very
knowledgeable questions in precise uptight voice. Apparently
NO humor." Dr. Schneider's traveling companion was Mary Louise
Johnson Knerly (1925-1993) of Willoughby OH, who in 1981-82 would
preside over the SAH's Western Reserve Chapter. Mila called
her a "small fading blonde
([like] Rue McClanahan), dresses weirdly, always wears or carries a
dark blue puffed raincoat & semi-high red shoes (definitely not
[for] walking).... Dr. Schneider was on the SAH tour last year with another woman but it's all strictly
platonic. He's an old uptight bachelor, apparently never been
● This was Dr. Fenella
Grieg ("Pfinella" to Mila Jean), an English-born pediatric
endocrinologist, who was traveling with husband Morrison H. (Morrie) Heckscher.
He would go from being assistant curator of the Metropolitan
Museum's American Wing to its chairman, winning the Antique Dealers
Association Award of Merit in 2011.
● Eileen Michels was a
Professor of Art and Architectural History at the University of St.
Thomas in Minnesota. "'Earth
mother' (Gary calls her): smart, rather tough... clever, quick,
humorous—tall & heavy—probably underneath is marzipan-soft; we hit
(Thessalonica, Salonica) is the second-largest city in Greece and
capital of Macedonia. >
● The "judgment seat" to
which the Apostle Paul was brought in Acts 18:12 was Corinth's
bema: a raised platform where officials heard legal cases.
● The Horologion
(Timepiece) of Andronikos Kyrrhestes is a marble tower "of winds" with a
weathervane, sundials, and a water clock driven by flow coming down from the Acropolis. >
● Dolmates are grape leaves
stuffed with beef or pork. >
● Monastiraki is the
Athens Flea Market. >
● In 2014 Stavros
Melissinos, "the Poet Sandal Maker of Athens," would still
be in the
footwear business at age 85; his volumes of poetry can be
found in libraries from Oxford to Harvard.
● Cloisonné has been used
since ancient times to decorate metalwork with glass and gemstones
set in gold or silver strips or wires.
● The apse is the liturgical
east end (where the altar is traditionally located) of a Byzantine
or similar church. >
● During World War II, silver-plated fragments
of a life-size bull from the 6th Century BC—the largest surviving
precious-metal statue from antiquity—were stored along with the
Charioteer of Delphi in the Bank of Greece's vault. >
● The Omphalos
("navel of the earth") represents ancient Greece's belief that
Delphi was the center of the world.
● Two identical
Kouros (Youth) statues, among the earliest examples of monumental
Archaic sculpture, are called "Cleobis and Biton" after the pious
brothers who yoked themselves to their
priestess mother's cart, drove it six miles to a festival, and were
rewarded by being permitted to die in their
sleep. "Because they had been such excellent men," the people
of Argos made these votive statues and set them up in Delphi.
Delphi Archaeological Museum has sculptures from the Treasury of the
rich city-state of Siphnos, along with a reconstruction of the
● The Sphinx of Naxos,
offered by that wealthy island to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi
(earning Naxians first rights to hear the Oracle there) is an early
example of in-the-round carving.
● A caryatid is a stone
carving of a draped female, supporting the entablature (horizontal
lintel) of a classical building.
● Emperor Hadrian
ordered that statues of his late beloved Antinous be set up c.130
AD in sanctuaries throughout the Roman Empire. The one at
Delphi was discovered in 1894. >
● The Charioteer
of Delphi's naturalistic feet were said to be "greatly admired
in ancient times." >
Athenian Treasury at Delphi housed votive offerings by Athens to the
sanctuary of Apollo, and was built along the Sacred Way just below
the Temple. >
● Itea, on the north coast of
the Gulf of Corinth, is five miles (eight kilometers) southwest of
Friendly Stop was mentioned by Ralph Blumenthal in the Aug. 28, 1977
New York Times: "Other tour buses apparently found the same
cafeteria and souvenir shop friendly, for there were another eight
of them parked here. Lines of tourists snaked past the food
counters and out of the rest rooms."
● Bernard "Bunny"
can be found in Part Three of Mila Jean's Fulbright Year Abroad, and
correspondence in Part Five. On Jul. 9, 1978 Bunny and his
wife Debbie wrote the Ehrlichs that "Your trip to Greece sounds
fantastic, and particularly loved your donkey ride &
Mrs. Hagan. You mention you
returned home exhausted & dehydrated—& we took the latter to mean
that you suffered from whatever the Grecian equivalent to
Montezuma's Revenge may be. If so (I sympathize—I got it in
Lebanon & Mexico) hope you are recovered by now."
● Muriel Hagan (Rosencrans)
of Woodland Hills CA was a prominent member of the American
Institute of Interior Designers's Southern California chapter.
Mila Jean called her "a Tennessee Williams character (lost two or
three husbands) nearing 60... dyed blonde hair, vague expression,
is always losing things, leaving things behind, trailing scarves
behind her, not understanding orders, 'spacey' (now has dysentery)."
● Greek schnitzel is
prepared with feta cheese and olives.
● Kalambaka (Kalabaka,
Kalempaka) is a town in Thessaly, built on the site of the ancient
city of Aiginion (sacked by the Romans after the Third Macedonian
● The Meteora is a series of
enormous pillarlike rocks, atop which two dozen Eastern Orthodox
monasteries were built. >
● The mountain-pass
Thermopylae, fought by outnumbered Greeks against invading Persians
in 480 BC, came to symbolize heroic defeat.
● Evoikos Beach in Livanátai
is thirty kilometers from Arachova.
Artemision Bronze or God from the Sea (Zeus or Poseidon)
was recovered from a sunken ship off Cape Artemision (Artemisium).
● In Greek
mythology, the gods of Olympus battled with Giants on the plain of
Thessaly (which is more than can be said for western Kansas).
● The Monastery of Great Meteoron
was built in the the 14th Century. By 2015, only three monks
remained in residence there. >
● "Capstans are to old wooden
ships what windlasses are to modern ships" (as per
● Larissa is the capital of
Thessaly and the fifth largest city in Greece.
● The Vale of Tempe
(Tempi), said to be a favorite haunt of Apollo and the Muses, is a
gorge between Mounts Olympus and Ossa.
● Katerini is a Macedonian
city between Mount Olympus and the Gulf of Salonika.
● Pella, capital of ancient Macedonia
in the days of Alexander the Great, is now home to an archaeological
site and museum. >
● The Olympian gods
buried the Giants under volcanoes after vanquishing them in the
● Gary L. Menges
("youngish, reddish beard & hair, rather funny, always wears
T-shirts & jeans") was Assistant Director for Public Services of the
University of Texas at Austin's General Libraries. He later
spent over thirty years with the University of Washington Libraries,
retiring as their Preservation Administrator, and would corresponded
with Mila Jean until her death.
Makedonia Palace, built in 1972, was and remains a five-star luxury
hotel overlooking the Gulf of Salonika.
● As George noted, the
Rotunda of Galerius was initially intended to be the mausoleum of
that Roman Emperor (305-311 AD), who wound up instead in what is now Serbia.
His Rotunda gained a minaret in 1590 when the Ottomans converted it
from a church to a mosque, which it remained until 1912. On
June 20, 1978 (thirteen days after George's journal entry) the
Rotunda would be damaged by an earthquake.
● Emperor Galerius
had the Arch and Rotunda built as adjuncts to his palace in Thessaloniki. >
● Vergina occupies the site
of Aigai, capital of ancient Macedon and burial site of its kings.
● During the Argead or
Philip-and-Alexander Dynasty, Veria (Veroia, Berea) was second only
to Pellas among Macedonian cities.
Andronikos (1919-1992), Professor at Thessaloniki's Aristotle
University, was excavating the Great Tumulus at Aigai when he
discovered four intact royal tombs (two of them unplundered) on Nov.
8, 1977. >
● Philip II ("Phil" to Mila
Jean) was King of Macedon from 359 to 336 BC. After his
assassination, Philip's plans for a concerted Greek invasion of
Persia were carried out by his son and heir Alexander the Great.
Prof. Andronikos contended that Philip was interred in Tomb II at
the Great Tumulus; others believe Philip occupied Tomb I, while Tomb II was the resting place of his son Philip III Arrhidaeus (figurehead successor to half-brother Alexander).
● Dr. Sidney Pakula
(1905-1991) was pediatrician to the Ehrlichs and many other KCMO
● In a suit of armor, greaves
are the shin guards. >
● Philip II sustained a
crippling leg injury in 339 BC. A massive hole in the left
knee of Tomb I's adult male skeleton is evidence that these were Philip's
● Philip had
previously lost his right eye to an arrow in 354 BC.
● Cape Sounion is the
southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, extending into the Aegean
● Only ruins
remain of Cape Sounion's 5th Century BC Temple of Poseidon, which
may have been designed by the same architect as the Temple of
Hephaestus at the Acropolis.
● An anta (plural antae) is one
of the pillars on either side of the entrance to a Greek temple.
● In the poem "Isles of
Greece," Byron wrote: Place me on Sunium's [i.e. Sounion's]
marbled steep, / Where nothing, save the waves and I,
/ May hear our mutual murmurs sweep. (The unRomantic
say there is no direct proof that Byron himself carved his name on
the Temple of Poseidon.) >
● The Nine Muses
were said to dwell on Mouseion Hill, known today as Philopappos Hill
after the monument built there for a benevolent friend of Plutarch
and Emperor Trajan. It offers spectacular views of the Acropolis,
Attica, and the Saronic Gulf.
● A propylaea (propylea,
propylaia) is a monumental gateway; THE Propylaea is
the one providing entrance to THE Acropolis in Athens.
● The Parthenon, built in
the 5th Century BC as a temple to Athena, is THE classic
(as it were) symbol of ancient Greece.
● The Erechtheum (Erechtheion),
another 5th Century BC temple, was named after either the legendary
king Erechtheus or the legendary
● Though the Temple to
Nike hails from the 5th Century BC, it is of the Ionic order whereas
the Parthenon is of the Doric.
● A pinacotheca is an
ancient picture gallery, particularly the one in the the left wing
of the Propylaea at the Acropolis.
● A stylobate is the top
step of the crepidoma (multilevel platform) which serves as the
floor of a temple, upon which colonnades are placed.
● The Peplos Kore
is a 6th Century BC statue of a robed girl, discovered near
the Erechtheum in 1886. >
● The Blond Kouros's
Head, remnant of a statue and with only traces left of the
hair's original yellow paint, was found with other fragments in
● The torso of the
Kritios Boy was excavated in 1865 and its head turned up in
1888; only the hands, feet, forearms, and one shin are missing.
● The Nike
Temple's exterior was decorated with reliefs depicting the goddess
in different poses, most famously Nike Adjusting Her Sandal.
● The Stoa of Attalus
(Attalos) was built by that 2nd Century BC King of Pergamon as a
gift to Athens for the education he received there.
● Dr. Homer Thompson
(1906-2000) was perhaps the foremost classical archaeologist of his
generation; he spent four decades excavating the Agora of Athens.
● A peristyle is a
colonnade surrounding an open space (e.g. a courtyard) inside a
building; or the surrounded open space itself.
● Sir Nikolaus Pevsner,
historian of art and architecture, wrote a 46-volume series about
The Buildings of England that was published from 1951 to 1974. (A
History of Building Types was a single book, published in 1976.)
● This was not the
Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture, awarded each year since 1966
by the Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, which in 1978 went to
Philip Johnson of New York.
● Mila Jean
wrote "Thotháse," with "Theodentes" in
the margin. George (Georgios Spyr) Dontas, "Director of
the Acropolis [and] General Ephor of Architecture,"
wrote The Acropolis and its Museum in
1979. (An ephor is an overseer, and was the title of
council members in ancient Sparta.)
● Besides being Mrs.
Mylonas, Rallou Manou (1915-1988) was one of postwar Greece's
leading modern dancers, dance teachers, and choreographers.
● In the 1950s Lyle F. Perusse
(1916-2001) was head of the Pasadena Public Library's fine arts department, and
wrote "The Gothic Revival in California, 1850-1890" for the Oct.
1955 Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.
The Mila Spiral got extra Spirally in describing him: "Librarian (ha
ha)—lives up to
his name—Truman Capote—round, quiet & hideously affected way
of speaking—very nice—has lots of expensive clothes & camera—swims
35 laps at home!" >
● George and/or
Mila Jean must have included the American Express address in one of their
earlier postcards, since I'd written an airmail
letter to them (allotting Matthew one flap out of four for his
contribution) on Sunday June 4, and posted it on June 7—two
days before the Folks wrote their letter above.
Treasures from a Macedonian Tomb" by Manolis Andronikos appeared on
pages 54-77 of the July 1978 National Geographic.
● The black-eyed Victor
Jory was often cast in villainous roles, including Jonas Wilkerson
in Gone With the Wind.
● The designation TTS indicates
turbine twin screw propulsion. Both the itinerary's TTS
Atlas and the cruise ship actually taken, the MTS (motor twin
screw) Jason, were part of the Epirotiki Lines fleet (slogan:
"We've earned our place in Greek History"), along with the MTS
Jupiter, MTS Orpheus, MTS Oceanus, MTS World
Renaissance, TMV (turbine motor vessel) Hermes, and M/V
(motor vessel) Neptune. >
● This alternative
spelling (and variants such as Kalogeras, Kalogera, and Mila Jean's
Kalogagra) still didn't track down the SAH's Blue-Eyed hostess at
● The Gold Diadem was taken
from Grave Circle A, a 16th Century BC royal cemetery south of
Mycenae's Lion Gate. >
● A pair of decorated
golden cups were among the Bronze Age treasures found in Vaphio, an
ancient site south of Sparta.
● The Daedalic sculptural
style of the early Archaic Age, influenced by Near Eastern "Orientalization"
at the end of the Bronze Age, featured wiglike hair, large
almond-shaped eyes, and the "Archaic smile."
● A Kore (such as the Peplos
Kore) is a freestanding statue of a draped young woman,
counterpart of the male Kouros. >
● The Ephebe of
Marathon is a 4th Century BC bronze sculpture, evidently of an
adolescent (ephebos) athletic competitor.
● The National
Archaeological Museum's "Antiquities of Thera" (an ancient city on
the island of Santorini) are exhibited in the "Thera Room."
● In 2018 the Omiros was
still in operation at 15 Apollonos Street, billing itself as "a very
modern 3 star superior hotel in a central location, definitely the
● That is, the present author, who
even after four decades is thankful he didn't have to place a
transAtlantic landline call to report calamity.
● The MTS Jason was built in 1965 as
the MTS Eros. Sold and rechristened a year later, it
operated as the Jason from 1967 till 2005, when it became the
MS Ocean Odyssey and cruised the Indian Ocean till
● Mila Jean did not
indicate where her Saturday entry ended and Sunday entry began, so I
have made an arbitrary split here.
● The Dardanelles (or
Hellespont, in classical antiquity) is a strait separating Europe
from Asia, specifically European Turkey and Asian Turkey.
● The Sea of Marmora (Marmara,
or Propontis in classical antiquity) connects the Aegean to the
Black Sea, via the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits respectively.
● From 537 to 1453,
the Hagia Sophia was an Eastern Orthodox cathedral (with a brief Roman Catholic
interval, 1204-1261); then an Ottoman mosque from 1453 to 1931, and
subsequently a museum. >
● The Sultan Ahmed ("Blue") Mosque was built next to the Hagia Sophia in the early 17th
Century by Sultan Ahmed I. >
● The Topkapi Palace was built by Mehmed the Conqueror shortly after his capture
of Constantinople and the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
● Son et lumière
is a nighttime sound-and-light show, dramatizing a historical
● Ephesus (Ephesos, Efes)
was the most important Greek city on the Ionian
coast; its ruins are near the Turkish town of Selçuk.
● Michio (Mitch) Yamaguchi
(1943-2015), a San Francisco architect and expert in affordable
housing, was eulogized in the SAH Newsletter as "a frequent SAH
Study Tour participant and beloved friend to many SAH members."
Mila Jean compared him to "Buddy Hackett ... fat & funny (in dry
way)... Wears horrible T-shirts & jeans most of the time &
complains that his feet hurt him. Buys & eats copiously ...
will eat anything on the menu." >
● The Church
of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus was built in the 6th Century by Emperor
Justinian, shortly before the Hagia Sophia. Converted to a
mosque in the 16th Century, it is now known as the Little Hagia
● The Hippodrome was built
in the 3rd Century, before Byzantium became Constantinople, at which
point it was expanded to hold 100,000 spectators. Fragments
remain on its site, now Istanbul's Sultan Ahmet Square.
● In the 4th
Century, Emperor Theodosius had an Egyptian obelisk (already almost
2,000 years old) transferred from Alexandria to Constantinople and
added to the Hippodrome. >
● Evidently the the
Monastery of Stoudios, converted to the İmrahor Camii Mosque (or
Mosque of the Stablemaster). >
● The Golden Gate was the
chief ceremonial entrance to Constaninople, used for state
● The Church of the Holy
Saviour in Chora (called Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, or Kariye
Kilisesi in Turkish) underwent the same church-to-mosque-to-museum
route as the Hagia Sophia. >
● The Suleiman (Süleyman,
Süleymaniye) Mosque, one of the hallmarks of Istanbul, was built by
Sultan Suleyman in the 16th Century.
● An oculus is a circular
opening in the center of a dome, widely used in Roman and Byzantine
● The Aegean port city
of Smyrna, first settled at the same time as ancient Troy, was
officially renamed Izmir in 1930.
● Selçuk is the
fifth-largest city in Turkey, after Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and
University was founded in Izmir in 1955; Ege is Turkish for
Aegean Though not affiliated with the Greek University of the
Aegean, the two signed a collaboration protocol in 2012.
● Rotund comic Dom
DeLuise first performed his hapless magician act on The Dean
Martin Show. Offstage he was an avid chef and author of
● Ionia is the central coastal
region of Anatolia or Asia Minor, the peninsula comprising most of
modern Turkey. >
● One building in Ephesus,
constructed in the 1st Century AD along with the baths and latrines,
is known as the brothel because it featured a oversized statue of
● The Greco-Turkish
War (or "Asia Minor Catastrophe") of 1919-22 was fought after the
fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, as Greece sought and
failed to make territorial gains in Anatolia. It was followed
in 1923 by a massive exchange of two million people, three-quarters
of them Greeks who had lived in Asia Minor, eastern Thrace and the