So, how do you inspire women from all walks of life to travel to far-off places? Solo women, who have wanted to travel but have put off doing so for a variety of reasons, can now join a Nebraska-based, women-only travel group.
I had the opportunity to do just that last September. I ventured with 15 other women to Greece with Women of Nebraska, a division of Executive Travel, led by Ambassador Ann Bruntz. Our Greek guide, Basilikh, met us upon arrival in Athens and remained with us the entire time we were in Greece.
A dream of mine has always been to travel to Greece and delve into this fascinating ancient civilization. I was not disappointed. Basilikh is a history major and was a “walking encyclopedia” of Greek history.
Our second day was spent at the Acropolis Museum (opened in 2009), followed by a trek up the marble steps of the Acropolis. What a thrill to take in the view of modern Greece from all directions, and to imagine all the history that has happened here. We gathered in the shade of a lone pine tree to hear Basilikh weave the mythical tale of Poseidon and Athena’s battle to see who would rule the ancient world. The Parthenon, located on top of the Acropolis, was built in Athena’s honor, and Athens is named for her. The saga continued with the battles with Persia, the Ottoman, Byzantine and Roman empires, and on into modern times.
It was no wonder we were all tired after our adventure to the top. Some of our Fitbit users registered 10,000 steps just going up to the Parthenon, and a total of 14,000 for the entire day!
When you walk that much, you really build up an appetite. Our day concluded with a well-deserved feast on a rooftop garden restaurant with a backdrop of the sparkling lights of the city and the majestic Parthenon. Greek salad, cheese, breads and meats, Greek wine and, of course, desserts, made for a perfect end to our day.
We had traveled around the mainland and the Peloponnese via a large bus, so we were quite comfortable and it came with wifi! All the while we heard excellent historic commentary from Basilikh.
Our day trips were to ancient Corinth, where we walked in the footsteps of Apostle Paul and Ancient Nemea. Technology may rule our world now, but we toured the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus (an UNESCO world heritage listed monument), where thespians standing on the stage could be heard anywhere in the 13,000-seat theater. I walked to the top to get the effect from the “cheap seats.”
While touring this area of the Peloponnese, we stayed two nights in the Pension Marianna, in Nafplio. Located high on the slope of a 300-year-old Venetian castle, it offered a stupendous view in all directions.
Walking among the ruins of these ancient cities while listening to Basilikh was a wonderful “time travel” experience.
While on our 10-day adventure, we toured several wineries, an ouzo family business and also an olive oil estate. After touring the estate, we dined under the shade of the olive grove.
After our days on the mainland, we took a ferry to the brilliant white-and-blue island of Mykonos. The nights we spent there were under the magic spell of a full moon. What pure joy to stroll along the boardwalk and watch the red orb of the sun bid adieu to the day, as it cast its shadow across the darkening waves of the Aegean, just in time to usher in the glow of the oncoming moonlight. It was a moment in time each of us will never forget.
The next day, we ferried to one of the “brightest spots” on the planet, the island of Delos. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Delos is the mythological birthplace of Apollo, the god of light, and Artemis, his twin sister. The island has been a major religious center and trading port throughout history. The ruins contain the remains of Doric temples, markets and an amphitheater, and it is famous for the Terrace of Lion statues.
After two nights in Mykonos, we ferried to our last destination, Santorini. The island suffered one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history in 1646 B.C. One-third of the island was lost and the Aegean filled the caldera, which is now Thera’s harbor.
Women of Nebraska gave me the chance to travel to a long-dreamed-about location, and I made 15 new friends in the process. We experienced the wonderful hospitality of the Greek people, and we sampled dishes and foods that dated back to ancient times.
Some 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greek playwright Euripides said, “Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”
And, I say ... Go. Travel. Learn. And have a great time doing so. Opa!
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