Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dad comes for a visit

Dad came to visit for a week and he got here just in time for Easter and then I carted him around the state, first to Yuma (for some great BBQ) and then over to Willcox for meetings. I kept telling him to rest for NASCAR weekend and I’m not sure if he believed me but I think I sent him home tired but happy.

We went to Yuma for their monthly meeting and got back in time to meet Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Jake to go to a Dbacks game. They have really good season tickets and so I knew the view would be great. Dad had never been to a major league baseball game so it was fun to share it with him.

On Friday I left work early and we headed out to PIR for the Busch Race. I had mentioned in February to a board member how much I loved NASCAR so he ended up giving me tickets for the SRP booth over turn 1. I had already bought my weekend race tickets so I sold my Friday tickets to John and Tracy. We got there early so we could shop. I explained to my dad that you do all the shopping on the Busch race day rather than waiting till the Nextel NASCAR race because things sell out and the crowd is much deeper. We walked around and I bought a couple Kasey Kahne (2nd Fave) items and a lot of Tony Stewart items (he’s my favorite!!). I checked out Dale Jr.’s stuff but had most of it so I bought a t-shirt to give as a present. Dad bought a shirt and hat from Jeff Gordon (tried to stop him but didn’t really work). We also picked up our radio and a few other things. Dad didn’t really have a favorite driver so I told him about most of them. He hung out at the snack bar while I hiked back to the truck to put our stuff away. I had parked about 2 miles out (the furthest you can park) so we could get out easily.

We headed into the race and we had a great view of the track and free food and drinks all night in addition to the gift bag that SRP gave all their people. They were great seats but I think I like being in the stands with all the people because you can scream and yell and cheer. Most of the people in the box were there to socialize and not really watch the race.

Kevin Harvick won and I told Dad all about him. I was happy for him. He burned rubber clear down by us! Many of the accidents also happened by us so it added to the excitement for Dad. We were tired when we climbed in the truck to go home.

On our way home...

April 9, 2006

Dana’s plane was leaving for England at 6 am. Our guide told her that she would need to have her wake up call at 2 am and bags outside the door at 2:30. At 1 am, the phone rang (this is just a couple hours after going to bed), it happened to be our guide. Dana was supposed to leave at 2 am- not wake up at that time! So she threw her stuff together and got ready and left. Which was probably good for me so I wouldn’t cry at her leaving for England again. You never know how much you miss a friend till they are gone.

With Dana gone, I slept until 7:30 then got ready and headed down to breakfast with Ang. We then walked down to a little store to get a few snacks for our long flight home. We headed via taxi with a cute driver, to the airport around 10:30 and was on our flight by 2. It was pretty uneventful except that I spilled a whole glass of water on Ang and I during the flight. When we hit Chicago, I checked my messages and there were work calls and a call from my friend Melissa M.

She had called to tell me that her and Andy D. had gotten engaged while I was gone. Mel is one of my closest friends and I kind of tricked her into telling me the ring size and what she wanted so Andy could get the ring and propose while I was gone. So it is true… all major things (so far only the good ones) happen to my friends while I’m out of state or country!!

Our final night in Athens

We arrived back at the hotel in Athens and found our rooms. We were taken to the Acropolis on the back side and dropped off. We took a stroll down by Mars Hill and the market place. We never saw that side before and were a little disappointed we never had the chance to shop there. The marketplace was so close. We continued down to the restaurant and had dinner with Pam, Kay, Rudy, Rod and Kathy. The food was decent- the fish was really good. I wasn’t really impressed with it over all.

We left the restaurant and saw the opposite side of the Parthenon and the marketplace. It was so pretty at night. Our driver met us and drove us back to the hotel the scenic way and we saw the Presidential Palace, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and of course the Temple of Zeus!

At the hotel, we met Pam for a drink before heading off to our rooms. Dana and I shared a room so I could take a few things back for her to the states.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ancient Corinth

The first picture is the place they believe could be Paul's first church in Corinth. The second is the Bema that Paul was brought to to be judged by the Jews.

We arrived in Corinth! Paul and Andrew introduced the Greeks to Christianity. Corinth is one of the churches Apostle Paul sent letters to (I and II Corinthians in the Bible are the letters). Corinth, in Paul’s time, was about 150,000 people in population. Paul first traveled to Philippi and then left to preach in Theasolocia, Athens, and Corinth and then on to Ephesus. We visited all but Philippi and Ephesus on our tour. During one visit to Corinth, Paul was visited by Timothy and Silas. The first time Paul stayed in Corinth he stayed for 18 months. It was very peaceful there and I kept thinking that I may be stepping and walking where Paul walked centuries ago.

The site is divided into three levels. The temple of Apollo is the first thing you see when you enter. It is on the highest level. It dates back to the beginning of the 6th Century, making it the oldest temple. Hera’s temple in Olympia is the second oldest temple in Greece. The actual area of ancient Corinth is so small- you can see it’s entirety from anyplace in the area. A lot of the ancient town was built over by the current town. When you visit you look up from the edge of the ruins and there is a house that people live in right there. I think it would be cool to have that be your view out your bedroom or kitchen window.

The second level is the Agora- the Roman market place. We walked past the temple and Agora to the middle of the marketplace where a large marble slab that originally had a statute of Athena and an alter was located At one end of the marble floor was a location referred to as Bema. It was a tall balcony that officials would appear to give speeches or announcements. This is the place where it is believed that Paul was taken to be judged when he was accused by the Jews. Three months after that incident, he sailed for Ephesus. Across the marketplace has a store that was rebuilt from the stones. It is believed that this is the location of Paul’s first church.

After walking on that level you take marble steps down to the third level. At the point that you begin to descend the steps, there is a spring the ancient city used for water. It still has water (you can hear it). The spring is in a stone circular building with pillars and windows. An early Christian church is located behind the spring. The third level is the Lehighton road that leads to the port. This would lead from the port in Lechaion up to the main part of town and then up the stairs to the Agora area. The road is still remaining in the small section that is persevered. It is quite amazing to see it. There are ceramic shops located along it and this is where they believe Paul had his shop.

We didn’t get to spend much time in the ruins- there wasn’t even free time to walk around so I hope to go back and visit it again someday. We left the ancient city of Corinth and traveled to the Canal of Corinth.

The Canal of Corinth began construction in the 6th Century but stopped until 1881. Before the canal, boats were unloaded and using logs, they were drug across the peninsula (approx. 3 miles) and then reloaded and off they would go. The canal can only be used by small and medium boats.
We first saw the Aegean Sea side of the canal and then we walked over (dodging cars) to see the Gulf of Corinth that leads to the Ionic Sea. I had my picture taken on both sides. We then board the bus for our final trip back to Athens. Once inside Athens and on our way back to the hotel, the temple of Zeus was pointed out again!

Sanctuary of Aesculapius and the Ruins of Mycenae

The entrance to the tomb of Atreaus.

The Sanctuary of Easculapius

April 8, 2006

We left Napulia for Athens. Today we are going to be visiting Corinth!! I’ve been waiting the entire trip to come here. Before going to Corinth we had a few other places to see. We first visited the Sanctuary of Aesculapius amphitheatre. This place was very cool and amazing and I even cried. Dana and Ang had been talking about this place the entire trip. Aesculapius is considered by the Greeks to be the god of medicine. He was the son of Apollo and a mortal woman. The amphitheatre was built in the 4th century B.C. It has been known for its acoustics and performers don’t even need microphones for people at the top to hear them as if they were sitting right next to them.

Nina, our guide, started the demonstration of the acoustics by dropping coins and crumpling paper and tearing the paper in the middle of the theatre. I sat higher and it was amazing the clarity that you could hear everything with. Nina allowed people to try the acoustics by performing. Dana sang “You Raised Me Up” and it was so beautiful and I cried because the last time she sang that song was at Terri’s funeral. I taped her and Ang singing and it was hard to tape it while crying!!

After leaving the amphitheatre, we drove to a pottery place and watch a guy make a pot and another paint a large pot. We also shopped for some items while we were there. We then took a short drive to the tomb of Atreaus and the location of the ruins of Mycenae.
The tomb is where the king of Agamemmon was buried. It dates back to 13th Century B.C. There are other tombs that exist in Greece, but this was the biggest and most preserved. Dana and I posed as lions in front of the entrance. It kind of smelled bad inside but it is a tomb and what do you expect- it’s not going to smell like roses!!

We crossed the road to the Mycenae Acropolis. The king was the only one to permanently live behind the walls. When there was danger those living outside the walls in town would enter inside the walls for protection. The walls were about six feet wide. We entered the acropolis through the Lion’s Gate. The acropolis was destroyed by fire and an earthquake (by this time, it seems like a theme). Inside the gate was a grainery because in excavation, they found jugs with carbonized grain inside (how cool is that!).

It was a neat area to visit. The poems of Homer describe many of the ruins we visited along our journey through Greece or ruins that were nearby. There was a monument to the prophet Elijah nearby. I walked to the top of the ruins. It was so peaceful up there and the scenery reminded me of Oregon.

We left the area and stopped in town for a bite to eat. The owner of the restaurant, a little old man, broke plates for us! We encouraged him to break a few more by yelling “Opah!!!” and he did a couple more and then stopped. We had been wanting someone to break plates, the entire time we were there but everyone- except him said no.

Nauplia and Megalopis

We headed to the town of Nauplia. Along the way we stopped at Megalopis were we had a little ice cream served by an older gentleman who didn’t speak any English but the very beautiful grandson (or maybe son) did. He told us how much we owed after getting our ice cream from the grandfather. We just used gestures and pointing to get some great ice cream.

We made our evening stop in Nauplia. Nauplia was a seashore town that was very quite and it reminded me of some beach towns in the states. Nina, our guide let us off in town for a short walking tour and then gave us about an hour to shop on our own. There were many cute shops and I even bought another purse. (I know a big shocker!) Dana and I had some extra time so we went into a cute little place and had a drink while we waited for the bus. We went to the hotel and had dinner and then spent the rest of the evening at the hotel piano bar with the rest of our tour group and even Nina, our guide, joined us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Posing as three Greek gods outside the temple ruins of Zeus.

Hera's Temple and the stones in front are the location where the Olympic torch is lighted every four years in a ceremony.

The gymnasium at Anient Olympia.

April 7, 2006

We left the hotel this morning and visited Ancient Olympia where the Olympics began. We arrived at the archeological site of the original Olympic games. In 1895 excavations began in the area. It was completely buried again by fire and earthquakes and this time they threw in a flood from the river Alphis for good measure!!

There are temples to Zeus and Hera that people was able to come and worship them. The athletes would arrive one month early to have time to adjust. They would also take an oath to not cheat. The first building we arrived at was the gymnasium. The second building was the wrestling room where wrestling and boxing took place. Before the day was over there was actual wrestling that took place there!

This area was inhabited by people in the 2nd millennium B.C. but later the area became a sacred place and no one lived in the area except for the priests. We also visited the temple of Zeus and several pillars were scattered around the base of the temple and across from the temple was an early Christian basilica that was built on top of the workshop that built the huge ivory and gold statute of Zeus that stood 35 feet tall!! It was one of the seven wonders of ancient Greece.

We entered the ancient stadium and there was a pedestal at one side of the field where the statute of the goddess of agriculture was worshiped on the first day of the games. Her name was Demetra. I brought back a miniature statute of her for Jim, Kevin and I. We aren’t going to be worshiping her any time soon but it was cool to see how important agriculture was to them back then.

Hera’s temple was built in the 6th Century B.C. and for one whole century both Hera and Zeus were worshipped there until the temple of Zeus was constructed. The alter in front of Hera’s temple is where the Olympic torch is lighted every four years. After lighting the torch, it is carried into the stadium nearby where the first runner takes the flame to travel the world.

We had half an hour of free time so we toured the gymnasium area were the wrestling occurred. Ang and I “wrestled” in the gymnasium for Dana’s camera. It was quite funny and I began to laugh and lost my balance and fell and Ang promptly kicked me while I was down and cheer for her victory. We had quite a few laughs over that!!! At each temple area in Greece, we would do some pose and take a picture as the “gods.” I’m sure some people thought we were disrespectful but it added to the humor of the tour.

After walking through the ruins, we visited the museum that goes with the site, inside were all the statutes that lined the pediment (top) of Zeus’ temple. One side had Zeus (without his head- PB!) and the other side was of Apollo. These statutes were bigger than us so the size of the temple was amazing.

The bridge that took 115 years to build

The Charilos Trikoupis Bridge.

Holding the Olympic Torch

We left Delphi and headed back through the olive groves where some of the trees are 2000 years old. Our guide told us that olives that are to be eaten are hand picked and those to be used for oil are machine picked. Interesting agriculture facts!!! We continued on towards the water to a town called Itea where we sat by the sea and tried to drink some ouzo and still couldn’t acquire a taste for it. Itea was the port location of the old town of Delphi. We skipped the lunch and took the time to walk down the street to the shops and ran into a gentleman who has a daughter who lives in Portland, Oregon so we chatted a bit and the girls laughed that I could go anywhere in the world and meet someone who could be traced to me like in six degrees of separation. It got better because I mentioned that I now live in Arizona and he spends the winters in Yuma so that really sent us over the edge in laughter!

We continued on to Corinth and Olympia but stopped to view the new bridge that connects continental Greece to the peninsula. It had been a vision of the Prime Minister since 1889 and was completed in time for the 2004 Olympic games. Up until that time, to cross over you had to use a ferry and it took about 45 minutes, now it takes a toll and about 5 minutes. I think the Greeks were procrastinating on the project for it to take that long but we got to see a video about it and inside the visitor’s center are the two torches that crossed the bridge. We all had our photo taken with it! It is a beautiful bridge and the Greeks have every right to be very proud of it. The bridge is called Charilos Trikoupis.

Delphi and Apollo's Temple

The treasury, Apollo's Temple and the view of the temple from the theatre on our way to the arena.

April 6, 2006

We left our hotel and headed to the ancient town of Delphi where Apollo’s temple and oracle were located. This is the site where the Greeks would come to get prophecies. It was first built in 7 century B.C. It was divided into four sections or levels. The first level was the Roman marketplace (Agora) with the small shops. Just below the temple, was the Athenian store where they displayed the loot from the wars of the Persians. We then traveled the sacred road of Delphi to the second level where Apollo’s actual temple was located. It was built in 4th Century B.C. when Apollo came to Delphi and killed a python to become the ruler of Delphi.

The temple had been destroyed three previous times by fire and earthquakes (you think they would reconsider their locations!) So what we actually saw was the remains of the 4th temple of Apollo. The sacred road originally was flanked by statutes on each side. A few still remain today but they are housed in the museum. They were of gods, kings and emperors. The navel stone is located near the treasury where it is said two eagles met that Zeus sent out to find the center of the universe. This is the location that Apollo was to place the oracle. The oracle is where the prophetess would be to read your future. Our guide told us about her and she would sit and chew on bay leaves and give very vague readings- I think she was high on something!! Sometimes she would just sit and scream at people and then send them off to have it interpreted by the temple priests. She sounds kind of like the fortune tellers of today only without the screaming or hallucinations. She would give vague readings because she didn’t want the gods to be wrong.

On the highest level were the cities’ treasureries where the people would leave their gifts for the gods at their town’s treasury. The fourth level had a stadium for games similar to the Olympics that were dedicated to the various gods. They trick you when you visit by saying the fourth level is just a little farther up the hill when it actually is quite a ways but I was determined to go up there even if it took my all day to climb the hill. I made it and took a picture then turned around and came back down just in time to go over to the museum with the group! I am not sure how the athletes climbed those hills and then competed right away, even the most physically fit people where out of breath and gasping for air when they made it up.
We left the temple area and walked a short distance to the Archeological Museum of Delphi. Inside we saw the statute of the sphinx as well as the charioteer. The charioteer is a bronze statute dedicated to Apollo representing a racer after his championship win in the Python games in 478 B.C. His eyes ere intact and if you stared at him intently it seemed as though he would open his mouth to speak at any moment.

The rest of the story...

The Bay of Corinth from my hotel room.

We continued on to Delphi after stopping at the gas station next to the John Deere dealership. Prior to getting to the hotel, we stopped in the town of Arahova were we were able to do a little bit of shopping. This region or area has a large amount of olive trees. We will be driving through them tomorrow but this large grove is owned by private individuals, corporations and the government. They all own various trees that are intermixed so they just harvest all of them and then split out the proceeds based on the number of trees you own. It was quite impressive. It reminded me of the Rim Country area leaving Payson for Snowflake where all you see are trees.

We arrived at the hotel and I can see the Bay of Corinth from my room. Before dinner, Dana, Ang and Pam came down and we sat out on the deck and drank a bottle of wine and just took in the beauty of the scenery. After Apollo’s temple tomorrow we will be traveling on to Olympia.