Subject: Trip to Greece
Dear Marta and George:

My suggestions from the week and a half that I saw in Greece:

Get out of Athens as soon as you can. See the Parthenon and all that good is quite beautiful and breathtaking. It would also be worth it to make the hike up to the highest point in the city, which isn't the Acropolis. There's a small church of building of religious use on this hill and you can take a rail car of sorts up to the top. I wish I could remember the name of it, but perhaps if you ask around, someone can give you more detailed information. I went with a group of friends (and our guide) one night before we left Greece and the hike was strenuous -- so many stairs! -- but the view from the top was amazing. All the lights of the city and the Acropolis _below_ you. You feel like you're on top of the world. Another not to miss thing in my opinion is the National Archaelogical Museum in Athens. We didn't get to spend nearly enough time there, but if I could go back, I would in a heartbeat. They have some wonderful collections and really knowledgeable curators.

My favorite places:

Delphi, by far my favorite place we visited. It's just nestled in the mountains and at the right time of year, you have all these beautiful wild flowers blooming on the mountiainside among the ruins. The site is still in remarkable condition and the location is so beautiful.

Mycenae -- très cool. Sitting atop a hill rising from the farmland is this's walls still loom over you. Once you actually get up to the famous Lion Gates, you are just amazed by the gargantuan cyclopic stones...somehow perched on each other without mortar of any kind. And they are still standing. That says quite a lot for the architecture and construction methods for the ancient Greeks. As soon as you enter the gates, you can look off to your right and see the Grave circles that have been excavated -- and in the National Arch. Museum in Athens (I think) you can see the gold mask of Agamemnon that was found there. Or you can continue following the road to a flat area...look over the edge and see miles of lush green Greek farmland spreading out below. Standing in the bath where Clytemnestra killed her husband was an interesting way of bringing our studies of Greek mythology and The Illiad to life :-) There's something about standing on the walls of an ancient fortress, looking around the surrounding mountains protecting one side and imagining watch fires burning along the ridge, and then turning to see the valleys and all the farmland below you. Humbling, actually. Don't miss the tholos (AKA the Treasury of Atreus), which wasn't a treasury, but a bee-hive of a burial chamber. It's quite amazing to think about how such a stucture was built...the walls extend so high, you can't see the top in the dark, almost.

Corinth: Certainly a pilgrimage area for Christians and historians alike. Dry and dusty, but the public bathrooms make for great pictures. Olympia: Huge place for sports fans...we were lucky to go to Olympia just a few weeks after the torch was lit for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The Temple of Zeus (well, the ruins, at least) is there, so for those seeking the Seven Ancient Wonders...there's one for you. It's pretty cool to walk along the dirt paths among all the arenas and training areas that are marked by columns left standing and marvel at the facilities athletes must have enjoyed. Don't miss the huge stadium -- race each other and imagine thousands of spectators cheering you on in the now-empty seats. It makes for an interesting trip back in time, I'm telling you. But more important to see than Olympia is Epidaurus, if you have to choose between them. Epidaurus is home to a tremendous amphitheater. We were all the way in the back along the top row of sheets and we could hear our guide rip a sheet of paper in the very center of the stage area. We could hear her whisper as well. Certainly an acoustical marvel. It's also fun to watch tourists from every nation venture to the center and sing national anthems an whatnot. There is also a great museum there for the doctors in the family or those studying medicine...if only I could spell the guy's name...

Of course, the islands are always great to visit as well, though I can't really help you there, since we stayed on the mainland for the most part.

Hope this helps you with some ideas, at least. Have a great trip!

Mandy Huffman