Monday, April 19, 2004

Whew . . . Today in Napflion, Greece, south of Athens, deep in the Peloppenese (and no spell checker), the exchange rate of Euros to dollars is making us say ouch! Internet is about $7 an hour now; I miss Turkey!

Today we took two buses to Epidaurus, the best preserved Greek theater, and we oohed and awed at all those empty seats and great acoustics. A lovely red-headed tourist sang opera dead center and got a standing ovation. Epidaurus was a sanctuary for Asclepius, the god of healing. Apparently people believed that snakes had formidable healing powers, partly because snakes "renewed" themselves by creating new skins. So a favorite therapy was to line up and get licked by a snake. So that's the story behind the snake that appears on the physician's staff.

Museum at Epidaurus was closed, always a disappointment, but that's OK, we caught an early bus back to Napflion and headed up to the Palmidi fortress, built in the very early 1700s by the Venetians (and taken over by the Turks one year after it was finished). After climbing through amazing ruins and taking lots of photos of blue sky and blue-er ocean, we climbed the 999 (yes, 999) steps all the way down. Those steps add new meaning to circular stairway. We're now cosily ensconsed in a bar (loud music, pool hall, sports TV AND internet), and typing as quickly as possible. Tomorrow we head for Sparta and anticipate not much in the way of ancient ruins (the Spartans were ever practical and probably have recycled everything). However, the real highlight of the trip is coming up in yet another World Heritage site -- the monastary complex at Mystras, a complex of religious retreats at the top of a mountain. The monks were hauled up by ropes, safe from the political unrest of the Byzantine period. Later, tourists of the 19th Century asked how often the ropes were changed and were told -- Until God breaks the rope. Today we can visit by hiking (or taxi-ing) up and then walking down, enjoying sweeping vistas all the way.

Breakfasts are fine (I still miss feta cheese and green and salty olives for breakfast). Dinners range from outrageous to pizza. Not much different from home. Home here is where we sleep -- our books keep us company since friends have all headed back to the states, that is, until June. Warm weather leads to optimistic thoughts. So much to learn, and we're now half-way in the trip. Keep the e-mails coming. That's the only way I've found to counter real home-sickness!

I hope your world is going well. Beth

PS Update on pictures. I can't post any new ones until I find a less expensive Internet cafe, but if you haven't seen the new ones from Turkey, please just click on the button at the top of the page (right hand side). I did post two links -- one for Mystras and one for Epidaurus. Enjoy!

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