I can hardly believe that I’ve been back from my trip for two weeks already! I had a fabulous time in Greece…both on the tour and on the side trip at the backend of it. Apart from a few hiccups along the way – let’s just say that at least one person saw far more than she expected of the inside of a Greek village medical clinic – I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people. There were twelve of us in all…ranging from mid thirties to mid sixties in age, from a variety of backgrounds. The group ended up being about half students and alums from my university and half Armitageworld peeps.
Early on, I passed out badges, which had been generously donated by Guylty, so that the Armitageworld peeps could identify each other without “outing” themselves to the group at large. I’m actually not sure how this worked…I already knew who was an Armitageworld peep going in. I’d love to hear from others if they covertly discovered each other, or proclaimed their Armitage Allegiance loud and proud!
Every time I do one of these trips, I gain a bit more insight on how to make the next one better. One perennial issue is the amount of climbing required to access some of the sites. There’s not a whole lot to be done about this in general as nearly everything one wants to see in Greece is uphill. However, I think reversing the itinerary might break it up a bit…
Marching up from the Agora for lunch…at least we’d already been up to the Acropolis by this point.
It’s hard to avoid the march in Athens – so much to see, so little time, but I could handily lighten the workout in the next few days since in the immortal words of one group member (you know who you are 🙂 ), “You said food and culture…not Greek fat camp!” after two days climbing around sites in Athens and the Argolid. I would note here, that the speaker was in fact one of the most intrepid cragswomen in the group. She scaled every citadel, castle and rampart we visited…I cannot wait to see her pictures!
All in all though, people did great – they went up as far as they felt comfortable (Mystras and the Nafplion Palamidi are not for the faint of heart (or lung, knee or hip!)). Fortunately, in the digital age, it is wonderfully easy to share photos so that even if one didn’t climb to the top *waves* one might still see the pictures of those who did.
Mystras…we cheated and entered 2/3 of the way up to the top of the fortress.
One thing that I wish had been better was the tour guide. On past trips, we’ve had a professional guide who travelled with us and guided us around the sites. I will admit to a certain amount of impatience with this since we are sort of hostages to the guide’s schedule. This trip, my Greek tour agent George was travelling with us, and I thought, guiding us. Apparently, I thought wrong. When we rolled up to the Acropolis on our first full day in Athens, George informed me that he doesn’t go into the sites and that I would guide. Say what now? It’s not that I lack the background, but there were two small wrinkles in this plan:
- I was not aware this was the plan. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have instant recall of 500 years of Greek history and archaeology. With some advance notice, I’d have jotted down a few crib notes! (and the words to one song – all I could think to sing at Epidauros was Roll out the Barrel!)
- Perhaps more importantly – technically I am prohibited from guiding on sites since I don’t have a license issued by the Greek Ministry of Culture. (I’ve since discovered that evidently, there is some wiggle room for University professors, so back to 1.)
These little details aside, I can say without a doubt, that my guy George (aided by a fantastic driver with the famous name of Leonidas) put together an amazing tour that checked a lot of different boxes.
George and Leonidas
I would love to do another one of these in the future…in fact, at dinner in Kalamata, I got the distinct impression from the 45 minutes he spent grilling me, that George would like me to do them every year…a partnership of sorts.
“Listen….you don’t understand…” he says.
I do understand, and I would totally love to lead tours more often, but until Mini Me is not so put out by my absence, (I give that another 2-3 years) I think I have to table that partnership idea for the immediate future.
Faces blurred to protect the innocent…
That said, thanks to the Experience Greece Tour 2016 for a fantastic trip!!