A Travellerspoint blog

Perfect Pelopanese

sunny 24 °C

After what seemed to be a short visit to Athens, Tuesday found us leaving the capital and heading for Olympia on the Peloponnisian Peninsula. Many of the students are excited for our visit to Olympia but first a few stops.

The Corinth Canal, Greece's largest man made (1880 - 1890) canal joins the mainland with the peninsula. During ancient times the canal was lined with animal fat in order to move the boats through canal with greater ease. The animal fat is no longer used and most marine traffic is small yachts, boats and fishing vessels.
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The main stop of the day was at Mycenae, dating back to 1200 BC in the time of King Agamemnon. It is also believed that some of the first literature of the time, produced by Homer, was written in the area.

We visited the Temple of Agemenmon where it is believed that he was buried in this unique beehive structure. It is an optical illusion on the inside, looking much higher than it really is. The photo doesn't show the depth however it is really something to see.
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A climb to the Acropolis of Mycenae help work off some of calories we have consumed in our first few days.

And speaking of food, it was time to eat once again. This time we stopped in a picturesque town of Napflion, once the first capital of Greece. While Athens eventually won out on the capital lottery, I think Napflion really was the winner because it has remained a genuine Greek seaside town. Marble streets and sidewalks are everywhere.
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Back on the bus with time for a short afternoon siesta and we arrived in Olympia for the night. But wait, there is more. We had a Greek cooking class where we learned how to make tzatsiki, Greek hamburgers and hellva, a local dessert. The secret to a great Greek burger is olive oil and vinegar! And tzatsiki on top of the cooked burger! So simple, so Greek!
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Posted by jonaway 12:03 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Kalimera! Good morning!

sunny 32 °C

Well, after a mostly restful night we were ready for a full day in Athens.

Some of the group were up early, and some struggled with some jet lag, which is understandable. Those up early had some free time to wander our hotel neighbourhood. We are right across from the water so the walk was easy. There is something about Europe that is conducive to walking. It is hard to explain. Europeans embrace their surroundings. Elderly gents are meeting by the water for a morning swim. They congregate on the beach for conversation and strong coffee and, in Greece, greet you with a warm Kalimera or good morning.

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Our first stop this morning was to visit the Greek National Tourist Office. A host of staff from the department were there to greet us. Funny story - one of the ladies introduced herself and told us we were only the second Canadians she had met. She wanted to know if we knew Scott
Thompson, the only other Canadian she knew. Thankfully Steph was able to indentfy him from his time on the Canadian comedy show, Kids in the Hall. Seems he spent some time on Mykonos!

The GNTO provided the students with an opportunity to learn about the marketing strategies of the organization, including how digital marketing is allowing them to have the customers tell the story in a way that doesn't cost as much as traditional media. One focus the GNTO has is 'gastronomy tourism', as a way to 'sustain the mind and body'. This is a country that provides food as 'medicine for the mind'. More on Greek food another day!

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They concluded with a powerful GNTO produced video. If you have time, Paste and open the video. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
https://youtu.be/YpKlUIDf4oY

Our day continued with a city tour and was capped off with a visit to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. The Greeks have proof of their impact in civilization as we saw Ancient Greek Temples, the Academy with statues of Socrates and Plato and marvelled at the engineering of the Acropolis and temples atop the Acropolis. Now this may sound like a quote from the father in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' - the word Acropolis is derived from ákros (highest point) and pólis (meaning city).

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We also stopped for a quick visit to the Olympic Stadium which was the finish line for the Olympics in Athens. It doesn't look like it, but it holds about 55,000 people.

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Well, it is time for another fabulous and delicious breakfast. Another reason to thank Greeks is for their yogurt!
Yummy!

And one final funnny sign of the day....enjoy!

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Posted by jonaway 18:44 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Sometimes things don't go as planned!

sunny 15 °C

Well, we have arrived! That is itself, a good thing.

Saturday morning started very early for us at YYC. Everyone was eager to get checked in and started on our adventure. We knew it was going to be an arduous journey with a five hour layover in Montreal and then on to Athens with Air Canada's Rouge service. Doors closed and cross checked and then.....the plane broke! It seems they couldn't get the toilets to flush so after quite some time on the plane they moved us off that plane and on to another plane. It is amazing the another airplane was available, just like that. After a three hour delay we were in the air.

And just like that, we arrive in Athens where we are met by our Contiki trip manager Tom. He is one of Contiki's Greece managers, specializing in only Greek tours. He is delighted that we are from Calgary as he spent his winter working and snowboarding in Banff. Looks like we will get along just fine!

The hotel has a spectacular rooftop pool and bar so our free time was spent enjoying the sun and local brews.
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A trip meeting and traditional Greek buffet dinner capped of the evening. Hopefully, everyone had a decent sleep. We are off to the Greek National Tourist Board this morning for a presentation and then off to the Plakka and the Acropolis this afternoon. It should be an exciting first day in Greece!

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Posted by jonaway 20:07 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

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We are ready!

sunny 12 °C

Tomorrow is the big day. After months of planning, our departure is looming. It will be an early wake up call for everyone. Our first flight is at 7 AM. It is going to be a long but exciting day!

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Our mascot, Steve, has his bag packed. Now this sock monkey is very well travelled having been on his first trip in Peru in 2013. Since then he has been to Morocco, Europe, and Vietnam. Each trip he picks up a new souvenir and has his picture taken in some of the most interesting places. Not everyone on the trip LOVES the mascot (Steph) but we are sure he will have a great trip. Watch for more photos.

Some of us have been trying out a variety of language apps available. My observation so far......it's all Greek to me. I will spend some time today practicing the basics. Hello, please, thank you and how much are those Greek sandals. That should be enough, don't you think!

Watch for our next post from Athens, Greece, one of the world's oldest city and home to the iconic Parthenon.

Posted by jonaway 07:27 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Presentations, tests, planning and packing!

It must be April at SAIT

Welcome to our SAIT TVT travel blog for 2017. The students are finishing the final few weeks of classes, doing their last presentations and studying for exams. Front of mind for the travellers is the upcoming study tour, a 13 day trip to Greece, including the Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos, and Ios.

Once again, we are using Contiki Tours to give the students that authentic coach tour experience. And it is a BIG group, 43 students, and three instructors!

We hope you will follow our adventure, starting May 6th, when we depart Calgary for Athens.

Posted by jonaway 08:57 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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