Saturday, March 3, 2012

Erin's Big Fat Greek Weekend



Fields of white stretch as far as the eye can see. Crossing the northern border into Greece one sees miles and miles of cotton ready to be harvested and with her head extended out the window that's exactly what Erin saw. On this glorious morning we're headed to Pella the childhood town of Alexander the Great and from where his father King Phillip II reigned over the world's mightiest empire. I'm giddy upon arrival at our destination while Erin is equally excited at thoughts of escaping the back seat; she is promptly leashed to ensure she doesn't desecrate a national treasure then exploration begins. I was anticipating large imposing groups of visitors but the crowd was sparse for the most part but that was alright as that meant less people blocking my views and impeding my path to whatever peaked my interest. Walkways crisscross the ancient site while barriers ensure folks stay on designated routes; we stroll about soaking up the atmosphere often stopping to take pics and as usual Erin was the only dog present thus she attracted attention from dog-loving Europeans.






The site dating from around 300 BC was under excavation and workers beneath protective awnings could be seen. Towering white columns littered the landscape while portions of thick wall give testament to how massive many structures were. Cemeteries, sanctuaries and urns taller than men sitting upright were all interesting but it was the well-preserved mosaics that provided the wow factor. Colored pebbles formed elaborate hunting scenes and symmetrical patterns but Erin was getting bored with it all so a change of scenery was necessary. Modern and ancient Pella butted against each other and this was where my travel companion was unleashed....Into the foothills she scrambled, sniffed, and ran while I kept watch over her like a shepherd over his flock. From there we wandered over to the museum which housed relics from Alexander's time...Crowns made of solid gold, coins, jewelry, statues, furniture, clay jars, weapons, etc were interesting but again it was a mosaic that stole the show. The aptly titled "Lion Hunt" depicts Alexander the Great and his son Craterus engaged in battle with a snarling beast; armed with spear and dagger they're poised to slay the creature...The detail is amazing and pictures fail to convey how beautiful the piece truly is. Over the years I'd read many books about Alexander the Great thus to see where his journey began was a dream come true but it was time to get to our next destination.





Arriving in Vergina we proceed into the hills where the royal palace and theater overlook the village below. Shattered columns the diameter of redwood trees dominate the palace ground and in stark contrast to Pella one does not find a single column that survived the toll of time. Based upon the pillar remains the palace must have been spectacular and certainly worthy of housing the royal family. We wander over to the adjoining theater where King Phillip II was murdered by a bodyguard and consequently the site of Alexander's crowning...vividly my imagination plays out those historic scenes until a wet nose nudge tells me it's time to mosey along. A quaint cafe is quite the welcome sight for us both; a macchiato and loaf of bread are ordered while Erin plops down near my feet. The bread is so unbelievably delicious that to this day I swear it was handcrafted by Greek deities themselves; chunks are torn off and dipped into olive oil which pleases Erin to no end. A handful of scraggly dogs approaching the table make me tense but Erin's wagging tail tells me they're no threat while a passing waiter vouches for their friendliness. Unleashed she socializes with her Greek brethren under my constant gaze and given the choice my travel companion would have chose to remain there but all good things must end thus we bid them goodbye.






A stones throw away one finds the Royal Tombs of Vergina which is housed beneath a massive earth mound...Walking down the sandstone slope is akin to entering another world. The dimly lit first floor contains artifacts recovered from three tombs including a solid gold casket belonging to King Phillip II as well as his gold laurel wreaths, armor, weapons, shield, and other personal effects. Phillip's ivory adorned funeral coach, marble funeral pyre and ashes of a young wife are on display behind thick glass...Items deemed worthy of burial with Macedonian royalty can be seen and as expected it's all decadent, beautiful and visually stunning. I return to the car to check on Erin and grab my camera before checking out the tombs. It's nearly pitch black and quite cold as I descend down the wooden walkways to view the marble tombs which are bathed in a soft glow...There is no viewing the tomb's interiors thus a vivid imagination is required. Exquisite paintings and inscriptions top the doors while intact columns line the entrance way to King Phillip II's burial chamber and it was all very moving to be amongst such treasures.



All alone I made the decision to sneak a photo of the tomb belonging to King Phillip II. Fumbling with the camera in the dark the flash mode was turned off and when the time was right I aimed and pressed the shutter button. Unexpectedly the area lit up like a fireworks display and the wrath of the Greek Gods came crashing down upon me; a female employee appeared in my face to scold me for using a camera which was strictly forbidden. An outstretched arm indicated she wanted the roll of film or the camera but she received neither from me; the camera was shoved deep into my pocket before returning upstairs to the exhibit area. Deemed public enemy #1 security personnel shadowed my every move; out of the corner of my eye I could feel their constant glare and it made me very uncomfortable. Feeling agitated at being treated like a criminal I confronted a female guard standing a few feet away; she held her ground as I lashed out at her before exiting the premises altogether. Returning to the car Erin greeted me with much affection which helped my mood greatly; she quickly put a smile back on my face and I was so thankful to be sharing such adventures with my best friend.



Btw the photo of the tomb didn't come out...Guess the Greek deities had the last laugh afterall. The next few days would be spent in Thessaloniki the second largest city in Greece.

To be continued....


24 comments:

  1. What a great and fascinating read, David! Loved the photos, the history, and, of course, the continuing adventures of Erin.
    Looking forward to the next installment!
    Blessings to you!

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    1. Thanks so much Martha!! It was a memorable trip and a time I reflect fondly upon. Take care my friend :)

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  2. fabulous story... what an exciting adventure! I cracke up reading "doesn't desecrate a national treasure then exploration begins" and held my breath reading the part about you sneaking a picture... I would so have tried, too! lol

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    1. Erin explored but in a respectful manner ;) I was in a daring mood thus it's a shame the pic didn't come out...Least a good story came out of it all. Amy thanks for visiting!!

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  3. Thank you for the history about greece.. Erin did have an exciting time.. I wish I was there too!

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    1. Savira I'm glad you learned something as it was my goal to entertain and educate. I learned so much during my travels across Europe with Erin. Thanks for stopping by!!!

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  4. How absolutely beautiful David. Your post was quite educational for someone, like me, who never seems to leave my home town much. Thank you for sharing all of this, the information, the photos. All of it is wonderful! To be able to travel, and travel with your best companion is a true joy in life ☺

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    1. Mary I'm glad you enjoyed it...Erin was my outlet to the world and without her I wouldn't have done nearly as much traveling. She blessed me in many ways and this was just another. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  5. David what an interesting life you and Erin led. I loved the part of her wagging her tail at the Greek dogs...Couldn't you get her to charm the guards? ;)

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    1. Corinne I like to think we had a special interesting journey over the years. Dogs seem to make friends easier than humans and there is no thing as a language barrier in the canine world. Yeah it's a shame Erin couldn't sway the guards, maybe then my abuse could have been avoided ;) Thanks for visiting!!

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  6. I like the two pictures of the square stones best but this whole post was great! :)

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    1. Rachel Thanks for dropping by and leaving some words of praise...Take care!!

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  7. Thank you for sharing this great post with us! Talking about Greece, I would love to visit it one day. It`s been on my list for a very long time. But for now I have to be content with the beautiful photos and story that you have told :)

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    1. I'd love to return to Greece but the odds are slim to none at this point in my life. I found it to be very beautiful and historic...Just what I prefer. Thanks for stopping by!!

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  8. You photos are spectacular! I have never been to Greece, but you sure paint a beautiful picture! looking forward to more tales about Erin!

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    1. Thanks so much Jodi!! Yeah the pics came out nice considering I use a point and shoot camera and I highly recommend Greece to history lovers. More stories coming for sure....Thanks for visiting!!

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  9. David-Erin-history tour <3

    Awesome read... and learned so many things :)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words Jyoti :)

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  10. You have given us such a lovely tour...and with this you have relived your memories with Erin.

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    1. My trusty point and shoot camera never let me down...Thanks for swinging by!!!

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  12. Greece with all the gods and Erin and you, that must have been some illuminating tour you two had. Loved reading about it David.

    http://rimlybezbaruah.blogspot.in/2012/03/aftermath.html

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    1. It was an amazing trip and so special in many ways...Wish all weekends could be so memorable. Rimly thanks for visiting!!

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