Posted on Nov 4, 2015 in Alumni News and News
Ancient ruins, turquoise water, and iconic whitewashed buildings. I couldn’t have asked for anything more on my first adventure to Greece and Tukey. The tour company, Gohagan, chartered the beautiful brand new Ponant ship, Le Lyrial. After settling in and participating in the life boat safety drill, KU contingent met for dinner in the main dining room, where I was able to meet fellow Jayhawk travelers. They were easy to spot: our repeat travelers Stan and Suzi Suchman came prepared with a stand-up Jayhawk as the table centerpiece!
Our first stop was a morning walking tour of the archaeological site of Delos, Greece. It was amazing to see this windswept island with so many of the ruins intact. Intricate mosaic tile floors, marble column entryways, and sophisticated water systems of cisterns, sewage, and plumbing covered the city. Highlights of Delos included the Lions guarding a temple of Apollo and the archaeological museum that houses many of the relics, mosaics, and sculptures discovered on the island. That afternoon we sailed the short distance to another of the Cyclades islands of Mykonos. We were greeted by whitewashed houses, colorful doors, and windmills on the island, where we spent the afternoon exploring the winding marble streets and local shops.
Santorini was the next stop on our trip. We arrived on the lagoon side of the island and rode buses to the top of the island to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. During our drive, we saw the different striations of sediment from historic volcanic activity that make up the island. After the museum tour, we headed to the excavations of Akrotiri. A building was constructed over the ruins that have been excavated. The ancient ruins cover miles surrounding the main dig site, dubbed the ‘Minoan Pompeii,” and the town was preserved by volcanic ash. We enjoyed a local Greek lunch and walked around the iconic city of Fira high on top of the island. Note: I did not ride the donkeys, I took the cable car down to the dock even though they use the donkeys in the movies, right?
On to Rhodes in the Dodecanese islands and a visit to Old Town. The city was first built in 408 BC, and when the Knights of St. John arrived in 1309, they built the citadel and the Palace of the Grand Masters. We walked the Street of Knights and shopped Sokratus Street, which was a bazaar-like main street full of local shops and gypsies. The Palace of Grand Masters houses mosaics, art work, and carvings. It survived an earthquake and siege and was accidentally blown up in 1856. The Italians restored it in 1930 for Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel.
Patmos was a stop of religious history. We visited the fortress that is the Monastery of St. John the Divine. The walls are thick and over 15 meters high, built to stave off the attacking pirates. The monastery is adorned with marble floors and beautifully crafted wood-carved icons. The Cave of the Apocalypse is said to be where St. John the Divine made his home when he was exiled to the island by the Roman Emperor in 95 AD. It is here where he was believed to have received the words of God through a dream, and he instructed his disciple Prohoros to write down the Revelations which eventually became the Book of the Apocalypse.
Today, the cave is enclosed within a sanctuary where a convent is built. After a morning of history, we spent the afternoon in town relaxing on a beach and swimming in the Aegean Sea. Good bye beautiful Greek Isles, hello Turkey.
Kusadasi, Turkey is a resort town on the Aegean coast. We loaded the buses and headed to Ephesus. Highlighted by the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theater, the Terrace Houses were the most interesting to me. With their mosaic floors and plaster reliefs, it is amazing to me the amount of excavation and restoration that was involved.
Near the port we saw a demonstration on how Turkish rugs are made and explored the streets and shops on our own. Canakkale, Turkey, is another seaport town with a short trip to the ancient ruins of Troy. Excavations have revealed nine ancient cities built on top of each other at Troy dating back to 3000 BC. It was interesting to see, and there are areas where you can see the grooves in the chariot ramp into the city. A visit to Istanbul rounded out the trip, with trips to the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia’s, and the underground cisterns.
It was a historic and beautiful trip, and I had a wonderful time with our Jayhawk travelers. Elaine and I coincidentally bought the same ring with a Greek keys design. Suzi always had good ideas and input and had some great recommendations on gifts for my mom. Thank you to Suzi, Phyllis, Elaine, and Larry for indulging me and climbing up the Trojan horse for a few great photos. I can’t wait to see where my next Flying Jayhawks adventure takes me.
——Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip to Greece and Turkey in October. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.