Thessaloniki: "Welcome to Greece"

July 6, 2001

I took the bus south. It took one hour to cross the border out of Bulgaria and another hour to cross into Greece. After all the passport checking and rechecking - standing around in the hot sun for two hours - the driver drove about thirty seconds, pulled off the road and we stopped for a coffee! As Manuela might say, “Welcome to Greece.”

I arrived in Thessaloniki on July 4 and celebrated with a drink at a bar overlooking the Bay of Thessaloniki. I finally made it to the Sea. The bar was noisy and crowded with young people on cell phones, and the orange juice I ordered cost about as much as a full dinner in Sofia. I guess I am now in the West.

Yesterday I rented a car for my trip here in North and Central Greece.

You think Bostonians are crazy? Parisians? New Yorkers? Floridians? Forgetaboutit. Greek drivers are …!!! It’s a Greek Tragedy and The Furies are everywhere!

Three Castles


The Peloponnese


May 4, 2015


Civilizations are born, grow, prosper, decline and disappear.

Empires are here for a moment and fade into history books.

Fortresses are built. Castles and walls are constructed, besieged, breached and conquered.

Here in Greece I encounter three such examples.

How many past examples do we need?

The American writer William Faulkner wrote: “The past is not dead.  It's not even past.”

Kythira Island




May 2, 2015

Here’s a brief discussion:

“You have a strategic decision to make,” observed my New York friend David L. when I told him of my upcoming journey to Athens and The Balkans.

“I have already made that decision,” I responded.  “As an alternative to sailing east from Athens to visit the ever popular Greek Islands, I am driving west to the Peloponnese peninsula.  I anticipate a destination of rich diversity and ample rewards.”

But, once on the Peloponnese, I cannot resist at least one island.  The Ionian island of Kythira is my choice.  (I had never heard of it.   Have you?)

Monemvasia and the Sea



Mani Peninsula



April 29, 2015


So, here I am, halfway up “The Rock,” looking out over the Gulf of Epidaurus.  The alternate nickname for this fast fortress is “The Gibraltar of Greece.”

Founded in 583 CE and derived from two Greek words meaning “one entrance,” Monemvasia has been settled, besieged, conquered and re-conquered over the ages by every Mediterranean power.  Now, after we drive across the narrow causeway, the island town is mostly besieged by tourists.

 I climb up through the narrow streets past the souvenir shops, coffee shops and restaurants to find the actual town – homes, churches, flowers, cats … and a sparkling view across the blue blue sea.

Epidaurus: Did Sophocles Have the Jitters?




April 28, 2015


Did Sophocles Have the Jitters?


Here’s the scene:

 It’s Opening Night. 

Your latest drama is about to be performed for the first time. 

Local dignitaries and your loyal fans anxiously await and anticipate the opening lines of the first act. 

Critics, too!

Out-of-town travelers have scooped up all the remaining last minute discount tickets.

14,000 are seated on the hard, limestone tiers in the outdoor theater. 

The House is packed.  Restless.  Murmuring.