Opa! Growing Up Greek
A weekly postcard from our friends around town.
Destination: Athens, Greece, and some of the Dodecanese Islands
Who Went: The Rosa Family, West Caldwell
What There Was To Do: With a history that spans more than 3,400 years, Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. From the Acropolis (Akropolis) to the Parthenon, Athens offers history and culture for everyone. Other sights not to be missed include the National Archaeological Museum, Mount Lycabettus, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
The Dodecanese Islands (Greek: Δωδεκάνησα) are located in the southeast part of the Aegean Sea and consist of 12 major islands and a number of smaller islands. They offer visitors everything from whitewashed houses and beautiful beaches with crystal waters, to charming villages and an exciting nightlife.
Why Here? The Rosa family decided to take the trip about a year ago to mom Dorothy Rosa’s parents. “Elizabeth and Alex wanted to see where their grandparents met and how their lives were over 50 years ago,” she said.
The family traveled to different farms to see where Rosa’s father lived and worked. “The island of Tilos, my dad's hometown, only has about 400 people on it,” added Rosa. “Papou, which means grandpa in Greece, was a shepherd of over 1,000 goats and sheep.”
Highlight of the Trip: The family enjoyed swimming in the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea every day, visiting with friends and family, and dancing at numerous festivals. And, of course, they enjoyed the delicious Greek cuisine with fish, goat and fresh vegetables.
The Travel Brochures Say: A center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, Athens is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy.
Visitors to Athens experience the culture and history through ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. Home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery, Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later, it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics. As the most famous landmark of entire Greece, Acropolis is the eternal symbol of democracy, education and inspiration.
Other highlights include: The site of the Ancient Agora, which offers a very green space and beautiful view of the Acropolis, including the Temple of Hephaestus; the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities; and the new Acropolis Museum.
Only the ruins remain of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The column that fell and can still be seen in pieces was brought down during a thunderstorm about a century ago. The 1896 Olympic Stadium and Hadrian's Arch are located nearby. Also not to be missed is the Panathinaiko Stadium, the stadium that housed the Olympic Games of 1896.
Because of its antiquity and influence, Athens is full of museums and galleries. The major ones are the National Archeological Museum near Omonia, the New Acropolis Museum by the Acropolis, the Benaki and Cycladic Art Museums in Kolonaki, the Agora Museum near Monastiraki, and the Kanellopoulos and Folk Art Museums in Plaka.
The Dodecanese islands consist of 12 major islands and a number of smaller islands: Astypalea, Leros, Lipsi, Nisyros, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kastellorizo, Kos, Patmos, Rhodes, Tilos, some of which are located at the border to Turkey.
Attracting thousands of visitors every year, Patmos is one of the most religious Greek islands because it is where Saint John the Divine had his revelation and wrote the "Apocalypse." It used to be an important place of pilgrimage and belonged to the Church. From this unique past, the impressive Monastery of Saint John and signs prohibiting nude bathing remain.