Well, as you can see from the above blog title, we are off on the second leg of our round-the-world cruise. (The second leg cost an arm AND a leg!) Nevertheless, our Mediterranean voyage has now become (semi) immortalized in its own book… “Gullible Travelers.” If you recall, the first book was titled “Innocence Abroad,” which was a rather clever reference to Mark Twain’s book, “Innocents Abroad.” (His book was not as funny as mine) Book number two is a similarly clever reference to Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, “Gulliver’s Travels.” (His book was not as funny either)
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we shall begin in Athens, Greece, the ancient metropolis that gave the world democracy, mathematics, philosophy, and hummus. (The hummus was the most important, as it produced the world’s first musical trio… Pita, Paul, and Mary.)
Being something of a poet, I have always been impressed with the works of Homer. (His brother, Jethro, was also a fine poet.) Homer was a great baseball player, and as his name suggests, he led the league in home runs. All right, that was a bit of a stretch. Homer, as you might know, was the author of two epic poems, the INVALID and the ODDITY. (Both are required reading at my alma mater, Dodge City Community College.) They are fascinating poems, but not very humorous.
Upon our arrival in Athens (we flew in from Rome) we checked into a swell joint near the Parthenon. The Parthenon is a former temple, but they never hosted bar mitzvahs there. This temple was dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, courage, and feta cheese. Our lovely room at the Grand Bretagne Hotel overlooked the ancient ruins, so we immediately requested a better view. (Who the heck wants to go to Greece to look at old buildings?) The staff were very accommodating, but I don’t think they understood my American sensibilities.
Half the population of Greece lives in Athens, and that would be about 5 million folks, give or take a few Spartans. I actually love this city, and for good reason. The food in wonderful, the people are gracious, and the history is simply overwhelming. (Almost as cool as the Alamo!) We spent a full day at the National Museum of Greece, which is a “must see” location. Again, most of the items on display were old, but we still managed to enjoy our visit. (By the way, don’t touch any of the ancient vases. They’re very breakable. Just saying.)
Thanks to my brilliant daughter, Rebecca, we booked a food tour of the city, and this turned out to be one of the most interesting days of the trip. Our lovely guide escorted the four of us around Athens, stopping every five minutes for some delectable morsel. We also got to peek around the old markets and sample some goodies there. If you go to Athens, I would definitely recommend this excursion. (I had tzatziki coming out of my ears, but I loved every minute.)
Incidentally, do you remember me mentioning Keats and his relationship to Rome? Well, believe it or not, his famous contemporary, George Gordon, Lord Byron, had a fascinating connection to Greece. In the summer of 1823, Byron left Italy, eager to help the Greeks in their fight for independence. While attempting to raise a regiment (with his own funds) he contracted a fever, and died on April 19, 1824. His body was taken back to England for burial, but he still idolized by Greek scholars and students. (Byron wrote many wonderful poems, but my personal favorite is “She Walks in Beauty.”)
And speaking of beautiful things… I now have a major publisher looking at my first two history books, THE SECOND MOURNING and TURBULENT TIMES, for re-publication under their own imprint. (Something not uncommon in the realm of non-fiction.) I shall keep you informed of my progress! They are also interested in publishing history book number three, GONE BEFORE GLORY. (The complete tale of William McKinley’s amazing life) Wish me luck!
Well, time for breakfast… I do hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year! Have a great week!
Love to all,