It was day two on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner on my Viking journey to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land. My boyfriend L and I were traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* Our first port of call was Piraeus, one of the biggest ports in Europe and the third largest in the world.
After a delicious buffet breakfast at World Cafe, one of the Viking Star restaurants, we boarded the coach destined for Greece’s Capital. We would have a panoramic tour of Athens and then visit the National Archaeological Museum, which travel writer Rick Steves says, “is far and away the top ancient Greek art collection anywhere…and is a great way to begin or finish off your sightseeing through Greece.”
A Lesson in Greek Philosophy and Mythology
Our leader Vessia was a professionally trained guide of the country and told us about the special school she went to in Greece to become a tour guide. She had an incredible knowledge of Greek history, language, culture and philosophy and was eager to share.
She explained how different words stem from the Greek language. “You are speaking Greek but you don’t realize it,” Vessia said. “For example, Acropolis means the highest point or extremity. Acrophobia means an extreme phobia. That’s why you say ‘it’s all Greek to me!'”
She described the Greek philosophy. “We believe everything in life is moving. It is changing,” Vessia said. “It starts with the river, the river becomes the clouds. Then the clouds get full and rain and the clouds become the river. Everything is changing. Life is a series of ups and downs.”
It was interesting to learn about Greek mythology. “Athena is one of the goddesses. Athena was born from her father’s head. Her father was the god Zeus. That’s why she became the goddess of wisdom,” Vessia said. “She wears a helmet. Athena had shiny blue eyes like an owl. The owl can see in the dark and is the symbol of Greece. The blue eye is for good luck.” Vessia also noted that the snake is the Greek symbol of health.
Our coach made a stop so we could view the Acropolis and Parthenon. I didn’t miss the more extended tour as I had climbed to the top of the Acropolis when I visited Greece in June. (You can read my post here.) We walked around town smelling citrus and mulberry trees, which are ornaments of the city. Then we drove to see the Olympic Stadium and the Marathon Runner sculpture made of glass and iron.
Of course, Nike originated in Greece. “Nike means victory,” Vessia said. “The Nike is young because she is always flying. No one is forever the winner or you will become arrogant. So, she wins, she flies, she loses and then she wins again. Everyone deserves a victory.” (I like the Greek way of thinking!)
Stepping Back In Time At The National Archeological Museum
I was glad that the National Archeological Museum was on our schedule. I had not seen that particular museum during my previous time in Athens. The museum has more than 11,000 exhibits, and provides an overview of Greek civilization from the beginnings of Prehistory to Late Antiquity.
Vessia walked us through the exhibits. It was eye-opening to learn about Greek lore and history through sculptures and artifacts:
♥ There were weapons made of bronze and some made of iron. Vessia said. “When there was a war between bronze and iron, iron is much stronger and everything was destroyed.”
♥ There were Greek statues from the 8th century B.C. “The Greek statues have their left leg to the front. It represents a positive expression of always moving forward,” Vessia said.
♥ There were funeral urns and monuments. “Death for Greeks is important. It is part of life,” Vessia said. The urns were built with a hole in the bottom for the liquids to go into the earth. It was for rebirth. In fact, Vessia said that “for Greeks you are born innocent. When you wake up spiritually you are alive.”
♥ There were Greek bridal trinkets. Vessia commented on the brain and how it relates to wedding postures. It reminded me of my lessons from yoga training. “The left hemisphere of the brain affects the right side – our male side of the body. The right hemisphere affects the left or feminine side of the body,” she said. “The bride always stands on the left side of the groom, because his left side needs the support of the body. The right side needs to be open to be creative. God took the left side of the body of Adam to create Eve.”
♥ We learned about the two positions of Greek praying. “One is asking for things,” Vessia said. “The other is thanking for getting things.”
♥ We saw the stone tablets and the Antikythera mechanism, which was the first computer of the world. (Wonder what ancient Greeks would have thought of the iPad?)
Greek Food On The Menu
It had been an educational experience learning about ancient Athens and how its history applies to so many aspects of life today. By the afternoon, we were ready to go back to the Viking Star. Dinner at The Restaurant featured Greek food. I especially enjoyed my baklava dessert that night.
Next my Viking journey would take us to Mykonos, the smallest of the Greek isles, where we would partake in a tour and tasting of its specialties.
See you there soon.
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P.S. In case you missed my earlier post about my Viking Ocean Cruise, check it out below:
*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip on the Cities of Antiquity and Holy Lands Ocean Cruise. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.