Our Trips to Crete and Greece are only a few weeks past; but seem now so long ago…
Hotels checked, Museums revisited, meals with old friends, new contacts made. We hope the following will be of assistance for school trips, your own holiday plans and perhaps even with holiday reading!
Crete –The Hotel du Lac, overlooking the Lagoon in Aghios Nikolaos, was a perfect self catering base. Cool in the 30+ degrees and very quiet, despite its central position. Breakfast on the balcony, stupendous view, watching the fishermen go out with regular hitch hiking priest. Perfect in the evenings after a hard day’s Risk Assessing and site hopping. It would be an excellent base for an Inspection Trip and also for small School Parties or VI Formers (room only + fridge) as there’s a small lounge by Reception and Taverna below.
Heraklion is as busy as ever, though decidedly upmarket these days. The newly revamped Archaeological Museum is a joy.
Small souvlaki take away outlets are situated nearby – we enjoyed 2 x pork and 2 x chicken souvlaki sticks + garlic bread + home made chips + a small bottle of water for 5€; not each, between us!
We even managed to fit in Hellenistic Tripiti en route to the Minoan port of Itanos near Vaii and Paleo Kastro.
The 4* Hotel Miramare is now available for school trips and only 20 minutes walk from Aghios Nikolaos. Superb view and facilities, daily visits by a local GP, close enough to the centre, but far enough out to deter midnight jaunts. It even has an outside theatre should you wish to lecture or put on your own play.
Epicureans will adore Enagron, an ecotourism village at Axos, 40 minutes drive from Heraklion Airport en route to Lasithi. Situated in the mountains, Enagron produces its own food and drink – all organic. Individual rustic bungalows and villas with all mod cons; use the telescope on the veranda to observe Red Kites and Eagles flying above during the day or the heavens at night – no light pollution of course! You could simply stay on site and relax, experiment with cooking and raki making, undertake your own excursions or organised hike or donkey trek. John has already offered himself as a slave to Stavroula in the kitchen! Cool in the Summer but best of all – it’s open at Christmas!
Tavern Seli Ambelou fed us royally en route to Doric Karphi – lots of room for School Groups after a visit to the Diktaean Cave on Lassithi, lovely garden and view, excellent food – and an opportunity for School Trip Cookery Courses.
Mainland Greece – excellent weather to start with but then torrential rain and electric storms hit us………as did the Nafplion Port Police in a 4×4!
Athens was as usual incredibly calm and uneventful; but our Hotel is on the south side of the Akropolis and far from Syntagma should any Demos have been planned!
It’s always a delight to visit the British School at Athens in Kolonaki where Maria and Tanya welcomed us with open arms. Tennis Courts and gardens are available (strictly by arrangement through us) for those requiring a tranquil respite. This year’s visit was bitter sweet however as we also visited the Memorial Garden to Hector and Elizabeth Catling.
Many new excellent eateries, suitable for school parties have opened up in the centre – very reasonable prices too!
We particularly liked Mana (on an axis between Ermou and Aeolou behind the Byzantine Chapel) – astoundingly cheap dishes with seating both indoor and out.
Should any of you wish to organise a Greek cuisine making and tasting experience – Edward of MCC Catering (www.mmc-catering.com) is your man! He is catering for one of our groups following in the footsteps of John Pendlebury (“The Rash Adventurer” Imogen Grundon, ISBN-10: 1901965066 ISBN-13: 9781901965063) and also Catering Courses at his premises for any of our interested Groups. Should any adults wishing to experience rather more refined wining and dining, Edward also offers tutored sessions.
He was shattered when we met him as he’d been up since five am baking.
Tolo was a welcome respite after Athens, despite the electrical storm which knocked out the whole of the village’s power supply at midnight. Hurray for the generator at the Minoa!
Assine (at the end of the beach) may sadly, be out of bounds for a while as a massive regeneration plan has begun. The new walkways we will be a welcome safety addition instead of scrambling up the original Mycenaean staircase; but as they are uncovering artefacts almost hourly, I can’t see the Spring completion date being hit. There are also plans afoot to excavate the nearby Temple and Nekropolis – the landowner having realised he can’t farm it now plans to release it, we gather!
Nikos at Gemelos Taverna in ancient Corinth begs those of you wishing to eat on the terrace overlooking the site to please book in advance! Guy Sanders (Director of Excavations) welcomed us for coffee in the Dig House (with his crazy dogs) and promises to guide as many of you as possible, but work commitments come first. Truro High School is however confirmed – he’s a Cornish lad!
Our drive over the mountains to Bassae was a tad hair raising. The weather was appalling and the road works dreadful. Should anyone be unable to visit – we will of course refund.
Dimitri and his indomitable Mamma were as welcoming as ever at the Neda Hotel, Olympia and the new pool was still open, even in November!
The Akropole Hotel, Delphi will have restricted availability for a while we’re afraid. Unbelievably, a Tourist decided to light a fire in one of the top bedrooms! The Fire Service arrived almost instantly and there were no casualties, but the top floor is out of bounds. As the investigation is ongoing, the insurance and rebuilding will take an age. Effi and Socrates are devastated.
Apologies to those who, as a consequence, may not be able to stay in your preferred Delphi Hotel. However do we have an alternative – a quite superb 4* Hotel at 3* prices, albeit a little outside the village. Affected customers will be notified and they won’t be disappointed.
Now, what about coffee with Agamemnon and Schliemann’s bed, I hear you cry?!
Possibly for me, the highlight of the Trip was revisiting Belle Helene in Mycenae. Originally the base for Heinrich Schliemann (est 1862) when excavating at Mycenae and many others since including Michael Wood and Bettany Hughes (“An Affair of the Heart”, Dilys Powell, London: Hodder & Stoughton) the guest house is still run by the Dassis family and offers coffee, drinks and meals but is sadly ignored by visitors who prefer the more modern establishments in the area. It is a living Museum and deserves the support of we Classicists!
Not only is Agamemnon incredibly welcoming, the walls are covered in displays of autographs of famous visitors (Virginia Woolf, Benjamin Britten, Jean-Paul Sartre, Himmler, Speer, Goering, JK Rowling, Agatha Christie) – and if you are very lucky you may be able to see Schliemann’s room with his original bed.
Please don’t just stop outside and take photographs. Booking however is essential.
Good Luck with End of Term activities and obligations – and we hope you don’t succumb to the ghastly flu that seems to be doing the rounds once again and decimating Staff!
I’m sure there’s a particular End of Term virus specifically targeting Teachers…..
Happy Christmas and New Year!
Sarah and John