Viewing a breathtaking sunrise from a hot air balloon floating over Cappadocia in Central Turkey – tick that off the bucket list. Cappadocia is famous for its “fairy chimneys” and homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes and later utilised by – many of these caves are still lived in today. Our hotel suite in the small village of Ayvali Koya consisted of three interconnecting caves first carved by the Romans in the 2nd century and we slept in a 300 year old Ottoman antique bed. What a way to experience history!
From Turkey we flew to Greece to spend 5 days experiencing the classical history. A room with a view to the Acropolis from our balcony was a great way to begin. In the Plaka neighbourhood, clustered around the slopes of the Acropolis, it’s fascinating to walk around the labyrinthine streets mesmerised by the history, music, cuisine and people. The Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square is definitely worth catching – very colourful and interesting.
After crossing the Corinth Canal we were on the Peloponnesian peninsula and surrounded by olive groves and enthralling history. We assessed the 4th century BC Theatre of Epidaurus, acclaimed for its perfect acoustics and fine structure. The acoustics definitely lived up to their reputation – I was sitting in the very top row and I could clearly hear Garry talking normally whilst he was standing down in centre stage.
The views from the Palmadi Castle in Nafplio were well worth the 999 steps from the town to the top of the castle. A walk around the coastal cliffs and a dip in the Aegean at Arvanitia Beach were most welcome on a hot afternoon.
The Greeks were quite fond of building in the mountains so visits to Mycenae and Delphi included a bit of climbing – but definitely worth it. I got to mark off another tick at the sanctuary of Olympia, the site of the classical Olympic Games. I ran the Olympic track! What a buzz! Probably not my best time but at least I ran it!
After our short time in Greece we flew to Split, Croatia. Our accommodation was built into the walls of the old town surrounding Diocletian’s Palace, built in the 4th century – no lifts in this place! I never tire of walking around the maze of streets in these old cities. We enjoyed a tasty home cooked meal at a little family restaurant – Mum was in the kitchen cooking up a feast, the son was out front being a charming host, and Dad was there just getting in everyone’s way.