Posts Tagged ‘travel to greece’

The New Acropolis Museum

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The Acropolis at night.

Archeologists continued to excavate with great results at Greece’s Acropolis since 1865, when construction of the first Acropolis Museum began. A new museum was opened in June, 2009, showcasing the many new artifacts discovered on the site since the first museum opened. Highlights of the new museum include the Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, which houses artifacts found in the sanctuaries and settlements along Acropolis’ slopes, including items in use by everyday Athenians. The floor of this gallery can become transparent, allowing visitors a view of archaeological excavations still ongoing below.  The Archaic gallery features statuary and other sculptures, which visitors can view from all sides in natural light. The Parthenon Gallery  provides a fantastic view of the Parthenon itself, as well as an opportunity to view its famous frieze up close.

But there’s plenty to see and do in Greece besides the Acropolis Museum. Families traveling to Greece on our Voyage to the Lands of Gods and Heroes can do their own mock archaeological excavation, learn how the ancients navigated by the stars, compete in their own Olympic events, and take a treasure hunt through the streets of Athens.

What’s the most interesting thing about the ancient Greeks? Please share.

Travel Hit List: Greece

Friday, June 26th, 2009
The Parthenon of Athen's Acropolis. Photo: Flickr user roblisameehan.

The Parthenon of Athens' Acropolis. Photo: Flickr user roblisameehan.

We can’t wait to go back to Greece to sample the region’s famous ancient sites, tasty food, and lively music. We’re sure you’ll enjoy this incredible destination as much as we do! Scroll down to learn more.

Read: How archeologist-turned-forensic-architects have unlocked Greek construction techniques in their quest to restore the Parthenon.

Listen: Traditional Greek ballads, sung by Jimmy Lindaros.

Watch: What the oldest, best preserved Greek tomb paintings have to teach us about this ancient culture’s beliefs in terms of the afterlife.

Eat and Drink: Enjoy Smithsonian Journeys program manager Gloria Baxevanis’ account of a lovely meal in a small Greek café.

Check out: Coinage from Corinth, one of the largest cities in Ancient Greece, courtesy of the folks in the numismatics department at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Travel: Now is a great time to book a journey to Greece.

Join: Smithsonian Journeys is on Facebook. Become a fan today.

Share your memories of past travel or future travel plans to Greece below.

Dining with the Gods

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Gloria Baxevanis is an International Programmer and Financial Assistant with Smithsonian Journeys and has been with the Institution since early 2005. A native of Romania, prior to joining the Smithsonian, Gloria was actively involved in the country’s environmental movement. Her career there took her to 16 European Countries. Here, she recounts a recent trip to Crete.

A back courtyard in Crete. Photo: Gloria Baxevanis

A back courtyard in Crete. Photo: Gloria Baxevanis

Wherever I traveled in Crete, I met people who treasured their culinary heritage. On this magical island, birthplace of Zeus himself, there are still people who take the time to make their own yogurt, cheese, wine, and olive oil. They tend to small orchards, vegetable gardens, and sheep just as their parents and grandparents used to. Hania, in northwestern Crete, is the island’s capital city and the place where tourists flock by the thousands each year. Peppered with small, family-run restaurants, Hania offers the very best of Greek and Cretan cuisine and the freshest ingredients.

A chilly March sun interjects its shy rays through the clouds like ancient Greek spears preparing for battle. Families stroll the promenade under the occasional salty sprinkle. Young boys fish at the pier, their laughter clouded by the sea’s hum. Old couples sit on benches, recalling the past. Sunday mid-day is leisure time for the Greeks, a time for good company, good conversation, and more importantly, good food.

This tiny restaurant had some wonderful mezethes. Photo: Gloria Baxevanis

This tiny restaurant had some wonderful mezethes. Photo: Gloria Baxevanis

As my husband and I come across a rather insignificant restaurant we are greeted with a friendly “kalimera” and offered to taste the owner’s raki. The fiery liquid is good and very strong. It burns our tongues and slips down our throats, bringing out our appetites. This is the way Greek restaurants lure customers—with a glass of strong raki. We are hungry now, and sit down carefully. These chairs do not inspire too much trust! One minute later Manos, the owner, brings out freshly baked bread and golden-greenish goodness – spiced olive oil. Quietly standing behind her father is Maria, Manos’ teen-aged daughter, who is eager to display her waitress talents and practice her English.

We put aside the menus and ask Manos for today’s specials, also asking him what ingredients he is using. He proudly tells us that his brother-in-law has a small vineyard just a short drive from here, on the slopes towards Iraklio, and that his white house wine is one of the best on the island. As for the vegetables in his salad, they all come from his garden: huge, ruby tomatoes of irregular shapes, bursting with flavor; long, crunchy green peppers; and dark green, juicy, sweet cucumbers. His wife, Maria, tends the garden, Manos said. She takes good care of it and knows exactly when to pick each vegetable so that it is just right. “Because you know,” he says, “she is the chef, and a very good one.”

We feast on roasted and marinated red peppers and a few servings of gavros (tiny marinated fish). A huge bowl of Greek salad reigns in the center of the table, its vivid greens and reds showing off the sweet goodness of fresh vegetables. Yellow-green olive oil drizzles were sparkling like rivers of gold. Manos and Maria the daughter keep bringing out countless mezethes tastefully arranged on small, simple plates: a few dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves) and keftedes (meatballs) are quickly followed by tender, young octopus prepared in red wine.