Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

Antirrio Harbor and Fort, with the new Rio Antirrio Bridge in background, which connects the Greek mainland to the Peloponnese Peninsula

Following a remarkable visit to the ancient Oracle of Delphi on the mainland of Greece, our Collette tour headed for the Peloponnese Peninsula. Beyond a valley carpeted with thousands of gray-green olive trees we crested a rocky escarpment. I gasped. Hills carpeted with undulating grasses swept down to the azure blue Gulf of Corinth. Our bus wound down to the plain, each curve revealing yet another magnificent view. We followed the coastal road westward, past villages with sparkling white houses and fish farms, bound for the town of Antirrio. Not long afterward the Rio-Antirrio Bridge came into view, its blinding white cables looking like modern day pyramids floating on a gracefully arcing deck. Officially named the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge, this marvel of modern engineering links mainland Antirrio with the Peloponnese town of Rio at the narrowest part of the Gulf of Corinth. Read More

I stood upon the rugged flanks of Mount Parnassus and turned slowly, soaking in the 360-degree panorama. Behind me, pockets of fleshy pink limestone peeked from beneath the mountain’s gray shroud. Before me, a cluster of stately stone columns, carved from the pinkest stone, stood on a crumbling foundation. Giant blocks that once formed the famous Temple of Apollo had all but disappeared beneath swathes of tall grass. Yet despite its humble state, I was beyond excited to finally visit the site of the Oracle at Delphi. It was a journey I had been promising myself for more than 40 years.

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

My curiosity about Delphi began in my mid twenties when, on a whim, I decided to have a series of past-life regressions. During my second session, I was regressed to a lifetime at Delphi, where I was a young male slave who worked for the temple priests. My days were spent transcribing prophecies onto scrolls that were distributed throughout the kingdom. The revelation was so vivid that I simply couldn’t dismiss it. So when Collette invited me on their “Exploring Greece and Its Islands” tour, which included a visit to Delphi, I jumped at the chance. Read More

Of the original 24 Meteora Monasteries in Thessaly, Greece, only six remain. Perched atop a sandstone pinnacle, this is one of the most picturesque.

If the Monastery of the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada) looks familiar to you, you’re likely a James Bond fan. The final scenes of the film, “For Your Eyes Only,” were shot here. Originally numbering 24, only six of the original historic Meteora Monasteries remain. All of them were constructed upon rock outcroppings near the present day towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki, located in the Thessaly region of Greece. Once an extremely remote, unpopulated region, today the Meteora Monasteries are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Read More

Kalambaka Greece is the gateway to the famous site of Meteora, home to monasteries built atop rock pinnacles

Though primarily known as the gateway to Greece’s famous Meteora monasteries, the village of Kalambaka is exquisite in its own right. During a brief lunch stop during my two-week tour of Greece with Collette, I managed to squeeze in a walk around the old town area. Every corner I turned opened onto yet another spectacular view like the one in the above photo. The monolithic pinnacles that rise abruptly behind the town took my breath away. These startling brown sandstone pillars have been in use since ancient times. Initially, wind and water-sculpted caves in the formations served as shelter for locals during bandit and pirate attacks. Later, monks retired to these same caves to lead lives of seclusion and meditation. Shepherds drove their herds to the upper pastures each summer to take advantage of lush grasses that grow there. Read More

On the Greek island of Mykonos, a local man squatted down and began to tenderize octopus he just caught by slammg it repeatedly on the seaside rocks

I’d always heard that you must tenderize octopus before it can be eaten, but I had no idea what that involved until I visited Mykonos, Greece during a tour with Collette. I was enjoying a leisurely lunch at a seaside cafe during one of our free afternoons, when a local man squatted down on the rocks directly in front of me. He raised his right arm high and brought it down forcefully, slamming whatever he held in his hand against the rocks. It took me a moment to realize the “something” he held in his hand was a freshly-caught octopus. Again and again, he bashed the creature onto the boulder. Fascinated, I watched as the rubbery consistency of the octopus gradually melted into a soft, quivering mass. Read More

Blue Dome Viewpoint Santorini Greece

Blue Dome Viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the flooded volcanic caldera on the Greek island of Santorini. Originally connected to the island, the volcano has repeatedly “blown its top” over the past two million years. Each eruption ejected rock and earth from the mountain peak, leaving a near-perect ring of high cliffs surrounding a sunken center. Subsequent tectonic activity lifted, folded, and tore apart the cliffs, allowing sea water to flood into the caldera. The most recent activity, believed to have occurred around 1610 BC, is known as the Minoan eruption. Considred to be one of the largest and most powerful volcanic events in recorded history, it was during this eruption that geologists believe the caldera achieved its current form. Read More