May 12 begins this adventure. We will drive to Dallas to catch our flight to Athens. We will spend 4 days in Athens before cruising up the coast to Venice. Once in Venice, we will spend a week seeking our heritage.

Come along for the ride!

I’m leaving on a jet plane. Leaving tomorrow. Ready to hit the road running Tuesday in Athens.

Ok not to be snobby but how bad can a business class lounge be. Well Lufthansa at DFW had maybe 20 seats and canned sodas and juices and bags of chips. Wow.

Ready for takeoff



The Acropolis

Mount Lycabettus

Dinner at rooftop bar

Real Greek olives


The view from my bedroom at apartment.

It is pouring rain as we get ready to retire for the night. We have a covered patio where tomorrow night I will sit and enjoy the scenery. \240

Each city was its own state. The Acropolis means highest point of city. It is also a fortification. Ancient Greeks believed in 12 gods. The Acropolis standing today goes back 2500 years to 500 BC. The oldest theatre in the world is in Athens. The first battle between Athenians and Persianswas at Marathon. Years later, 300 Spartans battled Persians and all died in battle. The Athenians abandoned Athens and defeated the Persians at sea. During this battle, the Acropolis was set on fire. What we see today was constructed after Persian War. \240The ruins were not excavated until beginning in early 1900’s. Until that time, additional villages had been built on top of the Acropolis area. The Parthenon had a wood roof which did all temples of that time.

The area to the left is from 2500 years ago.

This is later years.

The clay tubes indicate bathrooms and more modern from 2nd or 3rd century AD.

Hospitals in bicentennial Greece were always next to the Amphitheatres. Medical tools and cupping were around 2500 years ago.

Porch of Korai where ancestors of the gods were buried.

Nike adjusting her sandal.

All temples and churches face east which indicates power.

The oldest courthouse bench. This is also the place The Apostle Paul preachered when he came to Athens.

Agora- the oldest market in Athens

Temple of Zeus

Ancient Amphitheater

Porch of Korai

The Changing of the Guard - the skirts have 400 folds to symbolize 400 years of Turkish occupation.

The oldest church in Athens

Outdoor movie theatre

Today 18,567 steps.

Tomorrow - Meteora and another 15,000 steps possible.

Today we are visiting Meteora. Meteora means between the heaven and earth.. The Grand Monastery built in 14th century. Hermits started living in the caves in the 9th century. \240There were 300 monks in the 16th century but only 10 now.

There are 200 steps to get up to Monastery.

The Grand Monastery

The Grand Monastery close.

The original kitchen until 19th century.

St Valaam Monastery

St Stephens Monastery

This bridge used to be a draw bridge

St Nickalaus Monastery

Olive Trees- each family has enough trees to provide olives and olive oil for that family. Our guide has 140 olive trees. 100 provide olives for olive oil and 40 provide olives for the table. These are Kalamati olives. The olives are harvested in November and December. The trees are “combed” and the olives fall into nets to take to refinery.

Typical Greek dinner of moussaka

These caves are where hermits lives.

Today we board the ship. For those at home that suffer from allergies, Greece is no different than home. I’m heading to pharmacy now.

We are on boat.

The rooms are a little smaller than we usually book but for 1 person, they are very nice.

Heading to Temple of Poseidon this evening for sunset.

Lake of Vouliagmene 70% fresh water and 30% salt water. Alway 62 degrees. It is hot springs.

55,000 Greek Jews died in World War II. Greek was an important location for Nazis as the mountains contain silver.

Sunset at Temple of Poseidon

Hadrian’s Arch

Roman Agora (market)

Wine with cookies.

Syrian children protesting that Greek government not doing enough for them with winter coming.

Today we are in Santorini. Home of the whitewashed buildings and blue roofs. Greece is made up of 2,000 islands of which 200 are in habited.

On Santorini, the vineyards are twisted into a basket formation with the grapes growing inside the basket. This is done to keep the winds from ruining the grape produce. \240Vincente is a popular sweet dessert wine from Santorini.

Santorini donkeys

The blue doors on right are cave homes.

View from my balcony

Today we are in Olympia, home of the first Olympic Games. The olympics were first held in 1776 BC. The modern olympics began in 1895. They started the games to stop the wars between the city states. The Greeks believe the Olympic Games were the first step toward democracy because they were free for everyone. There was only one winner. No second or third places. Once you lose you could not enter again. The original games were for men only because they were conducted naked. Their prize was a headdress from olive tree. The Olympic torch starts in Katakolon every 4years for the current games. Olympia means The House of the 12 Gods.

Olympia is a tourist destination. Only 2500 people live here.

Katakolon had first railroad. It was a large port for exporting raisins and olive oil.

Philippeion - the only circular building in Altus.

Temple of Hera

The oldest temple of the Sanctuary. According to legend, here was kept the disk of Sacred Truce.

Hera’s Altar - the lighting of the Olympic flame takes place here.

Bases of Zane’s - bronze statues of Zeus erected with fines imposed on athletes who cheated. The inscriptions held their names and the nature of the infringement.

The Olympic Stadium. Capacity 45,000 seating on grass.

Base of Paronio’s Victory. On this triangular shaped base stood the winged Victory statue.

Temple of Zeus


1st century AD

4th and 3rd century BC

2nd half of 2nd century AD

Hermès of Praxiteles - found during excavation of Temple of Hera. In his raised right arm he was probably holding grapes, a symbol of association with future god of wine.

The Nike of Paeonios

Upper left - end of 8th century BC

Middle - beginning of 7th century BC

Bottom left, center and bottom right - mid 7th beginning of 6th century BC

Olympialand Winery

Monastery of Virgin Mary at top.

At Monastery of Virgin Mary

Today we are in Corfu, Greece.

First stop Kanoni

5th Century BC Byzantine Church

The Old fortress 5th Century BC

The Venetian occupation started in 14th Century BC \240and lasted 4 centuries.

In WWI, it served as shelter for Serbian soldiers.

Sea moat of old fortress

Guilford founder of first university in Corfu.

Tomorrow is celebration of alliance with Greece.

The tallest bell tower in Corfu

Palace of St George and Michael

The gates around town closed at night and opened in morning to separate townspeople from country people.

The arch on left Dedicated to St George. The arch on right dedicated to Arch angel Michael.

In 1968 the monarchy ended then it was under dictatorship until 1974. Now they are democracy. \240 During WWII all of Greece was under German occupation.

Any addition above 3rd floor is British addition.

Greek Vikars outside church of St Spyridon

Traveling musicians

Kotor, Montenegro

Today is Independence Day recognizing 13 years of independence from Yugoslavia.

Woke up to beautiful sights on the water. \240These is on the inlet from the Adriatic Sea. This submerged river canyon is often called Europe’s southernmost fjord. For nearly 300 years, Kotor was a province of Venice. \240Montenegro means Black Mountain.

Elementary school is free and cumpolsury. After that, Gymnasium is College prep. They also have vocational training.

The country is still recovering from Yugoslav Wars of 1990s. Montenegro used to be part of Yugoslavia.

Boca Bay consists of 4 gulfs.

Our Lady of Rock

Our tour to olive oil manufacturer. He explained that good olive oil should smell like freshly mowed grass and apples. It should also have a peppery taste. The difference between Extra Virgin olive oil and Virgin olive oil is that Extra Virgin the olives are hand picked from the olive trees and processed the same day. Olive oil is best kept in dark glass bottles for best conditions. Keep out of sun and heat.

The rock walls serve multiple purposes. One, it indicates property lines. Secondly, it holds back erosion of the land.

Bar for donkey

St John fort

Lady of Remedy Church

Church of St Tryton. Left spire constructed 1166. Right spire 2016 after earthquake.

Church of St Luke

Today we are in Dubrovnik, Croatia. There are 45,000 inhabitants of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is bordered by Montenegro and Bosnia/Herzegovina. Most of Dubrovnik is new because it was heavily bombed 30 years ago. \240Dubrovnik means forest of oak trees.

This is where Game of Thrones and last episode of Star Wars were filmed here. James Bond is going to be filmed here.

Overlooking Dubrovnik


Pula Gate.

St Nichalus church. The oldest church in town.

Dominican Monastery

City Walls

In 14th century Salt was considered white gold and Dubrovnik was very wealthy. Most of the city was destroyed by earthquake or fire during 17th Century.

You can see the marks from shrapnel

City streets

Bible from 11th century

Tombstones on floor of family coat of arms

Today we are in Zadar, Croatia

The city walls touched the sea. There were 12,000 inhabitants but 8500 died in the plague. \240The Croatians and Hungarians lived together starting in 1100s. In 1402, Laslow sold Croatia to Venice which caused split.

Italian was only language allowed to be spoken here unlit 19th century.

The sea organ has 70 pipes which are played as tide comes in.

Benedictine monastery built 1046

Church built in 820. Inside the short walls was excavated after WWII. Most everything was destroyed during WWII. The Benedictine nuns hid the treasures. There is a traveling altar and crown among many crucifixes. There is a relic of cross of Jesus. Theses treasures were hidden in the bellfrey.

St Simeon’s body is in Zadar since 1270. There is a celebration once per year where they open his cercoficus to confirm his body is there. St Simeon held the son of god in his hand.

Roman column from 1st century.

Altar where they sacrificed animals

Cathedral of Saint Anastasia. 1202 destroyed. 1285 reconstruction started. 1325 it was reopened.

The church of St Lawrence was forgotten about and everything built around it. This is where someone sentenced to death spent their last night.

1st century Roman column

Solar sun with smaller planets of solar system.

Sea organ with benches which simulate keyboard.

Today Koper, Slovenia

Slovenia was founded 2,000 years ago. Stills the Hun came through this area and destroyed much of it. Slovenia was part of Austrian empire until 1918. They used to be a part of Yugoslavia along with Serbia and Croatia. After WWII, they became communist country. Tito was their ruler. Tito ruled until 1980.

Lake Bled was given to the Catholic Church in 1004.

Pretoria’s Palace Tito Square

Clock Tower that used to be Watch Tower

Monastery of Medievel knights Ljubljana

Southern city wall of Ljubljana Roman times

Ljubljana Castle


Lake Bled Castle

Lake Bled Island

Lake Bled Castle Church

Torino , Italy we arrived in Venice and immediately took train to Torino.

Savoy hunting lodge. 137 rooms.

Sacre St Michele

The view from above

Filling up wine jugs

Dinner at Agriturismo

Venice from ship before we took train to Torino

Torino, Italy - Today the 2nd largest bike race in the world will be coming through this area. We will be visiting Navetta where my family is from. Navetta was a very poor area when my great grandparents lived there but no is mostly summer homes for wealthy. A lot of the homes have been renovated and added onto.

Castello di Masina

Castello di Masina

The banquet hall at our bed and breakfast

Winery at bed and breakfast

Jim and Julie at house no 14 in Navetta, Italy where our great grandparents lived.

The original part of house no 14

The original road in Navetta

Cuorgne, Italy

Outside Torino, Italy. Going to have an easy day today. Wine tasting and some sightseeing.

Wine terrace

Roman remains


Cheese house valley de Astoe

Wine casks

Torino to Florence. Taking train to Florence then Pizza and Gelato class.

Florence wood shop

Peeling and coring pears for pear gelato

Gelato tasting

Pizza oven

Pizza making

Graduation from pizza making and gelato


Today Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano

Siena is in southern Tuscany. Pisa is on the coast. \240Siena is a preserved medieval town. Siena is divided into 17 contradas (neighborhoods) divided by water. Each contrast has its own church and stables. Siena is famous for horse races through town twice each year.

Tuscany allows no irrigation of the vineyards other than wine. It was pouring while we were there so they were happy. Grape harvest is 3rd or 4th week of September. This winery only produces 100,000 bottles of wine in 3 wineries. Grape skins used for Grappa, Grapes wine and stems fertilizer. \240Chianti was the first wine in the world. It dates to 1716. Only 10 towns are allowed to produce Chianti Classico. The label must have a black rooster on it to indicate from this region. The area is between Florence and Siena.

Jeanne’s new favorite word is uscita, pronounced ushitta.

Some pictures from our villa

Tuscan villa

Monte Dei Paschi - the oldest bank in the world. Founded in 1472 and still operating.

The top is head sculptures

Represent Ramules and Ramos. The only thing that links Siena to Rome is this legend.

Built between 10th and 11th century. Built in honor of St Christopher.


The Loche gallery

A typical street

Church of Saint Dominic

The Baptistry - dedicated to St John the Baptist. The facade was not finished because 80-85% of citizens died due to Black Death.

The Cathedral of Siena. Started in 12th century. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The floor is a marble mosaic announcing the coming of the Messiah.

Facade of new church which was stopped due to Black Death.

Wine tasting

SAN Gimignano- a UNESCO heritage site. One block long filled with souvenir shops and gelato stores. As you can see, it is pouring rain.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Straightening it back up


On train to Venice. Left Jeanne and Jim headed to Rome.

Water taxi to hotel


View from my room


St Mark’s Basilica

Gondola ride

Last day. Taking water taxi to airport hotel which will give us tour of Venice. \240At hotel. Headed home early morning. It’s been a fantastic trip.


Had to share final dessert in Italy