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Black Tie International Travel  1
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Black Tie International Magazine - Travel- The Long Walls of Athens



Traveling Along… with Bob Nicolaides

The Long Wall



The Long Walls of Athens, constructed in the mid 5th century BC, connected the city-state of Athens with its port city of Piraeus. They were begun in 461 BC under Themistocles after his victory at Salamis, possibly by Cimon, and completed under Pericles in 457 BC, with the aim of making Athens an impregnable city and preventing its being cut off from its harbor and from the rest of the world when beseiged by land. This ensured that Athens would never be cut off from supplies as long as it controlled the sea. The two well-fortified Long Walls were 1 "stade" (160 meters) apart, 6000 meters long and 20 meters high. There were three harbors at the port of Piraeus at the time, for grain ships, merchant ships and warships, and ensured that Athens could receive supplies during the Peloponnesian Wars.

The Long Walls were destroyed by the Spartans in 404 BC after Athens was defeated in the First Peloponnesian War and surrendered to Sparta. Conon rebuilt them in 393 BC during the Corinthian War, but they were destroyed again by the Roman general Sulla in 86 BC.The two Long Walls, 40 "stadia" (7 kilometers) in length, ran parallel to each other, with a narrow passage between them.There are three walls in all, with a third wall running from Athens to the Bay of Phalerum (Neo Faliro, today).

Initially, the western wall connected the southwest of Athens with Piraeus, while the eastern wall ran from the south of Athens to the Bay of Phalerum, while a few years (445-443 BC) later a third and middle wall, known as the "third wall" or "southern wall", was erected near to and parallel with the western wall. The two walls to Piraeus (western and southern) are known as the Long Walls, while the eastern wall became known as the Phalerian Wall.

Substantial sections of the southern wall have been recently uncovered at Neo Faliro and adjacent Moschato, during ongoing upgrade works on the ISAP train line.


Xerxes Path in Tempi Valley

The Tempi valley in Central Greece, nestled between the Mt Olympos and Mt Kissavos, was known to travelers in antiquity who wanted to reach Athens from the north via a shortcut through the Tempi pass in order to avoid the mountain ranges. Because of its strategic position Tempi has been the site of several battles. In 480 BC when the King of Persia, Xerxes with 10,000 warriors launched the third campaign to conquer Greece he puzzled on how to pass through the Olympus and Kissavos mountains more quickly and easily in order to take the Greek army by surprise .Xerxes ordered his warriors to create a path in the Tempi valley. This very path was later upgraded by the Romans and the Byzantines. Visitors to Tempi valley may take the latter path and follow the tracks of the ancient troops, as the path is preserved and stays in place as a reminder of the history of a great era.

The Vale of Tempi was a sacred place and the ancient Greeks worshipped Apollo there. Laurels used for the wreaths of the winners of the Pythian Games were collected from the laurel trees that grew in the Valley.

Excavations have unearthed ruins of a temple of Apollo and several pieces of armory used in ancient battles.


An Exotic Vacation the Family will Love

We're diving in an area called Muri Muri, just north of Bora Bora, and almost as soon as we get in the water, our dive master, Benoit Gratas, introduces us to a hawksbill sea turtle -- like Crush, a character in Pixar's"Finding Nemo" -- and shows us how to feed him a piece of sea sponge by hand 70 feet under water.

He's so big -- more than two feet in diameter -- and all around us are yellow and silver, black and gold, striped and dotted puffer fish, barracuda, triggerfish, black tip reef sharks and even a lemon shark. I expect Nemo to come swimming by any minute.

On the Bathy's divers boat we meet honeymooners from Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Stephanie Caron, 21, and Clayton Caron, 15, whose dad had brought them back to a place he'd loved 30 years ago. The Carons are as excited about the underwater world as we are. Brazilian Carlos Stevenson is celebrating his 10th anniversary with his wife and 5-year-old son. Stevenson said they decided to bring young William because they love seeing his excitement. "Every day is a party for him."

Who says kids and romance don't go together? Even in a place as famous for honeymoons as Bora Bora, families rule, especially as Air Tahiti Nui continues to offer kids free deals on flights. There are also great hotel deals. The St. Regis Resort Bora Bora, for example, has an expansive kids' club. And we had an awesome family trip sailing on a catamaran for a week with
Tahiti Yacht Charters.

The Four Seasons Bora Bora, which opened a little over a year ago, deserves high marks for seamlessly meshing the needs of 21st-century families and those seeking romantic getaways.
In some cases, the honeymooning couples
are parents too. Don McClure, a Canadian, and Nihan Preslier, who is Turkish, got married here on the beach with  5-year-old Antoine Preslier taking part  in the festivities. "It's been great," said the bride. "It really works."

The Four Seasons' over-the-water thatched bungalows -- suites with foldout couches, swimming decks and outdoor showers -- are as perfect for a family as they are for couples. The kids will love watching "fishies" swim beneath the floor's glass panels. Another plus to these spacious bungalows: "I don't have
to worry about the kids making noise and bothering somebody below us or next door," says Tammy Darnell, here from Los Angeles, California, with her husband, 3-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.

Let's not forget the free kids club (no $75 fees here) where kids can do everything from learn Tahitian dances to play on the water playground outside where fountains spray the kids as they jump around.

Sure, you say, the Four Seasons can do all this because they're so expensive (look for packages that offer free nights or extra amenities). I've been to a lot of fancy resorts that say they roll out the red carpet for families, but they don't really, and I've been to a lot of budget spots that do a terrific job. This place does it right and it has nothing to do with the thread
count on the sheets. Those that are competing for family vacation dollars might take a page from the Four Seasons playbook.

There's even a spanking new Teen Beach area -- a first for Four Seasons, says marketing manager Don Schreifels, with lounges overlooking the lagoon, a pool table inside and an air-conditioned recreation room offering foosball, computer games, Wii and more. The only thing missing is a fridge with some soft drinks and snacks. The resort has just initiated a teen spa, too. (Vanilla massage or teen facial perhaps?)

How many places do you know that have a resident marine biologist available to teach you and your kids about the ocean?
The Four Seasons' Oliver Martin has laboriously grafted underwater coral (they look like little pots of herbs) in the resort's inner lagoon, which already has 100 species of fish. He believes this Four Seasons project is the largest in French Polynesia -- another effort that sets the Four Seasons apart, especially as a family destination.

"We want children to see how we impact the environment. The whole idea is to develop this asa bio center where children and parents can snorkel, learn about sea life and the environment," says Martin. In the last few months there has been  a touch pool for younger children. He also plans to graft coral underneath the bungalows so that guests can see more sea life when snorkeling right
from their rooms. Coral, he explains, grows as much as 10 inches a year. "We want the children to
understand what they see." Stick around, Martin adds, and you will see things you never realized were there -- octopus mating, angelfish, clown fish (Nemo, finally!) parrotfish and hermit crab.
"Every day is different," he promises.

Of Tombs without Lara Croft

Eight tombs dating to the Hellenist Period were partially revealed recently in the region of Gonous, Larissa Prefecture, after flooding caused by heavy rainfall swept away a rural dirt road. The Archaeological Service subsequently conducted an excavation, which brought to light the tombs which, according to initial assessment, date back to between the end of the 4th century BC and the beginning of the 3rd century BC.


From Zingiberis to Ginger Beer or Ale

n the beginning of the 19th century, the Britons of Corfu cooled their hot afternoons drinking ginger beer or "gingibira" in Greek, a beverage, which - despite its name - had nothing to do with beer and alcohol.  Lemon juice and dried ginger roots are the basic substances of this spicy, refreshing drink with  a peppery taste.

The English word "ginger" comes from the plant’s Greek name zingiberis, which ended up in the English vocabulary through Latin and French influences. 

Ginger root has been discovered by many peoples. In Chinese herbal medicine, it is believed to have  antipyretic and digestive qualities. According to Indians the ginger root triggers passion.

"Gingibira" is still produced on the island of Corfu as a beverage and it is best served chilled, ten days  after its production, to obtain a mature taste. 

Black Forest but no Cake

The Black Forest of Greece is located near the village Orma, in Pella. Thanks to reduced human intervention, it is considered a particularly aged beech forest, which has grown up naturally, passing through all forest aging phases.  The beech trees are so dense and impenetrable, that sun rays barely reach the ground, thus creating the impression of a black forest. Many species of protected fauna find refuge in its distinguished wild beauty. Visitors can tour the forest, through its vertical gradients in water and waterfalls. The legend has it that the Macedonians of Alexander the Great used the Black Forest’s lumber to build their famously known six meter long lances, called sarissa.
Paeania Cave, which is located in the eastern side of Mount Hymettus, is a unique “tourist attraction” in Attica. The cave, also known as Koutouki Cave, is 2 million years old, comprising a precipice, sinking 38 meters into the ground with ascending and descending corridors extending for 350 meters. Its huge central chamber is richly decorated with stalagmites, stalactites, and pillars, creating an imposing image. The cave was accidentally discovered in 1928 and then a tunnel was dug into the rock to allow access. For trekkers, the cave can be reached on foot in about two-and-a-half hours from the Monastery of Kaisariani on the western side of Mt Hymettus and certainly, it won’t let down anyone.   

Caananite Palace Circa Knossos

Archaeologist from the University of Haifa, who are conducting excavations in the city of Tel Kabri, found Minoan style frescoes, similar to those discovered in the Aegean islands of Crete and Santorini dating back to the 17th century BC. These are the first such frescoes to be discovered in Israel. According to scientists' estimations, the wall paintings in the Canaanite palace in Kabri are a conscious decision by the city's rulers who wanted to adopt the Mediterranean culture rather than the Syrian and Mesopotamian art styles adopted by other cities in Canaan. In an earlier excavation, another fresco similar to those of Santorini was unearthed, but the new discoveries established the fact that the first fresco was not a coincidence but that the ancient city of Tel Kabri not only had developed commercial relations with the Aegean and Minoan world but wanted to come close to and be associated culturally with these civilizations…..


The Greek Element in Central Asia
Afghanistan and it’s Treasures

Sarianidi's excavations revealed numerous monumental structures at many different sites, including the necropolis of Tillya Tepe, where 20,000 gold pieces where unearthed and the necropolis of Gonur, the largest ever to be found in the East, yielding some 3,000 tombs (3rd and 2nd millennium BC).

The archaeological complex was given a Greek name, Bactria (now northern Afghanistan)– a civilization related to the Cretan-Mycenean culture, some 1,500 years before Alexander the Great, according to Sarianidi, and Margiana, which was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, in today's Turkmenistan. Dating to the Bronze Age, the city-state of Margiana is believed to have been Alexander the Great’s capital while in Turkmenistan.

"The world has four centres of ancient civilization: the Aegean, Mesopotamia, India and China. Here, we discovered the fifth," says the archaeologist. Born in 1929 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Victor Sarianidi is of Pontian Greek descent. n 1996, he moved to Greece where he currently lives. He has received several honours in Greece and abroad and is the author of twenty books, among which, "The Necropolis of Gonur."

easyCruise tempts early bookers

For summer 2010 easyCruise offers a 20% early booking discount on cruise fares for all three and four night trips departing from Piraeus (Athens) and Kusadasi in Turkey. From April until October, the cruises visit some of the most stunning islands including Santorini, Mykonos and Crete.

Early booking prices are valid until 31 December 2009 with a three night cruise fare now from as little as $248 per adult (reduced from $310) plus port charges.

Travelers planning a city break to Athens or a touring vacation of Greece or Turkey can easily add in a short cruise to their itinerary to combine history and culture with magnificent sightseeing on the Greek Islands.  easyCruise offers shore excursions in every port of call and these can be booked and paid for before travel.  Prices include accommodation, full board (American Plan) and daily housekeeping.  To book contact your travel agent, visit    or call 1 866 335 4975
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