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Conclusion: My first trip abroad (by myself). Musings, ramblings, and fun in Greece!
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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South Carolina
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Its almost been 2 years since I went to Greece by myself. A lot has transpired in my life since then and I apologize for the tardiness of this final list of my travels to Greece. I quite honestly had forgotten about it till something randomly made me remember.

I write this as I prepare to head to Israel in March. Im quite looking forward to it and am quite scared all at the same time. Perhaps this is a fitting time to conclude my travels and musings on Greece as I look back and prepare for yet another adventure.

Between the time I started the first Geeklist and this one I have moved, went on my first cruise to the Bahamas, and have been accepted into a volunteer program in Israel.

I quite look forward to seeing a new country but returning to Greece as well, plane tickets are astronomically cheaper from Israel to Greece than from the States to Greece. I have alot of people to see again in Greece and alot of people to meet.

Hope youve enjoyed the journey as I have.
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Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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South Carolina
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For those who would like to start at the beginning, at the end of the each list will be links to the next in the series.
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2. Board Game: The Battle of Marathon 490 B.C. [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
United States
Summerville
South Carolina
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On Thursday Paul took me on a half day trip to Marathon, we went to see the Museum of Marathon, Marathon Bay, the burial mound and park, the remains of the Temple of Nemesis, and the Monument to the Battle of Marathon (we found this one by chance ).

I also learned from my day before at Thermopylae and made sure to wear long jeans this trip. laugh

I must admit by this time I was starting to feel pretty tuckered out, but that is to be expected when visiting a foreign country, different time zones, and the drive to go go go and see as much as possible. Friday and Saturday I gave myself as free days to do as I pleased.
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3. Board Game: Museum Pictoris [Average Rating:4.86 Unranked]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
United States
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South Carolina
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The ride up to Marathon was only about 30 minutes long and uneventful, the Museum is located a good ways back from the main road through some farm land. The ladies at the museum were friendly and allowed me to walk through the rooms unattended until I came to the next to last room, which had some artifacts of the Cult of Isis that was prevalent in Greece during Ancient times. I had already take some pictures (minus the flash) when one of them approached me and said there were no pictures allowed in this particular room. I apologized and put my camera away. I thought this was interesting if not strange so when I got home I asked my friends on the Greek Game Guild about it, general consensus was she was simply taking advantage of the little authority she had. Didnt bother me, just was an interesting experience.

Also included on the Museum property under its own building is the excavations of an Ancient Cycladic Cemetery. They have built walkways around it so that you can see down into the site itself without disturbing anything. Very neat to see something that old that close.


The famous 'Marathon Boy' statue



The only two pictures I got from the Cult of Isis room, very interesting stuff and reading though.



Excavations from the Cycladic Cemetery


Remains of a child from the cemetery moved to safe keeping inside the museum.


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4. Board Game: Burial Ground [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
United States
Summerville
South Carolina
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After the Museum Paul and I drove back out to the main road and headed to the park where the Greeks buried their dead from the Battle of Marathon, the burial mound still stands and is well taken care of. There is a strict no climbing policy on the mound itself (which is understandable). The park is nice, spacious, and was enjoyable to just walk around and think.

After the park Paul took me to the actual Bay of Marathon, it was neat to stand at the waters edge and view it, the bay itself is quite large, but would have to be to accommodate the invading Persians fleet of ships.


Me outside the park.


One of the memorial pillars inside of the park.


The burial mound, obviously still an impressive site today.


A view from the lane that goes around the park.


Standing at Marathon Bay.


Gives a fairly good idea of how large the Bay itself is (Minus the concrete embankment thats been built! ).
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5. Board Game: Nemesis [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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South Carolina
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After seeing the Bay Paul had a surprise for me, he drove me up into the hills surrounding Marathon to where the Temple of Nemesis resided. Even in all my studies I had somehow not heard of this Temple nor of the legend that goes with it. According to the placards at the site:
The Persians so sure of their victory at Marathon brought along a slab of marble from which they would carve their victory statue or tribute. Well in the confusion and hasty withdrawal surrounding their defeat they left the marble on the beach. The conquering Athenians after things settled down took the Marble slab up to the hills around Marathon built a temple and carved the Goddess Nemesis out of the slab and dedicated the battle and victory to her. Nemesis is/was the Goddess of Divine Retribution.

Whether or not the story was true, it was still pretty neat if you ask me. Regardless where the slab of Marble came from, Nemesis was a perfect deity to attribute the victory to.

Past the temple and after the battle the Greeks also put a Garrison on the far side of things to keep an eye on the water way. The remains of this garrisons fortifications are still there today and are accessible by walking past the temple area. Again given the terrain the going can be abit slow at times, very rocky, and many ups and downs. Still fun though!



Remains of the Temple area. Red Poppies are prevalent here as you can see.


The start of the path that leads to the old Garrisons fortifications.



The fortifications.
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6. Board Game: Monuments: Wonders of Antiquity [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2549]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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After I was finished crawling all over the remains around Nemesis, Paul and I headed back down the mountains. I remembered that somewhere around Marathon the Greeks raised a pillar as well to commemorate their victory over the Persians. The original site had all the captured weapons of their defeated adversaries hung in the trees surrounding the area. Some time later the Greeks opted for a more permanent reminder of their victory and built a victory pillar there. He wasnt sure of the exact whereabouts of this monument so we went around exploring for a bit. After awhile and of him trying really hard to find it I told him that it was fine and we could head back home. We drove on for a little longer on one the high way a small sign caught my eye. It simply said 'Marathon Monument'. I mentioned it to Paul and we hung a U turn and came back to the sign and followed it down a dirt road. On either side was farms, neither of us were sure if it was still down there but sure enough low and behold there it was. The monument that stands there today is largely restored, with only a few pieces of the original fused into its construction. Still we were both very pleased to find it. Supposedly the monument was erected on the very spot where the Persian forces crumbled and began their retreat to their boats.


The monument.



The area as it is today around the monument.

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7. Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:2748]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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With that we returned home. I spent the rest of my Thursday relaxing and talking to some friends I had made in the Plaka (I will introduce them later. ).

Friday was a free day that I had planned but I had put out the feelers here on the forums for anyone in Athens who would like to play some games. My now good friend Dimitris (even if he does call me 'Bastard American Spy laugh) invited me to the Athenian Game Groups Friday night meet up. I was excited to do so. Using the address he gave me I got directions for walking to the building. It didnt seem so hard on the map and wasnt very far away from my hotel. I figured even if there werent street signs in English I could match the symbols up as I walked.

Well I set out in what turned out to be the right direction, however I learned something about Greece that I had not noticed up until this point. They dont have street signs at every intersection and street like we do. They only seem to put them in the major intersections. So I walked a ways and then second guessed myself and turned around and headed down a different fork in the road. This was leading me back to the modern Greek track. While I was not lost in terms of how to get back to my hotel I knew I wasnt making any headway on getting to the building where the game group meets. So I hailed a cab and had him take me to the address. Once we started going to it I saw that I had originally been going in the right direction but I was doubtful if I would have made the proper turn off myself.

The cab dropped me off and I learned another thing about Greek culture, he didnt seem to understand what a 'tip' was. He spoke very little English but was a nice young man. He told me the total and I put 3 Euro on top of it to make it an even 10. He took it, counted it, and handed me back the 3. I explained it was his tip, for him, through hand motions of me patting my heart and then pointing to him while saying "This is extra from me to you, for helping me out today." He took it, grinned, and nodded. I believe we figured it out together. I spoke later to some of the people in the game group and they said that tipping was something that tourists do. Few if any of the locals tip, its not expected, ones expected to do their job for the wages quoted them.

I walked up to the building but wasnt sure which bell to ring, I asked a young lady who was walking past and she helped me get the right bell. One thing Ive noticed, and this was away from the touristy areas, everyone I ran into was friendly and willing to help me. Im sure theres rude people as there are everywhere, but everyone I had face to face contact with was very nice and helpful.

Once up in the flat the game group rents it was for lack of a better word awesome. I met so many friendly people, learned and played alot of great games. I tell this to everyone who I tell my stories to, the people in this game group treat you like family. They welcomed me as if I had been known for years, joked, laughed, and gamed. It truly didnt get any better than that. I was and am still proud to have pulled my first gaming all nighter. The exhaustion did catch up with me that morning around 5 AM their time as I was walking out of the building to hail a cab, I had a couple of dry heaving spells but nothing came up thankfully. The gent who walked with me was very concerned and even messaged me later on BGG to make sure I was ok. It was just my body telling me it had finally hit a brick wall. I honestly cant say enough good things about the ladies and gents there, if you are EVER in Athens please look them up and share a game with them. I cant wait to come back to Athens once I get to Israel and once again game with everyone.





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8. Board Game: Goodbye.... [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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South Carolina
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"By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe."
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Saturday was my last full day in country. I would fly out very early Sunday morning to return home. Saturday was also a free day, I got back to the hotel around 5:30ish AM from gaming, sent a quick email to my parents and crashed until around 9 AM. I wanted to make the morning breakfast at the hotel and say goodbye to the friends I had made there as well as I wouldnt have time to see them before I left the next day.

The morning breakfast crew and I had gotten to know each other quite well, they were friendly, talkative, and genuinely nice (not just being nice because their job demanded it). We became friends and we still talk to each other about once a week on Facebook. I said my good byes to them and on telling Stella goodbye she hugged me and kissed each of my cheeks. I must admit I noticed that she hadnt done that for any of the other patrons who had been leaving and saying good bye through out the week. blush

Heres a pic of the morning crew, then and now my friends:

From left to right: Stella, Adonis, Mike, and Konstantinos.
Adonis is a fellow metal head and introduced me to his brothers band 'Disharmony' he left me 2 of their CD's with reception the next morning for when I left. Even the receptionist recognized me and before I could say anything told me Adonis had left me a package. I really like his brothers band, I hope to be able to see them play live one day.

After saying my good byes there I went out to explore the Plaka in its full, going down to the ancient remains of the Plaka and browsing the flea market as well. There was a neat military surplus shop that had some nice ex soviet pieces of militaria. Medals, helmets, etc. Very neat to see.

I was sitting on a bench in the Plaka relaxing and a stray cat came up to me, it was dirty but was rubbing my legs attentively. It was thin but not overly emaciated. I smiled and bent down to rub it, I couldnt resist, Id wash my hands later. The cat stayed around happy to have some love and laid down on the ground next to the bench. After a while I stood up to leave and began to walk away, out of the corner of my eye I noticed what appeared to be a homeless man (his clothes were very ragged and he was unwashed) approach the cat. I turned around to watch, I must admit I was skeptical at this mans intentions towards the cat. He stooped down and petted its head, and from his pocket pulled out a handful of cat food and set it next to the cat. He patted its head and walked away. I was struck by this act...a man who seemingly has nothing was still caring for another living being. I was touched by what I saw, someone who had little still gave to something that had none. The cat ate what had been given him and sauntered off.


I went and spent some time with another friend Id made in the Plaka, Aliki. Her parents run a leather store, she helps them out, her father (Ares) was a nice gent as well. Both were a pleasure to talk to, and I quite enjoyed spending my free time in her and his company. Aliki and I speak on Facebook about once a week as well. I look forward to seeing her and her family when I return as well. When we first met she was sitting in a chair outside her shop while I was exploring during my first day or so there. We started chatting and I asked if she mind if I sat down and continued to talk, so I sat down next to her on the side walk. I noticed she slightly raised a brow when I sat down on the sidewalk with nothing under me. It wasnt overly dirty and not like I was sitting in garbage but I had to wonder how other tourists treat the people.


This trip I truly learned that if you treat people like people, not like wait staff, not like peons or underlings they truly respond in kind. Ive made some great lasting friendships with these people and they simply open up to you when you are genuinely interested in them and their culture. I cant wait to go back, and I would recommend it to anyone to go. Just when you go, remember to take the roads less traveled, talk to the people, get to know them, learn from them. I shared things with Aliki about my ex wife leaving that I hadnt shared with anyone up to that point, she helped me with a great deal. If I had acted aloof or been too wrapped up in the things going on in my life, I wouldnt have had the experiences I did nor the help offered to me in the form of wise words, companionship, laughter, and friendship.



The remains of the Ancient Plaka


The entrance to the Flea Market
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9. Board Game: The Home Stretch [Average Rating:6.64 Unranked]
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
United States
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South Carolina
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"By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe."
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The next day I flew out of Athens to Rome, we were delayed in Rome for 3 hours due to the volcano erupting. We did make it out of Rome before they shut everything down but took the long way home making it around 10 hours instead of 8. Once in Philly we were put up in a hotel as I had missed my connecting flight and flew home once again to Savannah.

The extra time to decompress was actually a blessing now that I look back on it, I had alot of time to think about what had happened, the people Id met, the things Id learned, and the help I had received.

Im sorry this took a year to finish but with my wife leaving, the divorce, the moving, etc its been a pretty hectic time, however I think it taking the time it did has allowed me to heal, and share more than I would have if I had just banged it out right away. Even though she announced she was leaving a week before Greece I still had a phenomenal time and was given help by complete strangers whether they knew it or not. I thank you all for reading and allowing me to share it.
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