Life Long Learning has a New Home

Thanks to Road Scholar for providing this lifelong learning adventure through the Greek Isles! As always, all opinions are our own.

For those of us who have reached a certain age travel is one of our rewards for making it through the obstacle course of career and raising a family. No doubt a well-deserved break to some exotic locale for some R&R is justified.

But after a few take it easy escapes many of us find ourselves wanting more out of our expeditions. We want to satisfy curiosity, experience new cultures, investigate history first hand, in other words, we want to continue to learn.

As GypsyNesters we certainly fall into that category, and may have found the best way ever to do just that … a floating classroom.

Our favorite not-for-profit organization, Road Scholar, has chartered the cruise ship Aegean Odyssey to make this unique undertaking available. The adventures begin in April of 2020 with unique itineraries designed to explore some of the world’s most compelling destinations, including Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Italy, France, Portugal, Egypt and more.

We were lucky enough to participate in a trial run through the Greek Isles and can happily report that this is an amazing way to experience this part of the world. The Odyssey is small enough to get into some places that we never could have seen on a giant cruise ship, yet big enough to have all of the comforts.

It also served as our home away from home for the entire journey, which meant that we had more time to explore because we didn’t have to pack and unpack or move from hotel to hotel. We could simply walk on and off the ship and nose around to our hearts content after the scheduled field trips we had each day.

Not that we really needed to because the daily scheduled excursions were nothing short of incredible. Each group leader had studied Greek history, mythology, and civilization and all were native to the country so they had first-hand knowledge of the places we visited.

We followed in the footsteps of both gods and mortals, and discovered that sometimes it is hard to know which was which. Unlike the modern religions that we are familiar with, deities frequently mingled with humans, so much so that offspring often resulted.

Beginning and ending in Athens, the home of Athena, gave us a look at this phenomenon because temples were dedicated here to almost every god and demi-god. It also afforded us the extra time to not only see the Parthenon, but to investigate deeper by visiting the Acropolis Museum where many of the artifacts unearthed from the archaeological site of the Acropolis are displayed.

Having two days meant that we also had the chance to roam through the ancient agoras from both the Greek and Roman periods. This allowed for an up close look at ancient Greece’s best preserved ruin, the Temple of Hephaestus, along with the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple ever built in ancient Greece.

From the capital city we sailed off for ports of call on a half a dozen beautiful islands across the Aegean Sea including Crete, Rhodes, Kos, and the iconic Santorini. Perhaps nothing epitomizes the Greek Isles like the white washed houses and blue domed churches of Santorini.

Seeing them in person was like stepping into a postcard, but we also learned about thousands of years of history on the island. One of the world’s most violent volcanic eruptions created the unique crescent of land that is actually the rim of a caldera.

The explosion is thought to possibly be the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis and also left behind a buried city much like Pompeii. Akrotiri was covered with ash nearly four thousand years ago, creating one of the world’s best archeologic sites for studying life during the Bronze Age.

While we meandered through the newly unearthed ruins scientists continued to excavate more, so we saw not only the past results, but how they are currently being preserved. Interestingly, no bodies were found in the ash, meaning the population must have had some warning of the impending doom, unlike Pompeii.

At the end of the day the volcanic dust that still lingers in the air treated us to one of the vivid sunsets that Santorini is also so famous for. It seemed only right to offer a toast to Helios and Apollo while we watched from the deck above the pool on the Odyssey.

In another amazing mixture of science meeting mythology the island of Kos introduced us to Hippocrates. Signs of his influence were everywhere. We even lingered under a tree on the spot where he taught his theories of health and medicine to students over two thousand years ago.

High above the port we climbed up to the ruins of the Asclepeion where the father of modern medicine is thought to have received his medical training. The sanctuary was dedicated to Asclepius the demi-god of medicine, healing, rejuvenation, and physicians who was believed to be an ancestor of Hippocrates.

These temples of healing were found throughout ancient Greece and practiced purification with fresh air, water, and food followed by offerings or sacrifices.

All through the islands the style of traveling with experts to guide us during the day and researchers to lecture on the art, history, and mythology in the evenings brought the culture and land to life for all of us onboard.

All of the islands had unique attributes both historically and geographically, and we will have much more to say about each of them in stories we will feature here over the next few months.

We can’t say for certain what discoveries await for those who embark on a voyage aboard the Aegean Odyssey over the next three years, but we can say with certainty that it will be an experience to remember and a welcome addition to a lifetime of knowledge and better understanding of our world.

David & Veronica,

See all of our previous adventures in Greece!

Thanks to Road Scholar for providing this lifelong learning adventure through the Greek Isles! As always, all opinions are our own.

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2 thoughts on “Life Long Learning has a New Home”

  1. I always imagined how the Temple of Hephaestus & the Temple of Olympian Zeus used to look like when they are at the peak of their glory

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