This weekend, the School of Modern Greek arranged a trip to Ancient Dion and Mt Olympus for its students, so Pelagia and I went. The University has its own tour bus that we took there. It's about an hour west, still along the Thermaikos Gulf.
We had a very nice tour guide, who told us that she had written a couple books and produced nearly 50 TV documentaries on historical sites in Greece. I doubt she was lying -- this woman was a FOUNTAIN of information. The only complaint we all had was that had TOO much information. We first stopped at the museum for the ancient city of Dion, and she could have gone on for DAYS in there. Finally, she finished and we headed off to the archaelogical site of the ancient city of Dion, dating back to the 5th century BC. The museum was -- well, it was a museum -- but the site itself was very interesting. We were very fortunate, also, to have beautiful weather. It had been rainy in Thessaloniki for quite a few days, but it really cleared up for our trip.
In the third photo, Pelagia is looking at the site of what is known as the Villa of Dionysus, which was the home of a very wealthy resident. You can still see some of the amazing mosaic floors. Also, in front of Pelagia, what you actually see is the 18" or so underneath the main floor. This was a radiant floor heating system, which they also used in the extensive public baths in the city (dating from the Roman period, ca. 150 BC).
The last photo is of the old church of St. Thekla, dating -- obviously -- from early Christian times. Our tour guide claimed that St. Thekla was martyred here, but the literature indicates she gave up her soul at the age of 90 in Seleucia.
This brings up a related point. Greeks will usually present things as 'facts,' but some discretion is needed here, we're learning. For example, our guide, in good Greek fashion, claimed to know the history of not only Greece, but France, Germany, etc. She would tell an episode from German history and then look to the students from Germany for approval. They would say, "Hmm...we've never heard of that before." Instead of saying, as perhaps an American would, "Oh maybe, I heard it wrong," she said, "You have to come to Greece for me to teach you the history of Germany?" Yes, I'm serious. These 'histories' would INVARIABLY involve tracing how every good human invention EVER was really first invented by the Greeks and then stolen by some other country. (And you thought the father in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' was just a caricature? Ah, no!) Oh man! You wouldn't believe some of the stories!
Just for one: She was telling a story about (who else?) Alexander the Great and one of his great battle victories, and she mentioned how his soldiers would scream 'Aye ya ya!' as they attacked. She then mentioned how the American Indians (as seen in cowboy movies) stole this war chant from the Greeks. At this point, Pelagia said, "Ok, that's too much. We have to challenge her on this one." Alas, we let it pass.