Greece 2011
Athens - Island of Chios


James Anton

John Antonoglu

Stella Antonoglu

Alexandros E.
Kostas Economou

Yannis Economou

Christina F. Apostolos Georgafentis
Bessie Grosso

Christina Grosso

Alexandra H

Anna Maria H.

Christina H


John Harisiadis

Joselina Harisiadis
Christina K. Alex Kapotas Makris  Adrianna Mourgelas
Dimitri P. Adam Papadolias William R. Sampras
 Effie Tsaltas Alex V Zach 'Eleftherios' V  



James Anton (parent)

This year’s trip to Greece was a memorable one, because we spent a week with the Orpheus Dance Troupe in Athens and Chios. The week together provided both the children and adults with dancing, sightseeing, cultural programs and fun. Every week, we drop off the children in Northbrook and never get to see the other parents. The week together served as a time of bonding and getting to know one another. The children made new friends and the adults were able to have fun and relax knowing everybody was enjoying themselves. There are some moments that stand out more than others and will never be forgotten:

1. Watching the Deree performance, with Athens as a backdrop, it was a truly breathtaking scene.
2. Seeing the magnificence of Ephesus. It was amazing what they had built and my youngest son Pantelis, who started Orpheus this year, got a kick out of the ancient latrines. We found out they had their own version of heated seats.
3. Attending the service at the Agia Markella shrine with Father George Kaloudis and walking back as the sun was setting. You could see the red veins in the rocks which legend says is the blood of Agia Markella.
4. The trip back from Parparia when the lights went out on the bus. It was one way to keep people awake.
5. The trip to Mesta and learning how mastixa is cultivated and partaking of the appetizers that were provided.
6. The performance at Mesta as the sun set behind our dancers.
7. My children eating rooster at the restaurant at Komi. I ordered it for myself but they tried it, liked it and ate it.

The time together was extraordinary and will remain with us for a long time to come. Thank you Yianni, Kosta, Bessie, Debbie and the rest of the committee members for a fantastic trip.

John Antonoglu (relative)

Thank you (and your brother) for coordinating the Chios trip. We had a wonderful time. It was an entertaining and educational experience. Nicholas had a good time at the workshop too. He is looking forward to joining Orpheus next year.

Stella Antonoglu (adult member)

Αυτό το ταξίδι θα μας μείνει αξέχαστο. Λέγοντας θα μας μείνει αξέχαστο εννοώ τα παιδιά μου και ολους όσους έλαβαν μέρος στο ταξίδι αυτό.
Πρώτα να συστηθώ. Είμαι η Στέλλα Αντώνογλου και μαθαίνουμε χορό μαζί με τον εγγονό μου Βασίλη στο χορευτικό όμιλο Ορφέα. Αρχίσαμε το χορό πριν δύο χρόνια και είμαστε χαρούμενοι που μαθαίνουμε τους Ελληνικούς χορούς. Εγώ νιώθω υπερηφάνια και χαρά όταν βλέπω τον εγγονό μου να χορεύει.
Η πρώτη μασ χορευτική εμφάνιση ήταν στο Αμερικάνικο Κολλέγιο δερρε στην Αγία Παρασκευή στην Αθήνα. Ήταν πολύ ωραία που χορεψαμε στο θέατρο του Κολλεγίου, είχαν έρθει πολλοί συγγενείς και φίλοι να μας δουν και να μας καμαρώσουν.

Την άλλη μέρα πήραμε το καράβι για τη Χίο. Για μένα και την οικογένειά μου ήταν η πρώτη φορά που πήγαμε στη Χίο και μας κατέπληξαν οι ομορφιές της.
Τι να πρωτοθυμηθούμε, τα μαστιχοχώρια της, το Πυργί, τα Μεστά, η επίσκεψή μας στο μέρος που μαρτύρησε η Αγιά Μαρκέλλα, το χωριό Ανάβατος με την ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία του, τις όμορφες ακρογιαλιές της, την πέτρα του Ομήρου, το ανέβασμα με το πούλμαν στο χωριό Παρπαριά, με αυτή τη διαδρομή είδαμε την ενδοχώρα της Χίου, που ήταν ενδιαφέρον.

Μα το ποιο ενδιαφέρον για μας ήταν η επίσκεψη μας στην Έφεσσο, που ήταν ένα από τα επτά θαύματα του αρχαίου κόσμου. Τα συναισθήματά μας ήταν ανάμεικτα. Νοιώσαμε υπερηφάνεια που βλέπαμε τα ελληνικά αρχαία άλλα θλίψη που δεν μας ανήκουν πια.

Το ταξίδι αυτό ήταν μια αξέχαστη εμπειρία που θα την θυμόμαστε για πολλά χρόνια. Εύχομαι και ελπίζω να ξανακάνουμε ένα τέτοιο ταξίδι σε κάποιο άλλο μέρος της Ελλάδος.

This was an unforgettable trip. By that I mean it will be unforgettable for me, my children and everyone else who participated in this trip. Let me introduce myself. My name is Stella Antonoglu and my grandson, Vasili, and I are members of the Orpheus dance group. We have been members for two years now, and we are both very happy to be learning so many Greek folk dances. I feel joy and pride when I watch my grandson dance.

Our first performance was at the American College of Greece, Deree, in Agia Paraskevi, Athens. It was very nice dancing at the theater; many friends and relatives came to watch and enjoy our performance.

The next day, we boarded the boat to Chios. It was mine and my family’s first time visiting Chios and we were amazed at the island’s beauty. We saw so many wonderful attractions: the mastihohoria; the villages of Pyrgi and Mesta; the shrine of Agia Markella; the village of Anavatos with its interesting history; beautiful beaches; Homer’s rock; the bus trip up the mountain to the village of Parparia, which provided us with an incredible view of the island.

For us, the most interesting part was our trip to Ephesus, Turkey, whose ruins were part of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Our emotions were mixed; we were so proud to see all the Greek ruins, but sad that they do not belong to us anymore.

This trip was an unforgettable undertaking, which we will remember for many years to come. I hope that we will participate in another trip like this to another part of Greece.

Alexandros E  (youth member)

My 2011 Summer Vacation in Chios

My summer vacation with Orpheus and my family was amazing. Our trip to Chios was a lot of fun, especially because many of my friends were there. We learned dances from the Island of Chios and got to perform them with other Greek Dance groups. We did the fastest Pyrgousiko dance ever!! The people from Chios were very kind and even gave us gifts to show their appreciation.

Another fun and interesting part of our trip was the visit to the ancient ruins in Ephesus. Even though it is in Turkey today it was clear that everything there was Greek. Not so interesting but funny was the sign outside a shop saying “Genuine Fake Watches.”
I also found very interesting our visit to the mastic tree farm in the village of Mesta. The kids had more fun than the adults did because the kids had a huge white powder fight while learning about the mastic trees.

We had a great time at Chios and I will never forget this vacation. This is in part because we had each other and we had great support from the local Chios families and the Orpheus members. We all had a good time and if you did not get the chance to go make sure you don’t miss the next Orpheus trip!

Kostas Economou (adult member)

2010-2011 was not just a ‘busy as usual’ year for Orpheus but a year that presented additional challenges especially on the health front for a few Orpheus members and their families (need I say myself included?). Adding to that was the weight of planning a summer trip to Greece that included close to 150 people during a period of heightened uncertainty was, needless to say, quite a formidable challenge.
And it was a close call. Back in February the final decision was made. We are going indeed! It was quite an ambitious trip that included presentations in multiple locations in Greece (Athens and the island of Chios), crossing not only the Aegean Sea but also the Greek borders (Ephesus, Turkey), and many other excursions and sightseeing.

What a rewarding experience it proved to be! It is hard to describe all the nice memories from the Greece 2011 trip.

Visiting the Acropolis museum and archaeological site was a great start to the trip. The presentation at Deree the next day was indeed a very special one. You could not ask for a better setting in the beautiful Irene Bailey amphitheater under a clear Athenian sky, close to the Imittos Mountain just a couple of miles from where I grew up in Athens. It was a memorable performance and it gave us the opportunity to reunite with some close friends from Greece like our first Orpheus instructor Nikos Kourtis along with dance instructors Hara Deligianni, Nancy Harmanda and George Kotsos.

With barely any time to spare, the next day at the port of Piraeus, the ‘Nisos Chios’ boat welcomed the big Orpheus contingency on its way to the island of Chios. It was a strange feeling to see all the familiar faces on the same boat. It is our hope that some of the younger (and older!) members appreciate how fortunate they are to share these moments together in the middle of their quest to connect to the boat’s wifi system which had a hard time keeping up with the demand.

During our stay on the island of Chios we had the chance to immerse ourselves in the island’s rich history and culture by visiting numerous sites. Some of my favorite spots were the castle village of Mesta, the ‘xysta’ houses at Pyrgi, the Mavra Volia beach, and the visit to the Agia Markella shrine where we were honored to have Father and Presvytera Kaloudis from Holy Trinity Church of Chicago join us.
We were also fortunate to have dance instructors Yannis Gribabis and Symon Karaoulanis conduct two dance seminars for the Orpheus members and teach us dances from the island of Chios and nearby islands.

The dance presentations on the island of Chios were all very special. We started with the Saint Parakevi Festival in the village of Parparia where Presvytera Kaloudis hails from and continued the next day with the annual celebration of Greek dances at the village of Mesta.
Who can forget the late night ride back to the hotel from the village of Parparia and the sharp turns the bus drivers had to navigate? No need to describe the feeling when the headlights of our bus momentarily went out!

At Mesta we were joined by other local groups and had the pleasure of having four very excellent local musicians accompany all the groups in their presentations.
The next day the same musicians accompanied Orpheus as well as thirteen local dance groups in a joint presentation at the central square of the Chios Town. It was a unique event as each group formed its own circle and performed a suite of dances at the same time! What a great idea!
Last but not least the performances concluded at the Omogenon Society dinner dance at the Golden Sand Hotel just a couple of hours before departing from Chios to Athens. Talk about having your adrenaline going!

It was another memorable trip. I don't think we could have asked for a better outcome. It is always rewarding to see the joy and pride of the kids and parents alike of being in Greece and representing the Greek-American community of Chicago.
Hopefully this trip will serve as an inspiration for even greater accomplishments.
Many thanks to everyone who assisted in making this trip a reality (you know who you are) and to my wife Tina who had to endure a lot, especially this past year.
Time to get the 2011-2012 year started...

Yannis Economou (adult member)

In life, there are too many mottos or clichés that someone can recall about daring any type of endeavor. This year's Orpheus trip to Greece could have easily fitted many of them. The challenge faced was the greatest compared to previous Orpheus trips to Greece; the economic climate in the US was unfavorable, air fairs were at an all time high, participation at times became questionable, and with conditions in Greece even more unstable.

The biggest obstacles though were the personal priorities that were intermittingly getting in the way; health, family, work just to mention a few.
Despite all of the above, the trip became a reality and the success that we all hoped for but dared only for certain moments to imagine. At the end, 150 participants defied "common sense" and wrote another memorable chapter not just for the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society but for the Greek Diaspora in general.

We could only shake our heads every time the local Greeks would ask questions like "How come you are here?", "Who invited you?". Really? You do not realize by now that we do not expect what the Greeks refer to as an "idiaterh prosklhsh" (special invitation) to demonstrate who we are and how we feel when we dance, sing, and play music during our performances? This effort, from the beginning, has not been a product of a formal invitation but a call for something different and unique.
So there, we did it!

Christina F. (youth member)

The Orpheus Trip to Greece of Summer 2011 was an unforgettable experience and a memory I will cherish always. As I recall the performances of Athens and Chios, I think of how much this trip brought the troupe together. Never had I felt so close with Greek dancing and the friends I have with it. Each performance and tour was a uniting moment. From Athens to Chios to our experience in Turkey for a day, this journey was a treat.

In Athens some took the opportunity to see the new Acropolis Museum. I found it very interesting and insightful. The next day we all had a performance at The American College of Deree. This was the first time the troupe was together as a whole in Greece. We had all assembled from far away Chicago to show Greece what were made of. The following performances in Chios all had the same “Wow we are actually here” essence. Waking up early every morning was worth it because we all got to enjoy the wonderful history and scenery around us as a group.

I know for a fact that the Athens, Chios trip was the highlight of my summer. It was a period where I really got to bond with my culture and my friends. It brought the troupe together I will never forget this summer experience.

Apostolos Georgiafentis (parent)

It isn’t every day that one visits The Homeland. With this economy it is a lot to ask of people. Taking their families on a week long trip to an unknown island is a sacrifice. Chios is my birthplace. Last I visited was five years ago. The fact that the island was chosen did not fare well with me. Knowing the people and their idiosyncrasies, I struggled that the families would not like the island and its people.

The Island has many beautiful areas mostly untouched by many. It’s beauty is raw and underdeveloped. It has a vast amount of history and many cultures have developed and prospered there.

On our trip to Athens to attend the performance at Deree, I admired that morning the Acropolis. I walked on the marble and toured through the buildings that thousands of people before me have done. My pride for the history and the people increased. I became a Patrioti.

I began to accept the people even with their oddities as a culture. .. my culture. The culture with all its troubles and protests surrounded me. The country, the monuments, and the people all withstand the winds that force all to change. Change is inevitable. So that can be said for all the peoples that walked on this red laiden dirt.

My pride now recharged, I find myself admiring these students perform in song and dance. I admired these young adolescents all in a row as they performed. Dances that their ancestors performed, yet withstood the winds of change and endured. I heard melodic voices singing in song. They sang songs that were sung for generations. They sang beautiful lyrics that tell you of a story of love, of sadness, and of hope.

I commend the teachers for their enduring patience. To teach all these students of our history is quite a feat. I admired the students speak of their ancestry and give us a glimpse of their lives and their history. One of those students was my son Stefano. I am very proud of him.

I thank the parents, many whom I did not know much about till this journey. I was given the opportunity to bond with them and experience the shared joy . I thank the parents for sacrificing their time and monies for the overall good of extending our bicultural boundaries. Reuniting ourselves with our families, our culture, and our homeland.
I very much appreciate all the effort and time that Despina Kaloudis Robbins put in scheduling the itinerary and coordinating near flawless The Chios Trip.
Isabella Bournias , our liaison in Chios was also helpful in making sure things went smoothly.

Enclosing with great pride I very much enjoyed this experience. The opportunity to share this with my family far exceeds all my expectations. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Bessie Grosso (adult member)

The time has come to remember another moment in my life that will never be forgotten. The entire trip was another once in a life time opportunity which was amazing in every sense of the trip. From the idea, the preparation and then going there and thinking about it at the moment. The points that will remain special to me are so many and so many more I am sure will come to me again later. Getting to Greece was very difficult this time but somehow we made it and I am so grateful. Our first day meeting up with everyone is always fun. In Greece with your friends from the states is such a magical feeling. At the New Acropolis Museum meeting up with everyone that could come early for a group tour. Maria our friend from the Lyceum did a great job of showing us around and explaining details that we would have never seen. Time for a Freddo looking up at the Acropolis and of course my favorite shop the Museum store for some souvenirs. Time to go to the Acropolis all the way up in of course the heat of the day but again worth the trip with our friends....Pictures, pictures more pictures...each time you go up there is so worth it. Time to go down and find our favorite place to eat in Monasteraki Thanasis. Time for great food and a big cold Mythos. Catherine suggested we walk off our food and go down to her favorite yogurt parlor. Sounds good we said and off to have a refreshing Fro Yo...!!! Gotta go get some rest to wake up for the big day at The American College of Greece.

This event really meant a lot to the Grossos since Catherine had studied there the winter and spring semester. We got up and headed on the bus to the College. This in the middle of the taxi strike and yes we made it no problem. It was exciting touring the campus and we were greeted so kindly by Nancy Parkes the director of admissions and we all got our own DEREE T-shirt to remember the day. The evening was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky perfect temperature and the venue was breathtaking. It was so wonderful to hear everyone greet the crowd with their speeches and how proud we all were. I was personally proud of Paul singing the National Anthem and Catherine delivering a speech in Greece that amazed me. Another proud moment to have all of my children with me in another Greece performance. Our friends Nancy, Georgio and Hara were amazed by what we accomplished and it was very well appreciated. Dinner afterwards was a nice wind down to the 2nd full day. Gotta leave to get to the bus since no taxis are working. Yannis got us to the train so we could make it back home on the trolley.

Get up gotta make it to Pireaus and make the Ferry to Chios...Again had to take the bus and train and walk....but we made it. Yannis and Kostas were waiting with our tickets and we boarded with everyone. What an amazing trip. SLEEP SLEEP AND MORE SLEEP....We got some great photos. The trip really was relaxing and then we got to Chios were the buses were waiting for us and Debbie Robbins was waiting for us. The moment arrived...Unpack the bags and do our favorite thing to do in Greece. Eat again....of course Pita with the works and another Mythos....took a walk at the port and time for bed because bright and early its time to go to Turkey.....!!!!!

Ephesus. I had not been there in 28 years where there has been so much more uncovered. Amazing and breath taking. I enjoyed the feeling of walking through the town and imagining how it was thousands of years ago. This was a place most people in their lives will never visit but only see in books. the Library was amazing and when you looked from the staircase you could see the entire street go back as far as the eye could see. At this point we all had hat coverings and Paul got creative with his shirt and made it into a hat. The plumbing and bathhouses must have been amazing...we bought some souvenirs and enjoyed some Pomegranate wine and pitas hand made by locals. That was a full day. Back waiting for us was Father George and Presvytera Kaloudis. What a nice surprise for them to visit us on their island..

Time to enjoy the island of Chios and what waits for us around each corner or should I say road, beach, history, trips, and dancing and dancing and dancing.. Its hard to imagine how big this island is when you see it on a map it is a small dot and here we are traveling everywhere. Each place we visited was better than the next. All the details in planning paid off. I don't think there was a place we did not step on that island that even locals had not visited. Some of my personal favorites are many. Masticha tour with the kids. It was out of a movie. Kids powder, leaf blower and tons of fun. I enjoyed this moment because we are who we are full of fun and surprises. I never imagined I would be covered in white powder from head to foot and laugh. Another favorite were all the performances. I enjoyed the togetherness of all the dance groups dancing at the same time in the town of Chios. For the first time in my life I thought I wasn't going to be able to keep dancing but I did. I even had to run to tie Paul's pants because we were dancing so long and hard they started to unravel.

I am very blessed to have traveled and performed with my children Catherine, Christina and Paul. My best buddies and friends and all the new fiends we have made for life.. I only wish I brought back more Cheese and Mastiha...I guess I will have to go back to get some more......:)

Christina Grosso (adult member)

My experience over the summer was awesome. I arrived in Greece about a couple weeks before our trip to Chios. Once the trip finally arrived I was very excited to be in Greece with my fellow friends and family that are part of the Orpheus family. We arrived in Athens and started off the trip with a beautiful performance at Deree. Thinking back on that performance everybody did an awesome job and the final result turned out amazing. Then we were off to the beautiful island of Chios. I had never been to Chios before and it was an amazing time the island itself is very relaxing, laid back, has beautiful beaches and fun panageria (festivals).
The best part in my eyes about the trip was dancing at the panageria. I loved going to the villages and surprising the local villagers with how much energy and love we have for Greece. Also impressing them with all the Greek dances we know, and how well connected we are to Greece.

Overall I had a very relaxing/energetic experience with Orpheus in Chios I really enjoyed dancing on the island of Chios, the environment really brought the dances to life.

Alexandra H. (youth member)

In Chios, I had a lot of fun. Before we went on the trip I wasn’t too thrilled to go. But when we got there I was happy I came. I made many new friends on this trip and we now have bonds that will last a lifetime. I also enjoyed doing many dances and traveling to different parts of Chios. This was my second time going to Greece but I had never been to Chios. It is a beautiful island that has many memories from this wonderful trip. I'm so glad I got to spend my time there with Orpheus!

Anna Maria H. (youth member)

My trip to Greece with Orpheus was…AMAZING!! I had so much fun and now I am sad that it’s over. (Even though it’s been like a month now). Everything was so organized, that every moment of our time was never wasted. At the end of trip, I was so sad that we had to leave. My friendships grew stronger and I even made new friends. I had an unforgettable experience that will live with me forever.

Christina H. (youth member)

On my trip to Greece I have spent so much time with my Orpheus friends I have grown such an attachment to them. Aside from that I felt that the trip to Greece was very well organized from the moment my family, friends and I got to the university. It was also flabbergastingly amazing from the performances to the workshops to the walking and to all the sites and monuments that I saw. I thought that learning about my heritage and culture built one of the many reasons that I had the best time in Greece. I honestly wish that it would be as easy to go again considering how it went this time.

Dimitri and Vivian Haralambopoulos (parents)

Kosta and Yianni,
Hello! We had a wonderful and unforgettable time in Greece this summer. Vivian and I would like to say 'thank you' to those responsible of organizing the trip.

John Harisiades (parent)

Athens -Chios 2011! Wow!
It was a beautiful trip and a great experience.
It was entertaining, educational and it was fun!
Visiting St. Markella's church and memorial, historic Greek-cultured Ephesus, several beaches and sites in Chios, and of course The Magnificent Parthenon in Akropolis!
Above all, it was wonderful for the children to play-around with their friends, instead of being with their grouchy parents all the time.
Thanks to Yianni, Kosta and all the people who organized this trip.

Joselina Harisiades (parent)

Oh . . . it was trip of a lifetime . . . an astonishing experience . . . from the spectacular performance at the beautiful Deree University Campus in Athens to the finale at the Omogenia of Chios! The trip to the historic Ephesus was enlightening. The excursions gave a unique opportunity to experience the traditions and culture of Chios, in songs and dances, and in seeing their everyday life. Agia Markella and Nea Moni added a different perspective.
The beaches were awesome and Mavra Volia was the first of a kind for me and my family! We gained new friends and got acquainted with old friends. We all relaxed and had fun while the kids had a blast going around town with their friends! I am not of the Greek heritage but I could feel the passion, the pride and the Hellenic spirit in the whole Orpheus dance troupe! To the leadership of Yannis, Kostas, Bessie and to all the families who helped organize to make this trip remarkable, a heartfelt thank you. I do not know how you did it but you all made it an unforgettable experience, a summer to remember!

Christina K. (youth member)

This year I went to Greece with Orpheus. Going to Greece was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did I get to perform in Greece but I got to do it with my friends too. I also got to learn where I am truly from. A country where during the day people work hard and have price for their country, then at night they party with Greek dances while singing traditional Greek songs. Since music is a big part of my life, Greece was perfect. Being able to experience being truly Greek was the biggest honor I have ever had. And Orpheus made that all possible. I am looking forward going to Greece again and have even better time with my friends and family. I thank Orpheus and my parents for making my time in Greece amazing. Now being back in America I am ready to use my true Greek pride in my Greek dancing and singing today.

Alex Kapotas (adult member)

Alex’s Top Ten Memories of the 2011 Orpheus Tour of Greece

10. HOLD UP! We’re still dancing!

A local man started to drive his pickup truck right through the middle of the plateia of Parparia and right through the last dance of our performance. There was a moment where he almost made it through, but, of course, the troupe finished without interruption. Yes, folks. Orpheus stops traffic.

9. “You’re charging us for what?”

After an enjoyable meal with our group one evening, our waiter handed us the bill—complete with a charge for bread and water that was over 20 euro. A heated argument followed, and we were able to get him to remove the charge. We were well aware that restaurants often charge extra for seating, but a charge for bread and water was a bit much! They likely sneaked in a charge for the salt and pepper as well…

8. “You ate there, didn’t you?”

We left the above restaurant and moved to a taverna for a post-volta nightcap. We asked the waiter there if charging for something like bread and water was a common practice in Greece. After explaining the situation to him, he guessed the name of the restaurant we ate at previously without hesitation.

7. Bus Trip to Ag. Markella

As soon as we boarded the bus for the long trip to the church of Ag. Markella, I took a nap. It’s a natural instinct for me. The hairpin turns the bus was taking up the mountain only aided the process—much like being rocked to sleep! I have no recollection of who it was, but someone woke me up and said “Alex, you’ve GOT to see this”. And I’m glad they did—I looked over the side of the bus and saw only the vast Aegean from a really high viewpoint. Sure enough, we were up so high and so close to the edge of the road that one had to stand up to get a view of any land. A bit frightening, yes, but the beauty of the view was nothing short of stunning.

6. Walking to the site of the martyrdom of Ag. Markella

After visiting the church, our group walked to the site of the martyrdom of Ag. Markella, which was a bit of a trek from the village. As we walked along the narrow path, the mountainside towered over us on one side and the rocks that broke the waves were on the other. From time to time, the sea would wash over the path, cooling our feet. Conversation seemed to lull during this walk. We were likely either concentrating on where we were stepping or contemplating on the story that we had just heard about the end of Ag. Markella’s life.

As is the case with most journeys by foot in Greece, taking a walk along a rocky, steep, or slippery path usually ends up in a beautiful destination, and this one was no exception. Once at the site, our group venerated icons and the priest performed a prayer service. During the prayers, we took in breathtaking sites and listened to the waves crash against the rocks. This was one of the quieter and more solemn moments of the trip, and, because of that, quite special.

5. The trip to the Deree College performance—and back

The taxi strike this summer made getting to the performance at Ag. Paraskevi, a suburb of Athens, a bit of a challenge. We were in Greece, though, so why worry? Right? I was able to catch a ride with the Vasilopoulos family, who had a friend who was our “unofficial” taksitzi. Greek automobiles tend to be small, but somehow were able to cram all six of us into the vehicle. The trip back was rather memorable too—we found our way to the Ag. Paraskevi subway stop on foot, which was quite a jaunt without a car. No worries—we passed the time by telling plenty of jokes, taking lots of pictures, and drinking a Fanta Verdia at every periptero!

4. Dancing 2x2

Did we really think that the saying “Oi Xiotes pane dio-dio” was just a myth? Surely enough, and much to the surprise of the Chicagoans, instead of joining hands in the familiar open circle, the locals danced their syrto steps in pairs! That didn’t stop us, though—once the dancing got underway, there were clearly “island” and “mainland” sections on the dance floor.

3. Hey! I know this one!

Wanting to “do as the Chiotans do”, Effie Tsaltas and I were dancing as a pair to some syrto song. The tune changed to a song from the Orpheus backlog of dances and I gave Effie a look as if to say “this sounds REALLY familiar!”. She looked at me and very calmly said “Nenitousikos”. We immediately changed our steps—I hadn’t danced that dance in several years, but it was like riding a bike—the steps just came to us. Great memory, Effie!

2. Mastic Mojito

While the rest of the group took the tour to Ancient Ephesus (a place which I’d visited a few years back), I decided to head into the port town after a day at the beach. I knew that mastic gum products were a big deal on this island, but I really was surprised to find its use was so widespread! After a walk through the town, I settled into a chair at a portside café, flipped through the menu, and found a local version of one of my favorite drinks—the mastic mojito! I’d urge everyone to try one at least once—they are quite tasty!

1. The Word of the Summer: “Toualetta”

Not that toualetta. The other one, which is another word for a formal dress or gown. During our after-dinner performance, we were all seated together, enjoying some tasty souvlakia. The band was playing a song about a woman dressing for a formal occasion. When the singer sang the line (something about putting on a toualetta), I, in my shock, turned and mouthed the word to Kathy Makris, who was sitting next to me. She immediately understood my confusion, and laughed hysterically.

Makris (adult members)

Summer 2011… where to begin! The performance at Deree, where ERT came for a taping and ten of our family members came to watch? Georgia’s singing debut? Ephesus? The unforgettable walk to the place where Aghia Markella was martyred? The performance in Patera Kaloudis’ home town of Parparia? The beautiful beaches like Mavra Volia? Pyrgi and its beautiful designs? The Mastihes Tour and picnic that followed? The parade through the castle of Mesta before our performance with the greatest live band in Chios? The performance with 10 other dance troupes in the middle of Chios town on the hottest night of the year?? The Orpheus family dinner on our last night? The list is endless! Each and every one has been etched into our minds.

This trip was truly unforgettable. We grew closer together not only as a dance troupe but as a family. A big thank you to Gianni, Kosta, Bessie, and their families for all their hard work in making this trip truly a success. May God give you all strength to continue all you do and to keep the tradition going.

With love,
Kathy, Georgia, and Joanna Makris

Andrianna Mourgelas (parent)

Hello Kosta,Yanni and Bessie-
I wanted to thank you for taking the time out of your lives to plan such a wonderful trip! I didn't know what to expect but really didn't think I would enjoy myself as much as I did. And of course the rest of my family did as well. Pappou can't stop talking about it! Just planning for my family to go is stressful enough so I realize what an undertaking this was for you to plan. But congratulations to a very wonderful outcome!

Dimitri P. (youth member)


Το φετεινό καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στο πανέμορφο νησί της Χιού ήταν μια αξέχαστη εμπειρία. Ο σύλλογος του Ορφέα δούλεψε πολύ σκληρά για να πραγματοποιηθεί αυτό το ξεχωριστό ταξίδι. Γι’ αυτό ευχαριστούμε όσους προγραμάτισαν το δέυτερο ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα.
Το ταξίδι αυτό πήρε μορφή στο Αμερικανικό κολλέγιο, στην Αγία Παρασκευή της Αθηνας «Deree». Την βραδυά αυτή χορέψαμε και τραγουδήσαμε γύρο από μια πανοραμική θέα. Αυτή η παρουσίαση ήταν ξεχωριστή για μένα και τον αδελφό μου, επειδή όλοι οι συγγενείς μας στην Αθήνα για πρώτη φορά μας έβλεπαν να χορεύουμε.
Φτάνοντας στην Χίο, μετά απο μία ξεκούραστη εικοσάλεπτη πτήση βρέθηκα σε ένα υπέροχο ξενοδοχείο με φανταστική θέα. Οταν έφτασε όλο το Σικάγο στην Χίο ένιωθα εκτός Ελλάδος. Χορεύαμε κάθε μερα σε διαφορετικές τοποθεσίες της Χίου, κολυμπούσαμε σε πανέμορφες ακρογιαλιές, και περνούσαμε όλοι μαζί απολαμβάνοντας την κάθε στιγμή! Το ταξίδι στην Έφεσο ήταν μία μοναδική εμπειρία για όλους μας. Μου άρεσε πως μιλούσε Αγγλικά ο ξεναγός μας «Τσακ» στην Τουρκία. Δεν θα ξεχάσω την πείνα που είχα, όταν σαν απο μηχανής θεός βρέθηκε μπροστά μας το «Burger King». Πόσο νόστιμο μπορεί να είναι ένα «Cheese burger» όταν έχεις ξελιγωθεί από την πείνα.
Οι μέρες μας εκεί περνούσαν πολύ γρήγορα. Την προ τελευταία μέρα γιορτάσαμε όλοι μαζί δίπλα στην πισίνα τα γενέθλια του αδελφου μου. Ο Γιάννης έσβησε 13 κεράκια πάνω σε μία τεράστια σοκολατένια τούρτα, που νοστιμότερη δεν εχουμε ξαναφάει, και εμείς του τραγουδούσαμε πίνοντας σαμπάνια. Αυτά τα γενέθλια θα του μείνουν αξέχαστα!
Φύγαμε απο την Χίο γεμάτοι όμορφες αναμνήσεις. Έυχομαι ένα τέτοιο ταξίδι να ξαναγίνει στο μέλλον.

This summer’s trip to the beautiful island of Chios was an unforgettable undertaking. The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society worked very hard to make this unique trip a reality. We are thankful to those who organized this trip.

The trip started taking shape at the American College of Greece, Deree in Agia Paraskevi, Athens. That night, we danced and sang around a panoramic view. This performance was special for my brother and I, since all of our relatives in Athens were watching us perform for the first time.

After arriving in Chios, on a short, 20 minute flight, I found myself in a wonderful hotel with a fantastic view. When the rest of my fellow Chicagoans arrived in Chios, I felt such a connection to Greece. We performed, almost every day, at different locations around the island; we swam in beautiful beaches and we all spent time together, enjoying every minute of our trip!

Our trip to Ephesus was a singular experience for everyone. I liked the fact that our Turkish tour guide spoke English. I’ll never forget how hungry I was when Burger King miraculously appeared. A cheeseburger is that much tastier when you’re starving.

Our time in Chios was going by way too quickly. The day before we left, we celebrated my brother’s birthday at the pool. John blew out 13 candles on a giant chocolate cake – the best chocolate cake any of us had ever tasted. We sang to John as we enjoyed champagne. That will definitely be an unforgettable birthday.

We left Chios full of beautiful memories. I hope we can participate in another trip like this in the future.

Adam Papadolias (adult member)

Afternoon in Xios

Just before my odyssey, I saw Midnight in Paris in which a character stumbles into the golden age of the 1920s and meets Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, and Cole Porter. Packing my bags for Greece, I plotted my own great hallucination (with a little help from Delphi) in which I might step into a dream, but the musicians had all vacated Athens for the islands until September. So had said the saz and outi craftsmen in the anarchist neighborhood Exarchia, where I’d booked a stay nearby notorious Rebetika haunts, some as old as the genre. As is often the case, what you love best about your culture is hard to find once you’re actually there.

1930 did not happen for me until the boat ride to Xios, when Nikos and I, with our baglamades, met some young guitarists and a woman fanatical enough to know all the verses of the best Rebetika. Misty-eyed men my father’s age mouthed old memories, smoked, and clapped. That’s just how it is with islands where one is prone to revelations and inspirations.

With an echo of a pilgrimage, I joined the walk to Agia Markella, the salty tides washing our feet, whispering secrets from a dream before I was Greek. A pungent déjà vu was the most my mind could muster. Believing everything about nothing but something about everything, I found myself marveling, among Orpheus families, at the differences between being a Greek-American dad and being a single, middle-aged jack of too many trades except the one I’d wanted most in another old dream.

If Agia Markella was anything but a sacred place, it was a family story, and not the kind you tell at bedtime or Christmas unless you want your kids to wind up the weirdest in the class. I wasn’t looking for a pilgrimage anymore; I didn’t dodge the waves or wait for the tide to retreat though no one wants salty wet Nikes the rest of the night, but this trip wasn’t about staying dry. I’d grown accustomed to walking around soaking wet with sweat from lugging my weight in luggage, thanks to the taxi strike. As for revelations, I did come away with something after learning how the Greek government made working even more difficult for the drivers. Fifteen percent unemployment just wasn’t enough. Who was actually inhaling hallucinogenic vapors these days? Not the priestess at Delphi anymore. And to think kings had once come to her for their Fate--the birth of Western civilization (of which we are so proud) founded on the ancient equivalent of a trip to the dentist in the days of nitrous oxide. And these were the people running the show. My brother and I had once gotten our dad a bumper sticker that said, “I’m surrounded by idiots!”

As for fathers, Markella’s had been pagan—what brand of pagan, I never found out, exactly, but I’ve known some swell pagans in my day, so he couldn’t have been what they were. Whatever brand he was, he probably embarrassed some pagan god somewhere. If our classical gods were considered pagan by then, considering where we were, Zeus himself was probably saying, “Don’t blame us for that one!” Hades might have even said, “You can’t pin Markella’s father on me!”

Essentially, my becoming Greek seven years ago comes back to my father. Dance changed everything between us. His golden age is 1950. After I joined Orpheus in 2004, I brought my dad a CD.

“Ορέ, να ’σαν τα νιάτα δυο φορές, τα γηρατειά καμία . . .” Youth should be young twice and old age never!

“Where you learn thees? I haven’t heard thees in sixty years.”

I will Tsamiko with wet feet and hope he lets me carry his luggage if the taxis go on strike, and if his youth can’t be twice, may his golden age last forever.

William R.

Orpheus- Greece 2011

Fun, just fun. I had a blast. Chios was one of the coolest places I’ve been to. I hope to go again sometime.

Chios is definitely one of the coolest places in Greece. I especially liked the food. The place by the beach in Karfas had the best gyro I have ever had. The beaches were cool too. I had a lot of fun. My favorite place to see there was Agia Markella. That little church was cool. I also liked Pyrgi. That architecture was INCREDIBLE.

My favorite part of the trip was going to Ephesus. That was just cool. I wasn’t a big fan of Turkey, considering what they’ve done. What was really funny was the ride there. When the tour guide was talking about the history of Turkey, my Grandma would “correct” him when he said Izmir instead of Smyrna, and Istanbul instead of Constantinople. I think that was the funniest part of the trip. One thing is I am never going to Turkey again.

I had a really fun time this summer. I hope to go back to Chios again (maybe Constantinople).  2011 was a summer to remember.  

Sampras Family


Our trip to Greece was amazing. Orpheus gave us the opportunity to make this trip happen after three long decades.

Once we landed in Athens, we felt like we were tourists traveling to a strange place. We couldn’t stop but look around and take everything in. The cars, the signs, the people, the food, the streets, everything looked different.

The Performance at Deree College overlooking Athens was breathtaking. A picturesque view. The group danced and sang so beautifully. As I looked around, I watched the faces of so many admiring the performance; it clearly gave me a sense of pride.

The visit to the Acropolis and the Museum was memorable. Walking up the coble stone pathway that led us to the top of the Acropolis overlooking Athens was also breathtaking and walking on the glass floor of the museum and viewing all the findings that were excavated underground was amazing.
The seven days in Chios with Orpheus was a lot of fun. Watching the kids perform in various parts of Chios brought tears of joy to my eyes. We couldn’t have been more proud of our boys. We enjoyed our bania at Mavra Volia. The water was so clear and the color was as blue as the sky.

There were many trips that we relished. The first was to Ayia Markella. From the bus ride up and around the mountains to the view from up above to the walk on the beach where Ayia Markella was killed was incredible. Another trip was to Ephesus Turkey. Viewing the ancient Greek ruins and walking the streets of once a populated area was a site to see. Another favorite was the visit to the Mastiha plant. We watched and learned how only the trees in Chios produce Mastiha. The kids enjoyed spending late nights at the beach with friends by the Golden Sand Hotel in Karfas. The food in Greece was delicious. We loved the loukoumades in Chios. The size of each one was as big as a donut covered with nutella and ice cream topped with nuts. Costa and Anthony lived on Souvlakia and Gyros. They couldn’t get enough. Last but not least, we met many great families from Orpheus. As the adults enjoyed each other’s company so did our kids.

The remainder of the time in Greece was spent visiting family. Places we visited were Tripoli, Levidi, Likoporia and Athens. Time with family was spent usually around the table eating great home cook food and sharing many stories. We all had some experiences or memories will never forget. For Costa it would be driving a stick shift in Levidi at the age of fourteen, Anthony found it humorous that the cars in Greece were as tall as he and no bigger than a matchbox car, for me it was when I visited the house my mother grew up in, and Dean had a difficult time finding his way in and around Athens, as for my mother n law she will always cherish seeing her grandkids dance in Greece.

Greece is definitely a different way of life, one that we felt we could easily adapt to. We loved everything Greece had to offer and our trip back will surely be sooner than later.

Effie Tsaltas (adult member)

“How was Greece??” everyone’s been asking me. In my response, the amount of details usually varied, depending on how much time and patience the listener had to indulge me as I gushed about the trip, but my essential reply was always “FANTASTIC!”

I would hesitate for a moment before responding, wondering where I should start. Should I begin with the performance in Athens that pretty much set the tone for the remainder of the week? Or just dive right into describing the amazing things we saw and did in Chios, and work my way backwards?

Most of the time, I led with how impressive the island of Chios was. During preparations for the trip, Chios was described to us in detail, as was the itinerary. If you haven’t been there before, your imagination naturally takes over and you can’t help but invent scenarios and images of what to expect. Those preliminary notions and expectations, of course, never do the destination justice. Every place we visited had its own inimitable attraction and charm. It’s hard to pick out singular favorites, but there are a few attractions that definitely stand out.

The village of Mesta was unlike anything I’d ever seen. To say it was unique is an enormous understatement. Its medieval construction was ancient, overwhelming, and tremendously impressive. Rushing through the dark tunnels and passageways of the village felt very surreal. It’s hard to miss the invasion of over 100 people, and the inevitable commotion they create. Soon the locals were opening their doors and hanging out of their windows to see what all the excitement was about. As we marched through their cobbled streets, they watched us and we watched them – the Greek Americans and the Chios natives equally curious about each other.

After navigating the seemingly endless burrows, with no apparent end in sight, the village square suddenly opened up to us, almost out of nowhere. The square was very inviting and so alive with the past AND the present. Every stone, every wall, every building seemed to drip with culture, history and character (lots and lots of character). All around, there were beautiful trees and foliage, restaurants and other establishments and people of all ages enjoying themselves. A few of the locals were nice enough to chat with us and tell us about Mesta and its history. So many fascinating stories, so little time. It’s too bad we were not able to hang around Mesta a little longer, exploring the village, discovering its people, its past and its mysteries. This is one of those places that definitely deserves a repeat visit!

The village of Pyrgi was equally as unique and impressive as Mesta. The mesmerizing architecture alone just blew everyone away. The gray and white, intricately decorated houses and balconies accented with the bright red of the hanging tomato vines were definitely something to behold! We learned quite a bit about the amazing history of that village as well (a temporary residence of Christopher Columbus – who knew?!)

Visiting Greece is always a treat. Visiting Greece with an entire entourage of friends is, well, indescribable. You share so many different experiences and you have that much more fun. You get the chance to see things from other people’s perspectives, which inevitably intensifies and enhances your trip experience as a whole. There’s a different kind of energy when the dance group performs in Greece. We felt it in Kalamata in 2007, and we definitely felt it again in Athens and Chios. Simply put, it’s like we’re blissfully hopping, skipping and leaping to the heartbeat of Greece. The performers felt it. The parents / family members felt it. The audience as a whole felt it. You can’t fully describe the experience without having been there. And once you’ve been part of something like that, you want to do it again, and again, and again…

Alex V. (youth member)

My trip to Greece with Orpheus was…AMAZING!! I had so much fun and now I am sad that it’s over. (Even though it’s been like a month now). Everything was so organized, that every moment of our time was never wasted. At the end of trip, I was so sad that we had to leave. My friendships grew stronger and I even made new friends. I had an unforgetful experience that will live with me forever.

Zack "Eleftherios" V. (youth member)

This trip to Greece was definitely one to remember. It is one thing to look forward to telling people once getting back to school to say that I danced in Greece. Most of the kids that went might not get this kind of experience again, to perform at the university in Athens, and in small and large villages in Chios. Overall I think that the trip went very well, and everybody got along. Also pretty much everybody, including me, made some new friends that we would never see since they only go to practice on Thursdays. I did not think that there were any plans that should have been changed. The whole itinerary and thought that was put into this trip was definitely unforgettable . Nobody would have ever thought that all this could have happened. The planning into this trip also helped a lot, and without these brilliant planning ideas, the trip might not have been as good as it was. I am so glad I was part of it and happy to have had the wonderful experience.