Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bitter Sweet

It is dead week in Greece and I am getting to the final days of my quarter here. I can't even fathom how quickly the past two and a half months have gone. I honestly can't wait to see everyone and have the comforts of being home, but it is a bitter sweet departure from this great city. As terrified as I was to go on this adventure, it was more than worth it. The people I have met, as well as the things I have seen and experienced are going to be with me forever and I am so grateful for all of it. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We just got home from our two-day excursion to Delphi. It was not the best weather we could have wanted, but being up in the mountains for a huge rainstorm was sort of fun. We drove first to the Osios Loukas Byzantine Monastery where we explored the different parts of the church and the surrounding area for a while before moving on the lower site of Delphi. Michael showed us the reconstructed Tholos of Delphi as well as the Temple of Athena, and then led us up to the fountain of Delphi, where some scholars believe that the Oracle was given water that had some sort of mysterious effect on her, and helped with the prophecies she made. After our first viewing of Delphi we headed down the road to our adorable little hotel, with the most amazing view of the mountains of Delphi. We had a little time to explore the streets before I had Persuasion class. Later that night, we all met up to go to a dinner sponsored by Alena, which was delicious, and though filling some of us couldn’t deny our overwhelming craving for crepes, so we had crepes on the way home in the rainstorm which were amazing. Once we reached the hotel we found some of the group in the lobby watching “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” so of course we had to join them. We set out the next morning to explore the upper archeological site of Delphi. There are 83 different architectural sites within the sanctuary of Delphi, so we spent a full morning exploring with Michael. Afterwards we went into the museum to see where much of the artwork is preserved from the original buildings. There was so much to see and so much to learn, I feel like its best to share details mostly through pictures.

Osios Loukas Monastery ceiling

Lighting a candle at the Monastery

Alter, no longer in use by the Monks, open for viewing by the public

Sarah and I in the courtyard outside the Church

Some of the Roomies and I playing around at the site

Welcome to Delphi

Sarah, Dave and I enjoying the sites
Unsatisfied from their race in Olympia the boys had to race again

This time Jordan won

Michael sits, I can sit too...tired from all that hoofing

Treasury of Athens

Temple of Apollon

Theatre at Delphi


This is the tiny crawl space that Michael lead us through, basically a gutter under the Temple, not made for tall people and very dirty, but fun! 

Out of all the Bronze statues that once existed at the site of Delphi this is the only one they have left, a nameless chariot driver

Kristina and I out on our balcony with the most amazing view

We had to do a late night crepe run through the rainstorm, so worth it

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Our bright and early departure to the Peloponnese came last Saturday after the Halloween shenanigans. The first destination on our trip was to Corinth, but during the two-hour bus ride we stop to marvel at the Corinth Canal. The canal superheats the Peloponnese from the mainland of Greece. It is the second largest canal in the world, 6.3 kilometers long.

The Corinth Canal

After our pit stop at the canal, we finished the journey to Corinth. I was particularly excited about Corinth since I can still remember breaking up into our Greek city-states in seventh grade for Mr. Zurcherer’s class for our Greek history unit. We dresses up in those “togas” everyday and I remember having a lot of Corinthian pride, who knew that some day I would actually be able to visit the actual site of Corinth?

The Greeks originally ran Corinth, until the Roman’s took over and Julius Caesar’s colony was established. It was known mostly for being the number one producer of pottery and for the location of the Archaic Temple of Apollo. After having the chance to explore the site for a while with Michael, we headed down the road to eat and explore the little town of Corinth.

Temple of Apollo at Corinth

The site of Corinth

Sarah and I found a play ground down the road n Corinth

We got back on the road again, this time to Epidauros for a look at the archeological site and the museum. The main attraction at Epidauros is the large theatre that still remains intact today. This huge theatre is capable of holding 14,300 people within its seats. The reason it was never destroyed is that the stones used for the seats that line the entire stadium were made differently than the stones used for any other type of building such as a church or sanctuary so there was never any reason to destroy it because its pieces where not reusable. The most prominent feature of this performance arena is its incredible acoustics. Behind where the orchestra would be found, slightly further back than the center of the stage is what is called the “sweet zone.” If a performer stands on this spot, it is said that even a pin drop can be heard from the highest points of the theatre, meaning that even the quietest performer could be heard by the entire audience. A few of the singers from our group, Caitlin, David, Derek, Jessi, and Zach gave us a lovely performance of Amazing Grace. After this Michael lead us around the rest of the site before we headed to Nauplio for the night.

Theatre of Epidauros

Zach, Derek, David, Caitlin and Jessi sang for us at the Theatre

The entire arena hold 14,300 people, it's huge

Once we reached Nauplio we decided to explore down to the water for a while. We had also been instructed from one of the women at the Athens Center that it was essential to our lives that we ate gelato at Antica Gelateria di Roma, so of course we had to find that as well. She did not lead us astray because it was delicious Italian Gelato, felt like being in Italy all over again! After filling up on gelato we headed back to the hotel to meet up with everyone for our AHA wine tasting adventure a Karonis, The presentation of the wines was fantastic; we tasted three different reds and three different whites, as well as a few different types of ouzo. The two men that were telling us about the wine were brothers and one of them was responsible for actually making the ouzo himself.


Delicious Italian Gelato

Some of the girls with their amazing gelato

Wine tasting!

Jackie and I enjoying our wine

Karonis was the name of the wine shop

David is alcohol intolerant so it was fun to watch him enjoy his wine

Day two of our adventures started off with the ancient site of Tiryns, which was a Mycenaean fortress. The weather was windy and dreary the whole time we were there but the area was still completely gorgeous. Mountains everywhere and trees galore, it felt like home for a change. Athens is amazing, but I didn’t realize how much I miss real vegetation until being on the top of Tiryns. Michael lead us all around showing us the different parts of the fortress in detail as always, but when we came to one part he dove into a story of his own experiences at Tiryns. Little did I know that Michael had actually been part of the excavation crew for that site many years ago. The well he describe to us he helped lay out the plan for its excavation, and though he refused to go down and dig it out back in the day, he was still here for it….he’s such a big deal.

View from the site of Tiryns

Enjoying the view of the mountains and all those orange trees!

Mycenae was our next stop, which was the capital of the Mycenae world. We stopped to take a full group picture at the Lion’s Gate, and thank god we took it with two cameras because Scott accidentally deleted his copy about five minutes later. The Lion’s Gate is the proper entrance to Mycenae and show’s two lion’s with their front paws on an alter with a pillar in the background. The pillar is from Minoan times and represents the palace that the lion’s are protecting. The entire design is a power statement from the Mycenaean’s. As we climbed to the top of the capital, it became clear as to why the city was built on a hilltop. The mountains surrounding were so gorgeous from that level and gave off a feeling of empowerment to be able to look out and see the entire Mycenaean kingdom as well as the cities surrounding. After roaming around the museum for a while we walked down the road to see the massive Tomb of Agamemnon, or the Treasury of Atreus. It is still in incredible condition and we were able to wander inside to see the perfect construction, stone by stone all the way to the top. After grabbing lunch in Mycenae we took the long and windy road to Adritsena.

The Lion's Gate at Mycenae

Group Picture...thank goodness for back ups!

Sarah and I at the top of Mycenae

The Tomb of Agamemnon 

Amazed by how massive the tomb was inside

Adritsena is the most picture perfect village in the mountains I could ever imagine. It was so quiet with only one road that ran through it, and the hotel we stayed at was more like a bed and breakfast. Each room had it’s own fireplace and looked like the inside of a cabin. We had to hoof it up hill a little ways from where the bus could drop us off to get to our rooms, but once we made it up there we could see the entire town. We watched the sunset behind the mountains as we wandered the streets that evening before we all stopped to get dinner at one of the only restaurants open. After dinner we went back to the hotel and they boys made a fire in their room, which was so nice since it was actually cold for the first time. Jessi, Katie, Sarah and I curled up and watched a movie in the boys room while all eight of them took Michael out for a boys night. It was exactly what we needed, a quiet night it. Later Sarah and I weren’t ready to sleep so we were sitting out on the balcony of our room watching as the entire town shut down. Eventually our boys all stumbled in together and Zane came up and had a nice talk with Sarah and I while we sat outside in the cold. I had to force myself to go to sleep because I wanted to get up to watch the sunrise the next morning. I woke up to complete darkness, which was a nice change from Athens since it never gets completely dark due to the city lights. I wandered downstairs to the lookout point of the hotel and just sat and watched the sky get lighter as the sun rose for about an hour, it was so perfect.

Sunset behind the mountains in Adritsena

Most of the gang at dinner together

Our little balcony in Adritsena

The sunrise was so perfect

Lighting up the entire little town

Kristina and I at the look out point from the hotel

Unfortunately we only had one night in Adritsena so we loaded ourselves back on the bus and headed to the Apollo Temple at Vasses. This Temple of Apollo is under constant reconstruction and is hidden by a large tent structure to protect it from the intense weather conditions from being in the mountains. The temple is archaic and believed to come from the same architect as the Parthenon, and is a temple created in worship of the god Apollon, god of order. This temple was associated with Apollon’s protection of the people against the plague since he was also a god of healing. We had free range over the site of Vasses for a while before we headed to Olympia.

Temple of Apollo at Vasses

Sarah and I made it a goal to keep up with Michael's hoofing all weekend, and I'd say we did a pretty good job

Once we arrived in Olympia we grabbed some food and headed to the Ancient city of Olympia where the Olympic games were started. First Michael took us through the Temple of Heraion, which used to be a temple of Zeus until it was demoted to the temple of Hera. We went through the different areas in which pre-game rituals and sacrifices were made to help the athletes feel more confident about their performance in the games. We went out and sat on the grass surrounding the stadium in which most of the events took place. After Michael was done lecturing the boys of course has to see was the best Olympian so they raced each other down the stadium, and Zane took first, with Jordan trailing our slightly behind. After we all had our fix of being Olympic athletes Michael showed us to the Temple of Zeus. The temple is dismembered into very few remains today but the parts, including the drums of the columns still remain all around the site. We also saw the workshop of Pheidias, where the famous statue of Zeus was created.

Temple of Hera

Stadium at the site of Olympia

Attentive class during Michael's lecture at the Stadium

Michael showing everyone the proper way for an Olympic athlete to begin a race

Photo finish, but Zane clearly won

Beautiful Olympia

Temple of Zeus

Workshop of Pheidia where the famous statue of Zeus was constructed

After finishing up the site of Olympia, we had the rest of the night free. Exhausted from three very long and eventful days I crashed early. The next day we hit two different museums in Olympia, first was the Archaeological Museum in which Michael took us through the stories of the Chariot race of Pelops and Oinomaos, statues fallen from the east and west pediments of the Temple of Zeus. We also saw the famous statue of Hermes made by Praxiteles. The next museum was the Olympic Games Museum. This was really interesting because it took you through each part of the ancient games process, including the preparation of each athlete, who was allowed to compete, how the competitions were judges, an explanation of all the events and so on. After we wandered around the Olympic museum for a while we had time to explore Olympia a little more before the very long bus ride home.

Statue of Hermes in the Archeological museum

Michael doing his thing, telling us the tale of the chariot races that are depicted through the pediments fallen from the Temple of Zeus

This is the best known replica of this famous statue, the Romans have the original

The trip was amazing as always, we are so spoiled all the time by the places we go and the things we see. Next week it's off to Delphi!