Day 13: Saturday, April 8

Sites Visited: Meteora

Leaders: Max Barg and Shania

Hey Friends,

Today we got to sleep in, but not really. However, it was a bit later than most days. We headed up toward Meteora (a UNESCO World Heritage Site described as “a collection of Byzantine monasteries atop a formation of immense monolithic pillars and huge rounded boulders which dominate the local area”) from Kalambaka on the bus. Once we got up to the very top of one of the peaks, the bus dropped us off and we were told that we had to find our way back to the hotel.

We ended going to one monastery and spent the rest hiking around the various trails. We met a brown dog along one of the trails and named her Sappho. She followed us for over two miles before she headed back home. After we were done exploring, it took around an hour and a half to walk back to the hotel.

After a much needed shower, we had our first discourse as a group, and Professor Christesen gave us an abridged version of his life story, thus far. Afterwards, we went out to dinner to celebrate Dan’s 21st birthday. TA Tim ordered the whole menu, and no one went home hungry.

We had to hit the hay early, because we were headed up to Thessaloniki the next morning.

Keep it real,

Barg & Kee

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Group pic (minus Bonner)

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Day 12: Friday, April 7

Sites Visited: Kerameikos, Kalapodi, and Hosios Loukas

Leaders: Victoria and Michael

While the rest of our group awoke bright and early (6 AM) to head to the Keramikos, the two of us hung back at Hotel Alexandros to handle logistics regarding our departure. All the bags were stored in Victoria’s room, and at about 10:45 we began the arduous process of transporting the bags from the third floor room to the bus, which was waiting half a block away. We first completely filled the elevator with bags, hit lobby, and sprinted down the stairs to get to the lobby before our bags. We then got more efficient, and I (Michael) sent bags into empty elevators on the third floor, and Victoria retrieved them in the lobby. After the bags were in the lobby we made many trips to load the bus, and then headed to meet the rest of the group. Tired, we rested in the grass near the Keramikos as the rest of the group boarded the bus.

With the whole group in tow, we finally headed off to our destination: some really fancy Byzantine monastery with a hard to spell name. Wait, I am being told it’s spelled HOSIOS LOUKAS. The churches there had original mosaics in situ, which was really cool if you’re into that sort of stuff. More stunning was the view of the countryside, the green mountains and the blue sky swirled together in the white clouds that stretched from sun to baby olive groves in the fields. The bathroom with a view made it into Max Barg’s 101 Places To Go Before You Go, coming to a bookstore near you. Probably.

After we said goodbye to Hosios Loukas, we said hello to the wide open road. We stopped briefly at a very special archaeological site of the sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis, with two huge doric temples and beautiful views yet again. The site is connected to Delphi and has lots of unlooted dedications and a full-out carpet of pot sherds. Hooray!

We finally got home very late and settled into our hotel at Kalabaka where it’s currently midnight. Time to finally sleep…

Υεια σας,

Βικτώρια, Μίχελ, και τα παιδιά

Hosios Loukas

Day 11: Thursday, April 6

Sites Visited: Byzantine Museum, Acropolis

Group Leaders: Ben and Nathalie

Today was possibly the most jam-packed and exciting day we have had so far! This morning we woke up at our usual hour of 6:30 in order to do some reading and homework before heading off to the Byzantine Museum at the relatively late time of 10:00. Byzantine art is not a topic most of us are familiar with so this was something unexpected and refreshing. Once at the museum we split off into pairs and picked out our favorite objects from different periods in Byzantine art before presenting them to the class. This was all in preparation for the next few days when we will travel to see some Byzantine churches and monasteries in Northern Greece.

After a quick lunch back in our own neighborhood, we set off for what we had been waiting for all trip: the Acropolis. Ever since our time with the Parthenon marbles in London (or even since our first Classics courses) we had all been dying to see the Parthenon in real life. And it certainly did not disappoint! We were fortuitously joined by PCC’s colleague Dr. Scahill whom we had run into on the street on the way to the museum this morning. He is THE expert on the history and architecture of the Acropolis and Agora and he spent the next several hours answering our questions and showing us around the site. Despite Dr. Scahill’s brilliance, it was the Parthenon and the surrounding buildings that really stole the show. Just as the group was getting a little worn out, the sun began to set. This turned the already incredible site into a truly magical place. Today’s blog video truly captures the beautiful scenery and the high spirits of the group. I highly doubt anyone will forget this afternoon! We stayed until the Acropolis was just about closed before heading to an early (by Greek standards) dinner and then hurried home to pack our bags for our six day trip to Kalabaka and Thessaloniki tomorrow!

Classically yours,
-the locals (Nat and Ben)

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Day 10: April 5

Sites Visited: Areopagus

Leaders: Saphfire and Max Frankel

Blog Post – Day ?? we don’t know anymore

Today was another day of wiping the face and rising to greet the crisp Athenian morning. We devoured a breakfast of meats, cheeses, bread, fruits, vegetables, and beverages. After breakfast we began the trek down to the Areopagus. After walking nearly 12 miles’ yesterday, this was a variously welcome reminder of the nature of Greek topography. Once we reached the peak of the Hill of Ares, Professor Christesen began to overwhelm our delicate little brains with knowledge of the Athenian city layout, spanning nine different time periods. The air on top of the hill was a little nippy and we huddled on the rocks and learned about the development of the civic center of Athens. Once the Skipper had talked for nearly four hours (in the typical fashion of Greek rhetoric) we walked off the mountain and made our way to a café where we took over and set up camp sketching maps of the various time periods for two hours. Then it was time for lunch, and we all broke up and had lunch in the area of Monastiraki, near the northwest of the Acropolis. After this latest meal we went to the Acropolis Museum, where we saw the kouroi, the older temples, and the Parthenon sculpture (at least that which was still in Athens). We thought about how the museum was laid out and the context in which the exhibits were presented. Then we retired for dinner and bed…and slept the deserved rest of heroes.

Souvlaki,

Max and Saphfire

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Day 9: Tuesday, April 4

Sites Visited: Center of Athens (Philopappos Monument, Lysikrates Monument, Arch of Hadrian, Lykavittos)

Group Leaders: Grace and Tim

Our day began bright and early in the lobby of the Alexandros Hotel. We set out for the day at 7:30 and walked through Athens in the sunshine for the first time. The first stop on our itinerary was the Monument of Philopappos, a wealthy Roman who built the structure to commemorate his accomplishments. From there we could see the entire Acropolis, and Professor Christesen gave us a crash course on the geography and major sites of ancient Athens. The rest of the morning was spent ping–ponging from site to site in order to get a good sense of the layout of the ancient city. We stopped for lunch at the Monument of Lysikrates, who built it to commemorate his chorus’ victory in a dance competition held during a local Dionysia.
After we wrapped up with lunch, we headed east, stopping at the Arch of Hadrian and the massive diptoral Olympeion temple that he completed during the second century CE. Our last two major stops on our tour were at the Panathenaic Stadium and the Lyceum, where Aristotle set up his school as the first modern university. We took a brief mid–afternoon nap before making the arduous climb up Lykavittos, the tallest hill in Athens, where Professor Christesen ran us through the extensive history of Greece after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and treated us to an amazing nighttime view of the city. We all grabbed a typically late Greek dinner and returned to our rooms for bed.

Good night!

Grace and Tim

Day 8: Monday, April 3

Sites Visited: Athens

Group Leaders: Dan and Shania

Today, we woke up earlier than usual as we had a flight to catch. Once we got to Heathrow Airport, we found out that our flight had been delayed thirty minutes. When we all boarded, we once again we were delayed and spent maybe an hour on the tarmac. Finally, we were in the air and about two hours in, we were given lunch of various Greek foods.

Thanks to flight delays and 2-hour time difference, we finally arrived in Athens at about 8 PM local time. Getting to our hotel was another hassle, which included an hour train ride to central Athens and a good thirty minutes of lugging our luggage across the streets. We quickly realized that this schlep was more than worth it, though, when we got the best gyros in Athens. Although the trip involved some more walking and most of us were about ready to just go to sleep, we did get to start our time in Athens right with some amazing Greek food. We finally settled in for the night at about midnight only to be informed that the next day was an early one! Pretty sure we’re all going to be super sleep deprived, but it’ll be worthwhile for sure.

Υεια σας,

Dan and Shania and the crew