Hi!! Here are pictures and one video from the past days’ adventures at Delphi and Olympia. Today we sail to Hydra for the celebration of Greek independence from the Turks. No doubt we will have some “footage” of the fireworks. For now, check the pictures. I will get some help from the Argonauts on the words to go with them–later.
We are in Paralio Astros and finally there is pretty much a heavenly wifi spot–Greek boys bringing lemonade, beachside. I am under a canvas canopy; the troops are in the chaises. I just saw a tray of strawberry looking ice cream floats go their way. Three “guard ducks” waddled past and into the water. Oh boy!! Stay tuned for pictures and more. I will backtrack and fill in the adventure. I think if we are mythical, we must be Argonauts with just a few more Medeas on board than authorized. OK–here’s what I wrote late one night when we were in Athens–
Hello parents and friends of the Greek adventurers,
So, it is a little complicated to post to the blog in our hotel. We have wireless, but only in the lobby . . . and only in thirty minute blocks of time. I think a combination of usb drives and patience and a little work past 9 p.m. should result in an update. If you are reading this, it worked and I was able to stay awake like a big kid. I’m still a little jet lagged and I think almost everyone else is too. We arrived in Athens about 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, met Kostas our trusty(?) Homeric contact in Athens, and bussed into the city. Our hotel, Ionis, is fine but in a block which is mostly small shops—plumbing supply, electronics, banks, and large concrete apartment buildings. A few blocks up, there are pedestrian streets, cafes, and jewelry stores; apparently the renaissance in Athens has not yet reached us. Inside the hotel is fine. There are two tiny elevators; yesterday Mickie Jones was on the elevator with one of the hotel staff. She remarked that the elevator did not do well with more than one person and a suitcase. Apparently it has been known to just stop when it was expected to elevate more weight than that. We have duly noted its limitations and hope to finish our stay here without any long stretches on the elevator waiting for rescue.
So—about the trip– Tuesday we dropped off our suitcases (which ALL
arrived with us!! Yay!!) at the hotel and walked out to become oriented. We went up to Syntagma Square to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and had lunch al fresco at Sabba’s (sp?) in the Plaka. After checking in at the hotel around 3 and getting settled for a little bit, the intrepid Dr. Head(he of the newly constituted knees) led the sturdier adventurers up Lycobettos Hill for the panoramic view of the city. I must admit that I weenied out on that extremely vertical excursion. Instead, I went for a stroll, enjoyed a cappuccino, watched Greek people go by from my vantage point at a table on a shady pedestrian street, and appreciated the brisk breeze and lowering sun. At 8, we all had a great dinner in the hotel restaurant—pasta, salad, grilled boneless pork meatie things, and ice cream. Immediately after, most everyone went to their rooms and tried to catch up on sleep.
Mickie and I were the first ones down to breakfast, joined shortly by the two Davids—Head and Corona. Breakfast was great—little fat piggy sausages and sliced ham and something very like bacon, sunny side up eggs, Greek yogurt with peach halves or honey or preserves or any combination of the above—also cereal and milk and toast and two sweet crunchy bread like things. Best part—a vast urn of good coffee. Carol Franklin and I HAD to figure out the Greek coffee deal. There was a little copper urn of very hot water, a tray with coarse sugar and brown powdery stuff, and this other pile of fine sifted sandy stuff. We didn’t know what it was –so of course, we tasted it. Remarkably like the sandy stuff at the beach. So—Carol observed the procedure. We were supposed to put the hot water, sugar and the brown powder—your basic Greek Nescafe—in the copper pots called briki and put the full pot on the sand to heat it up until it was bubbly. Tomorrow morning we shall accomplish Greek coffee with great sophistication. Stay tuned—it’s dinner time.
The news on Wednesday in Athens. After breakfast, we walked up Athinos street—past the Attalos, Wendy, and the open air market with its fruits(dried and fresh) and nuts and meat and street vendors with sesame covered pretzel goodies—and finally past the only surviving mosque in Athens and into the Agora.
Our magic paper from the Greek Ministry of Culture and my willingness to produce a list of group participants gained us free entry. In the shade of an olive grove, David C. told us the 1400 year history of the Magna Mater Cybele—the big mother goddess. It was scary—and certainly gave all of us a whole new perspective on motherhood. I can’t wait to see the journal entries. Then we went up the hill to the Temple of Hephaestus, were enlightened by Lisa as to the architectural and aesthetic features of that best of all preserved Greek temples—its secret: Christianity. On the grass by the temple were three volleyball sized tortoises. Don’t know their secret.
Here is a shot of the Thesion/Hephaestion–depending upon the myth of preference and Mickie and Catie of the brink of the Agora–
Then down the hill to the Stoa of Attalos to check out the pots in the Agora Museum Collection. After one bad experience with my flash, we were able to see 300 years of pot evolution in about 200 feet of indoor museum space. With our imaginations firing on geometric, black figure, and red figure pots, we turned up the path to the Acropolis—following the Panathenaic Procession. I learned something (amazing!) from the Corona; apparently the mantle—peplum of Athena was mounted like a sail on a model ship and pushed up the Acropolis all the way to the Propylaia—where it was too big to fit through the passage. The point was to celebrate the naval victory over the Persians at Salamis. This is getting pedantic isn’t it?” We all went to the top of the Areopagus o r Hill of Mars, considered why Paul’s admonitions to Athenians fell on deaf ears and then on up through the Propylaia onto the Acropolis. We had a general intro to the Acropolis from from Ian and then more wisdom about the architecture of the Erechtheion. Lisa told us the story of Athena and Poseidon’s competition over which would be the patron god of Athens. Lesson: olives trump salt water every time. With grumbling stomachs, we headed down the hill, past the Theater of Dionysus where Tammy introduced the importance of that theater as a prototype for all Greek theaters while David H. obtained tickets to the new and really beautiful Acropolis Museum for the Friday before we return home. One last stop at the choragic monument of Lysicrates and into the Plaka for lunch. The last official stop of the day was the Keramikos—the cemetery of Athens at the edge of town near the Dipylon Gate—to check out the funeral stele—and see if there were puppies on the grounds. Probably it was a good thing that there were no puppies; this is a soft-hearted group. Elliott gets today’s citation for map skills offset by yesterday’s award for seeing Tammy safely off Lycobettos’ hill. Score:even. We were all so tired after our day—does it sound busy to you?—that we all ended up at the same restaurant not four blocks from the hotel.
Great day! Off to Delphi and then Olympia tomorrow.
More pictures and news to follw. Today we go sailing to Hydra–
We are all sitting calmly at JFK waiting for our flight to Greece. Departure time is 3:50 so we still have about an hour and a quarter before we board. We have exhausted the shopping possiilities in our little neck of the airport. A few are still out rambling around. I learned my lesson–a salad and a beverage for lunch $25. Opa!!
Jordan says, “Send money. Gypsies everywhere!!” Then he laughted. –I don’t know.
Catie says, “The gypsies haven’t gotten me yet, so don’t expect the Mercedes, Sara.”
Collins says,”Be blessed and stay under God’s umbrella.”
Amanda says,”I’m alive and well and Ian is taking care of me.” I can attest that Ian waited for her to board the RIC-JFK flight so she could get a little snack. Very nice. Nothing like travel to test one’s compatibility.
Lisa and Carol are hanging at the gate. Conversation is slow. We are all a little tired. It may be that we need a conversation starter from John.
OK. This blogging thing is a swell idea, but I have a book to read. More news in the morning from Athens–assuming wi-fi at the Ionis Hotel!!
Hello friends and families of the John Tyler study abroad expedition to Greece. The plan is to use this blog ( I hope there is at least one student in the group who knows something about creating a blog! I certainly don’t.) to keep you up to date about what we are experiencing and where we are. Right now, we are packing or thinking about packing or shopping before we start packing. We have finished eleven nights of instruction on the history, culture, and mythology of Ancient Greece. Now, we are all very anxious to stop talking and start moving. Maybe the map above will help you to track our movements. Get out your magnifying glasses. We start in Athens, travel northwest to Delphi, then west to Olympia. From there, we travel southeast via Bassae to our home base in the Pelopponese–the tiny village of Paralio Astros (“star beach”) which is too small for any map, but is about 25 miles (1/32 of an inch) southeast of Argos on the Argolic Gulf. From Paralio Astros, we will be taking day trips to Hydra, a crescent shaped island at the mouth of the Argolic Gulf, Nafplio, Mycenae, Tiryns, Nemea, Epidauros, Corinth, and then–reluctantly–we will travel back to Athens via Eleusis. From Athens we will take two short trips to Sounion and Piraeus, both on the coast. Then home on July 6th–but Herculean adventures will transpire before then. I hope you will check back often as we upload photographs, stories, and messages home.