We began and ended our tour in Athens, where we visited all the usual sites as well as a few off the beaten track. Our enjoyment and learning were enhanced by student reports (at nearly every site and not just in Athens), as well as by the services of John Ventiroso, an archaeologically trained Greek guide. Here's a shot of John at work on the Acropolis.
Of course, we first visited the Acropolis and experienced the Parthenon. The Acropolis is especially impressive when viewed from Philopappos Hill. On the Acropolis Julie Wade talked on myths of Theseus. We also marvelled at the works of art in the Acropolis Museum, including the statue of the "Moschophoros" or "Calf-Bearer". Later, we trekked down the steep hill to the Theater of Dionysus, where Sara Romkema spoke on ancient Greek theater production.
We visited the nearby ancient marketplace, or agora, where we heard Dan Glenn speak on the ancient marketplace, and Anita Veltman speak at the prison where Socrates probably died. The agora is especially impressive when viewed from the Areopagus. And here's another shot of the group, seemingly paying attention to another report in the agora.
As if the Parthenon wasn't big enough, we were blown away by the size of the temple of Olympian Zeus, mainland Greece's largest temple. Here Peter Bratt gave his report on the emperor Hadrian. It was a warm, sunny day that brought out the high spirits in nearly everybody, including Julie Wade, Kerry Phillips, and Hannah Meilaender.
A highlight not often experienced by student tours was a visit to the waterfront, where we saw the reconstructed trireme. Here's another view, with Kerry Phillips looking on in admiration--or is she wondering how the sailors avoided seasickness? (And yet another view). We also toured the battle-cruiser "Averoff" and a couple of our women almost learned what it means when they say "the fleet is in". Ryan Noppen sneaked into the radio room of one of the ships where he tapped out the message "Hit iceberg. Sinking fast. Send help". Good thing nobody was listening! (Photo provided by Ryan.)
A visit to the calm and peaceful ancient cemetery of Athens, the Kerameikos, where Mindy Viel spoke on burial practices, was a perfect way to end another long day of touring.
Ryan Noppen provided these great shots of Athenian nightlife. On one of our first nights, about half of the group tried out the Greek food at the Sigalas taverna in Monastiraki. On another evening, Ryan took this shot of Renee Bouma, Matt Lind, Kerry Phillips, Julie Wade and Josh Moritz indulging in some high-caloric fun. Another bunch of folks went to one of Bratt's and Williams's favorite Plaka tavernas, the Cellar.
On the Road: Daphne, Eleusis, Corinth
Leaving Athens on our "Thermobus," we first stopped at the medieval monastery of Daphne on the outskirts of Athens. It provided C.J. Albertie and Kara Padmos an opportunity to clown around a bit. Here Katy Frey spoke on how mosaics were made. Ryan Noppen provided this close-up of the Anastasis from Daphne.
Next stop on our way south was Eleusis, where we visited the site of the ancient mysteries. Here Kerry Schutt spoke on Demeter's cult. After a short ride across the Corinth Canal, where we had lunch, we stopped for the afternoon in ancient Corinth, where we posed for the obligatory group photo at the Temple of Apollo and five of the women of our group (from left: Gayle Byker, Katy Frey, Kara Padmos, Kristen Fergus and C.J. Albertie) posed as caryatids. Not to be outdone, Sonny Pietrocarlo exhibits some "guy humor" in a multi-seat Roman latrine. On a serious note, Dan Steen gave his talk on Paul's work in Corinth from the "bema" before which Paul himself may have stood before Gallio. Later, at the museum, Ben Chambers spoke on the Jews in the Greco-Roman world. It was a wonderfully sunny day. We ended our time at Corinth by climbing up Acrocorinth, where we watched the sun set over the mountains. The view towards the Gulf of Corinth was memorable, to say the least. Some of the guys in the group were disappointed at the sorry (and uninhabited) remains of the temple of Aphrodite.
Nauplio and EpidaurosFinally we arrived in the picturesque town of Nauplio, with its balconied houses and busy seafront. We spent part of a day exploring the Palamidi fortress high above the town. The more claustrophobic among us did not dare to enter the prison cell of the old independence fighter Kolokotronis. Still, some of us found some time to climb, and Gayle Byker and C.J. Albertie even managed to "just hang out" a bit at the fortress. At Epidauros Justin Bos spoke on ancient medicine, while in the well-preserved Theater Maria Buteyn spoke on ancient theater architecture.
Mycenae and TirynsAt the Bronze Age site of Mycenae we toured the ruins of the palace and Renee Bouma spoke on the myths of the House of Atreus, while at nearby Tiryns Becky DeJager uncovered the tangled myths of Heracles. Also at Tiryns, four volunteers showed the massive scale of the walls.
ArgosOn our way out of Nauplio we briefly visited the city of Argos, in antiquity one of the few democracies besides Athens. The remains of the ancient theater and Roman bath complex are fascinating. Annie Timmer spoke on the ancient Greek economy.
Sparta, MistraIt was a long bus ride, all right--over Mount Taygetus (where we were delayed by a herd of goats) and into the clean, friendly town of Sparta. We found that the modern Spartans are not exactly laconic--they enjoy talking as much as the Athenians do. Almost nothing is left of the ancient city, although the museum has an interesting carving of a Spartan warrior who is thought by some to represent Leonidas, the hero of Thermopylae. At a "heroon" dedicated to Leonidas Paul Fugelstad talked about Spartan social customs. Later, we drove on to Mistra, site of a late Byzantine town, where we visited some of the churches. Also at Mistra Emily Faasse gave an overview of Byzantine history.
After another lo-o-o-ong bus ride, we reached Pylos, where we visited the so-called Palace of Nestor. Prof. Bratt explained the area around the hearth, and we also got a glimpse of a bronze-age bathroom. (We think some tubs in the Astor Hotel in Athens must date from this period.) While at Pylos Matt Lind gave the fastest recorded account of the Greek War of Independence ever.
Another long trip was delightfully broken up with a stop at a beach on the Ionian Sea, near Olympia, where we watched a sunset. After arriving at Olympia we wandered around the ruins of Zeus' sacred site. Again we wondered at the small size of the tubs in the ancient gymnasium (and heard a report on Roman baths by Katrina Budde, while others wandered around the shattered temple of Zeus (where Kerry Schutt posed to give us a sense of scale). We could only marvel at the destructive passage of time. Katie Sportel spoke on Doric architecture. On a more upbeat note, what would a stop in Olympia be without our own race in the stadium (and here's the finish); the victors' oak-leaf crowns are modeled here by Julie Wade, an obviously celebratory Dan Steen and Josh Moritz. After Olympia we stopped at Patras to visit the cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in Greece. Ryan Noppen provided this fine close-up of one of the wooden double-eagles on the central chandelier.
DelphiAfter a couple of days back in Athens, we made our way to Delphi--the first stop on the northern leg of our trip. On the way there Matt Weening spoke on Greek warfare at the lion monument of Chaeronea. On arrival at Delphi we were rewarded on visiting the sanctuary of Apollo on a clear, warm day; Kerry Schutt, Megan Halteman, Paul Fugelstad and Katrina Budde enjoyed a picnic in the stadium. Kristen Fergus explained how to consult the oracle of Apollo. The vistas toward the gymnasium were striking.
While in Delphi we also visited the monastery of Hosias Loukas, which is still home to a handful of monks. Here Josh Moritz spoke on Greek Orthodox monasticism. Some of our group basked in the sun... aaah! Some of us got so carried away, we really went out on a limb (left to right: Annie Timmer, Maria Buteyn, and Meredith Wollman).
Mesolonghi, Actium, Nikopolis, IoanninaYet another long bus ride took us to the far northwest part of Greece; along the way we visited sites associated with Augustus' rise to power and the death of Lord Byron. At Mesolonghi Hannah Meilaender spoke about Byron in Greece. Later that day, after our arrival at Nikopolis, Gayle Byker spoke on Antony and Cleopatra, while Sonny (Mr. New World Order) Pietrocarlo spoke on Augustus and the Battle of Actium. (Gayle actually began her talk on the ferry but finished at the theater of Nikopolis.
Ioannina was a favorite of many on the trip--clear, cool days on which we toured the city's fortress area, where the mosque has been converted into a museum. The heart of the fortress or "kastro" is where you find the tomb of Ioannina's most famous local ruler, Ali Pasha. Here you also find the new and excellently laid out Byzantine Museum, with its priceless collection icons. More than a few of us sampled the nightlife in Ioannina and found it to our liking.
DodonaNo trip to Ioannina would be complete without an excursion to Dodona, site of an oracle of Zeus, a well-preserved theater (still used occasionally; here's another view), a nearby stadium (still mostly unexcavated), and an early Christian basilica. The scenery is spectacular. In this setting Sara Nydam talked about the oracle of Zeus.
A visit to Kalambaka and Meteora (near Kalambaka) was next; we gasped at the St. Nicholas monastery perched high on its rock. The group posed in the courtyard of Varlaam Monastery. (Stay tuned for photos--you should have seen Hannah in a long dress and sneakers at Varlaam monastery; anyone got a photo of that?)
On the way south from Kalambaka we stopped at Thebes, where Patrick Zimmerman spoke on myths of Oedipus at the museum. After a brief, rainy stop at Thermopylae, Elizabeth Beach and Kerry Phillips spoke on the Persian Wars.
We next returned to Athens, where we had several free days before departure. A side trip to Sounion was on one of our few cold, un-sunny days, but the temple of Poseidon was memorable. Here Ryan Noppen talked on Greek seafaring. On our last full day an optional side-trip (via hydrofoil) to the island of Aegina inspired Ryan Noppen to pose in a statuesque manner at the Temple of Aphaia. Wonder whether he knows that Aphaia is thought by some scholars to have been a goddess of childbirth? Some others got into Ryan's act as well. On the way back, the winsdswept group posed on the hydrofoil's passageway.
On our last night in Athens we went at a group to Taverna Xylou where we all had more to eat tha should have. Some more of Ryan Noppen's photos: The group leaders offer a toast (left-to-right, Guide John Ventiroso, Tour Manager Bill Kappas, Mark Williams, Ken Bratt, and our driver Leftheris). Two musicians strolled among our tables and sang Greek and American folk songs. Leftheris enjoyed the music so much that he danced with a wine glass on his head!