What tour of Greece does not begin in Athens? Of course, we first visited the Acropolis and experienced the Parthenon; here you can see Barb Kalinowski fooling around. On the Acropolis Sun-gee Yang gave her report. Chris Van Dyken sent this photo of himself and Ben Anderson in front of the Parthenon. And Paul Cornils sent this photo of himself on Philopappos Hill near the Acropolis. Finally, Serita Van Groningen sent two photos, first of some of our guys (Christians, Schultze, Tuuk and Bouma) hanging around the library of Hadrian, and then of herself and a similar bunch of guys in a taverna. (I think this latter photo is from Athens, but I'm not sure.)
We visited the nearby ancient marketplace, or agora, where we saw the Temple of Hephaestus. Here is another, slightly different view. Carolyn Davids took this shot of the Acropolis from the vicinity of the Temple of Hephaestus. And Paul Cornils took this "tunnel vision" view of the stoa of the Agora Museum.
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. It was a warm, sunny day that brought out the high spirits in nearly everybody. We could see the Acropolis in the background, along with the Arch of Hadrian (to the right). Later, in our free time, we wandered through the city. Pigeon-feeding time in Syntagma Square is a favorite with students and the elderly natives, as this photo by Carolyn Davids shows.
Some of us were lucky enough to have upper-floor rooms at the Astor Hotel. Those who did saw this view of the Acropolis at night. While walking around the west end of the Acropolis and the Areopagus, we could see excavations that have been on-going since the early 20th century; this was a residential area.
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. Unfortunately, it was closed because of damage from the recent earthquake.
Next stop on our way south was Eleusis, where we visited the site of the ancient mysteries. We sat for a while in the Telesterion, where the initiates viewed the mysteries. Catherine VanDeWege sent in this picture of our intrepid guide, Yiannis Ventiroso, in the Telesterion. After a short ride across the Corinth Canal, where we had lunch, we stopped for the afternoon in ancient Corinth, where we visited the Temple of Apollo. We ended our time at Corinth by climbing up Acrocorinth, where we watched the sun set over the mountains. Carolyn Davids sent in this view from one of the ports at Acrocorinth.
Nauplio and Epidauros
Finally 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 (here Van Dyken tests the laws of gravity; here is how it looked from Chris's own camera). 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. Back at the Amalia Hotel on the outskirts of Nauplion, Van Dyken and Bouma caught up on their reading.
Mycenae and Tiryns
At the Bronze Age site of Mycenae we toured the ruins of the palace; here's a view of the citadel from the road. After a morning and early afternoon of climbing and exploring we had a pretty good lunch at the "Restaurant King Agamemnon" (Dimitri the Giant, dish-breaking proprietor, a photo courtesy of Chris Van Dyken). It was a sunny day, and Steph Blossey, Rebecca Zmrzak, and Natalie Sarago enjoyed a sunlit meal.
A longish bus ride across the Peloponessus took us to Olympia (with a stop at wind-swept Bassai). At Olympia we dutifully ran the track at the stadium (with both women's and men's races). We also wandered around the ruins of Zeus' sacred site, walking somewhat illegally through the temple of Zeus. To give some idea of the size of Zeus's temple, Michelle Boertje posed by one of the fallen columns (photo by Jessica Yarch, I think). We could only marvel at the destructive passage of time, as photographed by Chris Van Dyken. In the stadium Steph Blossey spoke on the ancient Olympics.
We then made our way to Delphi--the first stop on the northern leg of our trip. Here the weather turned nasty on us, with snow in the higher elevations; we got a taste of the worsening weather on the ferry crossing, where Stephen Schultze turned green around the gills, to the amusement of Sung-Gee Yand and Alisha Turner. We toured the sites in what eventually became driving rain, snow and sleet. Maybe Apollo was mad at us. Anyhow, we visited the precinct of Athena first, and then the main site, with its temple of Apollo, here photographed by Paul Cornils. Here is another view of the Precinct of Athena Pronaia from the main site of Delphi. (Do you have some good photos of Delphi? If so, let me post them here.)
While in Delphi we also visited the monastery of Hosias Loukas, which is still home to a handful of monks. Here the rain and sleet and snow were driven even harder by the wind; nobody escaped the elements, though most of us thought the weather gave the church and monastery a totally other-worldly feeling.
Meteora, Dion, Vergina, Thessaloniki, Philippi
A visit to the monasteries of Meteora was next; most were closed because of the weather, but they looked ghostly in the snow-filled air. On to Dion, Vergina, Thessaloniki and Philippi next. At Thessaloniki the Hotel Metropolitan was close to the seafront, which made for pleasant if cool walking. We also spent a day on a "church crawl," visiting some ancient churches and the Rotunda of Galerius, intended by the emperor to be his mausoleum and since then used as a church and a mosque. Nowadays it is filled with scaffolding.
Next day, we went to the Roman town of Philippi, where there was more than we could explore in the time allowed. Of course, there was ample opportunity for some "guy humor," as Van Dyken and Steenwyk posed for the obligatory photo in the 50-seat latrine. At one of the basilicas Mike Kuiken gave his report on the ancient economy. Across the street, I somehow managed to catch Ben Anderson strolling by the theater. And speaking of the theater, Paul Christians and Chris Bouma waited in vain for the next performance.
After touring the north of Greece, we bussed back down to Athens (most of us were quite tired, as Paul Cornils' photo proves) for a few days, and then made the long journey home. On our last Sunday in Athens, many of us took in the changing of the guard in Syntagma Square (photo by Cathy VanDeWege). Here's another photo of the Evzones, courtesy of Carolyn Davids. Cathy VanDeWege also sent in the photo of herself and her mother, Lorie Floyd, taken over breakfast at the Astor Hotel. Despite a 3 a.m. wake-up call, everyone seemed to be smiling on the plane ride home, as Paul Cornils' photo attests.
Seriously: if you have some good, people-oriented photos from the trip, I would love to scan them in and put them up here.