Category Archives: Entering the Labyrinth

An old travel blog from my study abroad trip to Greece in spring 2011.

June 9, 10, 11, 12 – Naxos

After Tinos, we boarded another one of those crazy fast ferries and arrived on the island of Naxos. Our hotel was located in Agios Prokopis which was outside of Hora (Greek for the main town) of Naxos. I thoroughly enjoyed Naxos, although for some silly reason I really do not have much for pictures to show it! The first full day there was a tour of the island. While the tour guide was certainly enthusiastic, it definitely was not a tour created for university students who are learning history, archaeology and myth. Our first stop was at a pottery workshop. It was really quite neat, the guy created a small jug and did it so unbelievably fast! We were to go to a distillery next, but our tour company travel companion Michael decided to step in, as these workshops and distilleries are just ways to try and make tourists buy things in the shops. We did visit an old Byzantine church. It was very neat from the outside, but unfortunately we were there too early in the day for the keeper to open it and so we did not get to go inside and see the fresco’s.

The sun and church rising into the sky:

Afterwards, we would visit another small town and look at their archaeological museum. It was an unbelievably tiny place but they had some neat artifacts. Unfortunately, no cameras where allowed in this museum. We sat in the town and I looked at a store with pottery and glass. Everything was so beautiful, but I was far too afraid to buy something at that point because we still had much travelling to do and I was certain something would break. On the way to our lunch stop in Apollonia, we went to see a Mycenean tomb. I was silly and followed one of my instructors and we ended up taking a wrong turn and hiking through this little village. I certainly did not mind, although villages here tend to be built straight up a mountainside, but I got to experience first hand what one of these villages are like. Once we got to the top, we had a great view of the valley below. We went back down and were able to find the tomb and discovered two black baby goats! They were absolutely adorable. I didn’t even really look at the tomb because I was so enthralled with these goats. I uploaded a video of them to my facebook to show everyone because they were just too cute. They jumped around the edges of the tomb and went everywhere together, practically stepping over each other. The bay at Apollonia was beautiful and I only had fries as the menu was fairly basic and there wasn’t much on there for a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian foody like me! Next, we visited the Kouros outside of Apollonia. The Kouros was a giant marble carving, probably of Dionysus, from sometime 4000-5000 years ago. Kouros were basic carvings that were unique as they were the first statues to show movement. Should you see one finished and standing up, you would notice he has one foot forward, as if captured mid-step. This Kouros was broken in the neck by a mistake from the carvers, and so was abandoned here in the marble quarry.

I definitely do not do this Kouros justice! Standing up, it would have been at least 11 metres in height. I thought standing next to it, you might be able to tell. But look how big the feet are!

Our tour was definitely a little silly. We were not taken to see the temple of Apollo at town of Naxos, we were not taken to see the sanctuary of Demeter nor of Dionysus. Nothing except the mycenean tomb and the Kouros was something of particular interest to our studies. It was quite unfortunate and left the members of our group quite upset that we had paid money to be driven around like a bunch of silly tourists and treated as such. The next day, we had a free day. A couple of girls from the group and I took the public transit to Hora and decided to do some exploring on our own. I cannot say why, but the feeling of being on public transit in a foreign country was pretty cool! I am starting to recognize some Greek and especially the Greek letters and we actually took the bus a few times to go back and forth.

I have more updates on gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian in Greece! Until that free day, I would have said it was absolutely no issue. Yes, I had been eating french fries that had possibly been contaminated. But I wasn’t really feeling badly. I had also chosen a few snacks in the grocery stores that I figured I could eat. Then, I started to slack a little and be less rigid when it came to contamination. Bad idea! One night, I ordered rice with my stuffed aubergines. When the meal came, it was not rice, but orzo! I scraped as much of it off as I could, but there is the possibility that a few pieces snuck into my eggplant and was eaten. On our free day in Naxos, I had a meal at a very neat restaurant with a very enthusiastic waitress who spent the winter months in New York. I decided that that day was a day for food pictures.

Here was a dessert that was very graciously given to us by our waitress, Effie. She was a real sweetheart. She would not tell me what it was or what was in it, but the girls in my group figured it would be okay for me to eat. I took a few bites and decided that it was made out of cornmeal, and so I ate the entire thing. It was a strange dessert that was like a pudding and moved like jello. It tasted of oranges and had cinnamon sprinkled all over the top. It sure was good, but BOY, I was sure sick that day and for the following week! (GF tip: Do not eat the dessert to be nice!)
I ordered a mussel risotto, with a tomato sauce inside of cream sauce. It was LOADED with mussels!
Here is the creation by my friends Bronwyn and Katarina. It is basically a Greek poutine. Fries, with tzatsiki and feta cheese on top! I obviously did not try it, but it looked so yummy!

Our hotel was right near a beach, and that beach had volleyball nets! An instructor purchased a volleyball and for two nights we played beach volleyball for a few hours until the sun set. I was so happy, finally a sport I knew how to play and I sure had fun! Yes, my knees are pretty skinned and my legs pretty bruised but I had a blast. At sun set, these giant moth/bee like bugs come out. It was hilarious to see people batting them around. They are stupid bugs, but once you hit one of them, more come out. I think at one point there was like 15 of them swarming around and trying to sting us! Luckily, they only come out for approximately 45 minutes and then they are gone. All was well!

The waitress in Naxos told us to come back at night time to visit the Temple of Apollo and the Venetian Castle. We went to the castle at sunset, and wandered around inside until we stumbled upon an amazing art show with very beautiful greek music playing over the speakers. The entire experience was amazing, just to look at all the photographs and listen to the music, with the view of the sunset out the windows. Naxos was truly a beautiful place and I had an unbelievable experience there. Effie, our waitress, told us to go to the temple at night when we wouldn’t been seen, sneak past the rope, and stand under the temple, touching both sides. I did it, feeling the earths energy and listening to the world around me. It was a great experience, to touch something to ancient, to feel what they may have felt. At the end, I had this feeling like it was time for me to leave the temple. It was nice of me to appreciate it, but the temple had not been built for me. I cannot describe the feeling I had, but it was a good one, and so I climbed back down the hill and sat at its base along the ocean, listening to the sounds of the city and hearing the lapping of the oceans waves. There was a giant rave type party going on in the centre of the city. The music echoed through-out, and its energy radiated. It was so peaceful just to sit there and listen and feel. Eventually, the small group I was with and I wandered over to where the music was taking place. It seemed no one wanted to stay as the last bus back to our hotel was leaving soon and it was 10 euros entrance. I wanted to stay. What an experience it would have been! I was not not comfortable being there alone, plus having to find and fund a taxi back to the hotel alone, and so I left with the rest of my friends. That rave will probably haunt me for a while, any of my friends at home would certainly have wanted to stay! It was from then, that I started to really miss those I had left behind.

Sunset over the beach. You can see the Temple of Apollo in the distance on the right hand side!

The setting sun against the Temple of Apollo. One of my favourite places in Greece!

Next stop, CRETE!

June 6, 7, 8, 9 – Tinos, Mykenos, and Delos Islands

After leaving Napflion, we went to Troezen and went on a short hike to try and find the stone that Theseus mythologically moved to find the sandals and sword of his royal father, King Aegeus. We continued on and found an archaeological site and an old Byzantine church. I’m sorry to report but at this time, all of those photos are lost! I have a pretty organized file on my laptop and I have the feeling that I thought I had already uploaded the pictures and deleted them. I will have to have another look at another time. We then stopped at Eleusis, the site of the ancient “Eleusian mysteries,” a cult involving the spring Goddess Demeter. Unfortunately, the site was closed. What we could see from behind the gate was spectacular, it was huge and the excavations found much of the original foundations.

A huge ferry took us to Tinos island, where we would spend three nights. I was lucky to have a choice of roommates, and another girl named Tracy and I got to be the only two in the room. I was spoiled to have some a nice girl for a roommate and have it only us. I have found the rooming situations difficult here, as I am not completely comfortable with most people and I dislike having to tiptoe around others. I also like to light incense while in the shower as I find it relaxing and it helps me to wind down before bed time. Tracy loved the incense, unlike other roommates in the past. I did not do much exploring in the town of Tinos, but we had a free day the next day after arriving. A few people that were old enough rented cars, and I went with another girl and we toured the island, looking for beaches. We found two beaches that were very beautiful and I got a great tan! The island was mountainous, like everywhere, with narrow, winding roads, like everywhere. I commend Erin for having the guts to drive on those roads with other drivers as I do not think I would be entirely comfortable to do so! There really was not much to see on Tinos, except for the churches that we saw literally every five minutes. I found out later that there were approximately 1000 tiny churches and temples on that tiny little island!

Here is a labyrinth I drew in the sand before the tide washed it away!
A stubborn little donkey standing on the side of the road, the thing would not budge!
A view from one of the beaches:

Next was the optional trip to Mykenos and Delos islands. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go on it because it was going to cost about 40 euros extra. I did decide to go, and I am so glad that I did! The first ferry was a big boat but small for a ferry, but it went incredibly quick! I was so surprised at how fast that boat could go. After arriving on Mykenos, we practically ran around the harbour to the next ferry that left for Delos. It was definitely smaller then the first ferry and I was really surprised at how well I did on that boat! It was larger then I had been expecting, but I spent both trips outside looking out over the water. Very proud of myself! Delos was pretty great, it was an entire city that had been completely excavated and much of it restored.

The view of some of Delos coming in from the ferry:
If I remember correctly, this was a temple to Apollo:
Some general housing that had been rebuilt, it was very cool to wander in between and in the roads and look at everything:
Another temple, or possibly a treasury, with a giant mosaic as the flooring. Delos is a very cool place for all the mosaics on the floor that have been almost perfectly preserved:
Partly up a mountain, getting a view of more housing:
Hiked up some more steps and up a mountain. A spectacular view of many of the islands of the Cyclades!
A fine example of a Roman sewage system:
If I remember correctly, this is a restoration of the temple of Zeus:
Although I really enjoyed Delos and Mykenos, I felt like being on Tinos was pretty much pointless. There wasn’t much to do nor see and I was actually glad to leave Tinos, which surprises me because I’ve really dreaded leaving other places we’ve been to. Next, we would catch a ferry to the island of Naxos.

June 3, 4, 5, 6 – Nafplion, (the sites of Mycenae, Tiryns, Epidaurus)

What can I say about Nafplion! It was probably the largest of the places we have been to yet. Our hotel was really nice and modern with new updates and the beds were actually comfortable. They were tiny though and three to a room which was just too squishy. Another girl on the trip and I decided to pay separately for our own room, and it ended up being a bit of a larger room and much more comfortable then before. I wish I had gotten a picture of the bathroom- it was so neat! The shower was just a stand up, but with a nice rain-like shower head. The tile was stripped all pretty with pink, green, blue, etc. We spent three nights in Nafplion and visited the archeological sites of Mycenae, Tiryns, and Epidaurus, as well as having a free day in which we visited the Venetian fortress up the acropolis at Nafplion.

On the way to Napflion, we stopped at a bridge that actually sank under water to let boats pass, then rose back up for pedestrian and vehicle traffic. It was pretty neat! There was a cute little restaurant that we stopped at for lunch.

Looking out from the restaurant towards the Mediterranean Sea:
There were so many fish in the water below the restaurant, just little tiny things. People were throwing little bits of bread and crackers into the ocean for them to eat. Hundreds of them would swarm and thrash about, trying to get the scraps. It was pretty cool to watch!

After another long, winding drive, we arrived in Nafplion. It was the largest place we had been to yet and the streets were tiny and windy, as everywhere in Greece it seems, and the amount of restaurants was astounding! Just one after another after another up and down all the roads. When we arrived, I was hungry and so I left on my own to look for something to eat. I found a few places and looked at their menus, but nothing appealed to me nor my diet. I wandered some more and found myself on a patio of another restaurant called Alaloom, I decided to sit and find something. I ended up ordering the tuna special, a HUGE dish that was enough for my supper, a snack before bed, and my lunch the next day. I sneakily took a picture because it looked SO amazing! It was fresh, grilled tuna kabob-style with grilled tomatoes and peppers, hanging vertical over my plate of fresh, local steamed veggies. The veggies included a huge pile of chard, both red and green, four mini cucumbers, and a quartered beet. It was a fantastic meal! All for 12 euros.

My sneaky picture of the tuna (after I had already ate one huge chunk off the bottom!):
Nafplion was a very enjoyable place. There were many gelato places, and I was even able to find some yummy sorbet to enjoy while everyone else had their gelato! One night, my roommate Bronwyn and I walked around the alleys and little streets and took some pictures of the beautiful flowers and trees that grew around the restaurants. It was exactly the picture you would imagine in a little mediterranean city.
One of the trees, I wish I knew the name. I was told it in Greek but I can’t remember it now anyways:

The fortress at Nafplion at one time had a wall that included the entire city. The acropolis, which is the high point of the city, held the castle. It was a 900 stair climb to the top, and there were a few different levels once there. There was even a dungeon, which was VERY small and VERY squishy and was a little weird to be inside of. There were a bunch of young children who kept trying to budge there way, and I mean about one hundred kids all trying to get at the hole in which to enter the dungeon! We took control and eventually the kids listened and asked us before going inside. I probably climbed a total of 2000 steps just at that site alone. My legs were sure shaking at the end! I didn’t get much of a picture from the bottom looking up, but along the way I found something pretty cool! In Greece, aloe vera grows EVERYWHERE. And it’s HUGE!

This aloe vera had sprouted, and seriously, does it not look like a GIANT asparagus?! :

The view up the top was pretty great, it was so obvious why the Venetians had chosen that spot for their fortress. It was right on a point, and you could see the entire bay and the ocean surrounding the point. 2000 stairs!

A part of the fortress with a view of the bay in the background:

On our tour day, we visited the sites of Mycenae, Tiryns, and Epidaurus. For those of you who seen the movie Troy, Mycenae was ruled by King Agamemnon, who went to war against Troy. Mycenae was once a huge citadel, with another fortress at Tiryns. To be honest, I was slightly disappointed with Mycenae just because most of it was in ruins, without many restorations and it was difficult for me to understand what I was looking at. The gate however, had been restored, and was very impressive to see.

Here I am standing in front of the “Thone Room,” which is where King Agamemnon would have sat:
This was some sort of back entrance into the citadel:
In front of the lions gate:
Here is me joking around about being a tough Mycanean warrior (as they were known to be):

There was also the beehive tomb of King Agamemnon. It is known now that it actually predates Agamemnon’s existence, but has been nicknamed as so. It was pretty spectacular and very well preserved. The entrance was bordered by a very tall wall, made out of huge stones. The gate was far taller then I was, as can be seen in my pictures. Inside looked exactly like a beehive, hence the name. There was a small room off to the side where treasures would have been stored for the afterlife. The tomb is now empty, but my goodness, it was huge!

The entrance to the beehive tomb. At one point, there would have been some sort of carving or decoration over where the triangle is at the top. The triangle goes straight through to the inside to allow the soul to exit:
Me standing in the entrance to the tomb, just to give a bit of scale:
Inside of the beehive tomb:

Next, we would visit Tiryns, a site that has been rebuilt and reused after the period of the Myceneans. There really wasn’t much there either except the floor plan and the bath area with a drain. Near the bottom was an interesting hallway with some windows. It was a pretty unexciting area but was very exciting to see because it had been preserved well.

A view down the hallway:
Standing in front of the hallway, I am kind of in the way of the windows that allowed light in:

After Tiryns, we would get back onto the bus and drive to Epidaurus, the sanctuary of Esklepios, the God of healing and son of Apollo. Apparently there are a couple hundred sanctuaries like this to Esklepios. The best way to describe it would be like a spa for the Greeks. Here they would come for healing, anything from holistic to medicinal, including surgeries. There would also be entertainment provided as the Greeks (and so do I!) believed that one cannot be healthy if they aren’t happy. The theatre at Epidaurus is one of the best preserved in Greece. It was originally made of wood like most theatres, but in the Roman period, was updated to be made of stone. It was large enough to seat 12 000 people! It had some great acoustics, from sitting at the top, you could actually hear someone drop a coin into a piece of stone located in the exact centre of the theatre. We were able to sit there for a bit, enjoying the scenery and eating some lunch. Some people from our group actually went to the stage and sang a small song, the clarity was amazing from so far away!

The view from the theatre, I am standing just behind the stage looking up:
The remains of the sanctuary, the part of the temple that you can see has mostly been rebuilt and is one of the few places I have seen that has been rebuilt with a significance of new materials:

After three nights at Nafplion, we would leave and go to the island of Tinos. The last night at Nafplion, some of us from the group went to the row of cafes (bars) along the waterfront and had mojitos. They are pretty expensive here, 7-8 euros, but they make them large and with a LOT of alcohol. It was a good night!

Me with my first Greek mojito!
A shot of our mojitos, what a bill!

Then, it was on to Tiryns!

May 31, June 1, 2, 3 – Delphi

We spent three amazing nights at Delphi. The hotel was the lowest quality hotel yet, and probably for our entire trip, but I enjoyed my time there the most. Our hotel room was simple, but I was roomed with only one other girl who I quite enjoyed. There is something about Delphi that I really enjoyed, it is really unexplainable.  It is built on the side of a mountain, quite high up, and the streets are narrow with steep stairs connecting them. There are a few shops and I found that the English was quite good and I had little difficulties. Our hotel did not have any internet services, but I was able to find a restaurant that offered free WiFi and spent much time there hanging out with some others from the group. The sanctuary at Delphi was more then I could have imagined. What they have found buried under the ground is straight from ancient Greece. The stadium in near perfect condition, the theatre, parts of the temple to Apollo, and foundations of many other different buildings and treasuries. Down below was the temple to Athena, the famous Thollos that no one is quite sure of the function, and the gymnasium where the men went to train for the games and also to learn and discuss important things such as mythology and philosophy. I managed to get quite a few good pictures, and it would be hard not to! The view from the mountainside is spectacular, and with the ancient buildings in the background, everything is complete.

Here is the remains of the temple of Apollo:
 A very hot and sweaty me in front of the temple:
Standing from the ground, looking up at the temple:
Me posing in front of the theatre, joking around about being an actor:
 Here I am, about halfway up the sanctuary, with the view of the rest down below:
A view of the theatre from the top looking down:

Another view from near the top, looking down over the sanctuary:

Lastly, the Thollos at Delphi. It’s entire purpose is not 100% known as of yet:
Next, we would see the museum at Delphi. My camera unfortunately takes rather horrible photos inside without the flash, and flash is never allowed in museums. We had a fabulous tour guide take us through the sanctuary and then into the museum, and I definitely learned a lot! I realize I have yet to upload any museum pictures, so here are two things from Delphi that I found really quite neat.
The first is part of a column that had women dancing on all four sides. The second is known as the “charioteer.” Only four bronze statues have survived from the 5th century and he is one of them, originally part of a much larger piece including his chariot. He now looks green in colour because over time, bronze oxidizes and changes colours.
The following day would be a free day and an optional hike up mount Parnassus to the Corycian cave. The cave was another sacred destination and many women would make the trek as they wouldn’t be able to attend to the events in the sanctuary. Unfortunately, I had forgotten the memory card in my camera and so my pictures are stored on the internal memory, and I do not have a cord to connect to the camera from my computer. The hike was unbelievably strenuous. First, it took about 150 or so very steep stairs to the path on the mountain. It then turned into a switchback trail up mount Parnassus, and believe me, it was quite steep. Eventually, we would reach the top and hike over the top of the mountain, through the summit, and encountered a german village who had settled there after the war. The village was in sight but we did not hike as far as it, because the long gravel road then reached the trail up to the cave. We hiked straight up the next mountain, a switchback trail once again, but there were parts where we practically had to climb. Finally, we reached the cave. The view from the mountain was unbelievable, and the cave was so strange and yet so beautiful. It was huge and freezing cold, and eventually was so dark I had to turn back. The floor was slippery and smooth and the ceiling slowly dripped. I could tell how sacred this space would be. The entire hike would take us seven hours, and was approximately 10km. Pictures will come once I am home I suppose!
We stayed in Delphi for three nights and today we left for Napflion. We will be here for three nights and I am sure I will be posting along the way, as the internet is actually quite decent here.

May 30, 31 – Thermopyle and Meteora

We left Skyros early and our first stop was at Thermopyle, the place where the Spartans battled the Persians in an attempt to slow down their army so Athens could get organized enough to defend themselves. This is the place where the movie “300” would have taken place. At the side is a memorial of those who died for their country, and a statue (very recent) of Leonitus, the king of the Spartans, who died in combat.

Next, we went on to the town of Kalambakas. Kalambakas lies in the shadow of Meteora, the giant rock pinnacles that are one of the most beautiful and interesting natural landmarks. I did write about Meteora for one of my assignments, the link is on the right side of the page labelled “Site Sketches.”

Honestly, pictures CANNOT do justice of this place. The rock is just something amazing. Driving around it on the way up the mountainside, was a cave where some monks live. How they manage to get up there, I have no idea. The first monastery we visited sat overtop two rock pinnacles. The entry on one, with a bridge connecting to the monastery itself. The inside church was very small and completely painted with images from the Greek Orthodox faith. (A branch off of Christian.) The second monastery was much bigger but appeared much newer. The paintings in the church were new and parts of it were still unfinished. From the courtyard, we got a spectacular view of Kalambakas.

The drive up to Meteora was almost scary. The roads in Greece are always a bit dangerous, but these were windy and steep, with the cliffside mostly unprotected. We went very high, very fast. We would spend only one night there before leaving the following day for Delphi.

The statue at Thermopyle:
 The view from the first monastery, looking at an adjacent one:
Here is me at the first monastery, the view behind:
The view without me in the picture:
Part of the monastery, I imagine where the monks live:
 The second monastery, heading toward the church:
From the courtyard at the second monastery, looking toward Kalambakas:

May 29, 30 – Skyros Island

After visiting the sites of Brauron, Marathon, and Rhamnous, we headed towards Skyros. The drive was pretty long and uncomfortable, and my GOODNESS are the roads scary! Greece has the worst record for traffic fatalities for all of Europe and I can definitely see why. The roads are extremely narrow and winding and no one drives in their lane. Cars will fly past you and come within a few feet of hitting the oncoming traffic. Motorbikes will wind between you and the cars next to you, and also the oncoming traffic. The speed limit here really is non existent but in some places is marked 70km/hr, and 120km/hr on the highways. After a few hours we arrived at the ferry, a ride across the Aegean Sea for an hour and a half to the small island of Skyros. Arriving in Skyros we found a tour guide named Maria who was so in love with her native island that she wished to give us a free tour on our free day the following day for free. The little town of Skyros is absolutely adorable. Very narrow, winding roads find their way up to the top of a huge bluff where Theseus was said to be thrown off to his death. Unfortunately, I didn’t get many good pictures of the bluff but I suggest googling Skyros because it was amazing. I did buy a book of postcards so I do have photos.

We spent the night and a big group of us went out for the night. All the coffee shops turn into bars, it was awesome! I did a lot of dancing and then headed back for a good sleep. The next morning I actually missed the first part of the optional tour because I did not have an alarm set and woke up a bit too late. Luckily, they came back at lunch time and I joined in. We visited the archaeological site of Palamari which was in the process of being dug out. It was super cool to see and it was situated right on the edge of the island with an absolutely spectacular view! I loved seeing the site, there was so much left there. We only spent a small amount of time there and then we came back to the hotel. I walked with two girls up the bluff and down the other side. The view from the top was breathtaking! Unfortunately, the museum was closed by the time we got up there, so we continued down the other side and to the beach where more people from our group were waiting. On the walk, I found a gorgeous stone, it was quartz crystals infused into an orange rock. I just had to pick it up because it was just lying in the middle of the road! We stayed at the beach for quite some time, taking in the view of it all. The beach was absolutely littered with all sorts of different coloured stones and rocks, all polished from the sea. I am talking about dump trucks full of little stones at the edge of the tide. The walk back took about 20 minutes but it was so free and amazing. There are sheep and goats everywhere on Skyros, all over the bluffs. They baa’d at us through our entire walk, it was so cute!

We spent one more night on Skyros and left at 6:20am the following morning for the town of Kalambaka, the site of the huge rock pinnacles and monasteries of Meteora.

Some remains of Palamari:
At the edge of Palamari, the view of the bay:
Sitting at the beach with some ouzo and cherry juice!
The view of the bluff looking up from the beach: (the other side is just amazing, hundreds of teeny little houses just covering it!)
The view from the top of the bluff, looking down towards the beach:
 The view on top of the bluff, looking inland towards more of the town:

May 28, 2011 – Brauron, Marathon, and Rhamnous

This was my journal entry for an assignment in which I had to talk about the significance of two of the archaeological sites we visited, and the next was a description of something we had seen.
The museums at Brauron and Marathon held some very interesting and unique artifacts. At Brauron was the sanctuary of Artemis, which unfortunately was closed to tourists for archaeological excavations, and was the location of a temple, stoa with dining rooms, altar and a unique stone bridge over top of a small stream. The museum held a large arrangement of carved marbles, pottery, small children’s toys, as well as parts of the pediments with depictions of sacrifices to Artemis. One of my favourite pieces was a statuette of a small girl holding a rabbit. The pottery was extremely intricate from a variety of different periods. Some of the children’s toys struck me as odd because despite the materials to make them, they looked exactly like something out of the present. Brauron showed a lot of just every day life and contained a strong spiritual element. Marathon however was different, as it was the location of the war between the Persians and the Greeks. Some say that it shaped the western culture, for if the Persians had been victorious then our Greek influence would have been Persian. The museum held many statues and there was even a room with some Egyptian like statues and other items that we were unable to take photos of. One room contained a display case, which held some pottery and other items. The similarities lie within the pottery and statues. The pottery is always very intricate and each thing held a specific purpose. The differences however are within the purposes of each site. Brauron was a sanctuary that was devoted to Artemis while Marathon was useful for its military purposes as it is surrounded by large hills and is perfect for funneling an army inside.
I particularly enjoyed visiting Rhamnous. After not being able to visit the actual sanctuary at Brauron due to it being closed to tourists, and not being able to visit the fields of Marathon for the same reason, I was beginning to feel like I was missing out. We had gone through our day believing we had no time to visit Rhamnous and I am extremely impressed that we were able to do so. The site was absolutely stunning. A short hike down a steep, rocky hillside led us to the fortress. There were so many walls and the ground was littered with broken pieces of pottery. I found some very neat things, like some half broken pots, and some large chunks of marble with strange lines carved all over them. Another marble had a wreath in low relief. The view from the fortress itself was breathtaking. It sat on top of a hill overlooking the Aegean Sea. It is very easy to see how they would have chosen this place for their fortress as it would be very difficult for anyone to get near without them knowing about it. I ended up exploring quite a ways and off to myself which was wonderful. I went down so far that when I turned to get back up, I could not figure out how I made it down there in the first place! By the time I was back at the fortress, the group had left and I ran up the mountainside back to where the road was located. It was a hard run in the hot sun but I do not regret allowing myself to wander so far.
Unfortunately, my camera died and I was unable to use it for Rhamnous. Luckily, I had my iPhone with me and used that instead. I am not sure my regular has very good quality anyways and my iPhone did pretty well.
Walking up to the remains of the fortress at Rhamnous:
After I walked away and far this was a gate I had found apparently leading to the ocean:
Some random marble table I found while hiking off by myself outside the gate, my instructor said it may have been a game board of some type:
The view from the top of the fortress looking towards the bay:
A view of some of the remains of the fortress:

May 27- Arrival

The journey to Greece was a long one, a long flight, long wait in between airports, and long delays. I can’t deny the excitement throughout the entire event, but I am glad not to have to board another airplane for a month.  I arrived at the Comox airport just before 2:30pm on Wednesday. After several goodbyes to my mother and boyfriend, I finally checked myself in. I didn’t think it would be emotional, and was surprised when I almost cried watching my mother and boyfriend continuously smile and wave and mouth the words “I love you!” I left the airport and walked outside with the rest of my group towards a pretty tiny plane. It definitely was a little freaky and going up over the ocean gave me the creeps. The landing was gentle and we left London just over four hours later. Flying from Vancouver to London was a long and rather difficult journey. The plane was extremely uncomfortable, hot, and long. I barely slept as my legs didn’t quite fit and I was on the aisle with someone to my left, and the flight attendants cart consistently passing through to my right. Fortunately, we had our own mini TV screen and I was able to watch a couple of movies and even listen to some “meditainment” music. The turbulence at the end of the flight was disturbing and left me quite motion sick. Although I was not scared, I was very uncomfortable. At one point we seemed to drop a little bit and some girls in the back of the plane actually screamed! As we landed, the pilot came over the PA system and announced our plane had actually been struck by lightening. London would present itself in a very large, very confusing airport and an approximate eight hour layover. I ate at a funky little restaurant called the “Giraffe” and was able to nap for a few minutes on a couch. Our flight was delayed forty-five minutes, and upon boarding was delayed another thirty minutes. It then took us an additional twenty or so minutes to actually take off to the air. Athens was only a few hours from there and I was lucky to actually sleep for around an hour. We landed in Athens at 4:45am, and it was almost 6am by the time we reached the hotel in Vravrona.
Stepping off the bus in Vravrona, I no longer felt any exhaustion. I was far too excited and just wanted to look around. The smell in the air was indescribable. It was rich and flowery, but without the perfume smell. It was sweet and sensual and so very comforting. Our hotel, Mare Nostrum, was a huge complex of different style hotel rooms. The lobby sat at the top overlooking the Aegean Sea. The dining area was large and had a spectacular view. The spa was on a lower level and unfortunately I did not get to go in. Their mineral pool was just not in my budget and the massage I had been waiting for so eagerly would not fit into their appointment book. They did have an outdoor pool, which I sat around after having a large breakfast and sleeping for a couple hours. It was sunny but not hot as the wind had picked up, and after I had fully awoken I went for a walk through a neighbourhood with some fellow students. The view was spectacular, the buildings very unique. Something that struck me as unfortunate was the amount of garbage we encountered walking through the long grass on a hillside and into the street. We would stay the night at the Mare Nostrum and leave in the morning the following day.
So many of you might be wondering, how is gluten free in Greece? The Mare Nostrum was great, the breakfast was a huge buffet and I was able to choose from a large selection of fruits and veggies, raisins, scallop potatoes baked in massive amounts of olive oil, sauteed onions and mushrooms. The dinner was similar, a huge buffet and I was more then able to fill myself up. The rest of Greece however, may be a challenge.
The pool at Mare Nostrum:
 The view from the pool toward the resort:
The view standing outside the lobby looking over the Aegean Sea:
A few of us went for a walk up the road near the resort and this was a pretty amazing looking house:

Journal Entry #4 and #5

An unbelieving hectic week as lead to my fourth entry a bit late. I wasn’t as inspired to write my next journal entry as I have been previously. I am not sure of the exact cause, but realizing last week that I had two weeks to get everything together and board the plane probably freaked me out a little bit. In fact, I am still freaked out a little bit. Up until lately, I have had most things under control. When enjoying the few rare moments I get to myself, I would dream up all the things I would need in Greece and what it would be like. And then I would go out and purchase those items I did not yet have. But I have started to realize that there are many things I have not yet accounted for and time was running out to figure out what exactly those things entail. Thursday in class, my instructor Jim brought in his already packed suitcase. We had two weeks until our trip, and he was already packed and ready to go? What was even more astounding was the fact that his suitcase AND carry-on totalled a whole 24 pounds. How we managed to pack so light, I have no idea, as he is extremely well prepared. I suppose it is about being smart and choosing only things you KNOW you will need to wear. This will be a very difficult process for me, as I was a girl guide and always taught to “be prepared.” For me, a week’s worth of clothes does not seem like enough, although I know in my head that it will actually be too much.
I had decided that this weekend I would pack my suitcase and figure out everything that I need. Unfortunately, I also have hours worth of lectures to listen to and write notes on, a novel to read that I wanted to pretty much finish before leaving as the information will be very useful and it is not practical to bring on the trip, house work and cleaning to do, and not to mention, a full time job. Somehow, through all of this, I expect to have a social life and visit most of my friends and family before leaving them for an entire month. I realize I am shooting a bit high, because I do also expect to sleep! But I don’t think I can stop feeling panicky until I have packed everything that I have ready so I know exactly how much weight I am at and to see visually that I have enough clothing. I am a little sad after seeing Jim’s suitcase. It was very nice and had all the right pockets in all the right places. It was small and compact and looked easy to get around and keep organized. My own suitcase is more of a duffel bag with wheels. And while it is really cute on the outside, the inside really isn’t all practical. There is only a pocket on the front and it is not very big- I have a feeling many of my items will be getting lost within the bag and will result in me having to rip everything a part in order to find what I am looking for. Again, I cannot know this until I pack my bag and see for myself. This will just need to get done, tonight!

Anne’s english course has been dedicated to Greek plays, primarily tragedies. Monday, we had a small preview of the tragedy Oedipus, translated into English of course and put onto film. The story is an interesting one, one that I had thought not to ever have heard of. Upon learning more, I realized that the story was very familiar to me. A baby boy is abandoned by his royal mother and father, and instead raised by the king and queen of a neighbouring region. A prophecy tells Oedipus that he will kill his father and marry his mother, and so Oedipus leaves Corinth, where he had been living, and makes his way to Thebes. Along the way, he killed King Laius, unknowing he had been the king and his birth father. Oedipus then comes upon the Sphinx. The story of the Sphinx is the most familiar part of the story. The Sphinx blocks travellers and asks them a riddle. If they answer right, they get to pass. If wrong, they are killed. Oedipus answered the riddle correctly, allowing himself passage, and the Sphinx subsequently killed itself. For ridding Thebes of the Sphinx, the people of Thebes award Oedipus as ruler of Thebes and give the recently widowed Queen Jocasta as his wife. The prophecy had been fulfilled. What is interesting to me is that in all stories regarding prophecies and psychic visions that I have heard, it is because of the prophecy that the individual decides on a certain action, leading it to truth. If the prophecy had never been told, Oedipus may not have felt compelled to leave Corinth in order to protect his parents.
The next tragedy we would cover would be the story of Medea. Medea was a foreigner who had helped the hero Jason escape from her father, by killing his brother and chopping him into pieces, leaving the pieces behind as they escaped for her father to pick up and become distracted. Jason awarded Medea’s help by making her his bride and returning home. However, Jason would soon become dissatisfied by having a “barbarian” (foreigner) as his wife, adding further insult is the fact that she possessed witch-like traits. Jason announced he would marry another women and sent Medea away. Medea was very good at persuasion and convinced Creon, father of the new wife Glauce, to let her stay. She then convinces Aegeus to let her stay in Athens and later becomes his wife. To punish Jason, Medea murders both Glauce and Creon. In one scene, Medea is depicted having an internal struggle with herself, for she knows the best way to punish Jason would be to kill their two children. However, Medea needs to decide if she loves her children more then she hates Jason. In the end, Medea ends up killing her two children. While the story of Medea isn’t as known to me, it makes me wonder if the Greeks had any knowledge of mental illness. From Medea’s story, she sounds like someone who would be labelled as clinically insane. I feel somehow as though in medieval times, many supposed witches were also burned, and may have actually been hindered with mental insanity, mistaken for witch-ness. I am interested to learn more, both about the Greeks, but Medea’s story also, something I believe we will continue to learn about in next week’s class.

For now, I will just have to continue my homework, and pack my darn suitcase!

Journal Entry #3

Wednesday and thursday’s classes featured an in-depth discussion of the Theseus and the minotaur myth. Although I have taken mythology and am familiar with it, I definitely learned a lot more about it as I was unaware of how popular Theseus had become to the Greeks after his apparent slaying of the minotaur.

I was asked to write a list of expectations. While we weren’t told of what specifically, I think I can categorize between my course work and the trip itself. I’ve learned a lot lately not to expect too much, because it is too easy to be disappointed. I’ve also found that when you expect things, you focus too hard on what you want and there are other things that may pass unnoticed because of it. But my assignment is to focus on a list of expectations, and although at first I thought I would have only one or two, I’ve found myself consistently coming up with new ones.

1. My first expectation of the Greece trip is that I will miss my kitty so much that it will almost become unbearable. That cat is my life and I can barely stand to be away from her for only a few days. Her caretaker is going to have to get a skype account so that I can see my kitty on webcam!

2. My next expectation is that I will be hungry a lot. I like to snack and because of my extreme diet limitations, I am expecting that I won’t have as much to eat as I would like to. I could be completely wrong in this, but by expecting it, I’d like to believe I have accepted it.

3. I expect to learn a lot about myself. I have always had this dream of travel writing, and this is the perfect test for that occupation. Another reason I might learn a lot about myself is because of something I discussed in a previous journal, about being unsure where exactly ‘home’ is. I expect I might be closer to finding this out at the end of this trip.

4. I expect to get cranky and want some privacy. I am a very private person in need of a lot of personal space. I expect many long, hot showers to get some time to myself. I expect I will probably cry at least once during these showers.

5. I expect to feel a great deal of anxiety. I have struggled with anxiety issues my entire life and used to have a very hard time dealing with it growing up. I have learned many coping techniques and I am actually somewhat excited to find out how I will deal with being in a completely foreign place and not in control.

6. I expect to overcome my anxiety and have the time of my life.

7. I expect to be completely and utterly overwhelmed in a foreign place, with so much to look at and so much to learn. I could not be more excited to look at a wall.

8. I expect I will have brought at least one thing that was completely unnecessary. I am trying hard to eliminate all things that are not totally, one hundred percent needed.

9. I expect I will have eliminated something that I actually really needed, instead of something I didn’t need.

10. I expect to make new friends and learn a new culture.

11. I expect to experience some pretty bad language barriers, but I also expect to be surprised at how little language has to do with communication.

I am sure that with more thought, many more expectations could arise… but I’d rather not expect, so I think I should stop thinking about it.

18 days left!

(c) Copyright 2016 - Searching for Sanuk, Michelle Leech, mexxlee.