Hello again, everyone! Well, I’m now in Turkey, and I thought about spending this morning – my first morning off in a good long while – catching up on blog posts. But you know what, dear reader? I don’t really want to. And it’s not that I don’t want you all to share these amazing experiences, it’s mostly just that all of them seem the same now, and would even more so to someone not intimately familiar with the differences between polygonal masonry and ashlar. So, fabulous reader, I will provide you instead with an overall summary of the last ten days or so of the program, as well as some general thoughts about my experiences in Greece. Here goes…
Our last few days in northern Greece were fun. Dion and Vergina were especially cool sites; Dion reminded me very much of Charles Towne Landing in Charleston, SC – huge trees, water everywhere – it was the most verdant place we’d seen in Greece. Vergina’s museum was fascinating, not only for the artifacts it held (items from Philip II’s tomb), but also for the incredibly complex political agenda it represented. I gave my second presentation in Amphipolis, about the gymnasium, and it went well enough considering I was a bit short on time (thanks, Clem). Chris gave his second report at Philippi, which was also a cool site – a huge Roman forum and the ruins of some basilicas that St. Paul probably preached in. The absolute highlights, however, were on the last two days – we were invited into the homes of our director and then of our bus driver. The food at both was amazing and it was such a wonderful experience to be invited into their homes. It was also a very welcome respite from the relentless academic atmosphere.
Our last full day was spent on the island of Aigina, which was beautiful. We were able to spend the afternoon swimming in pristine waters, and we made the most of it. Suddenly, it was the last day, and we all ran around trying to pack, buy souvenirs, and see that one site we’d somehow forgotten. I hiked up Lykavitos, the hill on the slopes of which the school is situated, and was rewarded with the most stunning view of Athens possible. It was a fitting last-day adventure.
And now, goodbyes have been said, tears spilled, and promises to keep in touch exchanged. I left Athens yesterday with a heavy heart, not because I was leaving Greece, but because I was leaving behind 17 new amazing friends. For me, the real reward of the program was not all the sites we got to see, or the well-known scholars we spoke to, but the people in the program themselves – getting to know them, becoming friends with them, experiencing the ruthless Greek sun with them. I am not an academic and this program is meant very much so for them. I don’t feel bad saying that if it weren’t for Chris, I wouldn’t have ever thought of going to the American School, but I’m glad I did, only because of the friendships I made. I’m glad, too, that I got to see all the sites I did, but honestly, all the pottery looks the same to me, no matter where it’s from.
After a day of travel yesterday, Chris and I are now in Bodrum, Turkey, which was Halicarnassus in ancient times. Today there are no ancient sites to see, no museums to go to. Just us, the sun, and the water. ☺