Days #20, 22, 24, and 25 – Mycenae, Mistra, Methoni, the Palace of Nestor, and Olympia

While Minoan/Mycenaean sites aren’t exactly my cup of tea, I did enjoy our time at Mycenae. Our guide, Kim Shelton, did a great job of leading us around the site and pointing out things without getting too mired down by esoteric details.
Mistra is very similar to Carcassonne, which Chris and I visited in France last year. It is, however, less “fake” than Carcassonne – the town is in ruins and no one lives there simply to accommodate the tourists. The town is basically built down the slope of a mountain, so we started at the top where the fortress is and slowly made our way down to the bottom. The churches and fortresses were all beautiful, with amazing Byzantine frescoes and architectural features. The view from the mountain was also stunning, of course.
Methoni is a fortress built in the 13th century which changed hands between the Turks and Venetians a few times. The history of the site was very interesting, but the views of the site itself – right on the shore with the ocean stretching out in front of it – were spectacular. The inside of the fortress is mostly unexcavated so it is mostly covered in beautiful wildflowers which just adds to the serenity of the site. A bit odd for a military establishment, certainly, but it makes for a lovely morning!
After Methoni, we drove to Chora, where the so-called Palace of Nestor is. This site was interesting not because of the remains of the palace, but because of the conservation work being done. The entire site is covered in about two meters of gravel so that a protective tent can be built over the site. It was really neat to learn about the process, and to see how much time and man-power goes into a project like that. Plus, the University of Cincinnati is heavily involved with the project, so that was cool to hear about. ☺
Our last full day on the Peloponnese was spent in Olympia. I loved being there mostly because I loved thinking about ancient sports and the beginning of the Olympic games. The museums were fascinating (there’s one about the history of the games as well as an archaeological museum), and we had a great talk about the Games which really made me want to read more about them. The site itself was interesting though nothing truly stood out to me – it was more the spirit of the place that was moving.

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Day 19 – Epidauros

(written on 7-13-14)
We are back in Loring with internet access! Today is a light day – we only have a walk around Athens this evening focusing on the post-Antique city. As with Crete, I tried to write every day but was too tired or too in need of a drink most days to do so. I will, however, post a few highlights of our Peloponnese trip and maybe even get around to posting pictures! Who knows?! Time here is precious and fast-moving, so pictures might have to wait until the program is over.
Anyway, on the fifth we went to Epidaurus which was a very strange site. It is dominated by the sanctuary of Asclepius, the healer god. There has been a lot of reconstruction which makes it easier to see what’s going on, but also has a disingenuous air to it. The most popular feature of the site is the theater, the “best” preserved in Greece (though I’m not sure how much of that preservation is actually reconstruction). We were able to stay that evening to see the opening night performance of Euripides’ Helen, which was in modern Greek and very odd. It was cool anyway to have the experience, and the sunset behind the theater into the mountains was incredibly beautiful.