Final Thoughts

I had grand ideas yesterday about what I was going to write about this year’s travels and summarize them in some grand manner, but today I have absolutely no recollection of any of it. Oh well – that’s how traveling is sometimes – once the trip is over, you’re only left with the general sense of what it was like, rather than the details. Life is like that too, I guess. I will say that I’m in no hurry to go back to Greece, though I’d love to go back to Turkey and spend most time there when I am not completely exhausted. School starts in two weeks, so it’s time to start getting ready for that; real world, here we come!

Thanks for following along! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and will join me again next summer, whatever our travel plans may be…

🙂

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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.

Day 2 – Hephaisteion, Stoa of Attalos, National Museum with Jim Wright

I know I am very, very behind in my blog, but I am working to catch up. Internet on Crete is spotty, so I’m just writing the posts out and then will post them either when we get to a hotel with better wifi or when we get back to Athens.

Here is what we did on our second day:

In the morning, we walked down to the Agora to see the Temple of Hephaestus (also known as the Hephaisteion). It is one of the best preserved Doric temples in Greece and is sadly overshadowed by the Parthenon nearby. At the Hephaisteion, we met John Camp, who has been the director of the Agora excavations for about 40 years (i.e. he really knows his stuff). This experience really came through as he explained the Doric order to us, starting at the base of the temple then working his way up to the pediments, explaining each architectural detail carefully while pointing that detail out on the temple itself. It was amazing. Obviously it’s much easier to learn about something when you have the object right in front of you, and this was no exception. We walked around the temple and then got to go inside (what an exhilarating feeling!!) where Dr. Camp showed us how the interior had been converted to a Christian church – thus it’s excellent state of preservation.

After the Hephaisteion, we headed over to the Stoa of Attalos, which is a reconstructed building that holds all the offices and storage of the Agora excavations. It’s enormous, and we toured through different departments – conservation, archives, photography, and IT. The most interesting to me was the archives – seeing how far back the excavations go was amazing.

After the Stoa, we headed back to Loring Hall for lunch, then back out again to the National Museum with Jim Wright, who is the director of the American School. Side note – I’m pretty sure I met him at Bryn Mawr (his home institution) when I visited as a prospie 8 million years ago. Anyway, he led us around the prehistoric galleries as well as the Thera gallery (Thera was the volcano that destroyed the town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini around 1500 BC). It was really, really cool to see stuff that was so, so old. Prehistoric pottery, Cycladic figures, Minoan frescoes – we looked at it all. I was particularly excited by the Cycladic figures; I’ve always thought they were so beautiful because of their stark simplicity.

After the museum, it was back to Loring for a long shower and then dinner!

Museum Day

Our first full day in Dublin was Museum Day. Anyone who knows us well knows our love for art and old stuff, so it should come as no surprise that we would spend our first day in a new place at a museum (or several).

First up was the National Gallery. It is a pretty small museum, housing mostly paintings from the 17th through 20th centuries. We wandered through, weaving around school groups (side note: Irish children are ADORABLE, especially in a museum answering questions asked by the docent). There was a nice Caravaggio, a beautiful Vermeer, and a great Picasso. There was also a whole wing of just Irish artists, which was pretty neat. The collection was great – small but rich in depth – but the layout of the museum was pretty bad. It was confusing and there were no signs. We were never sure whether we were supposed to be going through a door or not, and there were a lot of doors, for some reason. We still had a nice time, regardless.

Next was the Natural History Museum, which was probably one of the weirdest museums I’ve ever been in. It was basically just full of animals that had been stuffed and posed in cases imitating their natural habitat. Apparently someone once referred to it as a “dead zoo,” which is just about as appealing as it sounds. It was interesting in that it perfectly demonstrated how early museums were set up, but it was disturbing to see all those dead animals all in one place.

After the dead zoo, we wandered over to the National Library, which was a really beautiful building. There wasn’t much to see there besides an exhibit about Yeats, which was interesting, so we didn’t spend much time there. Apparently, though, there is a free genealogical service there that will help you find your Irish ancestors. Pretty cool!

Finally it was time for lunch. We found a great little Italian place close to the Library, Dunne and Crescenzi, which was amazing. The staff is all Italian and the walls are lined with wine bottles. The menu is large enough for good variety, but not overwhelming. We both had panini, since it was lunch time – Chris had porchetta with sun-dried tomatoes and I had buffalo mozzarella with zucchini. Both sandwiches were sublime and we will definitely be going back for dinner to try other things on the menu.

After our re-fuel, we headed over to the Archaeology Musem, which, despite having an understandable lack of Roman stuff, was pretty kick ass. It was a big museum, and we were there for about two and a half hours (Chris takes a loooooot of pictures…). The first floor was all about ancient Ireland, and it was amazing to see how a lot of the artifacts from that era looked so similar to those of the same period from Greece or Italy. There was a huge longboat, from about 2500 BC, that had been preserved perfectly in a bog. Speaking of bogs, there were also a few bog bodies which were fascinatingly disgusting. We saw a lot of gold work, spanning from ancient times to the Middle Ages. The level of craftsmanship on some of the pieces was extraordinary.

We didn’t have time to really see the second floor, which was Medieval and Viking Ireland, as well as a smaller Ancient Egypt section, but we might go back to check those out if we have time. Right now, we’re resting our poor feet before Noon comes home to whisk us off for drinks and dinner. Should be a fun night!

Pictures to come!

“The time has come,” the Walrus said…

Hey all!  It’s that time again!  Chris and I are soon to be off on another international adventure.  This year’s itinerary: Dublin for five days to visit our friend Chris Noon, Greece for six weeks as part of the American School for Classical Studies at Athens (henceforth referred to as ASCSA), then Turkey for a week (hopefully – we’ll be monitoring the situation there and if it becomes unsafe, we’ll find something else to do!).

The summer session at ASCSA is, according to everyone who has already done it, SUPER intense – basically getting up and going to 4 or 5 sites a day, being active from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm 7 days a week. We’ll be spending half our time in Athens and half our time traveling elsewhere, alternating locations each week, essentially. I’m really excited about it – I’ve never been to Greece – but also pretty nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve been truly challenged physically, but hopefully I get back into shape quickly!

I’ll be trying to blog every day, but as I said, ASCSA is pretty intense, and we may not have internet access outside of Athens, so please be patient with me. I will update as much as I can!

I’ll leave you here with a nice photo of me and Chris from our family vacation in Charleston this past week (I didn’t blog about it because we really didn’t do much besides sit on the beach and eat seafood.)

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