I don’t know where to begin. On this field trip, I experienced a Master’s degree worth of information in three days. I sat at the front of the bus with my professor, Dr. Michailidis, and what I learned just in conversation with her, was an education. She is brilliant, funny and a teacher at heart with a spirit for adventure. If school could always be like this, I’d sign up for life.
The drive was beautiful. We passed charming villages and quaint seaside towns where the mountains were the backdrop for the sea. We passed multiple groves of olive and orange trees dotted with bee hives. The roads were lined with magenta and yellow bushes, bright pink and red rose bushes, and fruit and vegetable stands full of pumpkins and gourds.
Our first stop was the canal that connects the Agean and Ionian Seas. It was a huge, deep gorge, carved out of two mountainsides, just wide enough for a ship to pass through. We walked across the bridge and I took a picture, but the “look down” did freak me out a bit. I can’t say that I would enjoy the boat ride through that canal as it is extremely narrow, but it woould be an experience. It would beat the ancient way when boats had to be taken out of the water and pulled from one sea to the next.
Our second stop was Epidaurus where the ancient Greeks traveled for healing. The museum displayed ancient medical instruments and various ruins and statues from the buildings. People came for the combination of medical treatment, the fresh sea air and pine trees, and the catharsis of the theater performances. It was a total mind/ body healing designed to set the body and mind in harmony achieving balance. The outdoor, open, circular theater was huge with impressive acoustics, and plays are still performed there today. A cushion would be advised as the seats are carved from marble. Patrons can catch a boat in Athens, sail to the port in Eidaurus, ride a bus to the theater, then go for a midnight meal in the town, rubbing elbows with the actors following the performance. The boat arrives back in Athens in the early morning. Now, that’s a night out. I will be doing that on my next visit here.
Our next stop was in Mycynae where we hiked to the ruins of King Agamemnon’s castle. For years, I have told my students the story of Agamemnon recruiting Odysseus for the Trojan War and there I stood, staring at the spot where it is believed that his own wife killed him. It was a bit overwhelming. We visited an ancient burial site where Agamemenon’s father is most likely buried.
After a nice lunch, it was back on the bus and a drive to Ancient Olympia where we were treated to a nice meal, excellent house wine, and great dinner conversation. I slept well in the quiet of the country, not missing the noise of Athens.