January 26: Bitter sweet last day in Greece!

This morning unfortunately the buses were still on strike. But luckily the metro was back up and running! We were excited to have one last ride on the metro! We journeyed over to the National Archaeological Museum to see their massive collection. Today was the day of presentations! First we heard about Ancient Greek lost-wax casting and how it was a technique used by the ancient Greeks in creating bronze statuary. Next we journeyed on to learn about the Antikythera Shipwreck. Melissa spoke about the Antikythera device (a very unique and intriguing mechanism that calculates a myriad of calendars, dates and times). It was so far ahead of its time that many people have tried to recreate it and were successful only within the last one hundred years. After that we heard from Cassie about the cargo of the shipwreck that was on display at the museum. Once piece that was particularly interesting was of the Antikythera youth that dated back to the 4th century BCE. It was one of the only statuary that they were able to successfully reconstruct almost to its original state.

Next we had a break for lunch at this lovely restaurant. It was our last group meal together! After our delicious last lunch we went on the Kerameikos and heard from Brittany about sepulchural epigrams on grave stele. We looked around at the beautiful grave monuments and learned how to create a story based off of the inscriptions and carvings. Our last presentation was from Shoshana about the Holocaust in Greece. She presented at the front entrance of a synagogue about the many resistance efforts made by the Greeks.

After this we had a bitter sweet dismissal from the academic responsibilities of the trip and had the rest of the day to enjoy and say farewell to Athens!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Journey’s End

We began our day early enough, gathering in the dorm’s lobby at 4 AM.  Suitcases in tow, we bid our farewells to our resident assistant, Lita, returning our keys as we walked out the doors one final time.  We didn’t get far, though.  A misunderstood timing on the part of our bus driver left us standing alongside the road by the dorm building.  Never a dull moment, another student getting out of a cab recognized us as Americans, referring to us as “Americi’s” as he tried to hail one cab for all fifteen of us.

Our driver eventually arrived looking rather frazzled himself.  Foregoing our earlier tetris-method of delicately arranging our bags, we tossed them into the trunk and piled on the bus for our dash to make our check-in time.  We made it with barely a moment to spare, getting through security with just enough time for a pit stop and a quick breather before boarding.

The flight to Zurich was lovely as we enjoyed Swiss hospitality and chocolate, although we took turns napping during the early morning hours.  One of the perks of flying so early: seeing the sun begin to color the horizon marked by Alpine mountain peaks.


View of the Swiss Alps and a hint at the cold weather and snow many of us will be experiencing over the next few days… a far cry from the sunny days we enjoyed in Greece!

Once on the ground, we had a brief layover  before  making our connection, during which time many of us stretched our legs and searched for more of the famed chocolate.


Katie and Hadley came up with interesting ways to stay awake during our layover in Zurich…needless to say it worked!

Switching from Swiss Air to United Airways, we began our transition back to the US as we were greeted by American accents and the constant pursuit of efficiency.  Several hours later found us in the Dulles airport, many of us still dreaming  of Greece as we queued up for a tram ride, customs check, and passport verification.  A few of us noted the culture shock in returning home where signs are not in Greek and where we feel compelled to have lines, order, and efficiency for everything.

Those of us returning to Roanoke together spoke excitedly in the bus, comparing our experiences in Greece to our arrival back in the United States.  As we quieted down, exhausted from our travels, Phillip Phillips’ song “Home” came on the radio.  And as we disperse to our families, friends, and school, we can’t help but wonder a little if we’re just now getting home or whether we’ve just left it behind.

–Catherine & Madchen


As a group, we would like to give a huge thank you to Professors Richter and Salowey as well as to all of the friends and family who have been encouraging us from the beginning and following along.  Each of us had an incredible experience that we will keep with us for the rest of our lives; we are so grateful for the priceless knowledge and wonderful memories we created together.  We thank you — Ευχαριστούμε!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

January 25- Taxi Cabs to Highest Mountains

We began our day with the unsettling news that all forms of public transportation in Athens was on strike. Some of us had been wondering when the bus drivers would get on board with the strike because of how packed their buses were with lack of metro in the city. We ended up hailing cabs to the Benoki Museum, a private collection of ancient and Byzantine art. The ride down was exciting, with our cab drivers taking side streets and pedestrian walkways to avoid traffic.

When we made it safely there we learned a little about Alexander the Great with a backdrop of Hellenistic jewelry to fuel our imaginations. In the museum we also saw some rare tapestries that survived the tests of time. Greek traditional dress, based on Eastern influences and ornate in design was displayed to our awe. The museum had a lot of Christian idols, particularly the Virgin Mary and her son.


We then climbed up the 6400 steps to the summit of Mount Lakavitos, the highest peak in Athens. There we learned about the current anarchist movement, which has grown in response to rise of the Golden Dawn, which is the extreme right party in Greece. The street art throughout Athens reflects support for the anarchist movement and the arrest of people residing in Villa Amalias in December 2012. 10,000 people marched on the courthouse as well.


After a delicious lunch (which included Greek frozen yogurt- YUM!), we had an appointment with the archives of the American College. In Greece in order to excavate any sites, a country must set up a university to act as liaison with the National Archaeological Service. We got to see photographs of different sites by photographers from different points in time, which allowed us to compare how sites changed over time. We also saw original manuscripts of excavation journals and annotations, and the English adaptation for the movie “Z.”

We look forward to a late diner tonight (although 9 is just the beginning of the night for the Greeks) with live music to enjoy.

– Melissa and Katie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 24, 2012 – Brauron, Lavrion Monastery, and Sounion

We began our day, back to the usual schedule after our day off, greeted by our old bus and driver, Dimitri.  It had only been a day away from the road, but already the break felt long.

Our first stop was at Brauron, a sanctuary to Artemis.  It fit into our theme of the day, which was sisterhood in ancient and modern Greece.  The sanctuary was different from ones we’d seen before, since it was aplace full of women, or rather girls soon to be women.  The museum was full of feminine objects such as perfume, mirrors, jewelry, and make-up.  Brauron, we learned, was a sanctuary where young pre-pubescent girls went to learn the mysteries of womanhood, and shared a sisterhood similar to one we have at Hollins that was evident even through the millennia.  When they’d grown, like our alumni, they gave gifts to their former home, though instead of donations, they gave votive offerings in the form of statues of children, in thanks or in prayer to Artemis for a safe childbirth.  Brauron was also the site of the arkteia festival in which young girls “played the bear,” since to the ancient Greeks, women were like bears.  Bears were also a strong symbol of coming into womanhood and childbearing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next on our womanly journey, we went to the Lavrion Monastery of St. Paul, a nunnery.  We got a tour from Sister Theodoti, who was very nice and made Narnia jokes when we had a lovely reception with tea and the Greek version of Turkish delight. We got to hear all about monastic life and ask questions, and the garden there was simply superb. The monastery at Lavrion is unique in that it houses sisters from thirteen different countries, and the sisterhood that Sister Theodoti reminded us of the magic we have at Hollins! Several of us also bought some oils and loose-leaf teas that the sisters at St. Paul produce in their daily work.


Our last stop was at the beautiful Sounion. We spent some time before and after lunch “groovin’ on the scene” as Professor Salowey would say. Several of us took off our shoes and dipped our feet in the Aegean Sea, which was entirely lovely. We then walked up a small mountain to see the Temple of Poseidon. After Ashleigh presented on the temple, Professor Richter mentioned to us that our favorite Greek traveler, Lord Byron, apparently scratched his name into the temple, like so many others obviously had, so we embarked on a lengthy quest to find it. Spoiler: we found it!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We managed to somehow anger Poseidon, as evidenced by the torrential downpour and thunderstorms that found us after we returned to our residences at Deree. Thankfully it was just an empty threat!

– Sarah and Shoshana

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Free Day in Athens!

Today we had our free day in Athens! We all split up and did different things.

One of the more challenge parts of visiting Greece has been that the public transportation is unpredictable. The metro system has been inconsistent because of strikes due to political instability and public discontent. We all took the obstacle in stride and came up with creative means of getting to our destinations, with the guidance of our intrepid professors. Many of us took a series of buses, which were luckily not on strike, while others walked or took cabs.

Stephanie visited the Byzantine Art Museum and the Cycladic Art Museum.





A lot of us (Angel, Ashleigh, Cassie, Catherine, Pavithra, Mädchen, Shoshana, Sarah, Hadley, Melissa, and Brittany)  went shopping in different parts of Athens, such as Monastiraki, Syntagma, the Plaka, or the Deree college area.


Syntagma Square during peak shopping time.


Post-shopping chocolate fix: always a good idea, especially in Greece.

We also visited the Athenian market to collect ingredients for our communal Chili night tomorrow.

Today was relaxing in comparison to our previous action-packed days, but was still an adventure in itself!

Angel, Stephanie, & Pavithra

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 21: Adventures of Makrynitsa

After another fabulous breakfast in Thessaloniki we journeyed south towards Athens. Along the way we stopped at the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum to explore the exhibit, Gold of Macedonia! One of the main pieces that we focused on was the Derveni Crater (a vessel in which wine was mixed) which showed scenes of Dionysus. The vase was made of bronze, but it appeared to be made of gold. This was because they used a higher concentration of tin, which created “tin sweat” that made it appear gold. We saw numerous statuary, mosaics, and gold work. There was also an amazing chronological timeline.One notable rare find was of a lead casket with a females remains. Due to the lead casket she was particularly well preserved, even still possessing her eyebrows and braided hair.

Leaving Thessaloniki we saw ghostly views of Mount Olympus in the mist. We stopped in the town of Volos, at the base of Mount Pelion, for lunch. As a group we tried the Asian Noodle Bar, which was the first Asian restaurant we have seen since our adventures in Greece began! We then headed up Mount Pelion to the beautiful mountain village of Makrynitsa, where we will be spending the night.

After settling into our rooms we ventured out into the village to explore the architecture and enjoy the sunset over a cup of coffee. The view of the ocean and the city of Volos below was exquisite! We then met back at the bed and breakfast style hotel to discuss our observations of the architecture, sustainability, and culture of this charming village. Now we are going to venture out in search of dinner! As we say in Greek, Kaleeneechta (good night).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After a slow start this morning, we traveled to Vergina to see the tombs of Phillip II and Euricide, Alexander the Great’s mother and father. The tombs, known as the Great Tumulus, were in the center of the ancient capital city of Macedon, Aigai. When the wealthy died they would be burned and then their bones would be cleaned with wine and placed in the elaborate tombs with all that they would need for the afterlife. For men, this included weapons; for women, all of their makeup and jewelry would accompany them. The tombs would then be covered over with mounds of dirt, reminiscent of  Native American burial mounds that have been found.

The most amazing and disturbing notion of the tombs is that they were never meant to be seen after the mound was filled in. Yet, now there are countless visitors to see the grave sites every year. What would the ancient people have thought? Would they be angry at us for disturbing their eternal rest? Or would they be flattered that the world is taking such an avid interest in their lives?
Better us than the grave robbers that visited other sites previously. The robbers would find a way into a grave, and then often they would kill each other  to increase their share of the profits of their marauding adventures. At least in the case of the archaeologists they left the splendors of the crypts in a reconstructed mound.
We returned to Thessoloniki to a free afternoon to spend discovering the city. Saturday shopping in Greece’s second largest city is a trial. Some of the stores were apparently having very good sales as people were pushing and jostling to get at the merchandise. The Greek sales associate were cordial; when they realized we did not speak Greek they were quick to switch to English and help find us dressing rooms. Some wonderful hospitality (in Greek the word is zania)!


Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment