The travel diary continues!
(Part 1 can be found here.)
DAY 5: THE CORINTH CANAL, EPIDAURUS, MYCENAE & NAUPLIA
This was the day we got up at 5:30.
Now, as someone who usually gets up early twice a week for Orchestra, I should be used to getting up before dawn. Alas, I was not, and neither was anyone else on the trip. When we piled onto the bus at 7 AM to head to the Theatre of Epidaurus, none of us were functioning at full capacity.
About an hour into the bus ride, we stopped near the Corinth Canal. Along with time for snacks and a bathroom break, we got to cross the bridge and look down at the Corinth Canal below us.
I’m not really scared of heights or anything, but I’ll admit that looking so far down at the water was a little freaky. But it was still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
We got back on the bus shortly after that and continued up to Epidaurus. Unfortunately, when we started to go up in altitude, a lot of us got motion sickness. So pro tip: when someone suggests you take Gravol, take the Gravol. I didn’t get sick myself, but I felt dizzy for a good fifteen minutes after getting off the bus.
Then, finally: the Theatre of Epidaurus.
In grade 11, I took an Ancient Civilizations class, and in our Greece unit, we talked a bit about this. Perfect acoustics, famous healing sanctuary of Asclepius. And I found that in itself pretty cool. But nothing could prepare me for the sight in front of me.
When you climb to the top, you can see an incredible view of the mountains. And when you climb down, the view is just as good. I’ve said it time and time again, but here goes: man, I’m a huge nerd.
Next stop: Mycenae.
I’m not sure why I find ruins so beautiful. Maybe it’s because there’s something so breathtaking about something that’s weathered the times. Maybe it’s because they help me see what once was. All I can say is that the ones at Mycenae are some of the most breathtaking I saw in Greece.
The first thing you see when you enter the archeological site is the Lion Gate.
And that in itself is pretty awesome. Imagine being back in Greece and having to walk past that gate to get into the palace. Keep in mind that our tour guide said the lions were originally cast in gold.
Yeah, that would be pretty intimidating.
Another thing I should mention is that like in Epidaurus, the view is amazing. Rolling hills and ruins for miles.
(Also, because I’m too geeky not to mention this: apparently the famous Mask of Agamemnon isn’t actually the mask of Agamemnon. They’ve dated it and it’s far older than the time Agamemnon. Instead—and this is just what the tour guide said—they dated it back to the time when the Perseus of ancient myth (and the one who Percy Jackson is named after) was alive. Ergo: THE MASK COULD BELONG TO PERSEUS??
Okay. Fangirl moment over.)
After exploring Mycenae for a few minutes, we were shown the Tomb of Agamemnon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any pictures because it was so dark, but from what I could see of it, I can tell you that it looks a lot like the inside of a giant beehive.
After Mycenae, we went to lunch and then continued on to Nauplia, where we were staying for the night. Before dinner, we got a couple hours to just look around and shop, and even though it was raining for most of the time, I can say that the town was incredibly beautiful. Imagine a cute little seaside town, all little shops and bright colours. That’s basically what Nauplia looked like. Also, it had amazing ice cream.
DAY 6: OLYMPIA
5:30 wake ups are not my thing.
Thankfully, I managed to get on the bus in time and remember to take Gravol, because I wasn’t in the mood to feel nauseous again.
The bus ride was about four hours long. On the way, we stopped at this olive oil place and learnt more about how they make olive oil (and got to taste-test free samples!)
Then, after lunch, we went to the (Olympia) Acropolis museum. Though not much can beat the Parthenon museum for me, this museum was still pretty awesome. It houses the famous statues of Hermes (holding Dionysus) and Nike.
Then, once we’d had our fill, we went to the site of Olympia. This is where the Olympic Games took place in ancient times, and now, where the Olympic flame is lit.
Our group was allowed to race in the Olympia stadium (where the men and women’s shot put competition was held during the 2004 Athens Olympics), but as I have the athletic abilities of a turtle, I didn’t join them.
We also got to see what was left of the famous Temple of Zeus. It’s only a couple columns, but just being in Olympia was enough to tell how much power and energy it used to house.
After leaving the site, we checked into our hotel and were turned loose on the streets. My friend and I chanced upon this little sterling silver jewellery, and I managed to buy two pairs of sterling silver earrings—one for me and one as a gift—for 10€! Basically, the salesman told us that the ones I got were a representation of the first typewritten language (and also, in an alphabet that’s still being translated) so after that, I kind of had to buy them.
DAY 7: DELPHI
I am not a morning person.
(Seriously. Most mornings, I can’t even speak for a couple minutes after I wake up. I’m not kidding—all that comes out are groans.)
After pulling myself onto the bus and embarking on a 5-hour bus ride, we stopped at the Delphi Archaeological museum.
One thing I can say about Ancient Greek sculptors is that man, they were talented.
But as cool as the museum was, nothing could beat the actual site of Delphi.
Firs things first: the VIEW.
Even near the base of Delphi, it feels like you can see everything. But once you go up, past the treasuries—
—Past the Theatre of Delphi and the Temple of Apollo—
—And all the way to the top, the view is even better.
I can see why this site was considered holy. Just being at the top and looking down at the view is enough to make you believe anything is possible. It even made the long, not-for-couch-potatoes climb (made worse by the increasing altitude) where I almost died worth it. Because holy crap was this amazing.
Fun fact about the Oracle at Delphi: the Pythia (priestesses of Apollo) were incredibly high. Not only were there toxic fumes (including methane) rising up from the fault lines under the mountain, but they also apparently chewed laurel leaves, which are a powerful hallucinogen. That’s why they appeared like they were being possessed by an Oracle and giving great, godly knowledge of the future.
DAY 8: CAPE SOUNION & ATHENS
This was the day where the weather was FINALLY nice. The weather was the only problem I had with Greece—most of the time, it was raining and/or overcast. But on our last full day in Greece, it was sunny AND warm enough I could wear a dress.
We climbed on a bus and started toward Cape Sounion around 7ish. Along the way, we stopped at a beach on the Aegean Sea.
Man, the water was beautiful. As someone whose biggest representation of water is Lake Erie, this water was absolutely gorgeous.
We also got to dip our feet into the Aegean Sea even though we weren’t “allowed to” (school safety rules), which was pretty amazing.
Next stop: Cape Sounion.
Man, the Temple of Poseidon is super pretty. (Real question: why is everything in Greece so pretty?) You can definitely see why this would be the perfect spot for a temple for the Sea God—there’s blue-blue water on all sides, idyllic and so beautiful. You can smell the water in the air. Anyone who likes water—surfers, swimmers, or just beach fanatics—should definitely go here.
And that’s not to forget the temple itself, either.
After we left Cape Sounion, we returned to Athens and went back to the hotel we’d stayed at for the first few nights. We had the afternoon off to shop, because we were to leave the next day, and though that was something none of us wanted to face, we all wanted to make the last evening in Greece count.
Man, I really didn’t want to leave that place.
DAY 9: FLIGHT HOME
But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
After a few small hours of rest, I pulled myself out of bed at 2:30 AM to stumble around and get ready. We left the hotel around 4, only to stumble around in the airport for a few more hours.
The flight left at 7:30. After half a day and a pit stop in Vienna, I found myself back in Canada and a different person than I was when I left.