March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28
Sites Visited: None (day off)
Where did we stay tonight?: Athens
Leaders: Jerry Guo and Kathryn Mammel
GREECE 2009 FSP GUIDE TO SEEING ATHENS IN ONE DAY
What to do when you’ve been working too hard and want to enjoy your first free day in Athens:
Having nearly emptied your bank account eating in London, be sure to take advantage of the free buffet on the tenth floor of the Astor Hotel. If you’re feeling ambitious and particularly hungry/broke, attempt to get in all 2000 calories for your day at the buffet like Jason and Jerry. And if free food isn’t enough, the Acropolis view makes it well worth the money you’re not spending to eat there.
Armed with a more legitimate guidebook than ours, spend your free day in groups or on your own prowling around the city. Here are some sites you don’t want to miss.
Parliament Building (formerly the Royal Palace) on Syntagma Square
It’s not much, architecturally speaking, especially when compared to the Parthenon which towers over it from some angles, but be sure to visit the Parliament building for one of the hourly changing of the guards. The ceremony is something like a well-choreographed interpretative dance, and the guards all wear stockings and puff balls on their shoes. If you can’t make it to one of the ceremonies, be sure at least to check out our video on the bottom of the page.
Not far from the Parliament building are the National Gardens, a pleasant escape from the constant droning and dangers of Athenian motorcycle traffic. The gardens are extensive and a pleasant place to spend a beautiful day like today. And if the hordes of well behaved, well fed stray dogs of Athens and the pigeons which flock the streets aren’t enough for the animal-deprived traveler in you, check out the small zoo at the center of the gardens where Ally, Jason, and Kathryn got up close and personal with chickens, goats, and donkeys.
Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch
If you manage to make it out of the gardens without getting completely disoriented and off –course from the walking tour planned out by your more legitimate guide book than this one (which we learned is more difficult than it sounds), be sure to stop next by the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple in all of Greece, completed by Hadrian in 131 CE. However, if you’re cheap like we are, you’ll skip going inside and just take pictures from the outside, hoping to go back as a group on Dartmouth’s dollar later in the term. For no charge at all, however, you can see Hadrian’s Arch just outside the fenced in area of the temple, and not far off is a pretty cool statue of Hellas embracing Lord Byron, also worth seeing.
Make your way next to Plaka, a busy maze of shops and restaurants in the shadow of the Acropolis. Be sure to hide your more legitimate guidebook, however, as carrying it openly like Ally, Kathryn, and Jason did, will cause you to be solicited by every restaurateur in the neighborhood, each promising his restaurant was the rated #1 by your guidebook. If you manage to escape the area without falling prey to one of these overly friendly restaruanteers or buying too much from the stores blaring James Blunt and the Killers, make your way to Tom’s Recycled Garden, also known as “the Irish Republic of Plaka” or “Korydallos Prison,” a garden of discarded mannequins and other politically-charged junk, created by an eccentric Irish expatriate.
The Flea Market at Monastiraki
Moving to the next equally-tourist packed neighborhoods, find yourself in the flea market at Monastiraki, a pick-pocketer’s paradise. Countless small stores line the crowded main corridor of the market, and on weekends, venders selling really cool, somewhat old, often shiny, European flea market junk congregate to peddle their wares. The area is the perfect place to purchase a counterfeit designer bag from one of countless unlicensed merchants, assuming the police aren’t around, and it’s great for turopita and spanikopita as well.
The Rest of Your Day:
After a busy day of sightseeing, make your way back to Syntagma for a nap at the room or some last minute errands in preparation for Crete. Forget about trying to do laundry at a Laundromat, though, as they’re closed on the weekends. Plan to go to Crete with lots of dirty clothes. If the free breakfast wasn’t enough to hold you over for the rest of the day, make your way back to monstiraki for gyros and ice cream, and insist on speaking to the locals in broken Modern Greek while they speak back to you in English. Pass on the happening night-life of Athens, and make your way back to the Astor Hotel after dinner and ice cream, and get ready for Crete and a 7:00 am departure for the Acropolis.
Intro to Day 8:
Changing of the guards in Syntagma:
Day 8 Concluding remarks:
Day 8 Photo Gallery:
A Greek balloon vendor in Monastiraki
Alex eating the first of many Gyros.
Alex, Ben, and Dallis in the national gardens.
Ally outside the Temple of Olympian Zeus, started by Peisistatros in the 5th century, finished about 700 years later by the Roman emperor Hadrian.
Dallis, Alex M. and KT gleefully experience the Panhellenic stadium.
Jason in front of Hadrian's arch
Chris, Alex M., Ben, Dallis, and Alex A. in front of the Athenian Parliament building.
The Irish Republic of Plaka
March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27
Sites Visited: Heathrow Airport, Lykavittos Hill in Athens
Where did we stay tonight?: Athens
Leaders: Chris Johnson and Dallis Fox
At 4:15am our first alarms went off and nobody was very happy about it. At 5:00am sharp, our bus for Heathrow airport arrived and amazingly everybody was ready to go. We got to the new terminal, which has been constructed for the 2012 Olympics at great expense ($7 billion according to Prof. Christesen), and got checked in without any issues. Everyone slept soundly on the plane, save for Prof. Christesen and Kait Barber, who exchanged banter for the entire trip. We lost two hours from London to Athens, so our four-hour flight landed us in Greece a little past 1pm local time. The subway system from the airport was down for the day for whatever reason, so we took a bus to our stop at Syntagma Square near our hotel. This gave us an idea of the geography of Attica and the craziness of the motorists that fly about its streets. It became apparent on the bus ride that we are definitely in a foreign country, as many of us were guessing at what the street signs and billboards said in the modern Greek that very few of us understand.
We arrived at Syntagma Square at about 3:30pm and finally fully realized that we were in Athens. The Acropolis (or as the locals call it, “The Rock”) can be seen from most points in the city, and the bustling of people was a drastic change from the relative quiet of London’s Museum district. The Astor Hotel we checked into was decidedly not the same Astor we stayed in in London (The “s” in hostel apparently makes a big difference). It’s a an A-quality hotel (the highest in the Greek rating system), so parents should know their money is not going waste while we are here in Athens. The rooms are spacious, have bathrooms, and unlike in London we won’t be fighting over each other for power outlets. The most important feature is the incredible view of the Acropolis most of us have from our rooms. People were literally jumping in the air when they drew their curtains to reveal an uninhibited view of Athens signature sight.
We got our bearings for a little while and then regrouped to journey up Lykavitos Hill. As we soon found out, Greece is rather hilly, and after a breathless twenty-minute hike we were at the highest point in the city at about 300 meters (1000 ft). As soon as we caught our breath, we noticed that we had a panoramic view of the entire city and most of Attica. Prof. Christesen gave us a short lecture on the history of Greece and pointed out the topographical features and important sights of the city, all while the sun set in dramatic fashion behind our great master. We shouldn’t have been surprised that it got very cold as soon as the sun set since, as Charles noted, we were on top of a giant rock in the middle of the sky.
Some us had dinner at the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, which is appropriately named the Bella Vista. The Astor is easily taller than any building between it and the Acropolis, and we were delighted to enjoy our first tastes of Greek food and wine while gawking at the Parthenon and Erectheion. Others ventured into the city for an authentic Greek restaurant experience. Live music filled the room with energy and the waiters, cigarettes in hand and manly chest hair on display, bustled about with trays of pork gyros and lamb skewers. Finally, others went to bed to get a head start on the much-needed day off we have tomorrow. All in all, everyone was excited to be in Athens and ready to get started with our adventures in Greece.
Intro to Day 7 featuring far-famed fearless leaders:
Athens Accomodations – a new day, a new Astor:
Sunset on Lykavittos:
Day 7 Photo Gallery:
Acropolis view from the balcony of Hotel Astor
Kate ascends the many steps of Kolonaki
Kathryn, Alex, KT, Jason, Ally, and Dallis on top of Lykavittos hill in Athens
Panoramic view of Athens from atop Lykavittos
The group learns about Athenian topography as the sun sets over Eleusis.
The little church on top of Lykavittos
The sun sets over our first day in Greece.
Acropolis from Lykavittos by night.
Dinner out at a Greek taverna. Yeia mas (to our health)!
March 26, 2009
Thursday, March 26
Sites Visited: British Museum: Assyrian collection and storerooms for Egyptian artifacts
Where did we stay tonight?: London
Leaders: Alex Maceda and Jerry Guo
Classics FSP 2009 By the Numbers:
3 : Required Number of Pounds Spent to Receive Free Internet at Costa Cafe
28 : Suffix of “belkin,” our Free Internet Provider
6.2 : Average number of hours per night slept by an FSP student
7 : Essays Written
256 : Pages read thus far for homework
1988 CE : Graduating Year of PCC from Dartmouth
488 BCE : Greek Statesmen Pericles Turns 12
26 : Hours Spent at the British Museum
5 : Time We Leave (AM) for the Airport Tomorrow
Our last day in London was marked by a series of fantastic, dare we say colossal, events that continue to boggle the mind. It was a rough morning for everyone (the consequences of having three assignments due AND getting coffee by 10am), but the group made it over to the British Museum without any problems. Today was our last day at the BM, and we were all very excited for what lay in store.
Dr. Paul Collins of the Museum’s Middle Eastern Department delivered a thrilling lecture on Assyrian art, with a particular emphasis on relief sculpture displayed in palatial complexes. The Jerry Rutter of the art of the Near East, Dr. Collins is a vast repository of knowledge, and the fact that he could sight- read cuneiform was both very impressive and also terrifying. Despite the Museum’s mind-boggling collection, they seemed to be missing a few panels from Northwest Palace of Nimrud… funny how the ones on display looked a lot like those in Dartmouth’s Hood Museum…
After his talk, Professor Christesen led the group in an engaging discussion on how our knowledge about the Parthenon frieze colors our reading of the Assyrian reliefs. Some students noted the multiple ground lines, depictions of specific historical scenes and figures, and strikingly realistic depictions of dying lions as key aspects of Assyrian art not often, or ever, seen in Greek art.
After a lunch break, Dr. Marcel Maree of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan led the group in what can only be called a thrilling expedition through under-belly of the British Museum to a number of departmental storerooms. After being shocked to hear the museum only displays 4% of their collection at any given time, we were excited to see what was in store, no pun intended.
We saw stone sarcophagi covers and statues of lion-goddesses in the stone storeroom, papyrus scrolls of excerpts from the Book of the Dead in the papyrus storeroom, and got up close and maybe too personal with a mummified monkey in the organic storeroom. It was remarkable to be able to see the artifacts not behind glass cases, at one point being inches away from a mummy Maree so accurately described as “just a package” blocking our view of a New Kingdom wall painting panel. What was also striking was the apparent Egyptian proclivity for hedgehogs, in a variety of forms, prompting several members of the group to declare honors thesis topics about cuteness in ancient art.
We were scheduled to write a long assignment after the Egyptian tour, but Professor Christesen surprised us all (and probably himself as well) by cancelling the assignment and treating the entire group to ice cream. We made a brief tour of the galleries picking out our favorite things, such as hieroglyphics depicting what can only be described as an Ancient Egyptian party and the enigmatic Portland vase of the 1st century BCE/CE. After our final brief discussion of Egyptian art, we went out for a group dinner for our last night in London. The night brought last minute packing and a bit of sleep before our 5 AM wake-up call—see you in Athens!
Day 6 Intro:
Assyrian reliefs, word on the street:
Happiness is a paper evaded:
Day 6 Photo Gallery:
A misleadingly bright English morning seen through the windowed ceiling of the British Museum.
The British Museum lacks some Assyrian reliefs to complete their set. Maybe they could ask the Hood...
An apotropaic lamassu dwarfs our little FSP-ers, accompanied by Dr. Paul Collins.
Dr. Collins explains the iconography of Assyrian reliefs.
Dallis, Charles, Ben et al listen to Dr. Collins in the Assyrian galleries.
The perpetually doomed Assyrian lion, victim of the great hunting skills of the king.
Professor Christesen and Ben catch up before the rest of the group arrives at the Meeting Point for their tour of the Egyptian store rooms.
Joe signs in before we head into the Egyptian store rooms.
A ban on cameras in the store rooms forces students to get creative - here, a drawing of Isis and a diagram of the organization of mummified mammals in the organic store room.
Prof. Christesen pulls the old Ice Cream/Quiz switcheroo. Approval ratings soar.
Charlie gets an Egyptian fist-pound from the colossal red granite arm of Ramses II. Solid.
An ecstatic FSP group poses with their Fearless Leader.
The FSP gets authentic at a local pub, fish and chips all around!
March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25
Sites Visited: British Museum, Ottoman collection and production of Aristophanes’ “Clouds”
Where did we stay tonight?: London
Leaders: Alex Assaf and Kait Barber
Surviving in London
This morning we started off in the Ottoman art section of the British Museum. It was pretty rainy and cold. The much-loved Dr. Vinetia Porter taught us about the oh-so-scandalous love affair between Chinese porcelain and Islamic stone paste pottery. We then split up into groups in order to explore the ability of Islamic art to communicate without figures (aka a paper).
After an AMAZING lunch at the Chillout Café, we went back to work in groups. Each group was asked to describe the change in Attic pottery over the course of centuries. We all took pictures of vases and wrote another paper describing the transformation of simple to complex and narrative designs.
After a long day of writing we headed out to see a student production of Aristophanes’ Clouds. The sound system was a little funky so most of the song lyrics and British slang remain a mystery. None of us understand why a moon starting singing in the middle, and the humor fell a little flat. It was still a nice break from paper writing.
On the way back to our paper writing some of us stopped for dinner at a pub. Our fearless leaders Kait and Alex had Cottage Pie and it was delicious. The pints were good but Fuller’s pub is better. With readings and papers awaiting our return to the hostel, we headed home for a long night.
Intro to the day:
Panegyrics of the Chillout Cafe:
Day 5 Photo Gallery:
Dr. Porter lectures in the Islamic galleries.
A beautiful decorative plate from the Islamic collection.
A meta moment in the Islamic gallery.
Students work on their lunchtime assignment on communication without figural decoration in Islamic art.
Chris thinks profound thoughts on the lack of human figures in Islamic art.
Ben and Dallis ponder the implications.
- Ally, KT and Joe getted excited to see a modern day interpretation of Aristophanes’s Clouds
The group at the Bridewell theater before the play.
March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24
Sites Visited: British Museum: Archaic Greek sculpture and the Parthenon galleries
Where did we stay tonight?: London
Leaders: KT Holroyd and Joe Indvik
Not just another day at The Office
Hands down, this FSP beats another day in a library cubicle. After grabbing a quick breakfast we all headed, once again, to the British Museum to spend the day with Michael Scott, a professor of classics at Cambridge University. In the morning, Dr. Scott led us through the Archaic sculpture galleries and provided a lively lecture on the nuances of the period’s artistic trends. After a one hour break for lunch, we returned to the infamous Parthenon gallery (everyone remember the frieze from Day 1?) to study Athenian sculptural techniques in the high classical period. Dr. Scott began a heated debate as to the rightful resting place of the Parthenon sculptures. Although the new Acropolis Museum in Athens has already prepared a place for the sculptures, many feel that they should remain in Britain. It appears that the debate will go on for the foreseeable future, as neither side seems eager to compromise. By 3:00 we had thanked Dr. Scott for his entertaining and informative lectures and headed into the courtyard to receive our latest assignment from Professor Christesen, who ironically remarked that two hours was far too long to go without some heavy duty analysis. After three hours of work and forty five minutes of painful attempts to print seven papers on one already weary printer, we were done for the day. So much for a nine to five job.
Around eight o’clock most of us finally headed out to explore London. Little did we know that so much of the learning on this trip would happen outside an academic context. After an hour of intense philosophical debate that somehow emerged at The Ultimate Burger, followed by a night exploring the city, we all began to feel the beginnings of an FSP bond.
Intro to the day with fearless leaders:
Tour of the luxurious Astor Inn hotel:
Prof. Christesen Introduces Dr. Scott in front of the Knidian Lion
Dr. Scott delivers a lively lecture on archaic sculpture (and security promptly reprimands Joe for standing on a bench).
The Strangford Apollo, an exemplar of the Greek kouros.
Alex M. makes a memory.
Alex A. and KT admire some Cypriot horsemen.
Alex M. and Jason stand toe-to-toe with history.
Chris gets up close and personal with Cypriot vases
Dr. Scott lectures about the Parthenon sculpture as Joe, Kathryn, and KT listen intently.
Group photo in front of the British Museum
March 23, 2009
Monday, March 23
Sites Visited: British Museum: Bassai and Mausoleum sculptures and Greek vase collection
Where did we stay tonight?: London
Leaders: Kate Ginsburg and Jason Spellmire
Day three dawned with a chill east wind, but the arrival of one Jerry Guo was like a warm spring breeze. We broke camp at 6 AM, and were forced to eat the last of our meager rations (read: most of us slept until 8:30 and made our way lazily to the free breakfast). We convened by the friendly lion in the British Museum Great Court and were then led on a brisk tour of some of the galleries. At 11, Dr. Peter Higgs, one of the museum’s Greek and Roman curators, delivered an engaging lecture on the Mausoleum at Helicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, followed by one on the temple of Apollo at Bassae. The Bassae frieze is not open to the public, so we were lucky to have the opportunity to view it. The Mausoleum was a crowd pleaser, though the hordes of uniformed British schoolchildren made for a challenging viewing and listening. Some of us were jealous of said schoolchildren’s field trip, especially those of us whose grade school fieldtrips consisted of half days at the local bowling alley.
After lunch we were led to the fabled Secret Room (also not open to the public), which contains the reserve pottery collection. Dr. Amy Smith, of the University of Reading, discussed the evolution of Greek pottery, with emphasis on painting techniques. She impressed us with her command of the material and her enthusiasm. She was interrupted briefly by the sounding of the intruder alarm, prompting visibly startled security guards to search the room aisle by aisle; as the aisles are all made entirely of glass display cases, hiding spots were few. Some of us were excited at the prospect of finally viewing “in person” the subject material for our Classics 19 project. Others had wrongly assumed that the Secret Room was where they would be initiated into the Order of the Phoenix and were sorely disappointed. We concluded around 4 and enjoyed a leisurely evening in London.
Video Intro to Day 3:
Video wrap-up by the fearless leaders:
Day 3 photo gallery:
An auspicious start to our day as we take a quick turn through the East Asian gallery
A gnarly stern ornament from an ancient British ship
Dr. Higgs lectures on the Mausoleum
Maussollos towers over an attentive Kate G. and Joe
Lion and Horse from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Jerry surveys the frieze from the Mausoleum
Upstairs in the Bassae gallery
Dr. Higgs enlightens us about the Bassae temple frieze
Dr. Higgs faces his curious audience.
Dr. Smith lectures on pottery
Students examine white ground lekythoi in the restricted upper gallery
Getting up close and personal with the red-figure pottery.
Lobster claw pots! Now there's something you won't see in a textbook.
March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22
Sites Visited: National Gallery (London) and Ure Museum (Reading)
Where did we stay tonight?: London
Leaders: Charles Clark and Ally Begly
Herodotus, who wrote the world’s first historical account, used a method that he referred to as “autopsy.” Back then, autopsy didn’t necessarily involve cadavers. It simply meant “seeing for oneself.” What we are fast realizing on the FSP is that we are here to perform autopsies of our own. Studying from books and slides has taken us just so far, and in order to more fully understand the ancient Greek culture we need to see it for ourselves, just like Herodotus. We are also learning new ways of applying the skills that we have developed studying Classics.
Today, the first thing that our group saw for ourselves was the National Gallery, one of the greatest collections of European painting in the world. Professor Christesen instructed us to divide into groups and to pick a favorite painting. Then, we analyzed the art using the same techniques that we have all applied to ancient Greek works such as vase paintings. The point of this exercise was to get us to engage with art that we naturally liked, and then to think critically about why and how we enjoyed it. We gave short oral presentations explaining our choices to our classmates. One painting in particular that was enjoyed by many of us was a work of J.M.W. Turner’s, which Jason and Kait B. discussed.
Afterwards, we traveled to the University of Reading for a tour of their surprisingly extensive collection of Greek vases. We also had a chance to look at a replication of two kleroteria, which were used in ancient Athens for the purposes of jury selection. It was really interesting to see how one of these devices actually might have worked! What also made this visit special was being allowed to actually handle the pottery, a privilege rarely enjoyed by undergraduates. Dr. Amy Smith ’88 presented the material to us and supervised our “autopsies.”
After the University of Reading, we headed back to London, where we were stuck in lots of traffic! When we arrived back to the hostel, most of us ate dinner and then started to work on the reading and questions for tomorrow, when we’re back at the British Museum to look at the Temple of Bassai, the Mausoleum, and more Greek pottery with Dr. Smith.
Video Intro to the Day:
Dr. Smith talks about Greek pottery:
Conclusion to Day 2:
Day 2 Photo Gallery:
Students in Trafalgar square before heading into the National Gallery
Spending some quality time with the guardian lions at Trafalgar Square
Gearing up for the ride to Reading in our Mini-Mercedes
Amy Smith lecturing to the group at the Ure Museum in Reading
The model Kleroterion at the Ure Museum in Reading
Gingerly passing around the Kabeiric kantharos
Katie takes charge of the precious cargo.
Some well-deserved r&r on the bus ride.
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