Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Delphi to Athens to Nafplio

Last Thursday we touched down safely in Athens and headed directly to Delphi. We settled into our hotel and ate one of the most delicious meals of the trip-- needless to say, our students were thoroughly excited to be in Greece!

The next morning we went to see the ancient ruins of Delphi. We walked around on our own and took a tour from Electra. Electra explained to us the significance of the Delphic oracle; a woman who sat on a three legged stool in the center of the richly decorated temple (built on the site of a natural gas spring) and spoke prophesies in tongues. Priests then translated the prophesies for people who had traveled to Delphi from throughout Greece in search of guidance. Delphi was considered the center (literally the 'belly button') of the Greek world. We spent the rest of our time in Delphi focusing on our On Assignment Projects, hanging out, and eating excellent meals.

On Saturday morning we boarded a bus bound for Athens. When we arrived in Athens, we wandered the streets of Plakas- a labyrinth of markets, cafes, and stores at the foot of the Acropolis. The next morning we woke up early to visit the brand new Acropolis museum before trekking to the top of the Acropolis itself. It was impressive, if somewhat unpleasantly decorated by scaffolding that has become almost as legendary as the Acropolis itself! That night, we headed to a restaurant with traditional Greek dancing. Luckily for us, Matt had taught us some basic steps at the talent show back in Rome, so we were well prepared to get up and dance!

Before long, it was time to leave Athens for Nafplio, our home for the remainder of the expedition. When we arrived, we took a walk around the charming city center, ate dinner by the water, and then we headed to the 'Luna Park', a town carnival. Here, bumper cars were a popular attraction as were a few daring rides which took us upside-down.

Yesterday the group visited Epidauros, an ancient healing site known as one of the best preserved, acoustically designed amphitheaters in the world. From the top of the stands, we could hear a coin drop in the center of the stage-- it was amazing. Three of our boys treated us to a rendition of Elton John’s 'Tiny Dancer', which was followed by an intro rap to 'The Fresh Prince of Bell Air' performed by a few of our girls!

Next, we traveled to the ancient site of Mycenae, where we climbed the citadel and palace of what was the most powerful empire in Greece 3000 years ago. Matt shared a favorite poem about Mycenae with us, and then we all ate lunch and headed back to Nafplio to relax and work in On Assignment groups. We are all (especially the leaders!) looking forward to the presentations of our students' final projects on our last day here.

Today students are focusing on their final On Assignment projects during the morning. We are off to the beach and to climb to the top of the Nafplio hill citadel in the afternoon. All is well here.

Bye for now!
Breena, Matt, and Rachel