Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Greek Odyssey: part three.

You are joining a story already in progress. We have just landed at Piraeus and have disembarked from the ferry. Then it was straight to Mycenae.

Ah, the Mycenean civilization. One of the major cultures of ancient Greece. You know all that jazz about Olympus and the gods and whatnot? Yeah, they originated that. Which is pretty cool.

The first thing we saw in ancient Mycenae was the Treasury of Atreus. It’s a humungous tholos tomb of an ancient Myceanean king. Just… WOW. Seriously. It is massive. Just awesome. It’s built into the side of a hill and stands over fifty feet tall, though it looks much taller thanks to the Myceneans’ tricky architectural skills. They didn’t even use mortar to construct this thing and it’s still nearly completely intact – not to mention, when excavator Heinrich Schleimann discovered it, it was still largely untouched, filled with precious goods. That’s why he incorrectly identified it as the Treasury of Atreus, attributing it to one of the mythological royal families of ancient Greece. I really can’t put into words how awesome it was, and I was unable to capture the interior on camera. Google it. Or visit it yourself if you’re lucky!

I wish I had been able to capture the rest of the mountainside so that it was evident how large this structure is!
Marin, me and Alyssa.
Holly atop the tholos tomb!

The rest of ancient Mycenae now lies across a highway from the aforementioned structure. The ruins of the city sprawl all over a mountainside. Honestly, though, lest I launch into a lecture: I don’t have tooooo much to say about it other than a) the Myceneans must have been buff if they trekked around their town daily; and b) beaaautiful views.

This is the entrance to the ancient city called Lion Gate.
The view from Myceanae.

After that, it was off to Epidaurus, which was absolutely sweet. It was built in 350 BC and is renowned for its perfect acoustics. My presentation was on this site, so obviously I know my stuff. Ish. It was just as epic in person as I thought it would be, and all the raving about its acoustics turned out to be completely true. If you stand in the center of the stage and then speak, somehow, not only is your voice projected to each and every seat, but it also amplifies back to you as if you’re hearing yourself in a monitor. If you so much as strike a match in the center of the stage, everyone in the theatre will hear it. If you’re lucky enough to have an opera singer with you when you’re there – hey, we did! – you’ll hear her loud and clear, too.

Epidaurus and the butts of some friends.
The "comfy" seats were reserved for VIPs!
The theatre originally sat around six thousand audience members.
The Romans expanded it during their occupation, as you can see in this photo, to accomodate fifteen thousand, all while maintaining the marvelous acoustics.
Random, but we stumbled upon a litter of puppies!

What I consider one of the high points of the trip, by far, however, is the town of Nafplion. Apparently this is where the Greeks go to vacation, and I can see why. It’s a coastal town – maybe coastal is not the right word. That makes it sound beachy. It’s less beachy, more… boaty? Regardless: AMAZING! I mean, just seeing our digs brightened the mood. No big deal, but we could see an ancient castle from our balcony. NO BIG DEAL. Perfect was made more perfect by the fact that this hotel had a real shower, which is actually hard to come by in Greek hotels.

The view from our hotel room!
To the left, to the left.
To the right, to the right.

We ventured out for dinner that night and turned down a small alleyway while exploring. We just happened to spot our Professor and Teacher’s Assistant eating in a restaurant there. It was not so much a restaurant as some tables and chairs in the middle of a narrow street, which completely added to its charm. They invited us to sit and we proceeded to have the most delicious meal! We also enjoyed some great conversation. Both the Professor and TA live in Europe and work in Florence, so they were able to give us some insider insight into life abroad.

The adorable restaurant.

Afterward we all went to a nearby gelato place before they left us to walk along the pier in the perfect weather. Fun fact: weather is only ever perfect in Greece after sunset. Otherwise, it is too darn hot.

And then… we slept. :]

Just a little something from one of our bus rides. ;]

1 comment: