Pierce in Athens - Student Blogs

New - September '08: "Grecian Urn'ings"

 


Archives:

Danielle Cote
26-4-08

Auschwitz

First of all, this is my eleventh entry and since I only had to do ten for the semester I was not sure if I wanted to write this entry. Going to Auschwitz has made me learn and experience more than I wanted to ever know about the Holocaust. Since we went to Auschwitz on April 26th, I feel like this entry should be about it, which it is, but it makes me so angry I almost do not know what to say. How could someone feel so angry towards one group of people and want to kill all of them? Obviously SS Reichsführere Heinrich Himmler, who “singled out the camp in Auschwitz as the site for the proposed total eradication of the Jewish population”, was powerful enough to persuade people to listen to his idea to wipe out the Jews. The sad thing is that most of the Jews that were condemned to Auschwitz were convinced that it was for resettlement in Eastern Europe. So these poor people were taken out of their houses, away from loved ones and all of their belongings, and dragged towards their grim future at concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

There were many things going through my head during the one hour drive to Auschwitz from our hotel. I am not at all Jewish, but even though I learned about the Holocaust, it did not affect me as much as it would a Jewish person. When we arrived, I decided to go off by myself for a bit and go through the barracks which is where most of the prisoners lived. There were kitchen and bathroom barracks as well, and walking through the empty barracks was horrifying. It was sad to look around and try to picture people actually living there because some of the barracks were horse stables and prisoners were thrown in there to live. The barracks that were housing and not horse stables were burned down, and the barracks we saw and got to look in were horse stables that were made into housing, bathrooms and kitchens.

Once the prisoners arrive at Auschwitz, they are stripped of their clothes, sent to “disinfect” them by showering in really cold or really hot water. All their belongings were taken from them and their hair was shaved (men) or cut really short (women). But if the prisoners were not healthy enough to stay and work, they were sent straight to the gas chambers. When I walked around with Janet and Brett, all I could think of was “I would rather not know that I was going in to die rather then they tell me I was going to ‘shower’”, which I think everyone would agree.

The buildings that I went through next were called Blocks. A feeling went through my body while I went through each one seeing how the prisoners lived, where they died, what they did for work, and what was left behind for visitors to see. The guide book we were given explains everything in so many words, but it really affects you when you are actually standing where prisoners slept and died. As I walked through the Blocks and looked in the glass cases I saw notifications on death, postcards, letters, forms, personal files on the prisoners, lists of prisoners, and secret messages written between prisoners. I could not tell you how many times I read “murdered in gas chambers”, it was disgusting. One sign I read said how some prisoners were sent in and told they were going to “shower” and then once in the room, they were locked in and killed by gas.

Block 5 just had rooms that held the shoes, suitcases, prayer shawls, toothbrushes, combs, and kitchen utensils that were left behind and collected. I found out something very disturbing in Block 6 Room 1, not only did prisoners die from hunger, executions, hard labor, and punishments, but some of the prisoners were used for medical experiments and often died because of them. In the next room I learned that they were fed 1500-1700 calories a day, worked 11 hours a day and most prisoners died if they did not find food on their own. Once I walked into Room 6 I wanted to cry and I could not stop shaking my head. This was the room that had to do with the children, they were treated in the same way as the adults, some served as criminal experiments, and it was very heartbreaking to read the permission slips to imprison children.

A feeling went through my entire body when I walked in the courtyard between Blocks 10 and 11. This is “enclosed on two sides by a high wall. The wooden blinds on the windows of Block 10 were installed to prevent observation of the executions taking place here. At this ‘Wall of Death’, the SS shot thousands of prisoners, mostly Poles”. We were told to be silent when we walked in this area; there were flowers, notes, and candles burning from loved ones. It is just eerie to look at the hooks that they hung them by and the wooden blinds that were still on all the windows. The last place I went into was the Crematorium and Gas Chamber. “During the years 1941-1942 Soviet P.O.W’s, as well as Jews from the ghettos formed by the Nazis in Upper Silesia, were killed here”. There were two or three furnaces that could burn about 350 bodies daily and the ovens that we saw while walking through were made from the original German metal elements.

Overall, I just would not want to suffer or go through torture. Prisoners wrote stories because they were a substitute of cultural life which affected emotions and took prisoners minds from reality helped them to endure the camp. A question that kept occurring in my mind was “Didn’t they try to escape?” The answer is yes, but if they were caught then death by starvation was one of their punishments. That is just horrible! If I was in the camp I would be crying a lot and I know I am not strong enough to work all the time. So, I would be useless and would probably be one of the ones who were sent straight to their death. Even though the world is not perfect, I am happy that it is better in some ways than it used to be.

The quotes I used are from the guide book we were given.


Brett Czerkaski
4/25/08

My Polish Heritage

It does not take the most astute person in the world to realize that someone named Czerkaski might possess a Polish background. The name comes mostly from my father’s side of the family, which is mainly Russian, German and Polish. Though I have not put any effort into researching my family’s history, I believe this last week’s trip to Krakow may have piqued my curiosity. Throughout the course of our 5 days in Poland, I found myself incessantly searching every street name, museum piece, and phone book for my last name (or at least something that sounded like it).

I don’t know what it was about Poland that inspired this surge within me. While I was there, I felt this sense of belonging automatically. I could easily see myself living in Krakow. The charm of the old-town of Kazimierz, the variety and multitude of shops and people seen throughout the Market Square, the bazaar-type stalls seen throughout Cloth Hall, etc. The people were incredibly friendly (and surprisingly they spoke English), though the language was more opaque than Greek somehow. The sites in Krakow range from synagogues, museums, the Eagle pharmacy (at the heart of relocated Jews in Krakow) and even Wawel Castle. It seemed that even though we were there for five days, there was always something new to see or do every day.

The country has a rich history that has been recorded since at least the first millennium AD. From the succession of medieval kings and feudal lords all the way up until the horrors of World War II, the significance Poland has played in European history is vast. We visited Auschwitz I and II, two of the most infamous concentration camps of the Holocaust. There were millions of Jews who were deported to these two camps, all of whom were told they would be taken from their homes only to serve in German work camps for war production. Little did they know that at least 75% of them would be instantly sorted from the others for immediate death upon arrival at these camps. Most of the other 25% would die from starvation, disease, execution, or from being overworked. Though the concentration camps are notorious for their Jewish population (90%), other inhabitants included Polish political prisoners, Soviet prisoners, gypsies, homosexuals, and other groups who resisted the Nazi party.

Within Auschwitz, some of the prisoner blocks had been converted to memorials of specific peoples or countries. Myself and my colleague Kaitlyn Galonski decided to check out the memorial to Poland, in order to explore our Polish heritage. We learned that Poland suffered the most per-capita deaths of all the European countries involved in WWII, standing at about six million deaths. Also, a large percentage of Poles who were deported were in fact Jewish, as Poland had been the homeland of the biggest proportion of Jews historically until the 20th century. Within the Poland section of the exhibit, there was a catalog of names of the victims of Auschwitz. Here, Kaitlyn and I found some names that were very similar to our own, such as “Czerkoski” and “Golanski”, leading us to become even more intrigued in our heritage. Perhaps someday we will take it upon ourselves to try and uncover the roots of our ancestry from this starting point.

*****

Hello to everyone back at home. Isaac and I arrived in Barcelona yesterday evening. We checked into our hostel, and then took a stroll on the beach. It was raining when we first got to the city, but it wasn’t the kind of rain that is cold or depressing. The air was really warm, and at first it was overcast, but then light began to shine through the clouds, and there was an amazing contrast of light over one portion of the city and darkness over the other. We were walking toward the beach. Suddenly a mammoth rainbow appeared in the sky. It seemed to stretch in either direction as far as the eye could see. It became increasingly vivid over a period of several minutes. Isaac remarked that it was the most distinct rainbow he had ever seen. Then, next to it appeared a second rainbow which was not as bright, but still unarguably present. As we drew closer to the beach, and the buildings began to part I was able to see that it seemed that the rainbow was emanating from the water. As suddenly as it had appeared it began to fade, and within moments it was gone. Isaac and I could not believe our luck at being able to witness this sight, and we took it as a good omen about our trip. We sat on the beach for a long time, until all the light in the sky had vanished. We sat barefoot talking about these last three months of our lives, and about the future. Then we left the beach. We walked back through the city to our hostel which was located downtown, and went to sleep.

The next day we woke up very early. We went to Café Gaudi and had our first café con leche in Spain. Afterwards we walked through the city, and visited many shops in search of a souvenir for my little sister. After we had found her the perfect gift we headed down towards the beach again. We walked down little narrow streets through the old quarter of Barcelona. We tried to move off the beaten track, but ended up paralleling La Rambla which is a very busy and well known street. When we arrived at the beach the sun was high in the sky. We sat down on two beach chairs and began to fall into a quite slumber when all of a sudden a woman came up to us and asked us if we wanted a massage. I was skeptical at first, and I asked her how much and for how long. She said 5 euro for 15 minutes which is actually a very good trade. I paid her and she gave me a foot/calf massage for 15 minutes. This scenario kept replaying itself the entire time we were at the beach. Women kept coming up to us saying “Masagy, Masagy”. I would have loved to have had another one, but my pocket would not allow it. Men were also walking around non stop yelling “salvaza, beer, coke” it was only 1.50 and the convenience couldn’t be beaten, not even by foggs. We spent over 5 hours just laying there, and relaxing after almost 10 days of constant travel. We didn’t go in the water, though, some people did. In my opinion it was too cold, and dirty. When both of us had achieved a minor burn on our faces we decided to go.

We headed to the historical museum of Catalonia. We wanted to find out if there was a Greek presence in Spain, or Barcelona, or how they had been impacted by WWII. When we arrived at the museum we were able to get in for free, and were directed to the library on the 4th floor. We found the library with no problem, but no one there spoke English, and very few of the books were in English. So we left the library and moved down to the main floors to see what we could gather from the exhibitions. We found out that Spain had a civil war which began in 1936 and ended in 1939. It ended with the success of the Nationalists, and on April 1st 1939 Francisco Franco declared himself president, and abolished the legitimate Republican Government. Many Republicans and Spaniards fled over the borders to France. When Hitler invaded France he extradited many of the Republicans who had escaped back to Spain where Franco put them into labor camps Approximately 150,000 Catalans were put into concentration camps by Franco, and 4,000 were shot. Of the other Spaniards who had fled to France ½ a million were put into concentration camps once Hitler had invaded. Although Spain did not actively participate on the side of the Axis powers during WWII, Franco did send 100,000 civilians to work in German factories, and a division of volunteer soldiers which were not recalled until 1944. There facts were very interesting I thought, and am very happy that I was able to find them out while in Spain rather than on the internet, or in a book.

That is how I spent my day today. It was a wonderful experience, and I am very happy that it was able to occur.

Thanks for reading.

04/29/2008
Jennifer Pandolfelli
Blogger # 6

Wednesday April, 30, 2008
Friday May 2, 2008

After spending time in Eastern Europe visiting Auschwitz and contemplating life, I headed over to Barcelona. I returned from my trip last night.

Jen and I embarked on the adventure to Barcelona on our own to answer some questions: Determine to what degree there is a Greek presence in Barcelona Spain? What connection to World War II did Barcelona, Spain have? And lastly what is a poem or song of the area? Jen and I will present answers to all those questions within the next few days, so be sure to be there if you’re interested!

Barcelona was a very pleasant place to be. Our hostel was right in the middle of the “happening” part of town and we were within walking distance of the beach and La Rambla (the main street in Barcelona). The weather was supposed to be cloudy and rainy every day we were there but on the contrary the weather was amazing (what does weather.com know anyways). I was able to walk around in a T-shirt (that I had been wearing for days) and my swimming shorts (which I use in place of shorts on these long trips because they are easier to pack) everyday.

When we arrived in Barcelona on the 28th there was some cloud coverage. As Jen and I walked the boardwalk along the port the rain started to fall. I am proud to say that the most beautiful rain I have ever seen fell upon me in Barcelona! The sun was beginning to set, so the sky was a beautiful marigold yellow. The dark grey clouds were beginning to break and blow away like wisps of dark cotton candy. The rain drops looked like liquid gold falling from the sky and bouncing off the sidewalks. I looked up over the masts of all the sailboats in the harbor and saw two huge arching rainbows! I have never seen two rainbows occur at the same time. One rainbow had very distinct colors, and the other rainbow (which surrounded the first one from above) was a little more faded and less distinct. I wish I had my camera at that moment but I forgot it in the hostel.

I had a lot of fun over this past trip to Barcelona but Jen and I always talked about home. Our semester is slowly coming to an end in Athens. We have four more days left to pack, finish up projects and papers that we have been working on, and enjoy Athens. I have acquired some new possessions from being here that I now I have to fit into my suitcases. I have an extremely comfy, thin cotton long sleeve shirt that I bought in Santorini, a bag that I got for my mom in Istanbul, and I am trying to make room for bottles of olive oil than I am planning on bringing back.

I have been very productive today because I have had to use the Mac (which people need to use to work on their reflection videos) and Jen’s computer. I want to try to get my papers and reflection video done soon so that I can have more time to explore Athens in my final days.

I am writing this blog late Thursday night. Abbie, Kaitlyn, Jen, and I are the only ones that have returned from our individual trips. Rich, Lilly, and Sam return from Paris, France tonight at midnight. Janet, Brett, and Danielle will be returning from Ireland around 2 am Friday morning. These next few days will be hectic I am sure. With one Mac computer with video software and seven students needing to make movies these next few days will be interesting.

It has been a pleasure writing for all of you that have been reading the blogs this semester.
This is Isaac Axtell signing off, Good night, and God bless America!

******’

Greetings from Munich, Germany, known as “Munchen” to the Germans! I arrived here on Monday afternoon. The name means, “City of Monks” and their seal depicts a monk. Out of all the places that I could have visited I decided to come to Munich because my friend, Anja, from high school lives here. She was a foreign exchange student in the United States for a year, in my hometown, Latrobe, Pennsylvania. She always said that if I came to Europe to come and visit and now that has become a reality. Her and her boyfriend Timmy picked me up at the airport and then we drove an hour-and-a-half out of the city to the town of Oberhausen. The town is surrounded by the Alps and vast forests. The Alps are made up of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. I arrived at her family’s house and spent the night there. Her parents, Timmy, siblings, and friends were polite and told me about the history of the region. Her father is also an English teacher so we discussed politics and the relations that Germany had with other countries during World War II. I also enjoyed dinner with her family and then went to Munich in the morning with Anja and her boyfriend.

This region of Germany is known as Bavaria. It is located in the southern part of the country and is actually the largest district. Anja informed me that Bavaria was formed before the country itself, so technically Germany is a part of Bavaria. I loved Bavaria’s cultural elements and the people were helpful whenever I was walking around.

On Tuesday afternoon I woke up early to visit the Glyptothek Museum and the Judisches Museum Munchen (The Munich Jewish Museum). The Glyptothek Museum, located in Konigsplatz, one of the city centers, is a reconstructed Greek temple. It was commissioned by King Ludwig I and it opened in 1830. The collection was rather disappointing though after seeing a vast majority of Greek artifacts throughout Greece. There were a high number of Roman and Greek copies in the museums and I am guessing that the original pieces are located in Greece.

The Jewish Museum of Munich was an impressive modern structure. There are three floors and the exhibitions are highly interactive. There was a large carpeted map that corresponded with photographs on a wall and informed visitors of Germany’s past under the control of the Nazis. Anja, her family, and several other Germans I spoke with do not agree with what the Nazis did and Germany is trying to make a positive change towards their country. The top floor of the museum held an art collection with paintings from famous artists such as Pablo Picasso. They were once housed in a gallery located in Munich, which was run by a Jew, and the gallery was forced to be shut down in the 1940s.

After I went to the museums I simply enjoyed walking around the city and the center known as Mariensplatz. I also rode around on the U-bahn and S-bahn and they are the city’s main forms of public transportation. Also, much like Amsterdam, Munich has bike lanes installed. Many people use bicycles instead of automobiles. On Tuesday evening Anja, Timmy, and I moved their belongings into their new flat before having dinner at the Hofbrauhaus. The Hofbrauhaus is Bavaria’s famous beer garden and brewery and is visited by millions every year. It is extremely popular during Oktoberfest. Men and women were dressed in traditional clothing and a band played tunes throughout the evening with the barreling sounds of tubas and drums. I also sampled traditional Bavarian potato salad. Bavaria does not lack in spirit for fine beers and their specialties include Weiss beers. The Hofbrauhaus is right down the street from the Rathaus, or the “Town Hall.” The Rathaus is home to the Glockenspiel, which is a large clock tower with revolving figurines.

Today I ventured back to Mariensplatz to buy souvenirs for family members and looked at St. Peter’s Church. I perused the streets lined with dirndls, steins, lederhosen, pretzels, and fresh vegetable stands. I met Anja next to a replicated Chinese tower in the English Gardens and we sat down in the grass. A group of people across from us were playing drums, a saxophone, and banging tambourines. As I stared at the sky I thought of the week to come and how I have gone from one place to the next. The rain poured down after we left the park and our timing worked out perfectly.

I was overcome with a grand feeling when we made a traditional Bavarian dinner of potato noodles, salad, and sauerkraut, and ate by candlelight in Anja and Timmy’s new flat. I have to wake up early tomorrow morning to take the S-bahn to the airport and fly back to Athens. Another city and country which I have wanted to visit for quite some time have been crossed off my list and this journey included many history lessons, personal thoughts, and conversations with an old friend, in the making.

Gute Nacht (Good Night),
-Abbie Tumbleson


Friday April 11th

Today is the last day I will be waking up in Santorini, tomorrow we leave for Crete.
We have been having perfect weather so far and spent some time in Thira (the town closest to us). We all had two hours to wander around the shops and get breakfast so I immediately found a place that makes crepes (because I have been craving them) and placed my order. I ordered a crepe with strawberry jam. The woman quickly made the crepe, folded it in half and spread strawberry jam all over it. She then folded the crepe into a shape of a cone, placed the cone shaped crepe into a tiny bag and handed it to me. I have never eaten a crepe like it was a burrito before! As soon as I took my first bite I knew I would have to order another crepe. After inhaling my first crepe I went to the counter and ordered another crepe with strawberries and bananas inside. DELICIOUS!

After my belly was full I walked around the cobblestone streets exploring the shops until we left to go to the Red Beach (one of the two beaches on the island).
We packed into the minivan and drove for fifteen minutes to the coast. We followed a tiny path along the coast, and, BEHOLD!The Red Beach! The sand on the beach was not as red as I imagined it would be, but the jagged cliffs that were behind the beach showed layers of red rock.
I put my bag and camera down on the sand, untied my shoes and took off my socks and walked quickly over the scorching hot sand and unpleasantly rough rocks into the water. COLD! The water was much colder than I remember the water at the Black Beach being (and a little warmer than the water on the Maine coastline). I was caught in a dilemma. I could step out of the water onto the rough pebbles, or stay in the cold water and wait to slowly adjust to the temperature. I began to realize how ridiculous my dilemma was. Here I was on Santorini faced with the terrible problem of having to swim in cold Mediterranean water. I believe that I have become a bit spoiled.

I slowly waded up to my waist (which is the hardest part to do for us men) and dove into the cold water.
We spent a couple of hours on the beach swimming, collecting and skipping rocks, and being (as Ioanna would say) “lounge lizards” sprawled out across towels or sand while basking in the sun.
I found a rock that seemed to emerge out of the sand at a perfect angle to be my backrest and laid down. I relaxed there for a long time, away from the rest of the group, and watched the two Chinese couples that had just arrived beside me slowly inching their way into the cold water.
That evening I decided I was going to stay up all night because our ferry to Crete was going to be leaving at three in the morning. Ioanna met some of her friends on the Red Beach and invited them over to our apartments in Imerovigli for some drinks. Rich, Ioanna, her friends, Abbie, and myself all sat by the glowing aqua green pool till one in the morning talking. Abbie found great interest in talking to Joanna’s friends because they were in Journalism; the woman (whose name escapes me) was a writer and Barnaby (forgive my spelling) was a television news reporter.

I struggled to stay up until we had to leave Imerovigli to catch our ferry but I managed to do it.
Once I was on the Ferry I sat down in a very uncomfortable chair next to Janet amongst all of the other sleepy eyed people that had to catch the Ferry at this ungodly hour. I kept waking up from my head falling to the left and to the right so I decided to move to the blue-carpeted floor. I laid down on my back (a little more comfortable) and slept until we arrived in Iraklion, Crete.

Hello to everyone at home. We are in Crete today in the town of Chania. This is a beautiful place, and I am very happy to be here, but the only down side is that it is extremely hot. The temperature has been in the low 90’s since we left Heraklion. I should have been smart and brought a few pairs of shorts with me to Greece, but I didn’t so I’m stuck rolling up my pant legs.

One of the most interesting things about Chania is the old city. Our hotels are located in this section of the city. I have spent the majority of my free time simply walking around, taking pictures and recording footage for our media production class. Today we were supposed to hike through a gorge but at the last minute we found out that it had not open yet. This was a relief to some of the people in our group though. Yesterday we went to the beach, and two of the girls in our group stepped on a sea urchin. They were in a lot of pain today, and were barely able to walk. They treated their wounds with a few old fashioned remedies and by the end of the day they were feeling much better, but were still in pain.

We spent the day exploring the city. Chania is not a very large place. I was able to walk all the way to the border of the city where Chania turns into Souda, around the interior of the area, and back to our hotel all within two hours. Back in the old quarter I went to the Amber house and picked up a pair of Kobaloy, otherwise known as worry beads, for myself. They are made of lava stone and are black with a grey tint.

They change color when you role them in the sun light. On the way back from Istanbul we met two girls on the bus that we had to take to get back to Syntagma Square where our apartment is located. The two girls were from Spain. They asked us what would be the most important souvenir to pick up while in Greece. I couldn’t think of an answer to that question. When I was in Chania I realized it though. Kobaloy. They are the one thing that every person, in my opinion, should pick up while they are in Greece. I am very happy with the one that I chose. While in Chania we interviewed the owner of the Amber house. She told us that there are three criteria which person uses when picking out worry beads. The person must play with them and feel them in their hands; they must be pleasing to the touch. They should also be aesthetically pleasing. The person should appreciate the color and size of them. She told us that in her shop she had beads made of amber, pearl, lava stone, and wood. There are many different kinds of worry beads, and they can be made from numerous substances. They can be big or small, light or heavy. The owner’s husband hand makes the beads in the back of the shop. She told me that if I picked out a pair that I liked but wanted them in a different color, or to be heavier or lighter, or made of a different material her husband could have the beads finished within fifteen minutes.

Next we traveled around the corner to have lunch at a taverna across the street from the Jewish Synagogue. The previous day we were invited to a lecture in the synagogue given by a well known Jewish scholar. His name was Mr. Stavrolakis and he designed the Jewish museum that we visited in Thesolaniky as well as a few others. The taverna owner Demetrius was a very hospitable man. I ordered a Cretan meat dish accompanied by Cretan cream cheese which was delicious. We sat down with him, and he explained to us the story of how his parents met. His parents were both Greek Orthodox. His mother lived in Chania and when she was 14 she went to work in a factory in Germany because she had no money or food, and it was the only way for her to escape the famine that was decimating Greece during WWII. His father during the same time was being held captive in a German concentration camp located near Auschwitz. When the camps were liberated and the Germans were defeated Demetrius’s mother was injured in a bombing. His mother’s shoulder was hurt and his father without even knowing her found her and picked her up. They walked to Chania together and then got married. This was just one mans story. The historian from the Jewish Synagogue told us that almost 700 Jewish people in the Chania, almost the entire Jewish population, were rounded up by the Germans. They were all packed on to a boat that was going to take them to Athens, and then Auschwitz. The boat was bombed by a British submarine and the entire Jewish community of Chania was killed. Only one or two people survived. One girl had broken curfew on the night of the round up. She had a Greek boy friend that lived outside the Jewish area. When she returned in the morning before curfew was over she found out what had happened and went back to her boyfriend’s house. This is the only reason she survived.

All in all it was a very educational day.

Thanks for reading.

04/15/2008
Jennifer Pandolfelli

********
Traveling opens your eyes up to experiences that you never thought you would feel or know. Just being in places that you know have been in existence for thousands of years leaves an impression that you are not quite aware of when it is occurring. That is how I felt when we visited Meteora. Today we climbed to two monasteries that were settled at the tops of gargantuan pyramids of rock. We started out early in the day around eight o’clock. There was a road that led up to the monasteries perfectly placed for the dozens of tourists which arrived by bus. My classmates, professor, and myself took a different way up one that no vehicles could traverse. We enjoyed a different kind of joy when we reached the top, than I think the ones who rode up, because we had worked hard for our view. Walking up the side of the mountain was a fulfilling experience that I cannot describe. As I said when you are in the midst of an experience you don’t always realize the effect it has on you. Even now when I recall it I still feel bewildered and awestruck. I will try to explain.

We stayed in the town of Kastraki. After breakfast we set off onto a path littered with small stones. The path inclined until we reached a road, the one that leads up to the monasteries, and crossed it. We curved along another path under trees, over moss, and around boulders. There was a huge tree with long branches that descended to the earth. It was old and lovely. The path then led us up. Over shaky rocks we climbed up higher and higher. There was a seemingly endless incline as far as our eyes could see. The entire way I felt myself huffing and puffing. Grabbing on to whatever was available I pulled myself up. Every time I looked back I saw the rock cliffs with a better view. The land bellow seemed to radiate. It was glowing green and bright. It reminded me of being on an airplane. When you are coming in for a landing as you get closer and closer to the ground you can see that the land is divided into large squares. This is similar to the sight I beheld. The land was rich and beautiful. I turned back to my task after taking a sip of water. Up I went. We continued to climb until finally Janet who was at the head of the group yelled that she had reached the top. There was a sigh of relief. This was adventure, but I wondered when we would reach the top, and Janet’s words offered the answer.

At the top was the Grand Meteora Monastery. I stood panting for a while, and then regained composure. In the monasteries shorts are not allowed, women must wear skirts, and shoulders need to be covered. The monasteries that we visited provided skirts for women who did not have them. The entrance fee to Grand Meteora was two euro, and well worth it. Grand Meteora is no longer in use it is a museum. In it there is a church, an old kitchen, a dining room, and a room of manuscripts among other things. We saw that when the monastery had been in use the monks had made their own wine. During WWII the monks hid important manuscripts from the Nazis. Many manuscripts were on display, and so were works by Plato and Aristotle. The view from inside the monastery was breathtaking. There was a certain area which was set up so that one could see everything around the monastery. After Grand Meteora we went to the Varlaam Monastery which we had seen from inside Grand Meteora. This was a much smaller monastery. Supposedly the skull of Saint Nicholas is located inside of Varlaam. We tried to find this out, but were hindered by the language barrier. Inside Varlaam there was also a church, and a museum.
Going down we took the road back. Eventually we arrived at the point where we had crossed it earlier, and proceeded back into Kastraki. This was a day unlike any day I have ever experienced before, and I am never going to forget it.

Thanks for reading

03/01/2008

Jennifer Pandolfelli

Hello to all,
I and the FP study abroad group in Athens have just returned from our excursions to Meteora, Thessalonica, and Istanbul. We viewed many amazing sites which I am sure you have already read about in my classmate’s blog’s. We returned on Sunday April 6th and are leaving tomorrow morning April 9th by ferry to the Greek islands Crete and Santorini. I think that we all feel a sense of relief to be back in our apartment in Athens. The trips were extremely enjoyable, but it is nice to return to a home base to recoup. The last few days have been focused on preparing for our next journey. We have spent most of the time doing laundry, and reading.

Currently our center of attention is being placed on the book “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”. It is a very interesting story, but not in the usual sense. I appreciate the book because in it I am allowed to see history from the “other side” so to speak. Let me explain. Throughout the two months that we have been studying in Athens and traveling one of the courses we have been taking is Twentieth Century Greece as opposed to Twentieth Century American History. My classmates and I have read a number of books concerning numerous events which occurred in Greece prior to the Twentieth Century as well as during it. Up to this point all of the books portrayed the events from the perspectives of the Greeks or of other Western Countries. They were all either displayed one perspective or another, or they were completely objective, but usually they did not show both or all sides of the story. For example prior to reading “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” we read “Inside Hitler’s Greece”. In “Insider Hitler’s Greece” I learned that during WWII Italy was in control of Albania. Mussolini wanted to invade Greece to seize its resources and expand Italy’s territory. In one portion of the book it explains that when the Italians invaded Greece from Albania they were defeated by the Greek Army. The Greek army consisted of soldiers, peasants, farmers all of whom were fighting against the idea of any further oppression and control of Greece by foreigners. We are informed that the Greeks won; they pushed the Italians back, and that it was only with the help of the Germans that Greece was occupied. “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” shows the perspective of the Italian soldiers who invaded Greece, and the Greek fisherman and farmers who defeated them. We see what life was like on the island of Kefalonia during the occupation, and are introduced to the Greek people themselves as a collective as well as in individual units. In 1453 the Ottoman Empire defeated the Byzantine Empire and seized Constantinople. In 1456 Athens was captured. Between 1456 when Athens was captured and 1821 when Greece won its independence from Turkish rule the island of Kefalonia was under the control of the Venetians. “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” is set on the island of Kefalonia.

I have come to learn that it is very important to read a number of books concerning a topic. Each book contains a different representation of historical events. Reading multiple works will give one a sense of understanding, and allow them to sort out the factual information for themselves. When a college student is assigned a book to read on a topic or they choose one themselves it is not always on a subject that they will pursue. It may not be relevant to their major or they may not have the time to do so. This has the effect of causing a student to take the authors word for it so to speak. The author may not be inaccurate in his/her account of certain events, but the only way to truly find out is to do further study on the subject whether it be through available texts in print or electronically. This will allow anyone whomever they may be to better grasp the scope of a topic and help them to understand it.

That’s probably more than enough about what I learned this week.

Thanks for reading.

03/08/2008

Jennifer Pandolfelli


Danielle Cote
12-4-08


Wondering if sleep is overrated

My Saturday started out at 2:40am after only getting an hour and a half of sleep. After piling into the van at 3:30 in the morning, we headed off to catch our ferry that was going to take us from Santorini to Crete. I slept in awkward positions the entire ferry ride, which was about four hours. Taxis took us to our destination: Hotel Rea. Ioanna took us to a place called Bougatsa for breakfast where they make a famous custard pie. There are two kinds, sweet and savory. The sweet is just custard with cinnamon and sugar on top, the savory is made with cheese. After a nap I headed out on the town with Brett, Janet, and Kaitlyn. We walked all the way down 25th Avgoustou Street looking at all the shops; I took a little tumble when I came out of a jewelry shop, but after a good laugh I got up and we continued on.

As a group we went to dinner and even though I had a stomach ache, I did not let that stop me. All I wanted was to share some fried potatoes with Brett, but it soon turned into trying liver, which has a horrible after taste, having some lima beans and then sharing a huge steak with Kaitlyn. It was massive and everyone had a good laugh and even took pictures while they watched us devour the meat. We did not stop there, we even shared a chocolate soufflé which was made with dark chocolate and was very sweet. We leave for Chania tomorrow and making a pit stop at the Palace of Knossos so that Ioanna can give us a tour.

Before I went to bed I was reading Corelli’s Mandolin, which is a novel by Louis De Bernieres. We have to read it for our Literary Tour class, but as I was reading this amazing love story, I thought to myself “I have never stayed in this many hotels in my entire life”. I have been in Greece for over two months and have stayed in about nine or ten hotels which, to me, is a lot in that amount of time. All of this traveling has gone by so fast; I really do feel like a new person because I never pictured myself packing a backpack for a week and leaving things behind like my lap top or a good book to read. Friends back at school are excited for my return, but I know things will be different when I get home. I will have to start working and doing chores around the house.

Lately I have been having these moments where I am so annoyed because of everyone around me. I should be having fun, and I am, but I sometimes I would rather be enjoying all this with my family. Family trips are not the same as a semester away with students and a teacher, but it is an experience all the same. There will be arguments, we are all human beings which is a given that we will not always be on the same page. I would definitely come back to the islands if I get a chance and I would bring my family. Lying on the beach made me think of the times where I was with my family on the beach in Florida. This led me to think about how family vacations will be happening less and less because my brother and I are growing up.

Next Tuesday is my dad’s birthday and yesterday I sent him out a letter, I hope he likes it. I was actually on the Black Beach in Santorini when I wrote it and I told him that I wished they were here. I really think that it is a sad thing that families lose there meaning when the kids grow up and all the parents do is work. I feel the need to travel now that I have been in Europe and seeing how different it is, although I will be glad to get away from the smoky air. I have had dreams where I am returning home, that moment when I get off the plane and exit the gate will be great. Two of my friends are coming to pick me up at the airport and I can not wait for that moment to come, the excitement and the feeling of home. But for now I will, as Rich says, “be here now” and live for the moment as if this is my last. We sleep while we are dead, so stay awake and enjoy life.

Danielle Cote
5-4-08

The Other Half of the Crew

Four of us are in this so called “crew” we made up: Kaitlyn, Lisa, Sarah, and I.
We all work at the theatre, are really close friends, and enjoy each others company.
Kaitlyn and I are currently in Greece for another month,
It is tough being separated from the other two; I don’t know what to do with myself.
I have read about all the horrible things that have happened in Greece: the wars, Hitler being a leader, walking through Jewish & Archaeological Museums in every town we visit, being a witness to riots that go on, and just admiring how the Europeans live.
Lisa really wants to study abroad in France and/or Vienna.
I gave her positive advice about studying abroad.
Being abroad has changed my life for the better;
I told this to Lisa.
I have a really close bond with Janet and Brett,
People are different when you live with them,
I have realized this.
I am proud of myself for learning to live with other people
And dealing with the issues that go on in the apartment,
I am thankful that I have such a friendly and outgoing personality
If I didn’t then I know I would have a hard time here.
If you ever consider studying abroad, you should be the kind of person
Who wants to go out, be busy and explore! 
I know that Lisa would be a perfect candidate to come abroad.
She is very friendly and outgoing as well, kind of like me; I know that she will do well.
There are rough days where we don’t do much or when we have a great deal to do that we do not have a chance to go outside,
But it is all worth being here because we were lucky to be given this opportunity and taking it.
Sarah did ask me if I regret my decision because I was upset a while ago.
I said no, but I could have gone both ways.
How can I regret coming to Greece? I don’t want to be an outsider because why would I want to sit and do nothing in the apartment while everyone keeps busy and has fun?
I am still surprised that I made my decision in two days which was not a lot of time to make sure I had the money and the right classes to take.
I have never made a decision like that before, I surprised myself.
I really went out on a limb by saying “Okay, I’ll go to Greece, why not?”
Lisa and Sarah have been great friends towards me while I have been here.
I love knowing that people miss me and that I have support across the sea.
Traveling to Meteora, Thessaloniki, and Istanbul have inspired me to want to travel to other places, such as Italy, Australia, and Asia.
There are differences between all these places; people, culture, and way of life.
I have come to realize that I enjoy learning about a new place and living a different way.



Danielle Cote
29-3-08

First of all, setting an alarm for class on a Saturday morning was not desirable in the least bit. I know if I was at school I would sleep in until ten or eleven, but nine was a little tough to handle. Class was changed from ten to eleven; I had a chance to at least finish the reading before we had our discussion. Today’s class was a discussion of part three in Inside Hitler’s Greece. This book was about the Germans occupying Greece and destroying its economy. In the end Greece gets screwed over because of all that happened. While reading this book it was easy to follow many of the parts because I can picture what was going on; we have been to some of the places they mention, like Syntagma Square. For me that helps the learning process.

At the beginning of the semester Professor Roth gave us an assignment, an Athens video that we had to work on in groups. We had about two-thirds of the semester to work on it which was good; I was working on it with Kaitlyn, Brett, and Janet. Since my group ended up having about two hours of footage, we needed to make our video about four minutes long. I took a break and walked to the National Gardens, went for a run, and then walked back. I love running and it is sad to think that I will not have this place to run at when I go back home. The garden is full of people, paths to run and walk on, benches to sit and relax on, animals, and sounds of life. I have been enjoying all the walking we have been doing; I do not have a choice since it is our main form of transportation.

As a group we went through all of our footage and once we cut out what we wanted and put it together it had a run time of 25 minutes. Our rough cut had a run time of ten minutes after cutting out shaky footage. We cut it down to six minutes, but our final cut was four minutes and it turned out well because it went from shot to shot very smoothly and we had no unnecessary footage. We spent all day working on it because we had to present it to Roth and the rest of the students tonight. There was a dinner break before we watched the videos. I headed out to Romani’s with Brett and Janet. When we got back I talked to my mom and dad on the phone, it is nice to hear their voices but I have not been homesick since our first couple weeks. Roth was impressed by both groups’ videos; the final was an improvement from the rough cuts.

I love the time I have spent out here in Europe and I have realized that life is too short to explore the entire world. But I would love to travel more and bring my family so I can show them what they are missing. I have noticed a difference when I work with my peers on the videos or other group homework assignments because it is not free time. Even class time is a much different atmosphere, our class is held in the living room but we still focus and have really good discussions. We do have our fun when we make meals together or when we go out shopping together, but we all get serious when it comes to doing homework. I am sure that I am not just speaking for myself when I say that I want good grades, but to enjoy this experience as well. It is coming down to our last month here, home and school will seem like a different place when I return. Isaac has reminded us more than once that we are the first group to come to Greece; we just smile, stick together, and go on like it is just another day of our lives. We had to change our clocks before we headed to bed, spring ahead was two weeks later than the United States which kind of threw me off a bit. I packed before going to sleep because we are headed off to Meteora tomorrow and getting up at six is not going to be pleasant.

We will be staying two nights in Meteora, two nights in Thessaloniki, and then two nights in Istanbul before we fly back to Athens. This week getaway is going to go by fast and I want to have as much fun as I can. I am excited to see the different towns and cultures compared to Athens. The rest of our semester is full of traveling and I know it will go by rather quickly, but I believe we are getting a lot out of this trip. I still do not know much Greek at all and it is frustrating going into places, listening to all the Greek conversations and then having to speak English. It is nice to have people speak English here but they like when we try to speak Greek to them. I hope I can learn the language and maybe someday I can come back and be fluent.


From Abbie Tumbleon

Wednesday April 16, 2008

I awoke with the humid breeze blowing in through the blue shutters of my room in the Hotel Eva. The room has an old world charm with creaking double doors at the entrance that are opened with an aged metal skeleton key. The building has winding steps and photographs of old Greek Soldiers on the wall. Chania, pronounced “Hania”, has this charm as well, and the winding brick streets lead to tavernas and the main port.
I walked down to the port and rested on a bench before the group met to go to the Naval Museum. The museum was established in 1973 and is housed in the entrance to Frika Fort. It has two levels of rooms with artifacts, model ships, and historical information about the Cretan and Greek Naval history. The Greek Navy strived for success and had a reputation for their long skinny ships. The ships were strong and made out of both wood and metal. The model ships had tiny wires, strings, and replicated guns, which must have taken hours of dedicated labor and concentration, for whoever built them. Full scale models of several ships have also been recreated. Ioanna informed us that the most recent project is the rebuilding of the only female Greek Admiral, Laskarina Boubalina’s battle ship, the “Agamenon”. Another ship was rebuilt for the 2004 Olympics when Greece was the host country for the event.

The first floor had materials from the Greek War of Independence, German war memorabilia, and photographs of soldiers from Britain, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, and Greece. Cannon balls from the eighteenth century were stacked in a corner and another room contained German fuel tanks from World War II. Maps from the seventeenth century are still preserved and hang on the wall as if they drawn yesterday. Ioanna explained that these maps were created during the Venetian rule of Crete. The island was known for their depictions of topography and she mentioned that some of the maps were inaccurate and that the shape of Crete was different from what the old map creators believed it to be. An old lighthouse lamp twirled around with its original motor now being mechanically operated. A lighthouse keeper used to light the lamp with oil, turn a hand crank, and stay awake throughout the night to guide ships on their passing.

On the upper level of the museum boat motors, mechanisms, radio equipment, and telescopes were on display. I walked into a replica of an old submarine and examined the steering equipment, dials and notches, and the telegraph. The telegraph had directions for Morse code, but I failed to create an accurate message. A telescope looked out onto the lighthouse, but a clear image could only be seen through my left eye. A switch was used to change the background to orange, blue, or clear, which I am guessing had something to do with early methods of night vision.

The museum is in harmony with the port resting beside it and every evening I have come to sit on a bench and watch the light of the lighthouse and the waves crashing against the giant stones at its base. When I found out the history of the lighthouse and saw a photo of a battle scene with ships rushing past it in the museum I recreated the scene in my mind. War seems like something much too vulgar for a place such as Chania. I will remember the sunset from last night and that it was changing every time I gazed back at it. The sky started out with the soft blending of the clouds into the darkening sky and the blaring sun shined over the sea. Within thirty minutes the sun was off in the distance, terracotta clouds framed the lighthouse off in the distance, and the waves reflected all of the colors to create mystifying shadows with every ebb and flow of the water.

I have returned back to Athens once again and have to do common tasks such as unpacking, laundry, homework, reading, and cleaning. It is all worth it for the memory of that one sunset in Chania, on the island of Crete, which contains a glory and spirit all its own.
Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson


From Abbie Tumbleson

up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare for a ferry ride lasting eight hours to go to the Greek island of Santorini. The group trekked with baggage to the Metro and then to the Port of Piraeus, which is one of Athens’s main ports. We boarded the Blue Star Ferry lines and began our journey. I was ill when I woke up and spent most of the ferry ride sleeping. Two Greek women were kind enough to move out of their seats and let me sleep on a bench. One of the women spoke English and we discussed the educational systems of Greece and the United States as well as politics. This was my first extended ferry ride, but I remember as a child that I went dolphin watching on a ferry in Avalon, New Jersey. The Aegean Sea is quite different from the Atlantic Ocean and possesses churning waves and a deep blue color which extends for miles.

When we arrived at the port in Santorini we got on a bus and crawled up the winding roads of the island. In the warm weather of the evening we arrived at the Remezzo Villas. The Remezzo Villas overlooked the Aegean Sea and the unique blue and white landscape of the coastline. Santorini is part of the island group named the “Cyclades” for their circular shape and references to the Greek Mythological legends of the Cyclops. The Remezzo Villas are located in the town of Imerovigli. I learned from local shop owners and restaurant owners that Santorini also has several active volcanoes. It is a popular tourist attraction during the summer months, which range from May to September.

The streets in the main town were bustling tonight with locals. If I was here in a few months they would instead be crowded with tourists. I believe that I have mentioned it in my past blogs, but I cannot get over how valued I feel to be here; to look out my window and see the sea, a swimming pool, domed buildings, the giant blue bath tub in my room, the large bed, the sky dotted with miniscule stars, and the dizzy coastlines eroded from years of waves rushing up again them. These are both natural and material elements that weave together to form the picturesque world I have been living in lately. Even garbage on the streets, graffiti, or stray dogs add to the landscape and scenery of Greece.

I have had the opportunity to travel frequently since the beginning of March and the group only had a break for two days after we flew home from Istanbul and Thessaloniki. I remember watching documentaries about musicians or reading articles about them in magazines and how they always mention life on the road and living out of a suitcase. I have become more acquainted with what to bring and what not to bring on trips from now on and it is alleviating to only have the possession in my backpack.

I remember when I read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” that Robert M. Pirsig mentioned what to bring on a motorcycle trip and he was prepared for any situation. Two of his lists included clothing and personal stuff and he recommended such materials as two changes of underwear, rain gear, one sweater and jacket each, combs, a memorabilia booklet, pens, and sunburn lotion. I learned from Spring Break that rain gear is an essential because when I was in Amsterdam and Paris my clothes became soaked as well as my shoes. I trudged around for three days in damp clothing because I did not have a weather-proof jacket. Even though the weather in Santorini is warm right now, for example, it still tends to get windy and the temperature dropped this evening. My sweater came in handy and I am always wearing layers during the day in case the sun comes out and then disappears. Dr. Roth even mentioned a trick to put a smaller bag inside your piece of carry-on luggage so that you can take it out and add all of your purchases and extra baggage. Doing this makes paying money for extra checked baggage avoidable and saves you money. During Spring Break I could not take my backpack on the plane because it was too large and ended up paying eighteen euro to check it. That was a hefty price that could have been avoided.
Traveling so much also makes me ponder excessively about life and where I will end up in the future. The conversations that I have with fellow group members, strangers that I meet on trips, or with my professors always lead to remarkable stories and more questions for me to ask myself.

As I look out onto the sea and think about the adventures of tomorrow, which include discussing “Corelli’s Mandolin” and searching for a beach on the island, I can only wonder what other life exists on the island, and in the world. I have been reading “Corelli’s Mandolin” extensively, as well as historical accounts of Greece, and the knowledge is traveling with me.
…And, having a stomach virus beats being seasick.

Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson


Brett Czerkaski
4/10/08

My Hairy-Knuckled Bathfellows

The six of us entered the Cemberlitas Hamami both nervous and excited. Not everyone gets an opportunity to do something like this. When you think of Turkey, perhaps the most outstanding image in your mind’s eye is that of a vast, distant, foreign land with a backwards people, where nobody speaks English, Christians are not tolerated, and tourists are abducted and sold into slavery in underground markets. However, quite the opposite is true. Istanbul is a very modern city, containing almost as many people (~11 million) as the whole country of Greece (~14 million). Tourism is a thriving industry in Turkey, and just about everybody we had talked to spoke English. Though 99% of the population is Muslim, that did not dissuade us at all from taking the overnight train through potentially hostile territory to meet our guide, Ugul (his name sounded more like “Urgghrhl”… a very guttural sound, as if he were attempting to cough something up). Despite all of this, we stood outside of the traditional Turkish Bath House awaiting an experience that would be alien to any American.

After paying for the “traditional” treatment, I was told to go upstairs for the guys’ section of changing rooms. Here I was handed a man-skirt and a small package whose contents were unknown to me. I was led to a small changing room, which, to my dismay, was just a small room with a bench where the door had a waist-height glass panel. It took me about 7 minutes and 14 seconds to figure out how to don this man-skirt whilst somehow keeping my pasty body to myself, despite the well-framed piece of grotesque art that any unsuspecting innocent would be unwillingly offered. After finally managing to inadequately cover my unmentionables, I was told to go back downstairs to find the bath… yes, downstairs in front of the lobby and everybody in it. Walking down the stairs with my legs very close together, I managed to finally find the entrance to the guys’ steam room.

When I arrived, the door was opened by an attendant whereupon I was greeted by a blast of hot, humid air from the inside. I slowly stepped forward in wonderment and was surprised to see a big, octagonal, stone slab whereupon about a dozen sweaty, meaty men were laying. I decided to follow their example and pick a nice, cozy section of sweat-slab to lie on and perspire. Yep… these stones were definitely heated. I sat back and stared up at the ceiling which had an array of holes in the ceiling, creating a dazzling spectacle of natural light within the bath house. Around the slab, some men were laying down and getting scrubbed by the attendants, which I was in “line” for… though I’m not sure how they determine the order, as we were laying in circles. As I lay there, I became all too aware of how short everybody’s skirts were, and diverted my attention back to the ceiling until I was summoned over to the edge of the slab. I guess it was my turned to be rubbed down by my hairy-knuckled bathfellows.

The language barrier is more difficult than you’d think when it comes to being manhandled by a half-naked older man. We exchanged maybe two sentences during this whole ordeal. First I was sitting up; here, he unwrapped my mystery package, which turned out to be an abrasive scrubbing mitt that fit over his hand. He proceeded to scrape off the first 2 layers of my skin in the least gentle fashion imaginable. I suppose it did some good, as I could see the grime I was sweating off accumulating on my arm in neatly rolled cylinders, accompanied by an unsatisfactory sound and a wagging finger from the attendant. The order for “lay down” was a slap on the head, while the order for “flip” was a smack on the upper, upper, way upper thigh. After repeating this scrubbing process dangerously close to every nook and cranny of my body, we were finally ready for the next step.

The first thing I am greeted with when I sit up is a bucket of warm water dumped on my head. Then I get another smack on the head signaling me to lay down. Before I know it, I’m getting an all too intimate rub down with very bubbly, aromatic soap, which felt great (in the least homoerotic way imaginable)! Then, after get the thigh slap to flip me was given, the attendant began to massage me. It was a very harsh massage, penetrating deep into my muscles, and yes… it was definitely a full body massage. Out of nowhere, I felt another pair of burly hands grab my leg and begin working it. A pang of horror and pain struck me momentarily until I realized what was going on. This process lasted about 10 minutes, until I was escorted out and told to take a shower. After this, I was given a quick shampoo by my attendant. Then, I had to drop towel for about 1.2 seconds in front of everyone, whereupon I was quickly wrapped up in a dry towel by the attendant. Then I had another towel to go around my shoulders, and a final one wrapping up my hair, much like that which girls do after a shower. Then I took my walk of shame in my cute little towel costume back up the stairs through the lobby, feeling as if everyone was staring at me. I changed back into my clothes, got a nice little oil cologne after tipping the attendant, and headed back to the hotel, feeling the cleanest I’d felt in a long time, if not ever.



April 13, From Kaitlyn Galonski

When we got back to Athens after Istanbul it was just enough time for all of us to get our laundry done and to re-pack our bags for the islands trip. Our first island was Santorini, where it really is full of white house with blue shudders. It was simply gorgeous and surreal. While in Santorini we stayed at Remezzo Villas thanks to the connections that Ioanna has. The apartments that we stayed in were amazing, and the view which the patio offered was even better. From there we would go into the local town of Fira for our dinning and entertainment purposes. During one of the mornings while in Fira Brett, Janet, Danielle, Isaac, and I were looking for breakfast and came across place called “Café NRG Creperie” which ended up having a wide selection of sweet and savory crepes. If you could not find something on the menu you liked, it was no problem, for you could also create your crepe. You certainly got your moneys worth for they were not too terribly expensive and they were huge and full with the substances you requested. To name some of the different types one could get, I got one that had peanut butter, dark chocolate, and bananas in it, Janet got a ham and cheese crepe, and Danielle got bananas and strawberries with nutella.

While also in Santorini, we did not pass on the perfect beach weather that we were given and went to a couple different beaches. We went to the Black beach and the Red beach. They are given color names because that color represents the color of the sand there. Both beaches were very nice and the sand was extremely hot to walk on. I did however enjoy the Black beach much better, for the Red beach was much rockier and with each step taken on the sand, it felt like you were going to burn a few layers of skin off the bottom of your foot. The Red beach was also not very easily located. Once you park the car, you have to hike over to the beach itself over rocks. There are clear paths and the hike did make going to the beach more rewarding, but I do not suggest making the trip in sandals for the loose rocks will find a home in between your foot and shoe.

We left Santorini to go to Crete. Our first destination in Crete was Iraklion, where we stayed at the Rea Hotel-Pension. We did not do much there our first day except explore the local markets and sites. Today, we awoke to the hottest day yet and headed to the Archeological Museum where construction is being done so we could only see the main objects that the museum kept on display. It was actually good that we could not see the whole museum because I think all of us were be affected by the heat before we were even half way through the small exhibit, but we all kept on going trying hard to pay attention the descriptions/lectures Ioanna was giving. We got back to the hotel to load up a van that we rented to take us around the Island of Crete so we would not be constricted to bus schedules. This van had character to say the least. There were no back headrests which would have become useful in holding luggage in place instead of falling on the heads of the back seat occupants. There was also minimal space for the luggage in general. That could easily be because the van is only meant for nine people and we were stuffing luggage for eleven people in it, but we made it work. Also, the side door needed an extra push here and there to get it open. When asked if the car had working air conditioner, the answer we received was “Yes, of course!” The air conditioner did not work. When going over big bumps there was a grinding of medal sound that we concluded to be the axel grinding. To much of our surprise we made it to our first destination of Knossos to look at the site. The extensive reconstruction of the site has been carried out by Sir Arthur Evans who uncovered virtually the entire palace. We piled back into the van to have to hurry back out because we were unable to reverse uphill. In the defense of the van, the front tire was also stuck in a bit of mud. We did make it to Chania which is where we are spending the rest of our duration in Crete. Hopefully it will get us through the rest of our time in Crete.

April 14, 2008
Hello Blog Readers,

I find myself yet again writing from the “road” per-say. This week we have been traveling through Santorini and Crete, both Greek islands are impressive with their beauty. I find myself lucky once again to have Monday as my blogging day, for the simple fact today was a great day.
The day started off with breakfast at Costello’s (a restaurant right outside of our hotel). Kaitlyn and Brett both decided on bacon and cheese omelets, while Danielle and I decided fresh juice was a must. Let me warn you, if you do find yourself in Crete, and you order fresh juice… they are not kidding with the fresh part. I firmly believe that with my orange juice they through it in a blender (except for the peel of course) and served it up. As for Brett’s Apple juice… it was a blended apple, peel and all.

After breakfast it was time for a morning at the beach. In a discussion the night before we had all decided that what we needed was a little relaxation at the beach before our academic work could begin. I am sure some would later regret this decision as a few members of the group have started to resemble lobsters. Thanks for Isaac we found a beach that was a 15 minute walk and went on our way.

The people on this Island are incredibly friendly I have found through my time here so far. As we were approaching some beach chairs that were laid out, a gentleman asked us if we were interested in renting them for the day. While I did not hear the conversation, I did notice after the price was said Dr. Roth politely said no and started to walk away. It was at this point when a better offer must have come, because he and a few other members of the group were soon settling in their chairs getting ready to read the last few chapters of Corelli’s Mandolin.

While everyone was putting themselves in the sun, I quickly found some shade and relaxed. It took just less then an hour for be to be coaxed into the water, which was freezing at first entry. Even with the artic ice water chilling up my spine, I enjoyed standing a few meters in just taking in the view. It was only Brett and I, he of course was not cold, while my teeth were chattering away. What I enjoyed most was the silence. The only noise I could hear was the crashing of the waves, and the three Greek adolescent boys playing and laughing on a paddle boat.

I was not long until Brett and I gave in and decided we would lay on the beach chair as well. While Brett continued to read Corrlli’s, I attempted to nap. I say attempted because Isaac didn’t believe it was nap time for me, actually he found himself very sure that it was play time. For the rest of the afternoon, each time I turned my head there was a pile of sand on the chair, and Isaac laughing. After a while wiping the sand away became useless, because it only gave him all the more reason to put more and more on. We have become like a family over here in a way… and he has become that little brother!

After most of the members in the group found themselves cooked well enough to leave the beach, we made our way back to the hotel to shower and get prepared for our evening lecture at the Jewish Synagogue. Through e-mails and conversations, Dr. Roth had contacted Mr. Nikos Stavroulakis, director of Etz Hayyim Synagogue in Chiana, Crete and the architect of two of the Jewish Museums we had visited. Mr. Stavroulakis agreed to talk with us and share some of the history and experience of Crete with the group.
When two intellectuals get together, there is bound to be some sort of confrontation of knowledge. Ioanna accompanied us to the synagogue, and once Mr. Stravroulakis started on the history and myths, there was an immediate disagreement between the two. It was an awkward situation we found ourselves in, the students sitting by listening to the two of them disagreeing, however politely about the happenings of the past. The awkwardness of it all soon subsided when Mr. Stavroulakis began to talk about what happened to the Jewish population of Crete during World War II. His story was detailed and intense; we were all hanging on every word he had to say. Only one individual from the area survived, and that was only because she had broken curfew the night before to go out and see her Greek boyfriend. She luckily was not around to be rounded up and become a part of the horrific tragedy. It was a heavy lecture that left most of us silent for minutes after he was finished. We then quietly left and went on our day, with our heads spinning.
Now I am sitting in my little loft in my hotel room, a nice building that has been around since the 15th century we were told. I am now thinking about the upcoming month. My time here ends soon, then I go home to be with friends and family again, only to then graduate. What happens after that, who knows really?


4/7
Hello Blog Readers!

I am back in Athens, and glad to be at rest. Traveling has been the highlight of my time here in Greece. I am always happy to see new places and try new things; I just enjoy experiencing so incredibly new to me. Each new experience teaches me something new about myself and about others around me. This past week seemed to move by so quickly. First we were in Meteora, and then we quickly found ourselves in and out of Thessoloniki, to then be in Turkey for our last section of that trip. I am sure it has been mentioned in other blogs, but I feel the need to talk about my experience in Turkey. First, the 12 hour train ride made for a perfect sleeping vessel for me, I could not have appreciated the sleep more that night… trust me I was in need for a good nights sleep. Besides the movement of the train being a calming agent for me, the passport control officers were all but calming. Several times throughout the night we had awoken to the sound of a heavy hand on our door demanding our passports be handed over and that they see our faces. This was of course followed by a heavy knock and the entry of an officer demanding to see our faces so that he could hand us our passports back; only later to be taken away again of course. The part I feel the most need to mention however, is when Sam and I were startled to learn that we needed a Visa to enter Turkey… I was more than sure that we were in much deeper than we could find our way out of. Luckily however, things went over with ease (I say that… but please note the embarrassment of having to get off the train at 2 a.m. and have everyone aboard looking out their windows at you). Of course we eventually got to Turkey and I had the time of my life… and the best tomato soup I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

Now that I am back in Athens, I cannot help but feel as though my time here is running a bit short. While I am more than happy to realize that I am going home soon, I am saddened by the fact that this experience will have to end as well. I had been counting down the days until my return to the states since my very first day here. I have since though decided to stop counting (My timing as always is impeccable!). Life comes at us so fast sometimes that we forget to be a part of it. I regret nothing about this trip; I knew I would only regret not going if I had decided to stay home, and now I have a whole new way of looking at people and the world. This experience so far has taught me that with ever piece if live, there will be the bitter and sweet parts that come with it. The bitter for Athens was leaving my friends and family. It was leaving this world that I fell in love with to try something new, I must say I was unsure for a long time if that had made the wrong choice. The sweet is what I am experiencing now. Once I allowed myself to let go of the fear that I regretted this choice, I began to enjoy myself. I found that through this, the ties with my friends back home have only gotten stronger, and that I have had the chance to experience something that otherwise I would have never gotten the chance to.

3/31
Hello Blog Readers!

What a day! While right now I am in a sort of dairy coma, due to the massive amount of ice cream Brett, Kaitlyn and I decided to buy, I could not be more pleased with each event that took place today. We started the day off on the right foot with breakfast at the Dupiani House that we were staying at. I knew I was going to need that coffee to get through the day, along with a few bottles of water.

After breakfast we all got together and headed to the trail that would eventually lead us to the hiking path of the Grand Meteora. I suggest google image of Meteora before continuing to read. Meteora offers a sight like no other… if you are looking at the pictures I am sure you can tell… but please trust me when I say that the pictures do no justice! The hike up to Grand Meteora was so pleasant; I stopped a few times along the way for pictures and just to allow myself to take in the beautiful views… ok and to catch my breath.
I have learned through my time here that my vocabulary is in serious need of expansion. Words such as “beautiful, amazing, and awesome” are just not making the cut anymore. Ok, back to my story now. We leaned before we left for our trip that women must wear skirts and have their shoulders covered and the men must wear trousers when inside of the Monasteries. While Abbie had lent us skirts to wear, when we reached the top (ready to change from our climbing clothes into the skirts) we were handed some… interesting… wraps to put over our pants so that we would be allowed to enter. Please try an picture these wraps with me, they are best described as checkered black and white and went to mid shin. If every other woman in the monastery had not been wearing the same thing, I would have felt like such a fool… traditions are so fascinating sometimes.

After looking through the monasteries (both Grand Meteora and Varlaam, they were right next to each other. The group decided on sitting atop the rocks. We each quickly found a place to lie down and enjoy the warm glowing afternoon sun, and even had a few minutes of complete silence to truly grasp this experience. We then made the decision that it was time to start heading back down to the town. Brett, Kaitlyn and I decided to take the hiking trail back down while the others took the main road. After finding our way back onto the trail, the three of us found a cave to explore. We were sure after further inspection of the cave that it was the home of someone… we quickly exited and decided to play in a hollow tree instead.

The tree of us then continued along the path. I, feeling like a kid again decided it would be much more fun if I were to run down the path. This was a bad idea! Not only did I trip a few too many times, but I also got stung… on my foot. Don’t ask… I hardly understand how it happened either. After finding turtles and lizards, and Brett picking flowers for Taze, we found ourselves at the end of the trail meeting with the rest of the group. We continued the walk to our hotel where were then passed out until it was time to get up for dinner. After dinner is where my story actually begins, with the wonderful idea of buying ice cream which has lead me to this dairy coma that I hope will end soon.


Brett Czerkaski

On Hate

Hate is a word that is frequently and casually strewn throughout conversations without even giving its use a second thought. I believe that people underestimate the potency of such a powerful word, and its continuous use as a hyperbolic channel for the word “dislike” has desensitized the population to its commonplace use. In light of the recent occurrences of hate back on the home front, coupled with the readings and work we have done recently, I figured this would be an appropriate topic to explore.

I would define the word “hate” as something along the lines of “an intense loathing and hostility towards a person, idea, or thing.” On the other hand, dislike is in the same arena but falls on a less extreme plane of emotion. I’d define it as something like “an antipathy or aversion towards something; to dislike is the opposite of to like.” Despite their similarities, I also have some distinct personal perceptions about the differences between the two. It seems to me that both of these words are acquired tastes towards things, and that these preferences are learned in some manner. Dislike is a taste that is learned through personal experience. For example, you can dislike a particular food from tasting it, dislike an object from having used it, dislike an idea from thinking it through, etc.

On the contrary, hate seems to be more often than not an institutionalized behavior. When we say we hate something, generally we are using it as an exaggeration to better demonstrate a strong dislike towards something. People are not going to “hate” a food they taste, per se, or “hate” a person for them having different views from them. Hate is something that is bred within people deliberately. History has shown us that hate is an aspect of mans character that will forever persist throughout the lifespan of human kind. We have yet to learn from our mistakes, even after witnessing as a planet the numerous events throughout our history in which groups of people, united in their hatred of others, band together and commit atrocious crimes against fellow humans. Take the Rwandan genocide of 1996 for example. Here, the traditional farming class (Hutu’s) embarked on a genocidal rampage against their brothers, sisters, and friends who were of the historical ruling class (Tutsi’s). There was tension between the classes since the colonization by the Belgians in the 18th century. However, what sparked this was the hate messages spread by several ambitious warlords, telling Hutu’s to “cut down the Tutsi undergrowth with machetes.” The total casualty count from after the massacre was something like 800,000 Rwandans dead within 30 days, an efficiency in racial cleansing that was superior to that of even Hitler (whose example should be obvious enough).

What is it that fuels hatred? In some cases, people have traumatic personal experiences that drive them to hatred of the oppressive force which caused the incident. I believe that in most cases, ignorance is the root. The fact of the matter is that whoever is guilty of spraypainting anti-semitic graffiti throughout campus can be nothing more than ignorant. To hate, for no apparent reason, an ethnicity with such a rich yet oppressed history and vibrant culture is just plain ignorant. It is sad to hear of such pathetic, trifling acts on a college campus that encourages diversity, and I am glad to see clubs such as GSA, BSA, Sistuhs, etc. banding together to combat the ignorance that plagues our campus.

From Isaac Axtell
Friday, April 4th

In the beginning of the week I found myself laying in a clearing in the middle of the forest in Meteora, Greece. I will try to describe my surroundings to you as best as I can, although words do not give Meteora enough justice.

I wandered down a trail (which looked more like a path some animal has used repeatedly) to a dried up riverbed. I crossed the riverbed by climbing up a big moss covered rock that was soft to the touch. I walked up a tiny hillside that was covered in clumps of shrubbery and thick green grass and was immediately overcome by what I saw.

There was a gigantic obelisk of smooth stone to my left and another in front of me. There was a small tree between these two stones; the branches (tiny in comparison to the rock that surrounded them) appeared to be holding the two megaliths apart. The colossal sized rocks were smoothed over by a river that had once cut them from the earth millions of years ago.

I took off my bag, which was beginning to stick to my back from the sweat, removed my shoes, which obtain a very ripe smell to them because they were soaked from the constant rain in Rome during spring break, and laid down. I closed my eyes and began to listen to everything around me.

I could hear a bee landing on a flower above my head. I tried to imagine what the bee was thinking; “As soon as I finish visiting all of the flowers in this patch I will be able to head back to the hive to see how the kids are doing”. Possibly the bee was conversing with the other bees I heard visiting the nearby flowers; “Hey Bob! What? Yeah I already went to that flower. No, go to your left. Yeah, those are the best ones”.
I heard a loud fast bug zoom by above me as if he or she was running late for some important meeting that was about to take place in the marshy gully below.

There were birds chirping and squawking as they raced around the elephant skin colored rocks; possibly some avian game of tag?To my right a slow rustle in the island of small trees and grass possibly indicated the presence of one of the many turtles or lizards I had seen on my journey to this sanctuary. Everything around me was so alive! I decided if I ever wrote these thoughts down I would title them, “Nature’s Traffic”. I preferred this traffic to the congested traffic in Athens.


We all left the next day to go to Thessaloniki. The section of the city where our hotel was, burned in a great fire that wiped out a majority of the old part of the city in 1917. As a result, reconstruction of the city was rushed. Simple, ugly buildings, sprung up to replace the old ones, and I am sure that had some effect on how narrow the streets were.

We visited the Jewish museum in Thessaloniki, and saw the one remaining Synagogue out of the thirty that were destroyed during the German occupation of the city during WWII.
We took an overnight train from Thessaloniki, Greece to Istanbul Turkey. We were all on the train for fourteen hours. Trying to fall asleep on a train while its clicking and clacking down the tracks was very difficult for me, but I managed to get around six hours of sleep.
We met our guide whose name was hard to say ( I think it was pronounced Lore or Lood but I am do not know). He gave us a tour of the Basilica Cistern which is a very impressive architectural and engineering feat completed by the Turks. The Cistern was a huge underground holding tank for water that could be used in case the aqueducts coming into the city were destroyed by an enemy attempting a siege.
Within the Cistern there are numerous rows of columns, all are various sizes that were taken from temples or buildings that the Turks deemed less important.
There is around two feet of water that remains in the Cistern which is home to fish that the museum takes care of.

Even though we were on the European side of Istanbul I didn’t feel like I was in Europe anymore. I felt like I was in a new world; a world where Islam is more dominant than Christianity and a call to prayer resounds throughout the city five times a day from the top of minarets. The vendors at the markets and the doormen outside of restaurants and cafes are constantly calling out to the passersby in order to improve business. Multiple times I was asked if I was Turkish, Spanish, Australian, or Canadian as clerks tried to convince me to buy a rug or eat their Kebab.

Abbie Tumbleson
Wednesday April 2, 2008

We arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece, which is a city located over five hundred kilometers from Athens. Thessaloniki is a smaller city, but does not lack in culture or finding activities to fill up a two-day-itinerary. The city houses Aristotle University, which is a free University, and there were plenty of young people. The city also has a smaller market district and it is much like the markets located in Monistiraki. The architecture of the city left much to be desired at my first glances when I arrived, but after walking around last night I found that there were eateries and cafes to visit. Part of the reason that the city is lacking architectural elegance is due to a fire that broke out in 1917 and destroyed a major portion of the city. The buildings were redone in a hurry and we learned that they were not up to building codes, or built for fashionable purposes. In “The Rough Guide to Greece”, it explains that Thessaloniki is also a hub for business and matters relating to the economy.

A small portion of the original city is intact and the building housing the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, located on Agiou Mina Street, happens to be one of them. The Jewish Museum is a renovated building, which used to be full of shops owned by Jewish Merchants. We went there this morning and learned more information pertaining to the Jews who were deported from the city in the Spring of 1943 by the Nazi Occupation in Greece. In the “Cultural Guide of Thessaloniki and Northern Greece”, it states, “The museum hosts an exhibition of photographs that give the visitor a complete picture of the religious and everyday life of Jews in pre-war Thessaloniki. A special section concerns the genocide and how it affected the Jewish community of Thessaloniki as a whole between 1941 and 1943.” When I first entered the museum a solemn feeling washed over me and it was enlightening to observe photographs of Rabbis, gypsies, and the grave markers of deceased Jews. We learned through both the tour guide at the museum and a book for Twentieth Century Greece, entitled, “Inside Hitler’s Greece: The Experience of the Occupation, 1941-1944”, by Mark Mazower, that the grave markers were destroyed along with entire cemeteries. After they were destroyed they were then placed on the streets as pavement or used to rebuild structures. Every time I took a step along the streets of the city after knowing that I would look down to see if I was walking on a smashed chunk of history.

Plaques arranged in a timeline format hung on the walls of the upper level of the museum and many of the facts and photographs were the same ones depicted in Mazower’s book. I cannot begin to contemplate the feelings of loss that the Jewish community suffered during the Holocaust. The room with the Holocaust artifacts included eyeglasses, shoes, jewelry, and wildflowers, which grew through the barbwire fence, lining Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. The group will be journeying to Krakow, Poland in two weeks to visit the camp and I do not know what emotions to expect once I get there. The historical importance of Thessaloniki was unknown to me before taking this course and it was beneficial to learn about World War II from the Greek spectrum, in addition to just the fights between the Americans and the Germans.
We visited the monument dedicated to the Jews and it was shaped with abstract images of entangled bodies. A miniature replica of the monument was also in the museum. I did not realize that the sculpture depicted bodies at first and thought the monument was a tree. In my opinion, the harsh reality of history is often depicted best though abstract images. The pewter hue of the moment blended in with the backdrop of the Port running along the main city street, the stony water, and the hazy rain clouds above us.
The rest of the afternoon we were free to visit more historical sites and observe the city itself. Dr. Roth, his daughters, and I searched the streets for Oriental restaurant, which was recommended by the desk attendant at our hotel. The hotel was cleverly named “Hotel Tourist”. Afterwards Jen and I found a sandwich restaurant called “Healthy Advice”. The owner was from Montreal, has traveled around the United States, and has a Greek father. He said that English-speaking people always end up at his eatery and the large $4.00 euro sandwiches lend an easy answer as to why this is so. His friendly staff even recommended places for Jen and I to visit later.

I ended my evening by sitting in a café with Jen, drinking coffee, and playing several games of chess. I came back to the Hotel Tourist, read, and contemplated my feelings of visiting yet another city in another place and the significance of the knowledge and of the places I have seen in the past two months.

Peace from Greece (soon to be Istanbul, Turkey!),

-Abbie Tumbleson


6.4.08—Kaitlyn Galonski

We went to two monasteries up on the big rocks of Meteora on Monday, the Holly Monastery of Grand Meteoron and Monastery Varlaam. We hiked up on the paths and everything instead of taking the paved road that cars and tour busses use. It was a lot of fun. On the way down, most of the group took the road back, but Brett, Janet, and I took one of the paths back. We met up with the path we took to go up, and we decided to explore a bit. We went into a cave that was clearly a bat cave (we could tell by all the guano on the ceiling inside the cave). Then Brett and I played in this tree (that he had played in on the way up). He tried to get me into the second level of the tree (it kind of hard to explain the tree, but there were multiple levels to it). Anyway, long story kind of short, after making many attempts to get me into the second level I pretty much feel out, but luckily Brett did catch me. It was only fair seeing as he was the one pushing me up into the second part of tree anyway. However, he almost lost his footing and we were both almost down for the count. We ended up just fine though, and of course tried a couple more times...unsuccessfully.

From Meteora we went to Thessaloniki on Tuesday the 1st were we did some sight seeing of museums and such. On Thursday the 3rd we took an overnight train to Istanbul, Turkey where we got woken up multiple times by people knocking on our doors and asking for our passports. While there we found out that Istanbul has some property in Asia, only a short ferry ride away; which leads me to my adventures that I had today.
We awoke to overcast weather, but inquired information about crossing over into Asia. By the time we checked out of our hotel and were ready to make way as a group, it started to rain. The forecast for the day was to be rain…all day. The rain put a damper on our plans for Asia, and all of us decided to go to the Archeological Museum of Istanbul instead. I think it was a very appropriate activity for a rainy day. I ended up enjoying some of the exhibits at the museum. There were technically three museums in the complex; the Museum of Ancient Orient, the Museum of Archaeology, and the Tiled Kiosk. I enjoyed the Museum of Ancient Orient the most, which housed all Egyptian oriented findings including mummies. The Museum of Archaeology was also a fun, but more so because it was more of a big maze consisting of four floor. It went through all different time periods, but got a bit relative for me after awhile since we have already been to multiple other archaeological museums. As far as the Tiled Kiosk is concerned, I enjoyed the building itself more than most of the incased items that could be found there. I included a link at the bottom to a photo album which includes the pictures that I took at the museums.

After the museums, it was time for lunch, and I went with Professor Roth and his daughters since everyone else who came to the museum were still working their way through them. We actually did lunch backwards that day, having pudding first at a restaurant that claims to have “world famous pudding”. I must say that I agree with this title, for the pudding was really good. As we were getting ready to leave Brett, Janet, Isaac, and Danielle came showed up at the restaurant to have some lunch and of course some pudding. I went to find out what they would be doing after lunch and they were talking about going back to the museum since they did not make it through all three building before getting hungry. Due to the fact that I was all museum-ed out, I tagged along with Professor Roth and the girls.

Moments after leaving the pudding place, it started to down pour, and we found shelter in a café. After the rain calmed down a bit we decided to take a bus to cross the Galata Bridge to go into the “New City” where there are good places for shopping and dinning. After crossing the bridge and getting of the bus we got distracted by being next to a pier that had a sea-bus terminal; meaning ferries that went to the Asia part of Istanbul. Since the rain had let up a lot, we decided “why not” and we went over to Asia. You would not know that you were in Asia unless some told you, for it was still Istanbul, and looked exactly like the Turkey side. We found a restaurant and had some lunch. There were no tourist there, only locals, and it was packed. The food there was great and was pretty inexpensive. When I get the receipt back I will have to make note of the name of the restaurant. We had some grilled pita bread with melted cheese, which I believe is to be a form of Turkish pizza, and I ordered some soup which turned out to be some kind of lentil vegetable soup. Our waiter did not speak very much English, so I had ordered it on a whim without really knowing what the flavor would be, but I ended up lucky because it was very good. We had also order some yogurt milk drink that was salty and a bit sour. We saw that most tables had at least one of its occupants drinking it and figured we should try it as well. After eating, we went back on a ferry to make our back to the hotel so we could met up with the rest of the group and head to the airport for our flight back to Athens.



http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016817&l=502c8&id=74400202
^the museums

30.3.08—Kaitlyn Galonski

So to start where I left off....the rest of my spring break was pretty laid back, but I got a lot of stuff done. I had lunch with my friend Amanda and we caught up, for about 3 hours. We just sat in Syntagma Square talking and reminiscing, and are going to try to get together again soon. The 18th was Janet’s birthday so I made her a pudding cake and then we all went out for dinner at James Joyce Irish Pub. Danielle's mom & aunt took me & D out to dinner the last night that they were here, and it was said to say goodbye to them. We went to a restaurant over in Monastiraki called Hermion Restaurant which offers a wide variety of Greek and International cuisine. Other than that I just worked on some projects, get ahead in one of my classes by starting to read one of the books that hasn't been assigned yet, and work on stuff for a class that I am taking online so I meet all my graduation class requirements.
We have been given the assignment to pick a country and go to it since we will have some free time while in Poland. Since Poland is much close and cheaper to get to a lot of places, we leave from there and then have to find our ways back to Athens a few days later. I decided to go to Madrid. I am not going with anyone on the trip, but I am meeting up with a friend of mine who is doing a semester abroad there. I am really excited about going and about being able to visit her. We had been trying to figure out away to see each other, whether it was her coming to Athens or me going to Madrid, and it looks like that it finally worked out. She is really excited too. I looked up tourist information, and it looks like there are a lot of interesting museums and sites for me to catch out. I’ve wanted to go to Madrid for a while now, and the fact that my friend is studying there gave me even more of a reason to go.
Today we started off our day with catching our train to Meteora. After spending a few nights there we will go to Thessaloniki (both cities in Greece) and then over to Istanbul, Turkey. We come back to Athens on the 6th, but then up and leave again on the 9th for Santorini (for 3 nights) and then Crete (for 4 nights); both are Greek Islands.
We arrived at the Kalambaka train station to giant rocks with monasteries on top of them. Clearly these words do not do the scenery justice, so hence why I included a picture. From the train station we walked (mostly uphill) for about 30-45 minutes to the village of Kastraki were our hotel was located. The hotel that we stayed at was called the Dupiani House and Danielle, Janet, and I had a wonderful view from our balcony. After we got situated in our rooms and relaxed a little, all of us as a group went out for a late lunch, early dinner, and then made our way up one of the lower rock hills that was near our hotel. Isaac, Sam (one of Professor Roth’s daughter), and I all stayed on top of one of the rocks to watch the sunset and then made our way back to the hotel. It is going to be an early night, since we are getting up relatively early to start our hike up to see some of the monasteries.


http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521552&id=74401603
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521384&l=9f4f3&id=74401603
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521450&l=fb00d&id=74401603
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521489&l=01432&id=74401603
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521538&l=cd58e&id=74401603

From Isaac Axtell
Friday, March 28, 2008

This week has been great! I am slowly getting adjusted to school work, and all ten of us shared a magnificent dinner together Wednesday night.

For spring break I went to Milan, Italy to visit one of my friends, Gabe, who is studying abroad there. Arriving in Milan and trying to contact Gabe and find out where I was suppose to meet him was a bit hectic because my cell phone locked up, but after three hours of making pay phone calls and using an internet café to contact Rich I finally met Gabe at eleven in the evening.

Milan is a great city! The city is very clean and the Italian people are very nice. I stayed for two days in Milan and caught up on some sleep then set out to hike the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a trail that connects five towns that are on the coast of western Italy….GORGEOUS!!!!! The trail is on the side of mountains that drop down to the Mediterranean Sea. In between the towns the trail crosses streams, winds through olive groves, and is surrounded by vineyards that are grown on terraces which climb up the mountainside.

All of the towns are very colorful. The buildings are painted very bright colors; pinks, reds, and blues stand out against the lush dark green mountains.

We found an apartment in Riomaggiore (the first town) and spent the night. After a delicious swordfish and pasta dish Gabe and I walked down to the coast and sat on a set of steps talking about anything that came to our minds while looking up at a clear night sky filled with stars.

The next day we walked the rest of the trail, taking every detour we could to make the most out of our experience, to Monterosso (the last town) and relaxed on the beach. We caught the train back to Milan that evening because Gabe had classes the next day.

Part of the reason why the Cinque Terre adventure was so amazing was because there were very few tourists. I can imagine that during the summer months the trails and towns become flooded with people.
I spent the rest of the week sleeping in everyday, eating lots of good Italian pasta dishes, and wandering around getting lost.

On Friday of that week Gabe’s spring break started. In the afternoon, after his Italian midterm, we took a train for nine hours to Rome with his friends. Once we finally reached our destination we walked a short distance down the stone roads to our hostel and went to sleep because we were going to be waking up early the next day.

We woke up the next morning at six and walked over to the Vatican to stand in line. The line was already very long when we got there and it was raining. Every five minutes guys selling umbrellas would come up to us asking if we wanted one, I think they kept forgetting that we were saying no. Within an hour all of us were soaked and after waiting another hour we were finally past the gates and into the smallest country in the world!

e really wanted to see the Sistine Chapel so we followed the signs that were pointing towards the chapel. Upon entering each of the many rooms I had to go through to get to the Sistine Chapel I would ask myself “is this it? Is this the Sistine Chapel”. Each room was a masterpiece! Elaborate paintings and frescos with perspective, gold leaf crown molding, sculptures, huge hand made tapestries that hung from the ceilings, and paintings that were made to look like sculptures. I walked as slowly as I could, always tilting my head back looking up at the ceiling and not paying any attention to where I was going. By the time I reached the Sistine Chapel my mind was overloaded with art, my neck hurt, and my feet were tired. I should have explored the Vatican over a two day period.

Once I was in the famous chapel I was awestruck! No picture or History Channel documentary can capture the feeling or detail of being in the chapel. I felt tiny and insignificant. I imagined Michelangelo high up on staging with a tiny paint brush painstakingly painting The Last Judgment. I was off in a day dream; some distant world surrounded by art, floating. I was taken back down to earth by the guards in the chapel saying “Shhhh!.......Quiet……No pictures!”. The chapel was packed, but that did not alter my experience at all though.

After the Vatican we walked a short distance to St. Peters Church (The Basilica). We stood in another line for a short amount of time and then entered the world renowned church where the Pope speaks. St. Peters makes the Duomo in Milan look small. Inside St. Peters there are huge marble sculptures of countless popes sitting on their thrones with their hands in some holy pose. There is beautiful pink marble everywhere and the floor tiles are different colors of marble with fancy designs on them. There is also a huge alter in the middle of the church carved out of wood that must be at least three stories high. Everything in the church is built to a large scale. There were sculptures of babies that were the size of me!
The rest of the day we explored the city and found ourselves at the top of the Spanish Steps as the sun was setting over Rome and the dome of the Basilica.

The next day we went to the Coliseum where one of Gabe’s friends video tapped Gabe and I singing happy birthday to our friend Ben, whose birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day. We did not go into the Coliseum because we were tired of standing in lines so we walked around it and admired the architectural genius it must have taken to create it. I wish I would have seen the Coliseum the day after it was finished. The numerous holes in the aged stone (now turning black from pollution and wear) almost made the Coliseum look like a big grey piece of Swiss cheese.

From the Coliseum we wandered down tiny back streets until we came to a park that was elevated above the city. We were the only people in this secret garden we found. There were ancient Roman statues of headless women in togas, orange trees, and rose bushes. The rose bushes were filled with roses that were a very deep red color and the ground below the rose bushes was covered in petals that all had droplets of water on them from the rain.

I spent the rest of the day walking around Rome exhausted and wet from the sporadic rain showers. We all left Rome that evening. I caught an overnight train back to Milan to catch my flight to Athens. Gabe and his friends caught a train to Napoli to continue their Spring break.


******

From Jennifer Pandolfelli:
March 25 2007

Hello Franklin Pierce. I have finally gotten back to Athens from my Spring Break vacation. It was an incredible experience. Abbie and I left from Athens on March 12 in the late afternoon to catch our flight to Rome. We were a little worried at first because the public transportation workers were on strike from twelve noon until three. Luckily our flight didn’t leave until seven and the busses were working by the time we left for the airport. The flight was fine, and I actually caught up on some sleep at the airport before boarding. The flight was only an hour, which was amazing. It is great to be traveling around Europe from within Europe due to the fact that the tickets are less expensive and the flight durations are shorter. The flight was fine except for the fact that I was sitting behind an obnoxious man the whole time who kept reclining his seat and knocking into me. Oh well at least it wasn’t for very long.

Once we landed we rode a train from the airport into the city which cost us about seven euros. If you ever fly to Rome and land in Fiumicino airport you will have to take this train to get to the center of Rome. On the other hand, if you land at Ciampino there is a bus that will take you to central station for five euro. Rome was amazing. The train system was easy to navigate and cost one euro per trip, which is equal to one dollar and fifty cents in the United States. The great thing about the metro was the fact that there are only two lines, A and B. Both will take you almost anywhere you need to go, and everything is in Italian as well as English. Our hostel was fantastic. We stayed at the Roma Inn. Abbie and I booked a ten bed dorm, but we were bumped up to a four bed and a six bed. The only downside was that we stayed in separate rooms the first night. I think by far Rome was my favorite stop on the trip. We arrived late and were not able to see anything that night.

The next morning we went to the Vatican. We visited Saint Peter’s Basilica first which is where the remains of the popes are housed. It was incredibly beautiful with stunning detail. Beneath one of the marble statues we could actually see the body of one of the popes. It wasn’t as gruesome as you might think. Next we walked down the street and sat in on a Catholic mass. Afterwards we went to the Vatican Museum. Another thing that I should mention is that we bought these cards called Roma passes, which allowed us to get into two museums for free, and gave us unlimited travel on the subway for three days. The Vatican is not officially part of Rome it is its own sovereign state, so the pass didn’t work there, but since we were students we paid a reduced price for admission. The full admission price into the Vatican is fourteen euro, but if you get a student discount it’s eight. The Vatican was huge. There were so many rooms that housed works of art. In one of the rooms the walls were lined with Tapestries. A few that I especially liked depicted the killing of the innocents. This displayed the killing of children around the time when Jesus was born. They were trying to find Jesus and kill him, but as we all know that did not happen. It was very sad, but moving. Another room was filled with maps of Italy from different time periods. Many of the maps were the length of the walls, which were quite large. I can’t believe that I can finally say I saw the Sixteen Chapel. The detail of the figures and the size of the works were unbelievable. I think that the fresco of the Last Judgment was one of the most interesting parts of the chapel. In it you could see bodies being pulled up out of their graves. We opted to get the audio tour which I think made the experience much more fulfilling. It was only six euro and well worth it.

The next day we visited the Coliseum, the Palatino, the Capitoline Museum, and the Pantheon. The Coliseum was more interesting from the outside in my opinion. Our Roma pass got us past the line and into the interior within ten minutes. The reason that it gets you in so quickly is because the lines to purchase tickets are the most time consuming. If you have your tickets before you get there then you can go right in. The Palatino is located right next to the Coliseum and if you have the Roma pass they count as one site. The Coliseum was eleven euro to enter and the Palatino was also eleven euro to enter. We paid twenty euro to get the pass so it was well spent. Later we also went to the Capitoline museum which was another eight euro and we used the metro numerous times. One of the reasons we wanted to visit the Pantheon was because we are studying Greece this semester. The Pantheon is modeled after the Parthenon, which was one of the first places we visited when we came to Athens. The Pantheon though is completely different from the Parthenon. You can enter it first of all, and secondly it does not have a rectangular roof or columns. It is dome shaped inside, and is filled with statues and frescos. It was breathtaking, but completely different.

Another great thing about Rome was the food. Abbie and I ate so much Pizza and Gelato I don’t think you can imagine. The pizza was great, different, but great. For example I had a slice with mushrooms on it, but there was no tomato sauce on the pizza, only cheese and mushrooms. There were also dozens of different flavors at the gelato place we went to near the Pantheon. We also went out for a wonderful dinner and had pasta in an Italian restaurant, and let me say that it was very very good.

After Rome we took a flight to Paris. Paris was very nice, but it rained the entire time we were there. My favorite parts were when we visited Notre-Dame cathedral and Sacre Coeur Basilica. I thought that these churches were so beautiful. They were very dark obviously, but so pretty. In Notre-Dame there were priests giving confession to people, but I couldn’t think of anything to confess so I didn’t do it. You were not allowed to take pictures in Sacre Coeur, but I snuck a few anyway. The stained glass windows were so large and intricate. We have a stained glass studio on campus, and my roommate is a fine arts major. I have seen her spend countless hours working on a piece the size of a regular panel in a window. I can only imagine how long it may have taken to make the ones in the churches we visited.

The French people were pretty friendly for the most part. When we got off of the train we couldn’t find our hostile, and this very kind woman walked us all the way to the front door of it. Thank goodness Abbie was able to speak French. That is very important. I would advise anyone who goes to Paris to at least learn a few basic French words. Also it is important to note that everyone will stare at you all the time. There is no getting around this so you may as well accept it.

We also visited the Louvre while we were there. Our hostel sold tickets, but they ran out of them before we arrived. When we got to the Louvre though there was no line, and we were able to get in within five minutes. It cost us nine euro, and we were not able to get a student discount, but if you are under eighteen years old it is free. That I thought was very interesting. Ok now to it. We saw the Mona Lisa. Yes it was nice, but we had to stand about ten feet back from it behind a rope and look at it through probably a ten inch thick piece of glass. It was nice, but not my favorite piece. The Venus de Milo was on display and we were able to see her very clearly. She looked to me as though she was posing for the huge crowd that was surrounding her. We saw many pictures of her in our Athens through the Ages class. I was really happy to be able to see her in person. Another statue which we saw in the Louvre, which we had been introduced to in our class, was the statue of Victory. It sits at the top of a staircase. That was incredible. The statue is of the Greek goddess Victory. Her clothing appears to be wet and draped around her body. This was amazing, and in my opinion worth all of the hype that surrounded the piece.

We also visited the Eiffel Tower and the Arch de Triumph. We didn’t walk on top of the Arc, but being under it was just as good. Under the Arc there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. According to 123pasis.net the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier “was added to the arcs base in 1920, and an eternal flame burns there to commemorate fallen soldiers”(123). It is roped off so you can’t go very close, but the view was fine. Also to get to the Arc you need to go down a set of stairs which lead underground. This will take you beneath the street and you come up right next to it. We did not know this until after we dodged multiple cars getting across the street. From the Louvre you can see the Arc. It seems as though it is very close, but in fact it is quite far. We walked to it and on our way passed through the sculpture garden and walked along the Champs Elysees.

Aside from the bad weather the trip to Paris was an enjoyable experience. One thing that I did not like about Paris though was their metro system. In Paris when we took the train it was very confusing. Nothing is in English, and the biggest problem that we ran into was that when we got to a station that we needed to transfer at to get to somewhere else, if we walked down a long corridor for example, and reached the end without even leaving the train in the first place, we found out that we had to pay again. I think that purchasing an unlimited metro pass for three days, which presently costs nineteen euro, is the safest idea.

We stayed in Paris for four days and three nights. On the afternoon of the 18th we took a train from Paris Nord to Amsterdam Central. We met two Americans on the train who were from Ohio. We talked with them through the four hour journey, and found out we were staying in the same hostel. Amsterdam is really a beautiful city. The buildings are very old and it seems as though they are sinking into each other when you look at them. I think that my favorite thing about our trip there was renting bicycles. It only cost us eight euro and we had them for twenty four hours. Amsterdam is really set up for bicyclers. On every street that a car can go down there is a wide bike lane. On one side of the street the bikes move in one direction and on the opposite side they move in the other. It was a very confusing city because all of the street names sounded very similar to each other. Some of the names were Swans Burgal, Klovens Burgwal, and Hellgeweg. We would stop to look at our map on one corner and by the time we made it to the next one we would forget what the name of what the last street was. Once we got the hang of it though it wasn’t actually that hard. We also went to the Van Gough Museum, and I saw the famous painting of the sun flower vase. I found out that he painted a series of still lives of flowers and other scenes to decorate an apartment. I think it was his apartment, but it may have been for one of his friends. We spent hours in the museum, and just chained our bikes up right outside. We had coffee and played chess, and enjoyed just walking and biking around the city. It really was beautiful, when I say this, I mean that on every other street there were Canals that we passed over, or bridges that we strolled on. I would definitely visit there again, and next time I will bike. Another thing I should mention about the bikes is that you need to leave a deposit of 100 euro before you can rent the bike at least at the place I went to. If you have a credit card you can leave that information with them and they will not charge you, but debit cards are not accepted, but luckily he was not adamant about the debit card rule otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to rent them.

After spending three days in Amsterdam we finally took a flight back to Athens. The flight was only four hours, and there was a bus that took us from the airport to Syntagma Square, which is close to our apartment. The bus costs 3.20 euro, but it is a much better alternative than taking a taxi, which could be anywhere from twenty to fifty euro. Even if you are not going to Syntagma you can take a train from there to anywhere you may need to go. I really enjoyed the trip, but was very relieved to be back in Athens. This was definitely my best Spring Break yet.

Thanks for reading

Salutations from another Nation,
-Abbie Tumbleson
Wednesday March 26, 2007
I am writing yet another Wednesday blog about my experiences in Athens, Greece and its surrounding European counterparts this semester. But, the issue I think about the most every week, is that with every blog each week, there will be fewer and fewer after this one is completed. I have now been living in Athens for over two months and I cannot believe that time has passed as fast as it has. But, I got the chance to get out and explore the rest of Europe over Spring Break, as I informed my trusty readers two weeks ago. I apologize for the absence of my Wednesday blog last week, but there were some issues with the Internet, which were simply out of my control. On the bright side, I just get to write more this week, and there is not an absence of topics to right about by any means.

The other day when I returned to Athens I kept running the theory and meaning of being “cultured” through my mind. When I was reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, written by Robert Pirsig, for class several weeks ago, he discussed the definition of quality and excellence and how they can be put into fathomable terms. He decided that this was not possible and it eventually drove him mad. I juggled this concept of culture over and over and still could not come to an accurate conclusion for myself. What I did figure out however is that every experience I have had, I am grateful for, and experiences in life always lend some form of lesson or acquired knowledge, and helps a person to become a more “seasoned” and “cultured” person. Ironically, I recommended Pirsig’s book to about five individuals on my trip. Now, I keep saying this trip, this trip, this trip. My ten day journey began with Jen as we flew from Athens, Greece to Rome, Italy on a one hour flight via Alitalia Airlines. My grandparents and my Aunt Cathy went to Rome and several other regions of Italy several years ago to celebrate my grandparent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary.

They described the splendors of Rome and the crazy drivers that zoomed down the streets. I am thankful that I have now gotten to venture to Rome and can share the same memories with them. And, I have already gotten used to European drivers, no offense to them, but they just drive a little too fast, and pedestrians are on the bottom of the food chain when it comes to the rules of the street. Upon entering Rome, Jen and I took a train to our hostel, The Roma Inn. We then took a night stroll to the Coliseum with a British girl we met at Cavour Station, which was only a two minute walk from our hostel. We looped around the area and then got a midnight snack of pizza and pints at Wanted, an amazing bistro with traditional Italian cuisine. Much to my liking and surprise, the restaurant had pizza without cheese on the menu. I have never walked into a place anywhere else where I could simply order a pizza without stating that I did not want any cheese. It was a vegan’s delight. I actually went back two nights later and ordered a pizza with artichokes and mushrooms. Europe is never lacking on delicious food.

We went to the Vatican the following day and walked through the Museum for an entire afternoon, but we did not get to see everything. We also visited the Tomb of the Popes and a church located in Saint Peter’s Square. I sent postcards to my mom and friends back home from the Vatican Post Office. We also visited the Coliseum in the daytime on our last day in Rome as well as the Palatino, which is a large site that houses an old castle and the Casa di Augustus. On the last evening we also visited La Fontana di Trevi, or the Trevi Fountain, in English. Jen and I also decided to have a fancy dinner while we were there and we found a very accommodating location named Rom’antica. Pasta dishes ranged from seven to ten euro and we had to pay for the bread and water, but the food was delightful. I had asparagus pasta and bruschetta with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. It was illuminated with lights and the sculptures of ancient Roman figures looked mystical in the evening light. However, the street vendors were taunting us, so we left in search of gelato, which we found successfully. The site housed traditional Roman Temples and several old churches as we exited the premises. We had to wake up at 3:45 a.m. on our last day to catch a flight to Paris, France and did not sleep in any of the days that we were there.

I was ecstatic to arrive in Paris, despite the rainy weather, and several rude citizens of the city. I immediately traveled to the Eiffel Tower and took pictures of the huge structure. Jen and I walked around the city and eventually back to the St. Christopher’s Inn, which is a newly built hostel along the quay of the Seine River. Finding the hostel was a challenge at first, but a tiny French woman walked us there, so I am sticking to the fact that kindness can be found anywhere. We met a fellow backpacker on the plane and when we arrived at Bouvais Airport and we saw him again at the Notre Dame. I also fulfilled my goal of accurately ordering coffee in French at a café. We got lost several times on the metro in Paris, but I had fun just walked around aimlessly on the streets of Paris. Along the terms of culture, I also got to visit the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the sculpture garden located outside the Louvre. I finally got to see the Mona Lisa and the statue of Venus de Milo. It is one thing to look at an image in a book and another to see it for myself. I think that pertains to my theories and thoughts of becoming more cultured. Jen and walked around looking at the statues for over an hour and took funny photographs under a giant spider and a series of tribal-looking sculptures. We also went into the Louis Vuitton store and perused the overpriced merchandise. I would never buy a purse for over three thousand euro or a pair of shoes for six hundred euro, but that is literally the price someone will pay when they are shopping along the Champs-Elysees. I remember my high school French teacher informing me that the Champs-Elysees is the most expensive and suave shopping street in all of Paris. The Chinese food that Jen and I ate for dinner was much more to my liking in price and satisfying to my stomach. We also found our way to the Sacre Coeur, meaning the “Basilica of the Sacred Heart”, which is located in the Montmartre district of Paris. Montmartre also has sloping streets and painters that stand outside and create art throughout the day. I felt as if I was in a movie as I walked past the individual stands of art with varying paintings depicting impressionistic and classical images. We also found an amazing Indian restaurant located on a side street and we arrived just in time for the lunch special. I also bought small trinkets in an Indian shop near the Stalingrad metro stop. Paris seems to be divided into different neighborhoods. After some traditional baguettes and jam for breakfast, Jen and I left Paris via Nord Station, and arrived in Amsterdam for the tail end of our journey. We went through France and Belgium and arrived at Amsterdam Centraal after a four-hour-train-ride.

I have a bicycle at Franklin Pierce and have been on trails in Pennsylvania and also clench my teeth at the hills that appear in front of me. Amsterdam is a completely different story; it is flat terrain that is any cyclist or recreational rider’s fantasy. The streets are windy and have Dutch names, but are still clean, smooth, and kind to the wheels of a traditional pedal bike. I talked Jen into renting bicycles with me and we got to places faster than walking and the eight euros that were spent to rent the bicycles were still less that taking the metro everywhere. Amsterdam also has architecture similar to a Tim Burton movie. The buildings are crooked and look like something out of a storybook village. They are painted with shades of pastel or bright orange and shutter accompany every window. Canals also surround the entire city and help as street markers. We also visited the Van Gogh Museum. The museum is a sharply designed modern structure that seems to house the impressionistic painter’s works quite well. The museum was three levels and was divided up into sections of Van Gogh’s life and the paintings that he created at those times. It also included pieces by other impressionistic artists, such as Claude Monet. I discovered that Van Gogh would write letters to his brother Theo on napkins or restaurant menus from Paris and they were on display in the museum. He also had an affinity for Japanese woodcuttings and the simplicity of Japanese art. He painted a replica of Hiroshige’s painting, entitled, “The Flowering Tree”, in 1887. His famous painting, “The Potato Eaters” was also housed in the museum, and the informational panel next to it described that the painting did not acquire the level of fame that Van Gogh has hoped for.

On the last day in Amsterdam the weather was rainy so Jen and I sat in the Café de Doelan on Staalstraat all afternoon and caught up on our studies. It was quite relaxing to read and sip cups of chamomile and mint tea. I read “Retrieving the Ancients: An Introduction to Greek Philosophy”, written by David Roochnik, and the book discusses the Presocratics as well as the Sophists, which are two differing groups of philosophers. It was quite enlightening to read about ancient philosophy in a foreign city. We flew back to Athens after ten days of traveling and I have to say that returning to the apartment on Sina Street truly felt as if I was returning home. I guess the concept of a home is similar to the concept of culture; it is where a person is at a specific time and place and they are there for a reason.

On Easter Sunday Jen and I ate lunch with Evi at her apartment and also went out to have coffee. It was wonderful to see her again and we then had a late night dinner of pizza from none other than… Pizza Hut. It is not Easter in Greece until April, but it felt like a holiday with all of the traditional Greek food, and participating in conversation with friends. It was a refreshing ending to Spring Break and it was nice to relax in Athens for several days.

We are now back into the swing of things and had class today and yesterday. We went to the Greek Independence Day Parade, which ran through Syntagma Square. The Greek Independence Day commemorates the War of 1821. Today we went to the Jewish Museum, located in Plaka, and observed the artifacts that were left behind from Greek synagogues and the Holocaust.

In the next week the group will be traveling to Thessaloniki, Meteora, and Istanbul Turkey. Thessaloniki housed the largest Greek Jewish population before World War II, but now hardly any synagogues or remnants of the past exist. This trip will be yet another mission for me to outline the terms and definition of being “cultured”.

******
Danielle Cote

Forty-four days and counting..

I will spare you the Acropolis story since Kaitlyn told it, but I will say that it was a funny and interesting story because it was just a rock. Although it was a long walk and it was hot outside, I am glad that we made it to the Athens Port. Kaitlyn and I met my mom and aunt at their hotel a little after 9:30 Monday morning for free breakfast. After they came to our apartment at eleven and hung out for a bit, the three of us left for Syntagma Square. The first stop was the Hellenic Post so I could mail out my nineteen postcards. We walked around for a bit and then stopped at the Lu Café. My aunt needed her caffeine so she ordered a double cappuccino, mom got an ice tea, and I got a vanilla/strawberry milkshake. We went into many of the shops and stopped at some of the tourist places to buy souvenirs.

As we wandered around we stumbled upon a restaurant called Hermion and decided to check it out. I recommend it! We ordered fried zucchini, wine leaves, and a traditional Greek salad (all very popular) to share. More shopping took place after we ate; my aunt bought a cute jacket at Zara and some coffee mugs at Palet Stores. After a nap at their hotel, I headed back to the apartment to change for dinner. All four of us dressed up for dinner and headed to El Pastino (Italian place, I recommend). Mom and Kailtyn ordered chicken with mashed potatoes, my aunt Tracey had salmon and I had pasta with salmon. On Tuesday mom and Tracey went to three of the islands as a day trip, they traveled to Pyros, Hydra, and Aegina. So this gave Kaitlyn and I time to work on our videos for Media Production class.

Brett and Janet returned from their trip to Italy, it was Janet’s birthday; Kaitlyn had made a cake, so we all sang and had a piece while they told us all about Italy. That night we went to James Joyce for dinner and to have a drink for Janet’s birthday, mom and Tracey were too tired so they did not join us. We arrived back at the apartment and went to bed at one with full stomachs, we all shared a Monster Platter and then each had a meal. Wednesday I spent the day with my mom, Tracey wanted to explore on her own, so our destination was the Hard Rock Café. After shopping and exploring, we found it. Mom and I had our first drink together, she had a B-52 and I had an Appletini, then we bought tee shirts and headed back to the apartment.

There was a protest going on, people marching down the blocked off streets, police were lined up, rocks were thrown, people were chanting and holding signs, we took some pictures and then I asked a lady what was going on. Supposedly they wanted to lower health insurance. As we got closer to Sina Street, we noticed something was set on fire and after a few more pictures we made it to the apartment. Once Tracey returned to the apartment around 5, she was bummed because the museums were closed because of the strike, but the four of us headed out to dinner. Hermion was the dinner choice, but this time we actually had meals and had Kaitlyn with us this time. Mom had chicken, I had lamb chops, Kaitlyn had tortellinis and Tracey had pasta with tomato sauce and chicken. Dessert was the well known baklava and crepes.
It was a slow walk back, I did not want to have to say goodbye again, but I knew it had to come. After shedding a few tears and hugging my mom, they left. Kaitlyn, Janet, Brett and I watched Mad Money before we headed to bed around one. I am sad that my family is gone, but I will be home soon enough. Thursday was a day of rest and Friday was a lazy day at the apartment because it rained. Thursday we ended up searching for a movie theatre and saw Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead at 8pm. Last night I found out that mom and Tracey’s luggage was lost in Montreal, so they flew to Boston without it, but they are getting it shipped to their house.

Today I climbed Lykavittos Hill with Brett and Janet around noon, had a picnic up there and relaxed for a while. We got back after two and relaxed around the apartment until five, we headed out to explore Akademias Street. There are many shops in that area that I have yet to go in and look at. We ate at a cute place that only serves salads, souvlaki, (which is well known, they serve chicken and pork kind), bread, beer, and fries. Although we did not want to go back to the apartment, we did and decided to go back out later. It was seven and we left again at 8:30 in search of a café. Brett got a cappuccino, Kaitlyn and I got a banana milkshake, she also had a piece of apple pie. Tomorrow we plan on getting up early so we went to bed around 11.

After my mom and aunt left I realized that I really want to get out more and explore on my own. When they were here we went to places that I had not gone to yet and I know that if I go out on my own I will be introduced to more shops, cafes, and restaurants. Athens is a very spacious place and I want to be able to see as much of it as I can while I still have six weeks here.


Brett Czerkaski
6 Days, 1 Reservation, Zero Sleep

This week, in a particularly uncharacteristic move, I feel the best choice for a blog is a dreadfully boring synopsis of my spring break. I know it’s not the most exciting thing to read, as you must actually have been present to be able to comprehend the beauty of the place we discovered, but I’ll try my best to try and recreate the adventure we had.

Isaac, Janet, and I decided that Cinque Terre in Italy would be a good idea. Isaac had a friend (Gabe) in Milan who would also accompany us for the adventure. I’ll spare you the menial travel details, just be aware that getting there were extremely tedious, long, and uneventful plane and train rides. Oh, and don’t worry about what we ate each night; we had no reservations about eating cheap Italian pizza every night (at $4.50 for a full pizza, no college student could resist). We crashed at Gabe’s house for the first night we arrived, where sharing a very small single mattress with Janet, thrown on the cold, hard, living room floor. Needless to say, neither of us were particularly apt to spooning each other, so sleep escaped us as we attempted to make a small single mattress work for two grown adults (one of us may be slightly overgrown, which didn’t help!).

Several long train rides later, we arrive in La Spezia. Here we purchase our tickets (yes, we had to pay to walk between the five towns), gather information, grab lunch, and take a train to the first town, Riomaggiore. After arriving by train, we were immediately greeted by the refreshing smell of cool sea water accompanied by the roaring crashes of the waves against the rock faces. Just a teasing taste of all the beautiful sights we would see in the next couple of days.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521384&l=9f4f3&id=74401603

The path from Riomaggiore to Manarola was something else. Winding in every which way, up and down, all carved right out from the rock face itself. Upon reaching Manarola, we immediately fell in love with it. It was something straight from a postcard… a lovely little Italian seaside village, complete with small, pastel houses and sprawling, terraced orchards in the hills, and an amazing oceanfront view. A long, jutting finger of rocks stretched out right into the ocean in front of the town, a proper hub for the town’s fishermen. After being offered a “sexy romantic private suite” as the last room the hotel had, we declined and explained we were college students. He gave us a look, smiled, and said “I know someone.” Minutes later, an old lady hobbled in and took us to an apartment. We engaged in an incomprehensible conversation consisting of hand gestures and lots of smiling and nodding. After she was sure we understood everything she said (hah, yeah right), she asked for a passport, which I gave her without second thought. Then she walked out with it, and I guess I assumed I’d get it when we checked out tomorrow morning? I don’t know, I certainly hoped so… then I thought “Oh #$%! I probably just got scammed.”

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521424&l=8d9c8&id=74401603

The walk to Corniglia from Manarola was the most uneventful. Getting there required only about 15 minutes on the same kind of rock face trail between the first two towns. The day started out overcast and apparently had rained before we had woken up. I also managed to get my passport from the guy who seemed to have been camping outside our door for us, after paying 90 Euro for 4 people. After getting to the base of Corniglia, we then climbed 492 stairs to get to the actual town. There’s a sign announcing this at the top, after what seems like we just climbed infinity + 1 stairs. There wasn’t even anything open in the town, as we got there at 10 AM and everyone there was just getting up as well, and the weather did nothing to help everyone’s lethargy. We quickly moved on to the next trail, leading to Vernazza.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521450&l=fb00d&id=74401603

The trail between these two towns was absolutely gorgeous. It was basically a 1.5 hour nature hike with incredible, cool weather, and breathtaking views of natural, uncorrupted forests and the ocean and rock face. Lots of natural stairs detracted from some of the fun (Janet might say), but I’d say this is easily the most rewarding leg of the journey. I’d recommend just viewing my photos on facebook if possible, as they would do more justice to the scenery than words could. Vernazza was the most touristy town, to the point where you hardly even see any indigenous Italians. We explored for a few hours, stopped in for lunch, and decided to leave for Monterosso.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521489&l=01432&id=74401603

Monterosso was our final destination. This town was the only one with legitimate beach access, though the beach seemed very rocky and was unlikely swimmable. This seemed like the biggest town as well. Tourism was not as blatant as Vernazza, and there was noticeable bike traffic. It reminded me of a boardwalk town that you might see in America: a long single stretch of road that travels all along the beach, dotted with many different little ice cream and food stores. Some paths lead back up into the hills behind the town, where among other things there are old monasteries and such. Here, Janet and I decided to stay for the night, while Gabe and Isaac decided to head back to Milan.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521538&l=cd58e&id=74401603

And that’s all for Cinque Terra. On the way back we spent the day in Genoa, and procured Gabe’s place once more for the night. The next night was the night of our one reservation in Milan, so that we could catch our flight in time. We spent the day wandering Milan, seeing sights such as the Duomo. Thus concluded our journey. Not sure who put me in charge of planning, but it managed to work out just fine playing by ear, as I had hoped to do. I guess this was meant to be more of a “photographic journey” but I’m not sure if those photos will be accessible to everyone. It was more fun than I made it sound, I promise!

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30521552&id=74401603


Wednesday March 12, 2008
Small humorous moments are what make my experience in Athens more enjoyable. Last night the group went out to study for the Rhetoric and Society final that we all completed this morning. In James Joyce, which is a restaurant I enjoy thoroughly, there was a soccer game on the television screen, and the ambiance of the customers made studying seem more lighthearted. We were on our way back to Sina Street and we were walking through Syntagma Square when several stray dogs came over to the group. We were sitting on benches and one dog was busy chasing people in the square, the other was sitting under a bench, and the most amusing dog was making a bed for himself in the lawn. Syntagma is crowded at all hours of the night and day, and it is an excellent place to go and watch the people from the city, or travelers getting off the shuttle bus from the airport.

Complicated situations, such as dropping change in a crowded street, are frustrating, but I can laugh at them a few hours later. Last night I purchased a chocolate bar for less than three euros, which is a fairly reasonable price, and then Jen, Isaac, and I entered a chocolate shop. I read the price tag for another chocolate bar incorrectly, and it ended up being $7.50 euros, but I read it as being $1.50 euros. The cashier told me that she had already typed in the purchase, but I was not going to pay that much for a piece of candy. I am sure she was not very pleased with me. The uneven sidewalks in Athens are other challenges that I face. I usually trip or stumble several times throughout the day while I am walking or completing errands. Once, after it had rained, an elderly man ran out of his shop to ask if I was injured. I simply smiled with red cheeks and moved on with wet pants. But, that is life and there are challenges and humor everywhere and anywhere a person travels.

In terms of traveling, Jen and I are leaving to go to the airport in two hours, and we will begin our spring break. We are going to arrive in Rome, Italy later tonight and it boggles my mind every single time that I travel. I am not as afraid of flying on airplanes as I was in the past, but the thought of floating in the air above the rest of the world makes my stomach nauseous. This is the first time that I will be traveling without someone that is keen to the area, my family, a tour guide, or a large group of people. I have gone on vacation with my friends in America to the beach and have flown back and forth to New Hampshire by myself. Europe, however, is an entirely different scenario. I want to travel so this is probably one of the best ways to acquire the skills to become a knowledgeable globetrotter. I never imagined that I would be in Athens, Greece for three months and I never thought that I would get to spend spring break traveling through Europe.

Jen and I want to see the Vatican, various museums, and the Coliseum. I hope to enjoy a traditional Italian meal if the prices are not incredibly expensive. I have to remember that I am on the budget of a college student, but money can go a long way if I spend carefully and considerately. Jen and I are then going to take a flight to Paris, France after two nights in Rome. This is the part of the trip that I am most excited about. I have wanted to travel to Paris since I was a small child and now I can finally climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and get lost in beautiful artwork at the Louvre. I am also looking forward to practicing the French language because I took courses while I was in high school. Lastly, I hope to purchase a baguette, sit at an outdoor café, and enjoy the scenery. Last week I also met a group of American students who are studying in Paris for a semester. They gave me information about purchasing train tickets and recommended going to the Latin Quarter of the city because it is less expensive than other areas.

Lastly, we are taking a train from Paris to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I am hoping that there will be live music and that I get to go to some of the museums there as well. Jen and I are making plans as we go and keeping an open itinerary, as well as an open mind. We are staying in hostels the entire time, but from what I have heard from other people, such as the girls from Paris, you get a chance to meet many interesting people from all over the world. It is an exciting thought that I may have more contacts in my address book after this trip, and I look forward to the next ten days that will be filled with traveling, good food, and hopefully I get a chance to sleep. I hope everyone at Franklin Pierce has a safe and enjoyable break and have exciting adventures, wherever they may be.

Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson



Hi to everyone back home. Well there is not too much to talk about this week. I have been having momentary lapses of homesickness though. I think that I’ve been getting over them pretty quickly. It is really nice to be in Greece, and I am glad that I have the opportunity to live here, but I also miss being home. I think this is only natural though. My friends keep inviting me to get togethers through Facebook and I just send them replies, telling them thanks a lot, and that I wish I could be there. I know that I’ll be back soon though which is exactly why I must enjoy Greece while I am here.

Abbie and I were talking to Evi the other day and the subject came up that we would be gone in only a month and a half. This made us all really sad because we have become very good friends. She was telling us about the study abroad program she participated in last year when she went to France. Apparently while she was there she met two girls and they also became good friends. Even though they still keep in touch, and she is going to visit them in April, their friendship has not been the same since she moved back to Greece. It makes me think though about what will happen in our situation. Most likely it will be something similar. The important thing though is that we have had a great time while we have been here, and so much of it has been due to spending time with her.

Abbie and I are going on Spring Break tomorrow. We will arrive in Italy at 8:30 pm which will be 2:30 in the United States. We will have our final for Rhetoric and Society tomorrow afternoon though which means that we will be studying tonight. At least we will have another class out of the way. We can’t wait though. We are planning on going to three countries including Italy, France, and Amsterdam, and I’m sure that this will be an experience to remember. When I think about Spring Break though it makes me realize how little time we have left here. Once we get back we will have about four to five days before we leave for Turkey. When you’re traveling time passes very quickly. It’s like a month went by in the blink of an eye. I have no idea where it went. Then you think, “Okay well that doesn’t matter because we have two more months.” But that’s not the way it works. It goes by so fast. Right now I’m sitting here typing to you and in a week I will be back but it won’t feel like seven days have passed. I don’t know, half the time I want it to pass, and the other half I don’t want this to end. That isn’t for me to decide though. “All we can do is decide what to do with the time we have” (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring).

I did visit the island of Evia last weekend. The correct spelling of the city we went to on Evia is Chalkida. I finally understand what was meant by “crazy waters”. They weren’t as crazy as I thought they would be though. On one side the water was moving to the left and on the other side it was moving to the right. Carnival was going on there, and the stage where they were blaring music was right next to our window. It wasn’t too bad though. Evi’s parents didn’t have enough room in their apartment for us to stay there so they paid for Abbie and me to have a hotel while we were there. I shouldn’t say they didn’t have enough room they just didn’t have any extra beds. We would have been quite content sleeping on the couches, but they wanted us to sleep in beds and we could not argue with them. Greek people are very hospitable from what I am told, and my experience seems to only confirm that notion. They were very kind, and they even gave Abbie and I food to take back home. They had a beautiful apartment that overlooked the water with a long balcony and large glass windows. Their home was different from any I had ever seen before. It was filled with sculptures, paintings, and heirlooms. This may not seem very different but it was. I really enjoyed the trip, and the city was beautiful as well.

Thank You for reading.

03/11/2008
Jennifer Pandolfelli
Blogger #6


03/04/2008
Hello to everyone at Franklin Pierce. This will be my fourth time writing to you. Time passes quickly here and I feel as though I wrote my last blog only yesterday. I enjoy very much being here in Athens. Abbie and I have been talking about it, and we wonder sometimes about how we will feel once we return to the United States. Will we miss living in Athens? When we return will we remember how to get from Kolonaki to Plaka? Will that store still be in that place? I hope that we will be able to recall these facts that may seem so mundane now. I hope that we can come back some day and I hope that I will be able to recognize Athens. The fact is though that change is part of life. Even now there are buildings under construction in Monistiraki that I am sure will look very different once they are completed. The truth is that places and people never stay the same. You must live in the moment, and appreciate what you have to the fullest, while you can. Living in Greece has made me understand this better, because I am here for a very short time, and it is not a place I can easily return to. It is more likely that when I return it will be after an extended leave. This helps me to grasp the significance of this fact quicker than I might if I were to visit another state in America.

We have been doing a tremendous amount of work this week preparing for spring break, and our trips to Poland and the Greek Islands. I don’t think that there is any amount of words which can express this. I must say though that at least the books we have been reading are very interesting. For one of our classes we are reading “Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City”. It is about the burning of Smyrna in 1922 by the Turkish. Although it is only about one particular city, more than half of the book details the history of Greece, and its relationships to the governments of Europe and the United States. I feel when I am reading this book as if I am in a three month history class. That may make it seem as though it is boring, but actually it is just the opposite. The author is clear, direct, and knowledgeable on the subject. The content is interesting and, one could even say, provocative. It doesn’t just state the facts. It states the facts in an unbiased and truthful way. I think that just by reading this book a person can gain so much information because of the way it is written, and because it is also easy, in my opinion, to remember. I really like it, and I think that anyone who would like to broaden their knowledge of Greece’s political and foreign relations history would find this book to be an asset. Another book that we have been reading, which we just finished is “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. I highly recommend picking up this book. I want to say that I don’t think that if you read it you will particularly understand the concepts it puts forth, but it provokes abstract thought. It makes you look at the world with a wider lens. It may not be the perfect representation of philosophy, but it includes so much practical advice, which would seem to be common sense, but which so many people seem to disregard and overlook. It is also written in a way that makes it easy to read. It is not like Aristotle’s “On Rhetoric”.

On a lighter note as I told you last week the celebration of Carnival is occurring in Greece. We will be going to Evi’s island for the last three days of it. Evi told Abbie and me that Chalkis has amazing sea food, and has promised to take us to a taverna so that we can sample it. Her father was a baker for forty years, and said that he will also cook for us. In Greece if someone is experienced in an occupation for many years they are referred to in a certain way. When her father wants to express that he has worked as a baker for forty years, or if someone asks him what he does for a living he responds by saying he is a “forty year baker”. I thought this to be interesting and wanted to share it with you. Evi lives in Chalkis, which is pronounced “halkees”, which is a city on the island of Evia. Her father has agreed to take us to a few areas on the island, by car, outside the city, such as the beach. I am so glad that Evi has invited us to her island because we will be able to sample traditional Greek food and stay at her home. I am happy about being able to spend time with her and her family, and see how their lives differ from mine or the people I know. We are very excited to go, but as I said we are immersed in a lot of work at the moment, while we try to prepare for Spring Break, and our trips to Poland and the Greek Islands. This means that the days leading up to our excursion with Evi will be very stressful, but it is good that we will be learning so much.

Thank you very much for reading this entry.

Jennifer Pandolfelli
Blogger # 6
Athens study abroad program


9.3.08—Kaitlyn Galonski

So this week has certainly felt long for me. All week, and last week as well, I have not been able to fall asleep at night. I am pretty sure that the earliest I have been able to fall asleep was sometime around 2:30am. I am not even getting a restful sleep when I finally do fall asleep; I toss and turn all night. However, this is not the point that I am trying to make. The point is, with all these sleepless nights, I have had a lot of time to think. I even spent a couple of nights trying to figure out what I would write for this week’s blog, and to be honest, I could not come up with anything interesting. There was not much that happened this week. I was “out of it” during the day and wide awake at night. Luckily for me, I picked Sundays to write my blog because it seems that this weekend gave me some interesting things to talk about.

Saturday Janet, Brett, Danielle, and I had a picnic in the National Gardens. While we were walking to the Gardens we ended up seeing this person wearing a really reveling outfit. At first we could not figure out if the person was a male or female because we saw the person from the back, bending over while wearing a skirt that barely covered their butt while standing straight up. As the person turned around, we soon found out that the person was defiantly a guy. We did not get a picture then, but Brett, Danielle, and Janet went out for dinner and bumped into the guy again. Brett certainly did not pass up on another opportunity to get a picture, so I decided to include it. Besides, I feel that words would not do justice describing what this person was dressed like, the picture speaks for itself. We could not figure out if the person was crazy or something else, because he was clearly “putting on a show” for everyone around including the security guards/police who were standing in front of one of the parliament buildings (or at least that’s what I think the building is, but I am not sure) next to the National Gardens. That’s where we found him, outside the gates, and the security guards were just laughing and joking around with him. Thinking about it now, it all makes sense. It’s Carnival this weekend. It’s a huge party weekend, and ties in with the Greek idea of Mardi Gras where everyone wears costumes. For weeks now we have seen many people dressed up in costumes.

Saturday was no difference in that case. I think that if he was not simply just joking around and dressed up for fun, then the guards would not have been taking it so lightly. Either way it was still quite a sight to see.
Tonight Danielle and I went out to dinner and then headed down to Syntagma Square. We were hoping that something interesting would be going on since it was the last night for Carnival. Not much was going on, just a bunch of people walking around in their costumes, so we decided to go for a little walk to see if we find anything else. As we were walking we end up bumping into Janet and Brett. We noticed that many people were walking around carrying these little plastic bats (you know, like the ones that a little kid would get at a carnival/amusement park). We found out that it is tradition to for people to use these plastic bats to hit others on the butt or to bop them on the head. We of course found this out by it happening to us, multiple times. Oh well though…at least it didn’t hurt.


Hello Blog Readers,

This has been a very interesting and relaxing week for all of us here in Athens. The week started off with all of us in the Rhetoric class reading the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. The book is a mix of philosophy and a journey of a man. Pirsig and his son take a road trip across the American landscape on an old Motorcycle. The story is a blend between Pirsigs philosophical ideas and values and the story line and character building that happen along his trails. It is a highly readable and appealing novel.

Once we were done the week of Zen, we were ready for out long weekend. I had been looking forward for this weekend, not only because it was carnival here in Greece, but also just as an opportunity to relax and slow down a bit. Brett, D and I started this workout program which was set into gear this weekend as well. Let me tell you… I am not a good runner! But I will trek on and work on getting better. A few of us also decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and have a picnic on Saturday in the National Gardens. We got to see many children dressed up in costumes and running around the park; their parents chasing after them holding a handful of little Nemo balloons. This garden has quickly become one of my favorite places to be, it has such a great atmosphere. We spent most of our time outside, getting fresh air and walking around the city. Athens is getting better every day it seems.

Today was a national holiday, Kite day as I was lead to believe. While I am sad to report I did not have the chance to see anyone flying a kite. It was so different to see Athens so quiet. Nothing was open, no one was outside – it was practically a ghost town. It was much different than Sunday night, where just walking down the street all you could see were people in masks hitting each other with colorful plastic bats. It was the last day of Carnival, so everyone seemed to be out and about.

Well spring break is quickly approaching, and I am getting more excited everyday. A couple of us are planning on walking along the coast of Italy for a few days, cross your fingers that the weather allows it. Then Brett and I are planning on coming back to Greece and travel around some of the other towns that we won’t be able to see with the group. Sparta is a must see! I will be sure to write about all my adventures in the next blog – don’t forget to cross your fingers for us!

Until next time,
Janet

Danielle Cote
8-3-08


GREECE.

Hello all, we meet again. It is nearing the end of week six here in Athens. A couple nights ago as I was trying to fall asleep, I was inspired as to how I would write my blog this week. When I graduated high school my mom was one of those parents that bought half a page of the yearbook in order to write something about me and add a picture of me, it was when I was four. I can not recall as to exactly what she wrote, but there was an eight line paragraph that she put together nicely; there are eight letters in my first name. She was clever and the first word of the first line started with a D and the first word of the second line started with an A and so on. My mom wrote about me growing up and it was beautiful, I get tears in my eyes every time I read it. This is what I am going to do with the word Greece.

Getting to know the city of Athens has been such an experience; the Lykavittos Hill, the Agora, the Acropolis, eating delicious food, picture taking, and making memories.
Relaxing on the balcony, listening to the sounds of birds and the traffic, soaking in the feeling of being in another place, in a different time zone, and clearing my mind.
Eating out here is different than back home, dinner is after 9pm here and the night life is indescribable, people out everywhere, it is nice to be a part of their world for now.
Exciting times are yet to come; buying postcards for loved ones back home, traveling to the islands of Crete and Santorini, seeing my mom and aunt next week for spring break.
Come and enjoy this life, try it out, I am sure you will have a splendid time; I can guarantee your eyes will never rest upon something you will not want to take a picture of.
Easter will be the third holiday that we will be celebrating since we have been here; first was their version of ‘new years’, then it was Mardi Gras. I am excited to see if they hide colored eggs!

Today I got up early at 8am to go running with Brett and Janet. We walked to the National Gardens, ran there and then came back; we were gone for about an hour. After showering and getting ready for the day, Kaitlyn, Brett, Janet, and I set out to the National Gardens, this time for a picnic. As we crossed the street towards the entrance, we saw a cross dresser, he was an old, skinny, short man with a purse, short skirt, top, and a hat on. This was very interesting and was a high light of our day. Once we walked into the garden and searched for a decent spot to lay out our picnic, we saw many children dressed up for Mardi Gras (Spiderman, superman, a ballerina, snow white, and more), men were selling balloons, the sun was out and the weather was gorgeous. After eating our sandwiches and snacks, we filmed the pond, the people, and even some turtles. That was an experience that we decided we have to do again. It is peaceful and soothing to just close your eyes, relax and let your body soak up the sun. The change that I have seen in myself, which I brought up last time, has been on my mind lately. I realized that I have stepped out of the ‘box’ or crossed my boundaries. Being this far away from home, school and what I am used to has been a huge experience for me, I like it, but at the same time I have thought of home many times. I have these ‘heart to hearts’ with myself, just isolating myself with my music and journal always helps me feel better. My personality has not changed since I have been here; I am still outgoing, talkative, friendly, and willing to try new things. This is a great personality to have while being with people you may not know and being in a different country where there are thousands of people to meet and see.

Wednesday 3/5/2008
This past week has included an interesting array of events around Athens for both the group and I. On Friday evening, Isaac, Jen, Dr. Roth, Ioanna, and I went to a club to hear traditional Greek music, which was fused with Jazz and Armenian flavors. The music was entertaining and the audience members sung along in Greek. One of the songs was about being a stranger in a foreign country so I could relate well to the song. On Saturday I went around the city and did some shopping and browsed the shops to look for anything that caught my eyes. I ended up purchasing a pair of jeans, which a man referred to as “pantaloons”. Jen and I saw another musician perform on Saturday evening and he was from Norway. He explained that he has lived in London, has played in Athens several times, and also finds it easier to make a living as a musician in Europe. He currently resides in Berlin, Germany. There are many people that live in the city and visit Athens, and they have differentiating cultural backgrounds.

Sunday morning I ventured to a park that is right down the street and enjoyed reading on a bench. I stayed there until the evening and then went back to the apartment. There was work going on in the street and the sidewalk was torn up to complete construction and a new sidewalk was replaced by Tuesday. It is an interesting observation to notice that municipal workers have shifts all throughout the day and night both here and in the United States.

During class we have been reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, written by Robert M. Pirsig. The book has been making me think even more about life, philosophy, and rhetoric. The author narrates the story using first-person and there are also underlying theories beyond the narrative of the text. The book mentions ancient philosophers and explains the duality of personalities and the different perceptions that people can have in life. The writer is going on a motorcycle journey from Minnesota to Montana, and lists all of the details of the mountains, the trees, animals, and the small Western Towns. I can also relate to the book as journeying through it as I read and while I am wandering the streets of Athens. Yesterday Jen and I sat outside of a café, read, and ate lunch. Those simplicities are what make my time here so marvelous. I enjoy watching people pass by, sitting on a park bench, or just rambling through the streets in my free time. Thoughts seem to be the most beneficial when they are concentrated on life and the world around me.

Tonight I went to grocery store and bought fresh vegetables to make a casserole and burritos. The luxury of having a kitchen has been nice and creating meals is also a way to relieve the stress of the day. I am going to do some more reading this evening and bask in my thoughts of the day.

We also planned the scenes for a video in Media Production that is supposed to focus on our time spent in Athens. We are going to try to get up and film the sun rising and life around the apartment. We also hope to include the different markets and shops, Monistiraki, Plaka, Kolonaki, the town squares, restaurants, landmarks, museums, scenery, and places that we enjoy frequenting throughout the city.
This is the last weekend for the celebration of Carnival in Greece and it ends on Monday with a feast day. I am amazed that I have already been here for over a month and have had the chance to learn such an expansive amount about the country, the culture, and the people. I am also thankful that I have gotten the chance to meet wonderful people. One of those people includes Evi, who is taking us to her hometown this weekend, to celebrate carnival. Next week begins Spring Break and I am also looking forward to traveling around the rest of Europe.

Today has been another day in a different place and there are still plenty of things to do such as eat dinner, finish up some homework, and reflect on life. I hope everyone at Franklin Pierce is doing well and having unique experiences in New Hampshire. Today the sun was shining and when I looked outside, before I knew it, the sun had set. The weather has been warm and I have only needed a light jacket. And, at night it is peaceful to sit outside and enjoy the gentle breeze accompanied by all the noises of the city such as the passing cars, scooters, sirens, and life that is going on outside my window.

Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson


Brett Czerkaski

In Search of Quality

Today for class we climbed Lykavittos Hill to discuss the last part of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” This came as a surprise to all of us as we rolled out of bed only a few minutes before the announcement, and was accompanied by a chorus of groans and a series of looks exchanged between each other. Apparently no one had gotten any sleep the night before, and it showed as we trudged up the hill half-alive.

Rich was the first to the summit, and the rest of us straggled in eventually. Once everyone was there, he made a remark that struck a chord with our reading of Zen. He noted that he thought he was having a quality experience here as he contemplated this during his wait for us. Then he realized that there are some 4 million people just in the city of Athens. He considered that he knew maybe 20 or so of those people. One-tenth of 4 million is 400,000. One-hundreth (1%) is 40,000, one-thousandth (.1%) is 4,000, etc… then you get down to 40 which is one-thousandth of one percent (.001%). We’ve only met less than one-thousandth of one percent of the population of the city we are studying in for a semester. The same comparison was made to the amount of buildings we have seen, which is even lower, perhaps even to the point of being almost a joke. Now, is that quality?

Obviously, we cannot be expected to meet everyone and see everything in Athens. However, in Zen, Pirsig (the author) discusses Quality extremely in-depth, to the point of driving a character literally insane. The book follows the narrator on a metaphorical journey cross-country on a motorcycle with his son Chris. Throughout the book, a Chatauqua is given on numerous philosophical insights the author has had regarding certain aspects of life, such as technology and gumption. As the story unfolds, more and more insight is given into this character Phaedrus, who spent his life “chasing the ghost of rationality”, the majority of which was dedicated to trying to define Quality. What is Quality?

Pirsig states that Quality cannot be defined. He believes it is an event that is always taking place in the cutting edge of the present; that it is the source of all subjects and objects. Though he goes into mind-numbingly detailed analysis of Quality, we read the 520 page book in 4 days, not leaving much time for personal analysis of these deep explorations into Quality. On Lykavittos Hill, however, several of us had a less technical discussion that presented our own personal views of Quality. I, taking a more classical approach, defined it as something like “a subjective scale on which each individual places a subject in accordance with the quantity of good present within that subject.” Another student stated that “Quality is the way I treat my mother” which was completely different from my idea. In retrospect, perhaps I was trying to define quality and not Quality. Pirsig makes the point that we ALL know what Quality is, we just can’t define it. We all know Quality when we see it, however, it is hard to put into words (as Pirsig demonstrates) just how to technically define the idea. Despite how fun it was having an actual intellectual conversation about this concept, I think I’ll stop here, as I’d rather not be driven insane by dwelling on it too long!


Wednesday 3/5/2008
This past week has included an interesting array of events around Athens for both the group and I. On Friday evening, Isaac, Jen, Dr. Roth, Ioanna, and I went to a club to hear traditional Greek music, which was fused with Jazz and Armenian flavors. The music was entertaining and the audience members sung along in Greek. One of the songs was about being a stranger in a foreign country so I could relate well to the song. On Saturday I went around the city and did some shopping and browsed the shops to look for anything that caught my eyes. I ended up purchasing a pair of jeans, which a man referred to as “pantaloons”. Jen and I saw another musician perform on Saturday evening and he was from Norway. He explained that he has lived in London, has played in Athens several times, and also finds it easier to make a living as a musician in Europe. He currently resides in Berlin, Germany. There are many people that live in the city and visit Athens, and they have differentiating cultural backgrounds.

Sunday morning I ventured to a park that is right down the street and enjoyed reading on a bench. I stayed there until the evening and then went back to the apartment. There was work going on in the street and the sidewalk was torn up to complete construction and a new sidewalk was replaced by Tuesday. It is an interesting observation to notice that municipal workers have shifts all throughout the day and night both here and in the United States.

During class we have been reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, written by Robert M. Pirsig. The book has been making me think even more about life, philosophy, and rhetoric. The author narrates the story using first-person and there are also underlying theories beyond the narrative of the text. The book mentions ancient philosophers and explains the duality of personalities and the different perceptions that people can have in life. The writer is going on a motorcycle journey from Minnesota to Montana, and lists all of the details of the mountains, the trees, animals, and the small Western Towns. I can also relate to the book as journeying through it as I read and while I am wandering the streets of Athens. Yesterday Jen and I sat outside of a café, read, and ate lunch. Those simplicities are what make my time here so marvelous. I enjoy watching people pass by, sitting on a park bench, or just rambling through the streets in my free time. Thoughts seem to be the most beneficial when they are concentrated on life and the world around me.

Tonight I went to grocery store and bought fresh vegetables to make a casserole and burritos. The luxury of having a kitchen has been nice and creating meals is also a way to relieve the stress of the day. I am going to do some more reading this evening and bask in my thoughts of the day.
We also planned the scenes for a video in Media Production that is supposed to focus on our time spent in Athens. We are going to try to get up and film the sun rising and life around the apartment. We also hope to include the different markets and shops, Monistiraki, Plaka, Kolonaki, the town squares, restaurants, landmarks, museums, scenery, and places that we enjoy frequenting throughout the city.

This is the last weekend for the celebration of Carnival in Greece and it ends on Monday with a feast day. I am amazed that I have already been here for over a month and have had the chance to learn such an expansive amount about the country, the culture, and the people. I am also thankful that I have gotten the chance to meet wonderful people. One of those people includes Evi, who is taking us to her hometown this weekend, to celebrate carnival. Next week begins Spring Break and I am also looking forward to traveling around the rest of Europe.

Today has been another day in a different place and there are still plenty of things to do such as eat dinner, finish up some homework, and reflect on life. I hope everyone at Franklin Pierce is doing well and having unique experiences in New Hampshire. Today the sun was shining and when I looked outside, before I knew it, the sun had set. The weather has been warm and I have only needed a light jacket. And, at night it is peaceful to sit outside and enjoy the gentle breeze accompanied by all the noises of the city such as the passing cars, scooters, sirens, and life that is going on outside my window.

Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson
T


Hello Blog Followers!

Yet another week has passed, and you are yet again graced with my blog presence. Ok, so I am a bit full of myself, I can not help it as though I am in a good mood today. This past week has been like a roller coaster ride, lots of up’s and downs, and you get off feeling dizzy. I should explain further. The week started off with my stress levels extremely high, as I had two major papers due in quick succession of one another. Our condensed class with Ioanna was ending, which meant papers, presentations and a final. As if that were not enough, I had my first paper due in my class at pierce… please lets not talk about them any further, being as I am still unsure of what my mind was doing.

Stress is a funny thing. It makes me a completely different person. I am so easily defeated when it comes to school work and doing papers, as I am very aware I am not a good writer; I don’t even like to write anymore – but that is besides the point. This was the week of stress, not only was I so easily annoyed by everything that was happening, but it seemed as though my brain suddenly decided it was going to take a holiday… wrong timing! But there I was, loaded with work and no brain to process any information… I guess there are worse places to be. The week went on strong, ignoring my futile pleas to cease. All papers handed in, presentations done and a final complete... my brain then finally decides to make an appearance.
The weekend was here, and I could not have been happier. We had made plans well in advance to go out with a few of the students from the Hellenic American University. This, I must say was such an adventure. We decided to go “clubbing”, or as I like to say dancing… but call it what you want. Getting to the club was probably the most fun part of the night for me personally. We first got onto the subway to get to the club faster, however we went too far past our stop. After we re-oriented ourselves and found the way to where we were to meet, it was decided that we should go somewhere else. We all climb into a few cars (Mom, if you are reading this – they were great drivers and nice people… don’t worry!) and make our way around Athens. After a few misses and getting lost we found ourselves at out destination – it was almost 2 a.m. at this point… way past my bed time. We made our way inside, past the booming music and crowd of people, up into the back of the club where we found some seats and quickly got some water (small space + 200 people dancing = very hot interior).

By 3 a.m. we were all dancing… I guess you could call it that… but whatever it was it was a good time. Photo happy and looking like fools we all worked off the amazing dinner we had eaten earlier. Ok, ok – I cooked dinner, I just felt the need to let the world know that I can and have indeed cooked; Back to the story. By 5 a.m. we were back in the apartment and sleeping before our heads had the chance to hit the pillows… the Greek lifestyle is hard to maintain! The weekend continued, much later than usual, but still continued, with beautiful weather I must add. My roommates and I found ourselves in the park reading on Sunday afternoon, getting more homework done for the week ahead, but well rested from the weekend.
A new week has started; I am interested to see where this one will go.
Until next time,
Janet


2.2.08—Kaitlyn Galonski

This was the last week of class with Ioanna. We handed in our research papers, did our presentations, and took our final exam. After the exam we went to the First Cemetery of Athens where we went to the German archaeologist’s, Heinrich Schliemann’s, tomb. There we each read a poem of our choice and some read multiple poems. It could either be one that we found, one that we wrote, or a combination of two. I read one that I found. It was:
When All Is Lost By: Tabitha M. Hale
What does one do when all is lost
When the world leaves you empty
And your heart is tossed
When you can’t find your voice
And you want to shout
And the tide, it seems
Never goes out

What can one do when your heart is torn
When you look for a rose
But find a thorn
When you look to the sky
But the sun will not rise
And you can see, it seems
The pain in your eyes

What will I do when all is lost
When the world leaves me empty
And my heart is tossed
When I can’t find my voice
And I want to shout
And the tide, it seems
Never goes out.

What will I do

It was rather amusing because most of the poems that were read were sad and depressing. I think it was because we all felt that they would be more appropriate since we would be sitting in a cemetery reading these out load.

On Saturday the HAU students took us all out to the club. It was so much fun. It was great to go out with the other students and not have to worry about having anything to do the next day. We have constantly been go, go, go since we’ve gotten here, and to be able to go out all night was incredible. We did not even leave our apartment until midnight, which was when one of the HAU students said that he would meet us and take us to the others, and then by the time we finally decided on a place to go and got there, it was probably closer to 2 or 3am. It was certainly well worth the wait though, because the night as a whole was a blast. I guess one of the HAU students had called ahead because by the time we got there we did not have to wait in any line, we simply walked right in, and headed upstairs where there was a whole section reserved for us. The club was packed, but it did not matter since we had this whole section for ourselves.

We all just let loose and had fun. We did not leave until the club was getting ready to close up, which was about 4:30am, making the time 5/5:30am by the time we finally got back to our apartment. The club that we went was similar to many of the clubs that I have been to back in the US, in terms of music and such. However there was one major difference besides the lack of dancing skills the Europeans seems to have, and that was the size of the club. This club was much smaller than what I am use to. Sure I said that we went up stairs, but it was upstairs in the sense that you walked up a few steps to get to another area, but that area did not go over top of the main dance section. It was just the section that had the bar so that the bar was out of the way. Despite the size of the club, it still proved to be a much needed night out where we made new friends with some of the HAU students that we had not met at the Mardi Gras party the weekend before.



Danielle Cote
1-3-08


Waking up at noon and we have no sidewalks…

Hello all. The sidewalk on our street has been dug up and some of the students woke up to some drilling and loud noises at six this morning. I was lucky enough to have my room on the other side of the apartment. The weather has been amazing, mid sixties and sunny is something that we have got used to and are enjoying. I think of home often, but have kept busy. I love to write and have been inspired so much while being here.

Heartbeat. Beat.
I woke up this morning to a beating,
A beating of a young mans heart,
A young man who was walking far away,
Far away like I am from home,
Home. Silence.
What is home?
Home is where you are loved,
Home is where you are cared for,
Home is that place you can always go back to and feel safe,
Safe. Silence. Darkness.
Darkness like the sky at night,
The peaceful stars and glowing moon,
The moon which peers into your room while you sleep,
Sleep: the time when you don’t have to think or do anything,
Sleep. Breathe. Silence.
Breathe like there is no tomorrow,
Enjoy the life you choose, the path you’ve taken,
Take a beat.
Beat. Heartbeat.

Speaking of home and missing people, spring break starts in 12 days and my mom and Aunt Tracey will be here in 13 days and I am so excited! I still have to figure out where I am going to take them and what I want to show them. It will be a great break from everyone; I believe we all want to go out a do our own thing with other people. The other students have been planning their trips and they all sound excited. Last Sunday my family called me and it was wonderful to hear from them. It is nice to have that reassurance from people at home, knowing that people are still thinking of you and wondering what you have been up to. Greece has made me feel like I am in a totally different world and the time change really adds to that feeling. Lately I have felt at home, everything seems routine, but I make time to run some mornings or go out for a walk with my ipod or go out on the balcony and read a book that is not for class. I have learned many new things about myself since I have been here and it is a great feeling. Becoming even more independent than I was has been surprising. It is crazy what being abroad does to you, I have the urge to want to go out and explore on my own. I have learned to work with the peers I live with and we have such a blast. We have been watching movies on lap tops, making food together, playing backgammon, drinking some wine, sharing laughs, taking pictures, working on projects, going out to explore, and making memories that will forever be engraved in us.


Brett Czerkaski, 2/28/08

Blog #3 - My Unexplored Interests

Coming to Greece has already had a profound effect on me. I believe I can already recognize the process of my presence here changing who I am, or who I used to be. Even though we've been here for just a little over a month, I've already made note of several things I've found within myself that were not present (or at least dormant) before my departure. Now, that's not to say that these are bad things, necessarily. I just think being away from everyone and everything I am familiar to, as well as the stress of everyday college life, has cleared up a lot of time for me to do some self-reflection. Usually this happens when I go out onto our balcony and just stare down the city of Athens, contemplating anything and everything.

Perhaps the most profound change I've undergone is my newfound respect for food. Not that I'm just being a fat ass... everyone who knows me is painfully aware of my generally limited diet and food intake. However, that is the very aspect of myself that's been transformed. Since I've been here, starting the very first night, I've had this strange urge to try EVERYTHING brought before me. Perhaps it's because of the way we eat when going out with Ioanna; that is, we order maybe 7-10 appetizers and pass them around, everybody taking a little bit of everything... much like a bad Olive Garden commercial or something. I can't NOT try things... they all look and smell so good. I've even tried tomato sauce, my number one childhood enemy! Every pasta, zucchini ball, weird smelling goat cheese, souvlaki, strange sour cream yoghurt dessert, even things I can't identify... I at least gave them a bite. The best part is that almost all of these things have passed my taste test with flying colors.

Another previously unfounded joy of mine that I have become painfully aware of is creative photography. I use "painfully" because it really is painful to have a perfect shot lined up and have a lovely little screen flashing "Battery Exhausted! Powering Down" show up, because I had already taken way too many pictures the night before! Before I came to Greece, I didn't even have a camera, and this semester was really the only reason I spent $150 on a camera. Little did I know how addicting that slender, white, shiny box in my pocket would become. I think it started when Rich gave us a few pointers about photography on Lykavitos Hill, teaching us the rule of thirds and foreground interest, among other things. Since then, the sole purpose of my camera has not been taking pictures of myself or my housemates (sorry!), but rather taking pictures that seem "cool" to me. The great Billy Collins once wrote about this fascination of mine, he being completely over it (as I am obviously not), stated:
"Why feed scenery into a hungry into a hungry, one-eyed camera
Eager to eat the world one monument at a time?"

One last thing I have come to appreciate (that I hadn't before) is poetry. In the last three days, I attended two poetry readings. Hearing not only poems from fellow students, but also from world-renowned poets made me realize that maybe most of it isn't too bad. I think perhaps I couldn't appreciate it earlier because I grew up around "emo" kids who used poetry as a vice and a way to feel sorry for themselves because their mom bought Pepsi instead of Coke at the market. After exploring a little bit online for a poem to recite at the readings, however, I came across a couple of amazing poems by people such as Robert Frost. That same night, I was also inspired to write a poem to/for my beautiful girlfriend Lataze. Apparently it moved her to tears (the good kind!), so hey... maybe poetry isn't so bad after all. And maybe, just maybe... I'm a poet and just don't know it...


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friday, February 29th
From Isaac Axtell

Hello blog followers!
This week has been a hectic one. We had to write a final paper, present our topic, and do a final for Joanna's Greece Through the Ages class. I chose to research the Presocratics. These guys are very interesting! Before the Presocratics, natural phenomena, like lighting, were attributed to being caused by gods. After the Presocratics, scientific thought, and logical analysis tried to explain natural phenomena. These guys gave birth to modern day geometry, metaphysics, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, meteorology, embryology, psychology, theology, epistemology, and ethics. Who needs Plato, Socrates, or Aristotle when you have the Presocratics!

Well, enough about them. What else did I do this week? (I hope you are asking). Our whole class, including Dr. Roth and Dr. Joanna (her last name is hard for me to spell and say), went to the Proto Nekrotafio, a Greek National Cemetery, after our final to read poetry at the mausoleum of Heinrich Schliemann (see the symbolism here). Heinrich was a German treasure hunter who uncovered the acropolis, and other tombs, at Mycenae (the city rich in gold).

The Proto Nekrotafio puts Arlington to shame. Every monument/mausoleum could be considered a national or state monument back in America. Every single monument is extravagant! Each one has its own identity; its own voice and story that can be heard and read by looking at the intricately carved relief sculptures that encompass the aged marble stone. I am sure that every Greek person isn't buried in this style and glamour (if they were that would be absolutely ridiculous!), only the more "well to do" ones are.

We walked a short distance to Schliemann's tomb and sat down on the steps that rose up to the door of his mausoleum. I could have sworn I was looking at a miniature mansion. I would have loved to see the inside of it. I bet it was very roomy; maybe there was a sofa, a minifridge, and a desk with a little chair so that his spirit could enjoy the luxuries of today, and possibly write about it.

Encircling the top of his mausoleum was a beautifully sculpted story, all in relief (the figures are carved to look as though they are coming out of the stone giving them a 3-D look), of ancient Greece (possibly Troy), and his excavations at Mycenae.

We were, sitting, talking, reading poetry, having snacks, and drinks (that we had to smuggle in); it is a good memory. I think that we, as students of Franklin Pierce University, accomplished something great in terms of international relations; we are all American, hanging out with our Greek teacher, and a German spirit. I bet few other students can say that they have done the same.

As we ate and drank, we all took turns reading what we brought, or prepared, for poetry. Abbie read her own very elegant poems filled with amazing imagery. Dr. Roth read some hilarious Billy Collins poems. Joanna read her favorite poem Ithaca, by C.P. Cavafy, a Greek poet. I really liked her poem, if you guys would like to read it the web site is http://ithaca.rice.edu/kz/Misc/Ithaka.html . Jenn and Brett read Robert Frost. I don't think Janet and Kaitlyn read anything. Danielle read, in my opinion, a very depressing poem, that was about a girl crying... But she read it well! I read a poem by William Blake and W.J.Brucs. The poem by Brucs is called The Last Warrior, here it is (I really like this one): http://newsfornatives.com/blog/2008/02/19/native-poem-the-last-warrior .

On Thursday evening I went to the nearest gelato spot and had a creamy rich chocolate gelato with Janet, Brett, and Kaitlyn. Once Brett and Kaitlyn left, Janet and I had a very nice conversation. It is not important that we were alone sipping out of our cups of water, it isn't even really important that we had gelato, what was important (as we discussed) was that we were out of the apartment. We were doing our own thing; experiencing Athens the way that it should be experienced, the way any foreign place should be experienced; through the senses.

I write this to encourage students to travel beyond the walls of America. Students can have their heads buried in books about the Parthenon, for example, but they know nothing about it until they have actually seen the giant, weathered marble pillars, experienced the Mediterranean sun that beats down on the Acropolis, and felt the warm Athenian air surround them. Students can write copious amounts of pages about what a day in Greece might be like with out having walked the streets, talked to the people, or been to the markets. If you do come here, or go anywhere, take advantage of the opportunity of being in a foreign place; experience it your own way; don't waste it on work.


From: Abbie Tumbleson
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 2:16 PM
To: Richard Roth; Stella Walling
Subject: Wednesday blog


Wednesday 2/27/2008
Today was an important day for our class because we took the Athens through the Ages final and yesterday we had our presentations. I am now happy to say that I know an abundance of information pertaining to the early periods of Greece and the art work that existed during these periods. After the final exam the group went to the National Cemetery, which is past the old Olympic Stadium, and visited Heinrich Schliemann's tomb. We had a poetry reading and everyone brought either an original poem or another piece to read. Ioanna also brought our group members small pastries including chocolates and baklava, which is a traditional Greek dessert. There was a funeral procession going on in the cemetery and we could see as people marched one by one with a casket. There are famed people buried in the cemetery such as the Archbishop that recently passed away in Athens.

We also visited the Metropolitan Church of Athens last week. It is located in Plaka. A ceremony was held there when he died. The old churches in Plaka are another group of structures that add their own piece of harmony to the city. When I walked into one of the churches in the center of Plaka, it was very small, and during the Turkish reign over Greece, there was a secret tunnel located underneath the church, where gunpowder was made. The tunnel led all the way through the city and up past Sina Street. It is about a fifteen minute walk to get to Plaka and I can only imagine what the trek would be like if it where taken underground.

Heinrich Schliemann was an amateur archaeologist that excavated Mycenae and proved that it contained a significant amount of gold and treasures. The pieces are now in museums throughout Athens. The week is now in the middle point and we are going to meet a group of students from Hellenic American University on Saturday night and they are going to show us more of the city. There are many nice places tucked away in Athens, such as the restaurant Jen and I went to, last evening, to study for the final. They have fair prices and a decent amount of food for the prices that they offer. Of course, I still figure out what the price would be in US dollars, as opposed to the Euro.

We walked back after the poetry reading this evening and I took a nap. I woke up to write my blog and now I am going to see a film with Jen in Plaka. The film is part of an eco-film series. They pertain to the environment. I am excited to see what the film has to offer because part of the description was written in Greek and I could not entirely read it. I am running a few minutes late so I must go now. I am off to walk around the city once more and become culturally enlightened as I find myself doing day after day.

Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

02/26/08
From Jennifer Padolfelli
Hello again to everyone at home. Well this was a pretty uneventful week. We mainly spent our time preparing for the end of Ioanna's class. She is our Greek teacher for our class Athens through the Ages. It has been a very enjoyable experience to have this class with her. She has taken us to a bunch of museums. We have visited the National Archeological Museum, the Benaki Museum, the National Gallery, and the National Gardens. These are just a few. I really liked going on these trips though, because it has given me a new appreciation for art. I used to wonder why anyone would pay thousands of dollars for a painting, but when I looked at the paintings in the National Gallery I started to understand. I think anyone would pay any amount of money to have one of those. Ioanna has also taken us on all of our excursions to Nafplio, Mycenae, and Delphi, and she was an amazing tour guide. We just finished writing our final papers for her and are going to take our final exam. If you decide to study abroad in Athens I hope you get the chance to take a class with her. She has a way of making the experience so much more meaningful.

In other news, the celebration of Carnival is coming up over here. I believe it ends on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of March. I just recently became aware that they do not celebrate Halloween here. One can get confused because there are numerous costume shops everywhere. I found out that the reason for this is because people wear costumes for Carnival, which I think is pretty interesting. Abbie and I will be going to Halkis, which is Evi's native island. Evi is our Greek friend who we have met here, and she has been so nice and helpful in making us become comfortable in Athens. She has invited us to her island for the last three days of Carnival, and we think it is going to be a lot of fun. Halkis is about an hour and a half from Athens. She told us that it is famous for its crazy water. She said there is a channel that runs through the middle of the island. All day the water goes splashing in one direction and then the other, but for one hour it comes to a complete stop. Then it starts thrashing again. Well we will tell you our selves once we have seen it.
Thanks for reading.


25.2.08
From Janet Smith Hello yet again blog followers!

This has been an interesting week. While the week started off a bit slow for me being that I was trying to dig myself out of the pile of homework that came onto my plate, it soon picked up.
This was a beautiful week for weather in Athens. I am not trying to rub it in the face of anyone back home believe me, but it was in fact a beautiful day. The other day we all had the chance to walk around the city - sorry I can't be more specific, days start to all mold into one around here. We found ourselves learning about the temple of Zeus, which I though was impressive when I saw it from across the street, once you walk into the actual park though, you instantly feel much smaller than usual. The Temple of Zeus is, as you may have guessed, dedicated to the Olympian god Zeus. The entrance into the park has a nice roman arch that was dedicated to the site by a significant figure at the time.

While there are only 16 columns left standing of what once must have been a magnificent structure, it is still an amazing site. These columns are so incredibly large. I wish I knew the exact sizes, but please trust me when I say that these were tall, very, very, tall! That same day we were able to walk around one of the parks in Athens, it was exactly what I needed to see. While I love the walls of my apartment here, being outside makes me come alive, so being in the park, I felt as if I was a child again. This was a wonderful place that I know I will visit many more times while I am here.

We walked into the park to see a group of old men playing backgammon, which has quickly become one of my favorite pastimes. I also suggest this game to any lover of chess or board games as a whole. If you don't have the rules, google does a great job of helping you find out how to play. It is a simple enough game, and fun to play. Sorry, back to the point at hand. The park had small pieces of art throughout it as well as an area that animals were kept and you could fed them if you wished to do so. It is such a peaceful place to be, surrounded by pure beauty and the wonderful sound of nature, animals and children laughing. It was just a great time for me.

This week we also had the chance to go to a poetry workshop at the Hellenic American University. All of the students who went were so talented. Most students read their poems aloud, or had them shown on a screen... and what these people were able to come up with in the matter of minutes shocked me. Every poem was just as amazing as the next, and I could not be happier with going. It was a great experience. Actually we are having a poetry reading this week, so I am sure that this will come up again in my next blog.

On Friday night we all went out to a dinner at the Hellenic American Union Café. I had the pleasure of sitting next to a lawyer from Athens, who was a wonderful man to have a conversation with. The people in this club do so many wonderful things. They are interested and invested in the future having a good education. They kept stressing the importance of education and what it meant for them not only as people, but what it meant for the nation. I was so glad to be a part of this, to see the good people can and want to do. I believe that most people want to help, they just don't know how too. It is great when people find a way that they can help their fellow community members out, it is rewarding on both sides.

Well, time to get some more homework done. Wish me luck and until next time- Janet


24.2.08
From Kaitlyn Galonski

There is not much to say about my past week here in Greece. Most of it was filled with the usually class, homework, and office work. However, Monday Athens did experience a snow day. The universities were closed and many of the shops were too. Some have said that it hasn't snowed here in Athens for the past four years. Others say that it has been longer. Either way, we are convinced that the snowed followed us from New Hampshire. It is a bit ironic that Athens would experience a snow while we are here. Despite the snow fall on Monday, by Tuesday afternoon you could not even tell that such an event occurred. Wednesday we wear back to wearing our t-shirts and being comfortable outside, while the Greeks looked at us like we were crazy walking around with no form of a coat or sweater because to them it was cold out.
On Thursday Ioanna took us on a walking tour around the city. It was of course perfect weather for this, too.

First we went to Hadrian's Arch and then to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, where only few of the columns remain and one of the remaining has fallen to the ground, but still inhabits the space in which it landed. We then headed over to the National Gardens. It was very pretty there. It is kind of like Central Park in New York City, in the way that in this city there is area full of nature not yet ruined by construction. In the National Gardens there are a few buildings, including a children's library which we are allowed to go back to and yes their children books to help us learn Greek, and there is even a small zoo like area. After wandering around there for a little awhile, Ioanna took us the Kallimármaro Stadium which has been used in the Olympics and has the Olympic Symbols still attached for it was last used in the 2004 Olympics for the Archery event. After that we separated, and I returned to the apartment to start working on my research for our final paper for Ioanna's class.

Friday came, and Ioanna took us to the National Historical Museum, which was once the old parliament building. Due to Ioanna's connections, she got us a tour given by the owner of the museum. It was incredible to have the opportunity to hear all the descriptions of the items in the museum by the owner.

There was such passionate and love in his voice that is simply indescribable. At the end of the tour, we were all given copies of a book which goes into detail about the museum itself and its items; pretty much everything the owner told us. It was such a generous gift for him to give us all. After the museum Ioanna took us to three different museums. Each of which were different in size and architecture. I could not really absorb much of this due to being exhausted from absorbing all the information given to us at the museum. After the churches we were allowed to depart, and I went back to the apartment to take a nap to prepare myself for a long evening. We were invited to a Vassilopita ceremony with the HAU officials. In Greek tradition, for the New Year, they celebrate with a cake and there is a coin somewhere in the cake. Who ever gets the coin is suppose to have good luck for that whole year. After that we went to a Mardi Gras party that was being hosted by the students of HAU. Here Mardi Gras is not like Mardi Gras that we have back in the US, it is more like Halloween, where everyone gets dressed up in costumes. I thought it was very nice of the students to invite us to their gathering. It gave us a chance to meet and hang out with the students; to make friends with them.

On Saturday we cleaned the apartment and worked on our papers for Ioanna. Since it was a gorgeous day outside I decided that I would take a walk up to Lykavittos Hill to read through the research that I had gathered for my paper. It was nice to simply get out of the house for awhile, especially by myself. It was amazing up on the hill with the sun shinning so bright, and having a nice cool breeze pass by here and there. I was really glad that I decided to go up there. After I got through my readings, I went back down and decided to take a walk to utilize my time outside. It was nice to just wander the streets and not have to worry about being somewhere at any specific time.

Sunday I slept in a little bit and then went straight to work outlining my paper. When I finished that, Isaac, Janet, and I watched the video footage that we (and Abbie) took while we were at Delphi last weekend for our Media Production class. We have to make a short documentary video about the trip by this coming Wednesday. After we went through the video, I went back to working on the paper. It actually did not take me as long as I thought it would to get a rough copy of it done. It was actually perfect timing, because I finished just in time to get ready to go out with one of the kids I had met at the party. We just went out to one of the cafés around here, and then for a short walk. When I had came home Brett had read through my paper and edited it for me, so it was back to work on that. I did finish the paper before I went to bed, and I am glad to finally have that part of my homework done.

From
23/2/08
From Danielle Cote

The Junior in the Middle

Before I start an update, I want to go back to something I missed in my last entry. I wrote on the 16th and the night before that Ioanna took us to a very nice tavern, we sat next to the fireplace which was very cozy. At a point in the night, Professor Roth turned to me and asked "So, being the only junior, do you find yourself connecting more with the seniors or the sophomores?" It works out that there are seven of us and I am dead in the middle since there are three seniors and three sophomores. I answered him a simple "the seniors" but as I thought about it, I have gotten to know all six of them pretty well. We are all at different points in our major and we are all getting to know one another, I have a really close connection with one of the senior girls and she is close with the other two so that works out really well for me. I know I will have time to bond with the others; it is not hard since we are around each other so much.

Last night I went to the Mardi Gras party that we were invited to by some of the Hellenic American University students. It was held on the other side of town at one of their apartments. I went with Brett, Kaitlyn, Abbie, and Jen. We all had tons of fun and I am glad I went out to get to know some of the students. Before the party we went to the cake cutting which is when they have the coin in the cake and whoever gets it will have good luck for a year, they seem to be behind us with the whole "new years" festivities. The man who spoke did not say much in English, but we heard New Hampshire a few times and figured he was talking about us. When we were not aware, they all started to look over and clap and we were like "oh, they're talking about us!" so we stood and smiled. The food was amazing and it was another good experience for us because going out to events and meeting people is a great way to put ourselves out there so people get to know us. We are good people and we want to know what they have to offer and vice versa. We Americans can learn so much from the Greeks and they can learn so much from us, so it is nice to talk to them and see what they have to say.

This morning we got up to clean the apartment for the first time since we have been here (yeah we know that is gross but we have not had time with all the outings and work we have been doing), it turned out to work very well. We all pitched in and got it done; it feels so much better when things are clean. Our class with Ioanna is over next Wednesday which is sad because we love her so much, but she will be around to visit and hopefully come on trips with us as well. So we are all working on her final paper, presentation, and studying for the exam this weekend. Since I am majoring in theatre, concentration in acting, I am doing my final paper, which is a research paper, on Roman tragedies compared to Greek tragedies. So far so good, there is so much information on European things, it is overwhelming.

Today is the 27th day we have been in Greece and the time has flown by! Although the semester is set up differently than at school (not taking all 5 classes at once), we have kept so busy with museum visits and adventures to other cities during the weekends. I have only been homesick a couple times, but I have kept in touch with my family through email and talking online once in a while. I quickly adapted to not being able to talk to family and friends because of the big time difference. We are all starting to put our spring break plans in full throttle because of the tickets and booking hostiles or hotels. When the rest of them were talking about it the past couple days, I just smiled to myself and got excited because my mom and aunt are coming to visit me!

We are currently reading Aristotle in Rhetoric and Society and I want to close with my favorite quote from it so far, "And they live for the most part in the hope; for hope is for the future, and memory is of what has gone by, but for the young the future is long and the past is short; for the dawn of life nothing can be remembered and everything [can be] hoped for."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Isaac Axtell
Friday, February 22nd 2008

Hello, hello, hello my good friends! I wish I had something magnificent and new to write to you all about this week but I don't. I am sorry. I spent the majority of my time doing homework in the apartment this week. There's an idea! I will describe to all of you what the apartment is like.

The apartment address in Athens is 14, Sina Street (just in case any of you would like to Google Earth it). The entry door to the apartment building is glass with an iron design on the outside. Once you step onto the white marble floor the elevator is in front of you, and the stairs are to the right of that. To the left of the elevator is a counter where you can pick up mail. You can take the small elevator up to the fourth floor if you like, or walk up the four flights of white marble stairs.

Once you arrive at our door there is a brown fat cat welcome mat. Our door is dark stained wood with a cloudy small window in the upper center. When you open the door and look straight ahead there is a huge framed window that has different sections that can swing open. Beyond the window is a wall...ahh the downsides to living in a city.

Walking straight forward, across the hardwood floors in the living room, you will find a room to your left and a room to your right. The room to your left is a bedroom currently where Jenn and Abbie reside. Their room has a white accordion door for privacy. The room to your right is currently Kaitlyn, Janet, and Danielle's room. There room has a sliding door with cloudy glass in the middle and wood around the edges. All the walls in the living room and the two bedrooms I just mentioned are off-white.

The kitchen is to the right of the front door and through a small hallway; it is small for the eight of us but it would be comfortable for four or maybe six people. The cabinets are wood, the fridge is white, and the sink is stainless steel. The walls in the kitchen are half small brown tiles (on the bottom) and half sea-foam green (on the top). We have a microwave, coffee maker, dishwasher, and a gas stove (It is great to have all of these comforts, it is much better than living in a dorm). There is also a rectangular wooden dinning table with four chairs around it right in the middle of the kitchen (which takes up the little space there is).
We have the equivalent of two bathrooms. One bathroom is complete with a full bathtub/shower and a toilet (also houses the washing machine). Another bathroom is right next to the previous one and only has a toilet. The last bathroom has only a shower because it was installed for us (in this bathroom is the dryer). All the bathrooms have tile floors.

If you came in through the front door and took a left you would find two more bedrooms. One is where Brett and I sleep and the other is Dr. Roth's room. They are both painted off-white and have doors that open up to a balcony that looks over the city (I forgot to mention; Abby and Jenn's room does to).

I started writing this blog Thursday night (when nothing was going on) and since today is Friday I have more to tell you about today. We met with Joanna today and went to the Greek National Historic Museum. Somehow Joanna had the director of the museum give a tour of the whole building! The whole experience was quite an honor. He was an old man with bushy eyebrows that knew everything. We were allowed into the old Parliament area (which is roped off to everyone else), he showed us how the old cannons and printing presses worked by actually touching them and moving them! He spoke English, but with a very heavy Greek accent, and sometimes he slurred Greek and English together. Joanna translated and clarified a lot of things that were confusing and I kept in mind that his English was a lot better than my Greek. He explained the whole history of the Greeks fight for independence well past the museum's closing time. We had the whole museum, the museum director, and all of the priceless artifacts to ourselves. I have never had a museum experience like this one. When we left he gave us all books about the museum as gifts. Great way to end the week!

Brett Czerkaski
2/21/08

Blog #2 - Things Are Different Here

After having spent about three weeks in Athens and traveling around Greece, I've noted a pretty substantial list of things that are different than America. Though many of these are obvious and would be noticeable to anyone on the first day or two, there are also many more subtle aspects of Greek life that are picked up only from being embedded in the culture for a certain amount of time. None of these are particularly mind-blowing, but I figured this would help you better understand a little of what we're going through, rather than write a novel about places you haven't been and sights that you can't see (as if my descriptions could do them justice anyway). So here it is.

Food: The food here is, for the most part, awesome. If you go to just about any taverna or restaurant, you are sure to get something amazing. There are some memories of home, such as McDonald's (yuck) and Pizza Hut, but I would never eat there unless I was feeling particularly desperate. The "fast food" here is actually not terrible and grease-covered like its American counterpart. Generally the fast food restaurants are places where you buy a $1-2 cheese, veggie, or meat pastry and eat it on the go. Also, "drive through" is a difficult concept to understand; usually, the point of a meal is to sit down for hours and have a good social event with friends, so the idea of taking your food and eating it alone on the road is almost inconceivable. In Greece, a cup of coffee at a café is generally a reservation of that table for 2 or more hours, as they tend to sit and socialize all night, rather than pound their coffee and get back to their "pressing engagements".

Dress: There's no hiding it whenever we hit the streets: we're clearly Americans. The Greeks seem to very trendy and fashionable. You can't really go down a street in Athens without seeing a Dior, Polo, or Greek fashion designer outlet; and better yet, people legitimately browsing these $200 euro items as if they're actually going to buy them. It's not limited to only the "rich" wearing these clothes either... it seems that everybody who's anybody is are wearing these classy clothes. T-shirts and white sneakers get me automatically labeled as "tourist". I guess it's ok, because people will approach me in English at least.

Language: Obviously, the language barrier can be a huge problem sometimes. However, most educated people have at least some English language background, and some are even trilingual. The fact that Greeks get such an extensive linguistics background blows me away. I'm kind of embarrassed that in America, we believe that people should speak only our language, and are not very tolerable of others. Thank God our Greek professor, Ioanna, is fluent in the language, and has basically been our tour guide and lifeline for the trip thus far.

The House: Our house is something that took a while to get used to. First off, all electrical appliances are plugged in by a big two prong plug. This requires almost all American appliances to have an adapter to be able to not only fit into the wall, but also to ensure your appliance doesn't explode. Also, the washer/dryer situation is pretty unique to me. There's at least a gazillion mode settings on the washer, and trying to figure out the right one was tricky. A typical load of wash, even on the shortest settings takes about an hour. The dryer (which we didn't have for the first 3 weeks almost) has a water jug that fills up and must be emptied, as opposed to the typical American vent system. Also, I think the TV has been on maybe one time, where we watched a Harry Potter movie for maybe an hour. There's just so many other things that you could be doing, why sit and watch TV?

The Streets: The streets are probably something reminiscent of a typical American city: crowded, dirty, loud, and with beggars on just about every corner. Also, the traffic seems to be a big problem here. Having driven in several taxis and with Greeks themselves, traffic laws appear to be almost non-existent. People like to weave in and out, scooters drive anywhere possible (even on sidewalks), cars like to drive through crosswalks when we have a green light, etc. Also, there are many vendors along the streets: Nigerians selling fake designer bags, old Greeks selling pastries, nuts, and breads, lottery ticket vendors, other people selling bootleg dvd's and CD's. There are also weekly demonstrations (riots?), one of which occurred right outside our apartment. Waking up to the smell of tear gas is an unforgettable experience!

Social: In general, it appears the Greeks are a much more sociable people than most Americans are. I see people (and often Ioanna) get into friendly conversations with anyone, be it an old friend or a street vendor. Most people here don't get freaked out if a stranger approaches them and strikes up a conversation. Also, they tend not to have attitudes when approached by us trying to speak English to them, instead they attempt to communicate as best they can and help us out.

These are just a few aspects off the top of my head. Now I'm not saying one culture is better than the other or anything like that, I just figured this would give you a better look at what changes we have adapted to. I also thought it would be better than hearing the same descriptions of the same places my fellow bloggers have/will be putting up.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Janet Smith
February 18, 2008
Hello faithful blog readers,

Greece is such a wonderful and timeless place. I fully recommend that in your lifetime you try to visit some of the places that I have been lucky enough to visit myself. Athens is a wonderful city which is filled with all types of interesting people. The city itself is so lively and energetic. Last week we had the chance to watch the super bowl, in what I believe was the smallest sports bar in the world. It was, as I am sure anyone would agree, an amazing game. The time difference was an interesting factor of course... I have to say that I have never been out until 5:30 a.m. before so, that was new. Later that week we seemed to have everything up and running, classes were going on schedule and homework was starting to pile up. We even have started cooking. I know for me personally, I have never really cooked anything before, so this experience is teaching me a lot, especially to tell when an egg is actually done...bad experience.

Oh, we also learned some valuable lessons while being here. For example: we can't have more than one major appliance running without shorting the system and loosing electricity. Even more interestingly, I found out what clothes look like after being stuck in the full washer for a few days - I don't recommend trying it. We made the best of the "great blackout of 14 Sina Street" though. A few ghost stories, a game of back gammon under use of a flashlight and ordering pizza seemed to be the best solution. The next day we were off to Nafplio, and Myceane. (This is where the most amazing oranges I have ever had come into the story).
This past week had some interesting times as well. While I was occupied with homework and other class assignments for most of the week, we still found time to make it down to the Agora. This place is so interesting; it is basically the birth place of democracy. One of the professors here Ioanna, took us through the Agora for a tour and explanation of all the things we were seeing. I had already been there once before, and I had no idea that all of these "things" had such meaning to them.

As for this weekend, it was a blast. We were warned ahead of time that we would probably have to cut our weekend short due to a "huge" snow storm that was to hit Athens and surrounding cities. We decided to go to Delphi, a town about 2.5 hours north of Athens, for the night. Delphi, is definitely one of the places that you should try to visit at some point. During the car ride up to the town, the views were so beautiful. There we snow capped mountains in the distance, along with lakes and ponds all along the way. Then, we drive through a town that is just about 10 miles outside of Delphi, and I tell you, it must have been the cutest town I have ever seen. This was the town where we would spend most of the night searching for the perfect Café.

Delphi was so fascinating. There is this ancient myth that the Greek God Zeus released two eagles in the opposite direction, and the met and circled each other in Delphi. This was believed to be the center of the earth, where one could go to the oracle and ask for advice on things such as love or war. The oracle was believed to hold the power to receive messages from the God Apollo (Zeus's son), and through these messages give advice to those who needed it. There is even this stone in Delphi to show that this was the middle of the earth, it is supposed to symbolize a belly button. We were able to see the ancient site of Delphi and go through the museum. It was so interesting to learn about this place while actually being right in it.

Delphi was short lived however, the storm was coming and we had to get back to the city as soon as possible. Oh, did I mention that a Greek storm is like a normal day back in Rindge. Except in Greece everyone freaks out and everything shuts down, it is entertaining to see. It did snow for most of the weekend, so it was a feeling of being back in Rindge. Now that this week has started I am interested to see where it will go.


Jennifer Pandolfelli
February 19, 2008

I would like to begin by thanking you for reading my blog. When I sit down to write about my previous week in Athens I feel as though so much has happened since my last entry. On Friday and Saturday we visited Delphi which is an ancient and holy site in Greece. After our expedition we were swept into a world wind of exertion. We have completed numerous papers, and created several movies about our trip thus far. There has been little time for play, but it is worth the effort.

Many people are under the impression that going on a semester abroad is parallel to taking a vacation. The scenery is different, and the touristic feeling is present, but the learning does not cease. For the last week we have been learning about the ancient Greek philosophers, and their impacts on current day practices in countries all over the world. Allow me to share with you some of the things I have discovered. The idea of democracy was first established in Greece. The Greeks used a device to randomly choose who would serve in the law courts each day. This can be compared to the selection of people for jury duty. One may think this a negative thing, but in fact it was just the opposite. The fact that jurors and justices could not be predetermined, or in any manner corrupted allowed everyone, and when I say everyone I mean every white male who owned property, the opportunity to have a say in the legislation of the laws they were required to obey. While we are on this topic I think it is important to note that the Grecians were the first to establish a democratic form of government. Every law that was passed, or person who was sentenced to death was decided through voting, and the majority always won. The majority in this case does not refer to the kind we are exposed to in our own government. Every person had a vote, and each one counted, and if one side had one more vote than the other they won. This is something I find very interesting. This can be attributed to the fact that I am a political science major.

The Greeks are renowned throughout the world due to the significant contributions they have made. Ancients Greeks however revered the god's emphatically. Almost everyone is in some way familiar with the gods Zeus or Athena, and we have probably all seen the Legendary Adventures of Hercules, but these were very important figures to the ancient Greeks. There is an ancient story which states that one day Zeus wanted to know where the center of the earth was. He told two eagles to fly in opposite directions, and after flying around the earth wherever they met that would be known as the center of the world. The place that the eagles are said to have met was Delphi. It then became known as the belly button of the earth. So I can proudly say that I have been to the belly button of the world.


-Abbie Tumbleson 2/20/2008

Last night I got the opportunity to get a full night of sleep. I was feeling ill yesterday, but today my spirits were livelier after several cups of coffee. The past week has entailed a trip to Delphi, which is in my opinion, one of the most aesthetically pleasing locations in Greece. It is a small village nestled in the mountains and it is also surrounded by olive groves. Outside my hotel window I also had a view of Galaxidi. Galaxidi is a small seaport village outside of Delphi.

I have been spending a lot of time in the apartment reading assignments for class. I can now say that I have an extended knowledge of Plato and Aristotle. The ancient philosophers of Greece were brilliant and ahead of their time. It is a very interesting concept to view them in the modern world. Their concepts and practices of democracy ignite a new interpretation in the twenty first century. I also learned that the term "demos" originated in Greece. It is their word for democracy and the term is still used today. In my Athens through the Ages class we have been learning wonderful information about the Hellenistic period and viewed slides of the famed mythological gods and goddesses of Greece. I also went to the library in the Hellenic American Union. The building is located up the street from the University. The librarian was very helpful, but it took me awhile to convince her that I was a student at Hellenic American. I had to get research books for my final paper in the Athens through the Ages course. We have our presentations next Wednesday and I am writing my paper on women and the role that they played in ancient Greece. Women's Studies is an area of study in which I am deeply interested in. I feel that keeping up to date on current issues, whether they are political or social, is always an important factor. And, like that of the ancient philosophers, examining the lives of women from centuries before my time will enhance my knowledge of the evolution that has occurred into the current time period.

This morning we also had Media Production and viewed the photo montages and short videos. The assignments were broken up into individual and group projects. It is an interesting observation to see the improvements that I made in a few weeks, but it was also quite beneficial to get constructive criticism from my peers. We were told to think of the projects being viewed by an audience that could come from all walks of life. This was a very helpful tip because I will think of it every time that I am editing and shooting video footage from now on.

Tonight I thought of plans for spring break and it is only a few weeks away. The time is going fast, but sometimes the days seem to crawl by. Tonight was enjoyable because Jen and I sat outside to have coffee. There was snow and ice on the sidewalks only two days ago, but it has melted away. I cannot express how happy I was today when I awoke to see the sun shining. It was a positive note to start my day, on top of the coffee of course! I have finally gotten used to talking to family and friends in the United States when it is dark outside. I have to finish up some Aristotle readings for tomorrow's class at ten o'clock and catch up on some sleep as well. Peace from Greece.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friday, February 15th , 2008
Isaac Axtell

Hello Everyone! It is Saturday and we are back early from our trip to Delphi because of a snow storm. That's right I said snow. On the bright side it gives me time to write you this wonderful blog.
This past week has been very busy, trying to keep up with the school work and all. I say that very light heartedly because our learning environment, in many cases, is on the ancient site we are discussing; it is a unique and beneficial learning environment. We had some great class discussions about Phaedrus and the beginning of Gorgias which left my brain dead for the rest of those days.

I always made time this week, as I did before this week, for food. The food here is absolutely amazing. It's not cafeteria food, its good ol' fashioned home cooking most of the time, which you should take advantage of if you come. Everyday we get fresh bread from the bakery a block up from our apartment. We either get other food from the store, or we go to the market, which is a 15-20 minute walk from the apartment. The market is an amazing place; you know when you are close because you start to smell meat. There is everything there; any kind of cut of any kind of meat, there is fish, a wide variety of nuts, fruits, dried fruits, bread, and herbs. On the way to the market, depending on which way you go, you will pass gem shops, clothing stores, the flea market (which in itself could be another list), and cafes. I guess the point I am trying to make is this; no matter what you want, you can get it, and if it is food, it will probably be very fresh, depending on where you get it.

Thursday night we all, including Dr. Roth, cooked spaghetti with Bruschetta. Everyone, at on moment in time, was in the kitchen. There was garlic being minced, tomatoes being diced, water boiling, the oven door opening and closing, fresh olive oil being spread over crusty bread that was just bought and sliced, the table was being set, and cupboards and drawers were constantly being opened and closed. A great meal followed. There were eight of us crammed around a table for six at tops; we were like one big family.
Friday morning we woke up early and walked to the car renting place. We got the same minivan we had the previous weekend, which was comfortable. I do not recall the ride up to Delphi because I fell asleep, but when I woke up I felt as though I was in a dream. There were huge, mountains surrounding us, some of which were capped off with snow.

We passed through a small ski town which is built into the side of a mountain that overlooks a huge valley and arrived at Delphi. Joanna, our teacher here, gave us a tour of Delphi. "The gods have good real estate", she said to us, and this is very true. The hillside is covered in very strong smelling yellow flowers that surround the ruins.

We arrived at our hotel to rest before we went back into the ski town to eat dinner. Every one rested except for Abbie and I. We explored around the hillside looking out over a valley filled with olive trees. The mountains and the valley seemed to all come together at one area which opened up to the sea, where you could see a little coastal village. While we sat on the rocks we each said nothing. I don't even remember if I looked at her. Some moments, most of the moments here in Greece, are best experienced in silence.


16-2-08
Danielle Cote

From A Literary Companion to Travel in Greece:
"Delphi was one of the holiest sites of ancient Greece, which fact alone should be enough to dispel the view that the ancients had no feeling for natural beauty of landscape. Regarded as the center of the earth-and marked as such by the navel stone still to be seen in the museum-it was the chief sanctuary of Apollo and the site of the Pythian Games, second only to the Olympic Games in the antiquity and prestige" (Stoneman 175).

Delphi is known as the bellybutton of the world and it was so cool to see it. Ioanna, our intelligent teacher and awesome tour guide drove us all around the center, you can see down and around for miles. The city is just gorgeous, it is hard to put words to what we are seeing and experiencing on this trip. We saw thousands of olive trees as well as some lemon trees and a calm body of water with a house that was on an island. It is really difficult to read about these amazing cities and then only go there for a day, I know that we actually get the chance to go, but it really is just a teaser because there are just too many things to enjoy and not enough time. We left this beautiful town of Delphi today and traveled to the city of Galaxidi before we left, but just for a really quick peak, along with some hot chocolate and a free brownie . There was a wintry mix as we left but it was gorgeous and it was good to see snow again!

From Greece: A Traveler's Literary Companion
"Galaxidi today resembles a town of nobles, with its great mansions stooping without losing any of their gentility, the fishing boats mirroring their clear-contoured shapes..." (Leontis 104).

Each city and town in Greece has stories to tell and secrets to share. I have learned so much, but I can hardly guess how much I have left to learn. Seeing these artifacts are amazing to the eye, I can hardly believe my eyes half the time. We have completed three weeks here in Athens, Greece and although I have missed home a few times, I have quickly found out that there is more outside the walls of the states.

17.2.08
Kaitlyn Galonski

This past week was filled with a combination of work, class, and on-site lectures. Monday we had class and were given time to catch up on some of our work. I however spent it catching up with office work that I am doing for Stella while I am here. Tuesday we had a morning class with Professor Roth and then an afternoon class with Ioanna. We also had to go to HAU Theater for a showing of two John Cassavetes movies. I was not a major fan of the movies. The first one was all improvisational. It was not all that hard to follow, but I wish they would have told us at the beginning of the movie instead of at the end that the movie was improv. I liked the second movie better than the first one, but it was not something I would go rush over and see again any time soon. The film itself was old, so the film strips was full of scratches and such. Since we went to the movies on Tuesday night Professor Roth cancelled his class for Wednesday morning. Ioanna couldn't get into Athens Wednesday afternoon for our class with her due to strikes and protests happening. This was good for all of us because it gave us a full day to catch up with all of our work. That was exactly what I did all day too. Thursday we had class in the morning with Professor Roth and then met Ioanna at the Agora at 2pm for an on-site lecture of the place. She took us through the museum and around the grounds of the Agora. Thursday was also a big day for us all because when we got back to our apartment we had found a new dryer waiting for us. We had been waiting for a dryer since the first day we arrived. The dryer is typical European dyer taking over two hours to dry whatever is in there, but it is still faster than hanging our clothes outside (two days) our handing them on the radiators around the apartment (one day). Friday we set out for a one night at Delphi.

We were suppose to do a weekend trip to Delphi and Meteora, but the weather report gave out snow, so we shortened the whole trip and just went to Delphi as planned for Friday and set back out for Athens on Saturday. The trip was to only take three hours top, but it ended up taking about four and a half hours. We got stuck in about one hour worth of traffic before we even got outside of Athens, and then we of course made a pit stop to use the restrooms and to get lunch. By the time we reached Delphi we were all more than ready to get out of the car. Due to time restraints we went straight to the Ancient Delphi site. The site closes at 3pm, so we had to be quick if we wanted to see everything. Ioanna gave us brief histories of the important things that we saw along the way. We could have easily spent more time talking about everything and simply just wondering around taking it all in, but we wanted to fit the museum in as well. So we headed over there for Ioanna to give us a quick tour of that as well. We were the last people of the museum; the guards were waiting for us. The doors were shut and locked behind us as we left. The whole thing was amazing. At the bottom I included a link to some of the pictures I took.

After the museum we went to check into our hotel. We were all given rooms with views was a nice change us from the hotel we were at the weekend before. We were given a couple of hours to do whatever we wanted before we were to meet in the lobby to all travel to the next town over for coffee and then dinner. My roommates and I decided to nap so that we could be well rested for dinner and wherever else we might end up going. It is great going places with Ioanna because not only does she know a lot about when she is teaching us and is passionate about it, but she also seems to know people everywhere and easily gets us great deals. In the town that we went for dinner (the name of the town escapes me) she knows a guy who makes his own cheese and pasta which she got us all able to try some of the different types of cheeses he made. Then the place where we went for coffee, she knew the owner, where he then brought us out this brownie cake desert that he had made earlier in the day and wanted us to try. At dinner, she knew the owner there as well, and gave us a major discount.

Saturday we got to sleep in a little bit, had breakfast at the hotel, and then went over to Galaxídi to see the town and of course she knew one of the café owners there, so we stopped in for some warm beverages, and he too also offered us some pastries on the house. By the time we left there and went to head back to Athens, the snow finally started. So we went back to the "cheese man" who was luckily on the way back to Athens to pick up some cheese to bring home with us, and we set out for our journey home. Some of us were in need of a rest stop before we set out for Athens, so we stopped at this gas station. This was an experience in itself. The toilet was a hole in the ground, and well there was toilet paper. It could have easily been worse. At least there was soap to wash our hands after holding ourselves up over the hole in the ground. We were finally ready to get back to Athens, and to hopefully beat the snow so that way Ioanna was did not have to drive in to much bad weather. We succeeded, we finally passed the snow, and we eventually stopped to get lunch/snack along the way. We made it back to Athens before the bad weather, and were safely home by the time it started.

Today we were given a day off to get our work done. It was nice to be able to finally have a day where we could sleep in and not have to worry about having to be somewhere at any certain time. And to end on a side note, we had snow today here in Athens.

http://fpc.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2015741&l=1c2b8&id=74400202
^some of my pictures from Delphi


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hello All,

February 11, 2008
From Janet Smith

The first thing I would like to say, and this is at a request of another student here - is that Freshly Picked Oranges are probably one of the best things in the world. We were driving back from the beautiful majestic town of Nafplio when we stopped to buy a bag of oranges (they had just been picked the day before). If you are an orange fan, then I very much suggest a flight to Athens (please stop by to say hello) then rent a car and drive to Nafplio and pick a fresh orange... then you will be able to understand why I have used the first few sentences of my blog to talk about them.

As for everything else, this is an amazing adventure. Athens is such an experience. It is almost surreal to be at the beginning of western civilization. I can't tell you how strange it is to orient yourself by looking at the Acropolis. The language is a bit tough, ok... very tough, but I will soon succeeded in knowing the Greek Alphabet - then maybe I will learn to read, and eventually I will learn to formulate a sentence... it will be great!!!!

On a serious note, Athens is really amazing, and if you have the chance I suggest coming. It is great to be able to experience an entirely new culture. The people here are so nice, and willing to help out. It is a safe city with a beautiful view.

Until Next time
Janet


February 11, 2008
From Jennifer Pandolfelli

Hello to every one back at home. I have now been in Athens for two weeks. The people dress very differently and speak in a language I can't understand, but it has been one of the most enjoyable semesters I have experienced in my college career. Abbie and I met a student at the Hellenic American University, which is the University Franklin Pierce is associated with. She has become one of our very good friends and we hang out with her daily. She has exposed us to the lifestyle of a Greek girl in college. We drink one coffee for about 2-3 hours daily, and go for walks through Athens. I can't explain how helpful she has been in becoming accustomed to our new lives. One of the greatest things about learning in this environment is that we are able to read about Plato or another author, and then go to the actual area where these dialogues and stories were taking place. I am not a mass com major, but I am happy that we are able to film such beautiful sites that are so rich in historical significance.

Today we attended two films at the Union Cafe. The Films were by John Cassavetes a Greek American film maker they were Shadows, and Woman Under the Influence. Shadows was incredible, but Woman Under the Influence was I felt a bit disturbing. The Union Cafe is Hellenic Americans cafeteria and it is basically a 5 star restaurant. The building where the cafe is housed also has a library, art gallery, and theater. We visited Nafplio which is an island about an hour and a half from Athens this past weekend. It was an amazing experience. We stayed in our first Hostel, and no it was nothing like the movie. A word to the wise though; always bring your own towels, soap, and shampoo they may not have them.


February 13, 2008
From Abbie Tumbleson

As I take a break between writing papers, and moving my foot out from under me because it has fallen asleep, it seems like the ideal time to write my blog for Wednesday February 13, 2008, or as the Greeks would write it, 13/02/2008. Just by the way the date is written and the clocks go on "army time" as we know it in America, the feelings of going in reverse have dissipated slightly. I revel in the fact that my life has been "go, go, go" since last week, because I am getting things accomplished, and I am coming up with heaping amounts of ideas to ponder and write about.

This past weekend our group drove three hours in a white nine-seater Fiat van to get to the island of Nafplio. I was exhausted after climbing over one thousand stairs to the top of an ancient castle that contained a series of bastions, which were used for imprisoning people, but the experience is one that was quite beneficial. I also took well over two hundred photos because I wanted to see and remember as much as possible, although the place has definitely imbedded itself into my mind forever. The ocean meets the shore, which I overlooked from cliff sides, in the blustery weather. But, a series of rainy days did not ruin my trip and I saw the Epidaurus amphitheater with the best acoustics in the world, which have never been able to be reconstructed. I also learned about the Mycenaean culture and got to journey to Mycenae itself.
Nafplio is surrounded by orange orchards and olive groves. The entire island also looks as if it is being caressed by mountains. From any point on the island a mountain is was in my peripheral vision. The cafes and tavernas were exceptional and the expensive coffee delivered me my daily jolt of caffeine.
Jen and I stayed in a double room in an economy hotel. It proved to be fine in the end and a warm bed is quite desirable after a long day of walking.

Today, Jen and I also met with Demetrius, a member of Student Affairs at Hellenic American University, and went to a demonstration. The demonstration marched through the city to Syntagma Square, which is directly down Akadimias Street, a few blocks from our apartment on Sina Street. There was no violence involved and there were over twenty political parties representing themselves at the event. Many of the shops and businesses shut down on days such as these because there are such a high number of public workers fighting for their causes.

We also stopped at a superb food stop called Fat Boy to get falafel. It was needed after walked around the city and before going back home to my Sina Street apartment. My evening has been spent writing papers and reading literature. Our class at the Hellenic American University will take place at the Agora tomorrow afternoon so I want to get a good night of sleep and look forward to another day in Athens. I have also learned how to "be in good health", pronounced "Yah-sa" by Greeks, which is their standard greeting to one another. Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Friday, February 8, 2008
From Isaac Axtell

Hello to all. This is my first time blogging, and you can expect to hear from me every Friday from now on for the rest of the time I am in Greece. I have just returned from Nafplio and it is Sunday, February 10, 2008. I have put the date above to partially help keep the blogging in some kind of order, and to try to recall what Friday was like; seeing such beauty this weekend really blurs all of Athens I have seen thus far.
Up early and out the door, we were off to Nafplio. I had no expectations, simply because I find it the easiest way to travel, and found our journey leaving me speechless. Nine of us, in a mini-bus/van along with our bags for the weekend driving through olive orchard after olive orchard on a road which winded through an infinite amount of mountains and hills. Many of the mountains had ancient castles or churches upon them which later inspired me to write some verse, I will share it with you since I am trying to portray an image to you, "Castle on the yonder hill/ Standing there ever still/ Stone built to last, built to thrill/ This why I stare at the castle still." Cheesy? Possibly, but it came into my head for a reason.

After driving for an hour surrounded by orange groves we arrived in Nafplio. I have never seen anything like it. There is an old castle that is right off the coast and there are fortresses on top of the hills that surround this amazing town square in the middle of the village. Truly a magical place....

This is the first time I have seen the Mediterranean Sea, and for those of you that haven't, it is turquoise, but yet very clear. I spent some time sitting on the rocks along the coast listening to the waves, the wind, and staring at the castle that was surrounded by water. If you come here you must walk along the pathway that goes around the tiny peninsula of Nafplio. It is a stone pathway, on one side is the drop off to the sea and on the other is the steep incline which rises up to the ancient fortress rock walls above.

I will send some pictures of the floating castle that I have brought so much attention to.

February 9, 2008
Danielle Cote

This was day two of our weekend trip away from Athens. We went to the Epidauros Theater and the Mycenaen Museum. We saw the Lions Gate, Klytemnestra's tomb, and the "Cyclopean" walls. As a theater major, I was fascinated by the look, the neat way the sound system was, the surroundings, and the amount of people it could hold (12,000). Although the weather was rainy, windy, and a little chilly, it did not stop us from learning, taking pictures, and having fun. We walked around Napflio; all the café's and restaurants are so cute and have a really good atmosphere. Napflio is totally different from Athens, mostly because it is quieter and the air is cleaner. Athens is great because there is so much, but it was nice to see something else in Greece. Napflio is not that big, but there are things to do; I am from a small town, and Rindge is a small town as we all know and there is not that much. I am glad we got a chance to get away for the weekend; it was like we went on vacation from vacation.

Overwhelmed; that is how I have been feeling everyday since I have arrived in Athens, Greece. First of all I have never been this far from home for this long and since I am really close to my family, I am surprised I did not have second thoughts. I started my minor in Mass Communications this semester and it is crazy because I am here in Greece studying something totally new to me. So far I have had an amazing time! Many pictures have been taken, footage has been shot from all of us, and after just two weeks we have all learned so much history on Greece. I am looking forward to seeing what the next two and a half months brings me. I have tried many new foods since I have been here and I have adjusted to what I like and dislike. It took a little while for me to get used to the time difference and the eating schedule they seem to follow here. I love walking around everywhere because I love to exercise and there is so much to see around the city. We can get to anywhere from our apartment by just walking, it's great, and plus the weather is great here! I am learning to speak Greek from the CD lessons and we are all helping each other out so we can speak it fluently. I am looking forward to the days to come.


February 10, 2008
From Kaitlyn Galonski

We spent this past weekend in Nafpilo. It was nice to get out of this city for a little while. We arrived in Nafpilo Friday, checked into our very low budget hotel, and then walked around the town. Ioanna, our professor for our Athens Through the Ages class came with for this excursion, and she gave us some brief history of the town. That night we all went out for dinner and then some of us went out afterwards to explore. Saturday had some bad weather but we defiantly made the best of the day. We did a day trip to Epidauros for an on-site lecture. Epidauros was simply amazing. It is an amphitheatre dating back to 350 BC. To get to the top of the seating is about 115 stairs, and no matter where you are in the seating (including the very top) you can hear anyone "on stage" and anyone in the audience. Ioanna dropped coins to demonstrate just how great the acoustics are, and even while holding an umbrella with rain pouring down, you could still hear the coins being dropped. After visiting the theatre we ventured over to Mycenae and the Treasury of Atreus for another on-site lecture. Despite the heavy wind and rain falling down going to Mycenae was still enjoyable. We did not get to see as much as we would have if the weather was nice, but Mycenae is not too far away from Athens, so we can easily go back. Today we were able to sleep in a little bit, and then all met up to go for breakfast. After breakfast we climbed up what we were told was going to be 999 stairs to get to a castle that still remains in Nafplio. It really depends on where you want to consider step one and where you want to consider the last step to be, but after walking up the hill and walking all around the grounds of the castle, there was without a doubt more than 999 stairs. The view was simply amazing from the castle. You could see the entire town and more.

On a general note, the food thus far has been great. I've been trying so many new things that I know I would never normally try. Also, in Nafplio we found a bunch of very decently priced cafés that had very good hot chocolate and a variety of it as well. The coffees and such were good too, at least so I was told, but I don't drink that, so I stuck to the hot chocolate.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brett Czerkaski
2/7/08

Hello Frankie P. students,

I have been "studying" in Athens for more than a week now, and already I have had so many amazing experiences. The group we have here is amazing, and we have shared all kinds of good times so far. This is my first blog ever, so for my first experience I will just give a summary of what I've accomplished so far.

The first night we arrived was an experience. I was awestruck even in the half hour taxi ride to our apartment by all the sights and the environment. When we got there, we arrived to a half functioning apartment (very nice mind you, just no hot water, heat, etc.) and we all wanted to take showers. So half of us went with Stella to her hotel room, and the other half (including me) opted to just rough it here with ice showers (which sucked somethin' fierce). After we finally washed off all the grime and travel dust, we met up with Ioanna, our Greek professor, and headed off to the taverna. Along the way we ran into the editor of the Athens English newspaper, as well as a group of students who we then planned to dine with, but it fell through due to lack of space. The taverna was great... we ordered maybe 8 appetizers and passed them around, and had plenty. Stumbling home at about midnight, I was content and felt very welcome to Athens.

Jet lag sucks. Being forced to wake up at the ass crack of dawn (10 AM) just so that we "adjust our bodies" was horrible. That, coupled with nearly no sleep the day before made waking up and staying awake quite a treat. We went with Stella to IKEA to purchase home furnishings and things, as well as getting some amazing IKEA Swedish meatballs. We spent the rest of the day unpacking, getting used to the house and exploring a little bit. Then we went out again to an awesome Italian restaurant.
The next day we said goodbye to Stella and climbed Lykavitos Hill. The trip made me all too aware of how much shape I was in (the round one), but the view at the top was amazing, and we had some good photographs. We got home and everyone passed out, still being ravaged by the jet lag. I think we did a little bit more exploring afterwards, I don't remember.

After this point, I don't remember what happened when, so I'll just list highlights:

-Kerameikos Cemetary and Museum: Practiced filming, saw the museum, freewrote, etc.

-Acropolis and Agora: Saw the Parthenon, worshipped Athena, took pictures, more filming, got our learn on, flea market, etc.

-Watch the Patriots get their cocky asses handed to them: Check. The best part was that the game started at about 1:30 AM our time, and we walked half an hour to see it in a 12 sq ft sports bar, shoulder to shoulder with people. We got back to our house at about 5:30 AM, very satisfied. Class was cancelled the next morning for some reason.

-Hang out with legit Greek students: Chilled with Evi and her boyfriend, a student at the American-Hellenic Univeristy. Had coffee, dinner, polished our Greek, and made a great connection with a local who is happy to help us in the future.

-Watched a protest/riot: Woke up to the banging of grenades and shouting, and the lovely smell of teargas. A clash between Communist, Anarchist, and Nationalist parties, apparently.

-National Archaeological Museum: Self - Explanatory I'd hope.

Well that's all I can remember for now. Every Thursday I get the pleasure of typing a blog. From now on, it will be shorter and more detailed probably, and I'll put a lot more effort into it and it will be week to week! Next week's adventure: Epidaurus, Nafplio, etc.!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wed., Feb. 6, 2008

During classes at the Hellenic American University yesterday Professor Richard Roth suggested that we keep a journal everyday about our experiences. I have been doing just that and have done so even before I came to Athens. Athens is a far cry from Rindge, with its noise, Greek-speaking patrons, and breathtaking sites that were once graced by the Ancient philosophers. I went down the street and past the group's apartment on Sina Street further than I have in the past week-and-a-half to find a small health food store. And, after going in the opposite direction, finally turned around the right way and found the proper location.

People are a bit baffled whenever they hear about a vegetarian in Athens because Greece has a heavily-populated meat-eating culture. The people are very helpful though and I have met some students from the University that have shown me a little more of the city. It is not a romanticism that is false when one hears that the Greek people will sit over a cup of coffee for hours at a time. They take their time to invoke one into a conversation, listen, ask questions about my life and my background, and share the same with me. The intellect of the people I have met has been outstanding. The first night we were all here we went to a Taverna (a traditional Greek tavern) and had luxurious amounts of food that tasted absolutely delicious.

I have also picked up on the language a fair amount and have learned basic words such as yes, no, right, left, thank you, you are welcome, a cup of coffee, where a store is located, and the names of some foods that are quite popular here.

We also climbed to the top of Likavitos Hill, which is a mountain that shows a view of Athens and every tiny structure in all of the different neighborhoods. I went to the oldest neighborhood, Plaka, and found another taverna, after the group's trip to the Acropolis, which is a sight that includes the Parthenon, Agora, and the Acropolis itself. The Parthenon was undergoing renovations, but to still see it with my own eyes and sit in the peace of a gentle breeze and sunshine to write, was truly inspiring.

In addition, the group has also gone to Kerameikos cemetery, which was depicted in a short story that we had to read for an assignment, and we observed ancient artifacts, such as Cycladic-Era pottery, and recovered remnants from tombs, and got to examine it with our own eyes. On our way there we passed through the Central Market, near Monistiraki, the district with the famous flea markets, and weaved through thousands of people. The market has fresh produce, nuts, delicacies, meat, and clothing stores. We watched an organ grinder stroll down the street and an elderly man was selling homemade rolls of bread for .60 euros a piece. And, at night there is the same clarinet player that sits on the left hand side of the street hoping to gain a few dollars for his passion in life. The beggars sit on the streets with their cloth-covered heads and long skirts, using their children to beg for change.

Everyone in the group seems to be getting along well and we are all packed with a different personality. This is an opportunity of a life time and this weekend we are going to visit some traditional Greek Islands. They are the islands where the hub of life existed during the Mycenean and Minoan ages of the Greek culture.

I cannot wait to fill up the pages of my journal and have already taken well over three hundred photos of Athens.

Peace from Greece,
-Abbie Tumbleson