Greece- Archaeology and the Aegean
I spent a lot of my time in Greece on the Peloponnese (which is the bottom peninsula south of Athens). I already wrote about a couple of stops there, but I wanted to blog about a lot of the other stops I made into one condensed article.
I arrived in Patras close to sunset, and left early the next morning. It was pretty much my stop between Delphi and Olympia, so I didn’t really do much there. However there is the Rio-Antirion Bridge, which is absolutely beautiful and I stopped at the beginning of the bridge (heading south) and there’s an observation area where you can walk over the road and look straight on at the bridge from an elevated position. It wasn’t many stairs and is pretty cool for a quick 5 minute stop.
I went to the Ancient Olympia Archaeological Site the next morning and it was spectacular. I went to the museum first. It was a really interesting and it had a ton of artifacts from the site along with great descriptions and history behind not only the artifact, but the symbolism behind designs. My favorite piece of art in the museum was a statue head called “Portrait Head of the Statue M. Appius Bradoua”. There was something about this face that was so captivating I stared at it for literally 5 minutes. The eyes and mouth just totally drew me in. After you spend some time in the museum, head on out to the archaeological site. The site was cool, but having information and history made it even more interesting. When you walk onto the site, it looks like a bunch or rocks, but when you learn about the boxing, training, etc. that went on in the buildings that are now just ruins, it’s a lot more impressive. My two favorite parts of the archaeological site were the original olympic track and the ruins of the Temple of Zeus. The track had this walkway that you enter through this archway and you walk out onto the track, which is actually not round, it’s a straight line that you would run back and forth on. ( I ran it, and even though it doesn’t look very long, it feels long.) It was really cool to know that you were running where thousands had run before the common era, where victories were won, and differences were set aside for these competitions and you just ran that same track. The Temple of Zeus was my next favorite because of the sheer wonder of it. The temple itself doesn’t seem amazing until you walk around to the other side and realize how truly monstrous the pieces of that column are! It really makes you stop and think about how much we have regressed in technology and how we’re lacking a sense of pride in what we’re building. These buildings are still around for a reason; they were built immaculately.
I was lucky enough to be in Greece during their Independence Day! Everyone was dressed in traditional costume to celebrate and march in parades. Cafe patios were packed with old Greek men sipping their coffee and balconies were crowded to get the best views of the parade. It was really amazing and every single person was in an amazing mood.
I went to the Theatre of Epidaurus, which once again amazed me. You can really whisper at the bottom and hear it all the way at the top- that’s not an exaggeration. The acoustics are something that, yet again, hasn’t been mastered by modern man. This was a really relaxing stop to me. It’s nestled up on a hill, and back into some trees, you can sit in these seats and just relax. It was a perfect place to journal and feel the breeze, plus you get free entertainment from all the people who stand at the bottom and sing for their 10 seconds of fame, whether for the good or bad is up to you to decide.
Mycenae was yet another archaeological site I went to, and enjoyed a lot. I got to see one of the oldest bridges still standing in Europe, see the oldest monumental sculpture in Europe, and see where Agamemnon ruled! When you walk under the Lion Gate and see the cyclopean stones it’s hard to picture how these people built this, and a small part of you wonders if maybe the giant cyclops did indeed exist. After I walked around the city and the site (Grave Circle A) where the Golden Mask was found that was believed to be Agamemnon’s was found, up to the palaces and looked out onto olive groves and the valleys, I headed back down the hill and on around to what’s now believed to be Agamemnon’s actual tomb. It’s shaped like a giant beehive and is very, very eerie. (Apparently orbs frequent people’s photos, however, Agamemnon didn’t appear to be interested in my camera.)
Near Mycenae I went to a pottery shop that prides itself of making pottery in the same traditional manner it was made, and they supposedly teamed up with Archaeologists to learn more about it, and used to work with restorations. While there I watched a pottery demonstration and picked up a few items to bring back home.
On my way back up towards Athens I stopped at the Corinth Canal, mostly for some pictures, but it really is quite cool. I walked out onto the creepy bridge that rattles when a car goes over it and looked down from both sides. It’s another 5 minute, free stop that is pretty cool.
On my very last day in Greece I went to Cape Sounion, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The water and the sky were both amazingly blue, I went to a beach and got my feet wet, but most of all I went to the Temple of Poseidon that overlooks the water on the edge of a cliff. It’s not far from Athens, and if you’re ever in Athens it’s worth it. It was a really spiritual place with the sounds and smell of the ocean, these beautiful ruins, and the warm sun. You’re really moved by the beauty of this place.
Greece was a country that surprised me in many ways. The food surprised me in a not so pleasant way, but the people surprised me in how generous they were, and how willing they were to teach, the country in general surprised me with its natural beauty, and the magnificence of the temples and ruins surprised me by being more abundant and spectacular than I had ever imagined.
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