It is official! We are off and running on the Western Civilizations Abbey Road Trip for 2018!
We all met in the airport with plenty of time before departure- giving us a perfect opportunity to get to know each other at least a little bit before actually embarking on our journey. After some icebreakers, name exchanges, and security lines, we all happily got through to the gate- excited to grab a quick bite and stretch our legs before the long haul.
Landing and going through customs was much more fun to go through with newfound friends, regardless of how long the lines may have been. After meeting up with some other students who were not on the group flight with us, we stepped out of the airport into Athens!
Unfortunately, the weather was definitely a little muggy and our view was slightly clouded, but we could still make out the beautiful hills and houses upon houses through the bus windows.
Nevertheless, our joy was endless when we first set foot in our perfectly centralized hotel. After much-anticipated roommate assignments, we all took a quick break to return our luggage to our rooms before heading out to a traditional Greek style lunch- a meal that we would grow quite fond of in the following days that quickly became a group favorite.
The next morning, we all eagerly set out for the Acropolis, a destination much of us have been anticipating since our arrival. However, the walk up the historical hill was definitely much longer grand busters were inevitable. Considering we had arrived so early in the morning, the crowd was fairly limited- though that would quickly change by the time we began our descent back into the city. Of course, from the minute we reach the top of the Acropolis, our first sight was the legendary Parthenon. After a few lessons about the architecture and construction of the site, we had the opportunity to wander around the hilltop, taking pictures at every possible moment.
The visit was made even more significant thanks to our time in the Acropolis Museum- which housed several of the relics, statues, or columns from the Parthenon that had to be taken down due to pollution or sun damage in order to preserve the much-beloved artifacts. After breaking out in groups to discuss the difference between the archaic and classical Parthenon’s as well as some more art history and other political discussions, we all went back into town for another traditional Greek meal. After some more icebreakers and getting to know you games up on the roof, we were all just as exhausted as the previous night and happily retired for the evening, eagerly awaiting the next fun-filled day.
Following some much-needed shut-eye and early breakfast, we departed for the Agora- essentially the Roman forum of Athens. Being able to witness personal lives of Athenians and obtain a first-hand experience of the ancient world, let alone to walk the same cobblestone streets that the famous figures of their history had made the experience that much more real- especially after walking around the temple of Hephaestus and setting foot in to the nearby museum, which was truly unique because it only housed artifacts that were discovered on site.
After choosing our favorite pottery from the museum and discussing them amongst our fellow peers, we were given some free time to explore the city that we had started to get familiar with. After some delicious sandwiches and Greek salads at lunch, we departed for the National Museum of Archaeology- a stop most of us had been talking about for the entire duration of the day. The National Museum of Archaeology was home to numerous artifacts and relics that many of us had studied in the classroom back home, and though some were only casts of the initial artifacts, our amazement could not be contained.
Once we were assigned to specific statues or paintings to present our findings to the rest of the group, we all discussed our newfound discoveries in a Socratic seminar with one another. Following a trip back to our hotel on the local metro subway, we all took a much-needed nap before our Greek pizza dinner and mythological evening on the roof. To say we were excited for the day trip to Mycenae tomorrow would be an understatement! I believe that I can speak for all of us when I say that I am truly looking forward to the rest of the trip- it is immensely hard to believe that it is technically only our second day here in the wonderful world of western civilization.