Greetings from Greece!

LONDON

Day 1 March 13, 2003

 

Mom and I left for Europe on March 13, 2003. We were going with the GBT group and the trip officially started on March 15, 2003. However, several groups went early to experience the exciting and fast-past city-life of London, England. We flew out of Detroit and switched planes in Pittsburgh. Our trans-atlantic flight was about 9 hours and we landed in London, England’s Gatwick Airport around mid-morning European time. Mind you, it was well into the night back home, but here the day was just getting started. After arriving at the Gatwick airport we spent a while locating the Victoria Station platform. We bought our tickets and took the train from this station one half of an hour to our stop in downtown London. After getting off the train we dragged our luggage up dozens of stairs to ground level. Our lovely hotel was right around the corner and we were happy to see itJ. I knew that Rachelle and her mom had arrived early and were staying at the same hotel as us so as soon as we checked in, we looked them up. Actually, our room wasn’t ready yet so we asked Rachelle if we could put all our stuff in their room. When that was all settled we girls decided to go out on the townJ. We were going to meet the Larsens, Hellands and Vonheilands at The Tower of London.

 

The Tower of London was our first real look at the history of London. We did not find our group where we were supposed to meet, so we went on the tour of the Tower. The Tower was the first “castle” built and lived in, in Europe. It was lived in by William the Conqueror, the first king of England, as well as Henry VIII {who had the majority of his wives beheaded because they were not able to bear sons…only daughters. One of his wives died in childbirth, and one was killed for having an affair. Henry VIII was a cruel man, though, so it only stands to reason that his wife declared, right before her beheading, that “today I die the Queen of England, but I would rather die the mistress of my lover.” We were able to see the exact spot and stone where they were beheaded. The Tower has a gruesome history and many wondered how people could live in this place knowing that such horrifying acts took place not only in their dungeons, but in the open court.} The grassy green are all around the Tower used to be a moat and would rise and fall with the tide of the river Thames (tÍms).

 

Also located in the Tower are the Crown Jewels of England. After walking through a small room decorated with miniature thrones with names and dates of previous sovereigns, we watched a movie on the coronation of the Her Majesty the Queen at Westminster Abbey. We continued on to have a look at the crown jewels. There were not as many guards as I expected but the safe-doors, to lock the room, were about two and half feet thick. No cameras or video cameras were allowed and everything was rigged and wired very obviously {to intimidate anyone who was contriving ideas J}. The immense amount of security, I believe, made people think about how they would go about robbing the place…at least that is what it made me think aboutJ. The jewels themselves were spectacular and Rachelle and I stood for a long time admiring the vast wealth of the little room. Every jewel imaginable was there; rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, and all the jewels were laid in gold and silver. The gold and silver was intricately carved and there were crowns, rings, goblets, bracelets, a sword and a scepter. There was also serving pieces made entirely out of gold, and a giant gold punch bowl big enough to bathe in. The queen’s coronation gown was there {it probably weighed more than I did with all its layers and capes and cloaks and trains}… I bet the whole room is booby-trapped at night. J

    

Eventually we did find the rest of group and it was a happy reunion for me and Christi. I knew I missed her but I did not realize how muchJ. We toured the Tower for the rest of the day and also got pictures of the Tower Bridge {often mistaken for London Bridge} close by. Our day was concluded after a pizza party at a local restaurant. Tomorrow would bring Westminster Abbey and Big Ben {the MAIN two reasons for my visit to London.J}  the royal Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace became the official place of residence for the royal family in 1837, as Queen Victoria requested it. Today, the Palace is used for dinner parties, entertaining guests of the royal family, and top-secret business. J The palace entertains over 50,000 guests each year who are specially invited by her Majesty the Queen.

The changing of the guard is one of London’s more popular tourist attractions. Since 1660, the Household troops have guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces. Consisting mostly of foot soldiers, the entire changing of the guard lasts about 45 minutes, and includes a march to and from the Wellington barracks and St. James’s Palace.   

Amy Sluiter

 

         

Saturday was an exhausting adventure.  Mr. Hinrichs is an early riser, so our 9:00 a.m. San Diego departure necessitated a 5:00 a.m. wake up.  After breakfast at Starbucks, we flew to Texas to meet several other travelers.  Our entourage now included the Meyers, the Worrells, the Hurds, Caleb Davenport, Autumn Hinrichs, Everett Quivey, and Mr. H. 

   From  Dallas, the group nearly missed our London departure due to excessive dawdling at the currency exchange.  Fortunately, all made it aboard.  Flying to London is confusing to the body.  We flew through the night or rather  passed an abbreviated version of it.  This means that we arrived to a London morning after what seemed less than 24 hours traveling.

  Gatwick is a very safe airport.  There were easily 100 police officers in our terminal.  They patrol four abreast with aggressive firearms and flak jackets.  They looked very confident. 

  With 11 hours to dispose of, we decided to purchase train tickets.  These allowed us to use the local train system.  We certainly did.  From Gatwick to London we were accompanied by commuters in standard London costume: short\shaved hair, suit, and worried expression.

  We learned to “Mind the Gap” at the train stations and look for the non-intuitive directions when crossing the street.  Ogling and lightly confused is the best way to describe our trip through London.  The unique experience was attending service at Westminster Abbey.  Most would probably say we attended mass.  It was high on the high church scale of this Episcopalian.  A quick lunch and it was time to return to the airport.  Most Londoners have an English accent and an additional inflection of some sort( Jamaican, Indian, French ..) which makes speaking "English" challenging.

  Back at the airport, our group swelled to full size for the final airline leg.  EasyJet is dirt cheap. Even water is an additional charge.  Arrival in Greece was late and foreign. We met our bus and arrived at the hotel Oscar.  Everyone was friendly and accommodating but we were only interested in sleep. 

  Everett Quivey

 

The delightful Hurd sisters in front of Big Ben.   

 

Westminster Abby and Parliament

On to Greece!

 

Theater of Dionysus

 

This is a picture of the beautiful Theater of Dionysus in Athens. Dionysus was the god of theater. Speaking actors made their way into Greek chorals around the late sixth century B.C. These productions would be presented before a crowd of around 10,000 people in a large amphitheater. Comedy and tragedy plays flourished in Greece around the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. When Greece was conquered by Rome, the Romans stole the Greek plays and took a lot of them back to Italy where they were sold to up and coming playwrights. The Romans also took over the Theaters in Greece, where they used them for mock, navel-battles and other similar entertainment. The Theater of Dionysus today dates back to the Roman times because many of the Greek theaters were renovated and reconstructed after the Roman invasion. {The leader of Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars was a man named Pericles. Pericles overall did an extraordinary job defending Athens. However, when Athens was devastated with the plague it was laid bare. After the death of Pericles, who was killed by the plague, the city was invaded.} The theater on the right is the Herodean theater built by the Romans.

 

Acropolis, Parthenon and Mars Hill

 

We made the climb up to the acropolis to see the Parthenon. Acropolis in Greek means the highest point of the city. Parthenon, in Greek, means house of the virgins. This makes sense since the Parthenon was dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and virginity The rain made the marble steps incredibly slippery, and the wind made the climb cold and miserable. However, the optimistic attitude of our group could not be deterred! We had a good time tripping and stumbling up what seemed like a hundred steps.

 

From the top of the Acropolis we were able to see Mars Hill. Mars Hill is the exact location where Paul gave his sermon on the “Unkown God”. We were honored to be able to hear the sermon read to us from a plaque set in the side of the rock. The plaque was written in Greek, the original language of the sermon. We heard the sermon in Greek from Costos, and Mr. H read it to us in English from the Bible. The Bible story was no longer a story but seemed to come alive before our eyes. Because of the exceptionally rainy and cold weather, we did not climb Mars Hill as it would have been much too dangerous. Oh well, we’ll just have to go back and climb it when it is sunny! J        

 

There was also a museum at the top of the Acropolis. [We were glad to get out of the rain and cold weather.J] Inside the museum we were able to see sculptures of the original Parthenon decorations. If you use your imagination [in the set of pictures below] , you can see the triangle on the Parthenon where the roof would have sat on. Inside this large triangle would have been around twenty plus statues. This is amazing due to the fact that each statue was about three times bigger than life-size! We were able to see recreations of pieces of these statues inside the museum.

 

The Karyatids where a wonderful example of how God was preparing the Greeks for the coming Messiah. The original Karyatids were in the museum at the top of the Acropolis, but there where stone replicas in their place.  Around 500 and 700 B.C. was when the first real images of gods came into being. The reason that Paul had a harder time teaching the Jews about the Messiah was because it was blasphemous for a Jew to call an image God. The Jews could not believe that Jesus was God’s Son, because all through history they were forbidden graven images. The Greeks, on the other hand, had been worshipping carved images of gods for hundreds of years. For this reason it was easier for the Greeks to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. The Karyatids are not examples of gods, but they are examples of some of the extraordinary artwork that was put into Greek statues. The very fine details are more then breathtaking. The remarkable facial features and poise of the ladies are also wonderful to see.   

 

Here is a picture of our whole group at Mars Hill just to prove to everyone back home that we were actually there. The middle picture is of our guide, Costos, as he read Paul’s sermon to us in Greek. After our wonderful excursion to the Parthenon and Mars Hill, we all went back to the bus and headed for Corinth. We stopped at a souvenir shop on our way to Corinth. [No picture available] This was our first real shopping experience in Greece and we were all delighted with the fine, painted pottery and wonderful jewelry. There were also pretty, carved boxes made of wood and marble and lovely Greek statues. Be warned, though, if you ever travel to Greece, the first shop you go into will be a wonderful experience, but every other shop will be EXACTLY the same. Many of us ended up buying the same things in different cities. “This pot is from Corinth, this pot is from Athens, this pot is from Delphi, etc…” But it was fun to see the artistic abilities of the local Greek people anyways. J

 

Corinth

 

 Ooooo! That’s me! I am the one with the video camera, [which I never really got working]. Costos took us down to what remained of an old marble road that led into Corinth. Here in the ground is a marble plaque with the name “Erastus – City Treasurer of Corinth – built by my own resources”. This is wonderful proof of Biblical truth. Paul mentioned in his letters to Corinth the treasurer, Erastus. It was so neat to see Biblical history literally carved in stone.

 

Inside the Corinthian museum at the ruins we were able to see several wonderful pieces of pottery. One of the bowls that Costos pointed out to us was a jar of clay. Paul talks of our treasures being in pots like this and it is easy to imagine a fine piece of jewelry inside these jars. The way Paul compared our heavenly treasures to these jars was fascinating and so much fun to learn about. We were also able to see some other artifacts rescues from the ruins such as these mosaics.

 

This stone arch-way is actually the old booth of a meat seller. On the feast days in Corinth, all the people would bring there sacrifices to the temple priests. After the sacrifices, the priest would take some meat and the people would take some meat. After roasting the meat of over a thousand sacrifices the priests had a lot of left over meat. This is a booth where meat would be sold very affordably on feast days. It was one of the only days out of the year that meat could be bought at a cheap price. It is for this reason that Paul talks about Christians eating meat sacrificed to idols. He writes about it in his letter to the Corinthians.

 

This is a picture of the small marble column used to whip people publicly. It is in front of the “bemas” seat. The “bemas” seat is a place where a town judge or magistrate would pass judgment on a person accused of a crime. If the person was found to be guilty, they were bent over this marble column and tied down with there hands hooked to the iron ring that would have dangled from the side. Every city in Rome has one of these columns and it was on a similar pillar that Jesus would have been flogged. This was a very sombering moment, and it is hard describe our thoughts and feelings at that moment. As Mr. H said, our hearts wanted to stay longer, but our bodies wanted to leave because the weather was soooooo cold!

 

This is a picture of the old wells [I think] that Corinth had. Some water still runs in them and if you bend down to look inside the tunnels, it’s sort of eerie because all you see is blackness. All the ruins of Corinth were very spectacular although they were not well preserver. In Corinth, we also saw the ruins of a small temple dedicated to Apollo, the god of prophesy, music, and reason. The archeologists in Corinth were working on uncovering the remains of what they believed to be the old synagogue. If that is true, we were standing in the same area that all of Acts 17 took place!

            Up on a huge hill behind Corinth stands the remains of Aphrodite’s temple. Young boys and girls used to worship Aphrodite, the goddess of love, with their bodies. This is a huge contrast to the Parthenon in Rome. Parthenon, in Greek, means house of the virgin. Worshipers at the Parthenon would honor the goddess with virginity. The young temple prostitutes would shave their heads and write, “follow me” in their sandals so that worshippers could easily recognize them. Most of these young ladies, after hearing Paul’s preaching, left the temple and its lifestyle, and joined the church. However, some of the Christian women looked down on they girls, and so Paul addressed the issue of beauty, disgrace and God’s forgiveness in one of his letters to the Corinthians.

 

Everything in between

 

?On the road again ???? I just can’t wait ? to get on the road ? again! ???? I think we spent, on average, 4 to 5 hours a day on the bus. It wasn’t that bad though, because the scenery was beautiful and we had lots of cards and a few guitars [and a mandolinJ]. We passed the time singing, doing hair, learning card games, reading books, talking, and of course sleeping. We also did several “GBT-moments”, which were times when we read GBT books relating to the places we visited or were going to visit.

 

 

Wednesday the 19th dawned cool, crisp and blue. 31 shivering Americans, alone in a strange land, piled into their blue bus. Time: 8:30. The valley was over-hung by looming cliffs strongly resembling huge boulders stacked a'top each other. Up the mountainside we went, guided by our most admirable driver, Mr. Sakis, whilst our guide, Mr. Costis, spoke about numerous fascinating things related to the "boulders". Reaching our destination; a monastary, we alighted from our vehicle and looked about us. Hundreds of feet above the village, birds flew about in flocks -- it fairly breathed picture. :-) Our group, led by Mr. Hinrichs, stood before a monastary to which there was no entrance but a net, hoisted up to a platform by the monks. That is, that's how it used to be. Thank goodness. In later years, a large stone stairway was built, and up it we wound our way. Inside a monkery or nunnery, girls are required to wear skirts supplied by the monastary themselves. One size fits all--you know the sort. Thus bedecked, we entered the monastary, gazing at eachother with much satisfaction. Inside the monistary peacefulness reigned supreme. It was filled with intricate carvings and Icons. The Icons were the most remarkable. Many depicted the saints, Christ, and apostles, but most depicted scenes from the Bible, martyrdoms, and the monanstary. It was amazing.

Later, after returning to our bus, Mr. Costis offered us the not-to-be-missed opportunity to see exactly how Icons were painted. We visited a family owned shop and "spectated". First of the process is the wood. They used many different woods, two of which were pine and olive. Next it was carved by hand into a picture frame sort of board, with decorations about the edges and the painted began. First an outline is drawn, and then defined. After which, they fill in the dark colors and lighten and finish. All this is done with the arm resting upon a rod to keep it steady. This finished, the artist picks up a sheet of 22 k. gold and flips it back and forth on his beard, which melts it (perhaps?) with static electricity. It is laughable to watch, but very effective, I dare say. :-) He then lays it on the background and repeats the procedure with a second piece. After this is dry, the artist will drawn the crown. Fascinating procedure.

--Note on food in Greece--

We have been enjoying experimenting, but the choices seem to be rather limited...strangely enough. We are always grateful for food, but the longing comes upon one to taste good ol' American food. Yum...mashed potatoes!

In Greece, breakfast is composed of eggs (perhaps), toast or bread (always, and generally not fresh), deluted juice of some kind (always), and cheese and ham. The same sort of cheese and ham at every hotel. Oh! And peaches. Musn't forget the peaches! Canned peaches. These are also used very generally as desserts.

As for lunch, it is whatever we please, but almost cannot be had without a side of potatoes. Several of us girls have been going to the super-market at night and the bakery in the morning for a sack lunch and picnic. We do not buy potatoes. :-D

Supper seems to be a meal with much the same qualities. It is served in three courses: Spaghetti and bread, which is very tasty, or a cheese pastry which takes a wee bit of getting used to.  Next comes a salad of chopped cabbage. Lastly, comes--guess what?! Potatoes! ;-) Actually, they were very good tonight! Also comes beef, lamb, or pork. In all, it's much to get used to, but rather good.

Ever tried squid? Don't eat it cold. *shivers*

All in all, we are indeed having a jolly time. At this very moment, I am composing this at a table in an Internet Cafe, with Greek music blaring through the speakers. It's mostly drums, naturally...

Have I written too much? Please take into consideration that *I* take into consideration that you have heard from us only once. :-D I'm simply being amiable.

However, there are things to be done, and things to be seen! (primarily, lunch for tomorrow. :-D ) Therefore, Cheerio all, and God bless!

Monica Hurd, et omnes.  

 

Thermopylae and Kalambaka

 

We arrived at Thermopylae mid-morning on our way North to Kalambaka. Thermopylae is the infamous plain where Xerxes led his army of six-million Persians against the small army of the Spartans and the Thebans. During the days of Xerxes, the pass was bordered by the sea on one side [which has since receded] and the mountains on the other. The pass was the main way to Athens, and this is he way the Persians took. The Persians were marching against Athens to completely destroy, along with ALL its inhabitants. They had destroyed every Greek city-state the came to and now wanted to destroy Athens to put an end to the beginning Western Civilization. Leonides, the Spartan general, held the pass from the Persians until every man died. The Persians where so amazed at the valor of the Spartans that buried them and put up a memorial in their honor. We where able to see this memorial. It reads, “Here rest the Laodiceans [the other name for Spartans]. True to their word.” They were true to their word because they promised to help Athens and every last man  died keeping this promise. Because the Spartans held the pass, the Athenians had time to retreat to Salamis. Xerxes, in the mean time, sacks Athens. He is told that the Athenians are ready to meet him in battle at Salamis. Because he is so confidents that he will win, he has a throne placed on the hill overlooking the straights of Salamis. However, the straights of Salamis are very small, and the Persian, once in the straights, was out maneuvered by the small Athenian ships. Every Persian ship was lost and because these were the supply ships for Xerxes army, Xerxes is forced to retreat. The Athenians are able to return to their city and rebuild it. [We have no pictures of the monument in Thermopylae]

 

We arrive in Kalambaka towards evening. We spent the night here and some of us were able to get a little shopping done. Our hotel was absolutely beautiful, and I believe everyone would agree with me that only the hotel in Tolo was more beautiful. The cuisine was wonderful and some of us even got to try Mr. Hinrich’s favorite wine. [hint: it is made out of tree sap and something bitter] We let Mr. H finish his bottle on his own; however, I took his bottle home as a souvenirJ. Tomorrow we would be visiting the beautiful monasteries of the Meteora. The monasteries are built on huge rock cliffs and ledges that rise out of the plain like massive giants guarding the little city below. The rocks themselves are full of little caves and holes that monks crawl around in. If you look close, sometimes you can see little balconies in these caves, as well as ladders and even herbs hanging up-side-down. On one exceptionally vertical cliff [about fifty-seventy feet high] was a ledge covered in beautiful handkerchiefs. It is the tradition in this little town that if a man wants to marry a woman, he  must first take her handkerchief and, climbing free-hand, must tie it to poles at the top of the cliff. This will prove to her father and mother that he is a capable and strong man, worthy of their daughter. The monasteries themselves sit hundreds of feet in the air and are only accessible by winding roads with tiny guard rails. The monks, back when the monasteries were young, did not have roads and the only way into the monastery was by crawling into a net and being hoisted up by the other brothers. J We were able to this net and stand on the little balcony that overlooked this exceptionally dangerous-looking precipice. Oh, I forgot…Before any of us ladies where allowed to enter the monasteries, we had to put these lovely floral skirts on overtop of our jeans which were so kindly provided by the nuns. It was a lot of fun J.

 

Inside the monasteries we were able to see a nun getting wax off a beautifully made carpet by ironing a piece of newspaper over the wax. This melted the wax and transferred it to the paper. I was slightly surprised to see a nun with an iron, but then again, this IS the twenty-first century J. Our wonderful guide, Costos, explained about all the intricate paintings on the wall and told all their stories. After a while, most of us caught on to what the paintings depicted and were able to make accurate guesses as to what the other pictures meant. It was neat because the painters where consistent with their characters and there where certain features that made Paul, Paul and not Peter. The paint used in these vivid and wonderful pictures was achieved by mixing vinegar, egg yolk, and colors from the earth. It was almost a lost art but a few priests still practice this traditional painting. We were able to watch these priests paint Peter and Paul freehand. It was absolutely amazing. The detail and shading! Everything about these paintings was amazing. We were also able to walk around on the stone balconies overlooking the plain of Kalambaka. The view was breathtaking. Mountains are always wonderful to see, but the way in which this landscape was laid out was worth every second of the extremely long bus ride and plain trips combined. Many pictures were taken and memories were made. The monestaries also had wonderful gift shops where we could by CD’s of music made by the monks and we could postcards and pictures of the beautiful buildings. There were also wonderful gardens, interesting toilets [I will leave it at that] and plenty of culture shock. I think the monasteries was one of the highlights for many of us. [Of course, it is so very hard to choose.]

The scenary was absolutely beautiful from the top of the monasteries, although getting to the monasteries was a little scary b/c of the steep roads.

 

The scenary was absolutely beautiful from the top of the monasteries, although getting to the monasteries was a little scary b/c of the steep roads.

 

Our next adventure lay in the legendary city of Delphi. We spent the night singing and dancing, although we got a few “looks” from the manager. J It is here, in Delphi, where the old men of renown would come to hear the future or answers to their questions. A very interesting thing happened in Delphi a long time ago. It was at this same place that Caesar Augustus received a prophesy about another king whose kingdom would last all of eternity. This was a prophesy about Jesus, and it is a comfort to know that God controls even the wicked religions and turns them for His glory. The neat thing about Delphi is that it was a working oracle for over a thousand years. It makes one wonder how something so sacrilegious could be so trusted and accurate. We learned from Costos that Satan cannot come up with his own religion, but must copy from that already made. The temple at Delphi was a fraudulent replica of the Jewish Tabernacle and Satan thrived at the oracle, deceiving and spurring on this unsacred way of life, for many sad years. The temple is complete with a “Holy of Holies” and a priestes [who had to be a 50 year old virgin].The buildings at Delphi were built below Mt. Parnassus, and also included a stadium built into a hill above the temple. We were able to race along this track like the athletes of old, and even shared a “GBT moment” at the stadium.

Corinthian Canal

This is the car ferry over the Corinthian Isthmus. We took this ferry to arrive on the Peloponnesian peninsula. The water here was beautiful and the boat ride was lovely…complete with a restaurant and four-stall bathrooms J. There was actually a bridge being constructed to help with traffic when the Olympics come to Athens in a few years.

 

 

hm, i hardly know where to begin...it has all been so wonderful! We have a fun few hours in London, and everyone hit it off pretty quick, it's a really fun group.  The 1st day at Athens was freezing cold, at the Acropolis there was rain and wind, and i was pretty miserable but i still really enjoyed seeing everything. The \parthenon was really neat, and Mars Hill was really neat to see even though we didn't go on it, only on the stairs.  The next day at Corinth had much better weather.  \we got to see the Agora and some other interesting things haveing to do with the Bible that i will tell you all about when i get back.  I couldn't believe how much there is at the Agora. OUr guide, named Costus, is a really neat Christian, and he tells us  all about the Biblical significance of everything, which is really great. The next day we went to Thermopolaea, which wasn't as big of a deal as many of the other places that we've been as far as what there is to see. After that we headed to Kalambaka and Meteora.  We got to go into a nunnery and the 2nd largest monestarty.  That was one of my favorite places, ever since Mutti told me all about it, i've really been looking forward to it, and it deffinately wasn't anticlimactic! :-)\it was really spectacular! \the view was so amazing! we also had tons of fun shopping around in the town of Kalambaca.  All the towns have tons :-) After Meteora, we went to Delphi, which was spectacular as well.  The view from Delphi was really neat with all the layered hills and the Corinthian Gulf (at least i think that's what it was) i really loved it and took lots of pictures. I am already on my 9th roll of film!! \i'm so glad you gave me as many rolls as you did mom! (mother knows best!) Today we went to Olympia which was really neat and overflowing with wild flowers.  we made tons of daisy chains, and i am pressing a few of them in my journal to bring home.  we had a race, and Everet Quivey won, so we made him a Laurel wreath. :-) on our way to Tolo, where i am now, we stopped at a really cute town that looked Italian. I would have loved to spend more time there. \in the last 3 hotels and this one( meteora, delphi, olympia) we had balconies at our hotels with great views, and we have loved shopping in the cute little towns.  i also Loved the Corinthian Gulf, it was gorgeous!! I've been fealing great with an occasional coughing spell, which isn't so bad. I also got to eat squid! well, i should probably wrap it up here, Tolo is really cute and clean, and it's the best hotel yet!I can't wait to tell you guys averything, i just wish you could see it!

I love you all very much!

Autumn

ps~ we're pretty safe with the world situation and all, don 't be scared!! :-)

 

 

Olympia

 We continue on our journey [another long trip in the bus] and arrive in…yes! Olympia, Greece!!!! Yeah!!!!!

Olympus was truly one of the most magnificent ruins we went to. There are still columns of “marble” [actually cheap stone painted over to give the appearance of marble] pillars standing, however they are lacking both a roof and a floor. The entirety of Olympia was taken over by wild flowers, and what ruins are left are unfortunately not well preserved. [Except for this lovely statue in full color. We read the label and found out this lovely statue was named “Elizabeth VonHeiland”]. We also saw two stone tubs that had been constructed in a small gymnasium. One of the tubs would have held ash, for gymnasts, and the other would have held oil for the wrestlers [just to make the wrestlers extra slipperyJ.] 

Olympia was dedicated to Zeus [something different since Delphi was dedicated to Apollo and Athens to Athena and the hill by Corinth to Aphrodite]. These columns are examples of how the ruins are not well preserved. It is a controversy among archeologists whether to rebuild the “ruins” or leave them as history has made them. Most of us believed that a center ground should be found because the current state of the ruins are not protected against anything.

At Olympia we were able to race from the original, marble starting line [dated 776 B.C.] For some of us poorer runners, however, we saved ourselves the humiliation of losing a race and decided instead just to walk the length of the stadium. Besides, how many times are you going to be in Olympia Greece?

Oh, by the way, Everett won the race, with Caleb Davenport in a very close second. It is tradition that the winner wear a laurel wreath, provided so ingeniously by Jennifer. This was such a wonderful place [one of my personal favorites J].

We were also able to see the place where the torch is lit every year, using the sun’s reflection…………………………On the road again ……..

This is one of the lovely towns we stopped in on our journey to Tolo. We made some good friends, all of them dogs, and learned a little about cannonballs. Did you know that cannonballs didn’t always explode? At first they were just round, solid stones.

 

Friday, March 21st

By Lindsey Hurd

  The sun rose cheerily, and sleepy students stumbled down the winding hotel stairs under the ever-increasing load of their luggage as the time of departure arrived.  Destination: Ancient Olympia. 

  The city was lovely.  Its ruins sprawled across the vast grounds and the green tufts of grass and bright flowers peeking from the crevices gave the place a festive air. Certain ETSians gathered daisies and scarlet popies, adorning themselves with chains of flowers while Mr. Costos regaled them with history of the various buildings.  Particularly admired was Zeus' palace, whose huge pillars lay prone upon the ground where they were cast by an earthquake shortly after Olympia was destroyed by Theodosis, emporer of Rome.  

  Despite their innocent youth and the majesty of their surroundings, the flower-gathers were capable of Puckish mischief (particularly that of Miss Von Heiland). Having no regard for the dignity of their honorable tutor, they took advantage of his cold-inspired meekness to deck his beard with flowers and crown his brow with a wreath of daisies. The mishief did not end here however, for certain people enlarged the crime by taking many photographs.  

  From thence, everyone proceeded to the stadium, where certain brave souls competed at in a race over the ground were Greece's finest anthletes had sped, as spectators sat upon the gentle incline of the surrounding green banks. After moments of breathless waiting, in which all spectators admired the grace and agility of the conquizants, Everett arrived victorious at the finish line.  In the proper style of antiquity, he was decked with a wreath of laurel and carried about with great pomp upon the shoulders of his admirers.

  In the evening, the bus arrived in the beautiful city of Tolo, which is located on the edge of the sea.  Mr. Costos escorted all to the ancient acropolis of Asini nearby, the ruins of which stand upon an impressive series of rocks, jutting sharply into the sea. The view was beautiful. The ruins were beautiful. The boulders were beautiful.  After thorough exploration, they returned to their hotel via the beach. Following a meal of the omniscient shredded cabbage, lamb, and potatoes, the weary travellers rested in their little beds as the waves rushed across the sand below.

  Lindsey Hurd

 

 

 

 

Tolo

 Tolo was THE most scenic hotel we went to. It was right on the Aegean Sea…WOW! Costos took a group of us climbing up some old ruins where we received the view of a lifetime….a huge bay with a few islands as the sun was going down. That was great. And then we all played MOW, a card game taught to us by Everett. If you don’t know how to play, don’t ask…chances are you won’t understand it anyway!

 

Mycenae

We visited Mycenae next. Mycenae is the home of the great King Agamemnon, who was so unfortunately killed by his mean wife while he was in the bathtub. [It is fun to note that on our way back to the hotel we passed another hotel that said “Clytemenstra’s Hotel…baths included J]. The reason was because she was having an affair and his return from the ten year siege on Troy ruined her plans.

 

The stones in Mycenae are so incredibly large and heavy it’s a wonder how the ancients lifted them into place. Some weighed 80 tons!  We stopped for several “GBT moments” as we made our way up the slippery marble ruins.

One of our wonderful “GBT moments” included the “Jean-Scream” as she portrayed the crazed prophetess that Agamemnon brought home from the Trojan war. The story goes that Apollo, the god of prophesy, fell in love Cassandra but she refused him. Apollo blessed her with the gift of prophesy, but cursed her with the fact that no one would believe these prophesies. She goes mad trying to persuade people to believe and the day when someone does believe her, Apollo doomed her to die. This also comes true because Cassandra persuades the people in palace that Agamemnon is being killed in the bathtub by his wife and her lover, and in the end Cassandra is killed by Clytementra. It’s a sad story but was portrayed very well by Jean Peacock J.

This is a wonderful view of the hillside ruins of what remains of the Great King Agamemnon’s dwelling place.

We also went down many dark staircases to the bottom of a well. The well is refilled naturally by the ground water and must be hauled up in buckets up what seemed like hundreds of stairs. We were are pretty bruised and soggy by the time we made it out again J. Those tiny little flashlights just didn’t do justice to the looming darkness of the ancient tunnels.

Here are more pictures of the ruins at Mycenae. Another interesting thing they say about this place is that the fall of Troy was seen all the way over in Mycenae. This is very unrealistic but there were several ingenious ways of communications that the ancients possessed that made this claim slightly more believable…but only slightly.

 

We were able to see pottery also, which was very well intact for being so old. These ruins also were not well preserved by Costos was able to rouse our imaginations with descriptions and stories.

Here is a tomb we visited. The acoustics were great so of course we had to quiz our singing! The songs bounced off the walls making a lovely sound and we all enjoyed the fact that most of us were not as tone-deaf as we sounded the first time we sang.

The ruins of Mycenae stretched over a large area, but overall it was not as large of a ruin as some of the other places we visited.

Here is the tomb we sang in. The inside of the tomb was cone shaped and VERY tall inside. The acoustics were wonderful and, no, we didn’t see any skeletons and dead people. I believe any remains found in the tomb was sent to museums. The tombs were actually underground for a long time and were found when a horse’s hoof sank into the ground where the tomb was. This how Costos said that the excavation of the tombs began.

 

Saturday, March 22

By Autumn Hinrichs

  Hi everybody! I have the privelege of writing this chronicle for you - for the 2nd time, thanks to the wonderfull internet connection at our hotel. :-)  Saturday was a really neat day, though it had an interesting twist for some of us. I and about 6 others woke up sick, we think due to the dinner we ate at the hotel at Tolo. It was a seemingly innocent meal, it tasted delicious the 1st time.

  It was also a very cold day, with rain and wind. Luckly, though, it wasn't as bad as our first day in Athens.  WE kept as warm as we could by bundling up and hudling up together under our little umbrullas. I think at one time we had 10 of us under 1 all at once! It's an interesting way of bonding.

  The first place we went to was Agammemnon's palace at Myceneae. Everett Quivey and Amanda Helland performed Agammemnon's home comming confrontation with his wife Clytemnestra on the threshold of the lion gate. From the lion gate, we climbed more stairs and saw the royal bed chambers and the bath area where Agammemnon was actually stabed to death by Clytemnestra.  Here, Jean Peacock demonstrated Cassandra's prophetic vision of Agammemnon's death.  This is as far as i made it before heading back to the bus to get some rest.  The others went on to see tons of tombs.  I did get to see the last and the greaquiz of the tombs, and it was really impressive. WE Sang Amazing Grace and the Doxology to hear the wonderfull acoustics. As we were driving from Myceneaea, we saw a sign for "Clytemnestra's: Room and Bath". Interesting implications with that one...

  The next Sight was The Theater at Epidaurus.  By this time many of us were fealing better.  It was really neat to see this magnificent piece of history, and to stand at the top and hear keys jingling all the way at the bottom.  We quized the accoustics here too, of course by singing Dona Nobis. After hearing so much about it, it was really cool to actually be there and see and hear the real thing. At Epidaurus we also got to see an ancient hospital were many people were healed, and the reconstruction of the temple that was there.

  Despite sickness and cold, it really was a fun day. We had tons of fun, fellowship, games and great conversations on the bus. With a group like ours, there's never a dull moment. Well, if there was, I was asleep for it.  Seeing these amazing ruins and remains really brings history and the Great Books to life.  It has been a wonderful experience!

 

Epidaurus

Epidaurus is one of the most intact amphitheaters left in the Greece. It could hold about 12,000 people! We climbed to the top to listen to the acoustics, which were remarkable. We could here paper being torn like it was right next to our ears. The dropping of a small coin was very easy to hear, and when someone shuffled their feet along on the wet gravel many of us were tempted to say “stop!” because the sound was very loud and unpleasant due to the acoustics. Many plays could have taken place here, including some that we read in GBT.

 

This column piece was found buried in the ground. It is believed to have been the original that would have been copied to make all the rest look the same. The apprentices would look at the original and then make a replica. The original was not used very often, only the replicas.

The archeologists are rebuilding the temple at Epidaurus.  Many of the original stones are being used.

Yup, you guessed it! On the road again!

Homeward Bound

Mr. Hinrichs with our wonderful guide Costos. Costos was truly an exceptional guide and his love for the Lord and for history inspired us all. He was overqualified to be a tour guide and we could only be thankful that he had the patience to share with us a lot of what he knew.

 

. When the trip finally came to a close, we all went our separate ways. Most of us had LONG, 9 hour layovers in London plus 8-12 hour plane rides home. None of us wanted to leave, but I know we were all happy to sleep in our own beds J.

Hi Autumn!! The Californians had the longest journey home and the biggest time difference so they had the worst time getting over jet-lag.  

This is Mr. Hinrichs and little Benjamin. As you can see, Benjamin is overjoyed at his father’s return J. I know we were all happy to be reunited with our families. What an adventure! 

Hey Everyone!

Well after 3 days of trying to get home...we are finally back! As you all know, monday we all flew back to gatwick. We saw most of you tues morning just b4 we boarded our plane...the ride went pretty well exept for 1 minor little detail...OUR PLANE WAS LEAKING FUEL!!!! We sat in the plane for an hour b4 take off when the pilot assured us this 'leak' was no biggy. About an hour into the flight,he informed us that he and all the other tech people were wrong and the leak was getting worse. So of course we did the most logical thing we could do at that point and flew to Amsterdam! (ps Liz...I have now 'officially' been there..my passport was stanped!lol)And just because I know you all really want to know how they got ride of all out extra fuel(there is a max amount of fuel allowed in the plane at landing)Ill tell you...they opened the tank and let a lot of fuel spew out of the wing tips! It was the scarriest sight ive ever seen...I have the window seat right behind the wing and all this fuel continues to fall out for at least 5 minuets. (We got pix and a video of this!) When we finally landed in Amsterdam, we had to sit on the plane for another hour because they were concidering fixing it 'really quick' and starting over. It was already like 8 or 9 pm. They ended up paying for all the passengers to stay and eat at a 4 star hotel. It was great! And there were no traces of anything potatoeish! (Sorry for my grammer mr h;) Alas after a goodnight sleep my mom woke up just intime for us to run and catch the bus(this wonderful 4 star hotel managed to forget our wake-up call:). After getting stopped at every single security point, we finally go on our lovely 10 hour flight home. It was a great ride, although my mom and brother tell me I was getting pretty giddy by the end;) After the last 3hour drive, we finally made it home! I think we're managing the jetlag pretty well...I was able to sleep in to 4am this morning!

Just thought Id let you all know we all got home saftly! I miss ya'll (agh! im converting to texan!)

sooo much!

God Bless,

Christi Larsen