I'm sorry for not writing in awhile, I've been in the Peloponnese!! Last week we loaded into two coach buses and traveled across the Corinth canal and from there visited the sites of Nemea, Isthmia, Mycenea, Olympia, Mystras, Messene, and Epidauros! It was a whirlwind trip full of many photo ops and fun times, as well as the opportunity to visit my favorite town of Nauplion again. We had fun but it was nice to come back to our little apartment and settle in for a normal week of school. I'm still really enjoying Modern Greek and feel like I'm learning more and more every day. A lot of the employees at my favorite places in Pangrati only speak Greek, so it's fun to order my coffees and loaves of bread in Greek, as well as surprise the English-speaking shop-owners with an ευχαριστώ (thank you) or Υασας! (hello/goodbye) I want to research whether any colleges in the Willamette Valley offer Modern Greek, because I don't want to come back home and lose all of my Greek! I suppose everyone who studies or lives abroad for a short period of time struggles with the same thing.
Today I had a really amazing morning with two on-site classes in a row. For History and Culture of Modern Athens we met in front of the Parliament building in Syntagma Square to begin our exploration of the Neoclassical buildings of downtown Athens. Of course, I used the opportunity to leave a little early and grab a take-away coffee at Costa, where I finally found coffee cups the size of what I'm used to! Feeling sufficiently caffeinated with a 20 oz. americano, I walked around the city and saw King Otto's palace (which now houses a museum of Modern Athens) and the trilogy of neoclassical buildings; the National Library, the National University of Athens, and the Academy of Athens. Also on our tour we passed by the charred exterior of the beautiful old cinema which was set on fire during the rioting last week. Following that class, I headed to the Acropolis to meet up with my Ancient Architecture class! After we entered the site the Professor veered off the path, across a rope and started to take us to the exit. He then proceeded to lead us around the western side of the Propylaea and we climbed up next to the temple of Athena Nike where we were able to walk around the construction area and get a close-up look at some of the pre-classical foundation. It was so amazing to be able to cross all of the ropes and walk over to the ledges of the Acropolis. At one point my professor had us walk out along the cliff next to the Erechtheion and look down at a piece of temple jutting out which hasn't been fully excavated yet. My professor has been working on the Acropolis for many years, and is still an active member of the technical team for the Preservation of the Acropolis Monuments as the architect in charge of the preservation of the Propylaea. If you can't tell, the class has definitely picked up after the last two weeks of architectural theory and drawing we've had. I can't wait for the rest of the semester, because if on the first day we were able to go in the staff rooms and climb along planks connecting ancient walls from active restoration projects, I can't imagine what the next few months hold!
After that exciting morning, I am now packing for my flight to Paris in the morning. We are staying in Montmartre and on our itinerary we have the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Catacombes de Paris , Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower, of course!! We will return on Clean Monday, and hopefully make it in time for some of the festivities and the Kolouma meal in Athens. Apparently the Municipality of Athens hosts an event near the Acropolis where they serve free olives, wine, halva and lagana (special Clean Monday bread) and fly kites and have Greek dancing! I will post some pictures of my trip to the Peloponnese in a minute; I took probably 400 pics but will spare you all and just choose some of the good ones. :) Hope everyone is doing well!!