Fall Break Discovering Ancient Greece
Greece Study Trip Fall 2012
Fall Break this year presented the students with an unparalleled opportunity to visit the magnificence of Greece. Ioanna Kopsiafti, the JFRC famed muse, led this 10-day experience by guiding the students through the best of both the ancient and modern worlds of Greece.
Upon landing in Athens, Ioanna brought the students to the Temple of Poseidon, set on a hilltop overlooking the Agean Sea. From there she explained the history and mythology behind it while the group enjoyed the splendor of the sun and sea. They then were treated to an incomparable seaside lunch before heading back into Athens for free time in the evening.
The following day gave the students a chance to learn about the ancient sites in Athens, including the Parthenon and Agora. The tours led by Ioanna illuminated the reality of the ancient world for the students by giving brief but poignant accounts of each site. The students then had free time in the city for the rest of the day where they explored various flea markets, public squares, and one of the many gyro or souvlaki kiosks. That night they were served dinner overlooking the Acropolis with traditional Athenian dishes.
From the bustling metropolis of Athens the students delved deeper into the mountainous country, settling into a hotel in Delphi which commands the finest views of the Gulf of Itea and the world’s largest olive grove. It also houses the Temple to Apollo alongside the ancient oracle, the history of which was brilliantly illuminated by Ioanna. This leg of the trip also included the small town of Arahova which houses Greece’s top ski resort, and where the students enjoyed a many-course meal featuring formaella, a locally produced cheese.
The next stop was Nafplio, which served as the base for the next few days. Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece, provided a wide array of architecture spanning the centuries for the students to explore, not to mention the number of shops, bars, and restaurants to indulge their Greek artisanal desires. These few days included a visit to the oldest and perhaps most famous theatre in the world, the theatre of Epidaurus. It has held performances from such playwrights as Aristophanes, Euripades, and Sophocles, as well as modern singers such as Maria Callas. Besides its origins, this theatre boasts acoustics that have been impossible to recreate, and magnify the gentlest whisper. The rest of the stops in these days included a visit to the statue of Leonidas in Sparta, who commanded the famed 300 Spartans that held off the Persians in the Battle of Thermopolis. Yet, perhaps the most important stop was in the home village of Ioanna where the students were greeted by another indulgent meal of only locally produced foods, including lamb, honey donuts, wine, and tsipouro, a Greek after dinner drink. In the town they interacted with the villagers and partook in a scavenger hunt giving them access to the vast generosity and offering a window into the intimate life of the small town life of Greece.
The trip concluded with a few well earned days of relaxation on the beautiful island of Mykonos. Some students visited the island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo, which served as an opportunity to explore an uninhabited expanse of mountain, sea, and cove. The final dinner of the trip took place on a beach overlooking one of the many beautiful bays on Mykonos. This dinner also included local specialties, and oddities, including fresh squid, sea urchin, and a caviar spread.
This trip was not only an opportunity for the students to have a relaxing mid-semester break, but it gave them insight into themselves made possible by ten days of beauty, good company, and self-reflection through the talents and inspiration of not only their incomparable guide, Ioanna Kopsiafti, but also the accompanying faculty, Susana Cavallo, Dean of Faculty, and Sander Evers, Professor of Classical History.