Friday, May 29, 2009

Greek Easter, Spring Break II, and Corinth (APRIL 27-30, 2009)

Hello again! This post covers a long period of time because I really didn't do that much. After submitting my final project for Helma, our class took a break for Easter and just to have a week off of school. Everyone else went off somewhere, but lucky for me, my vacation was coming to me. On Thursday morning, I got up early to pick up Katt from Piraeus, the Athenian port. She had been in Crete for the past month doing grunt work at INSTAP, an archaeological center in Crete. She had taken the overnight ferry from Iraklion to Piraeus, and she got in at 5 am, two hours before I could get to her. I met her in the train station in Piraeus, and she was exhausted and stressed, so I got her the closest thing I could to a chocolate muffin and we set out for Athens, where she would meet up with Angelo, her landlord, and settle into her flat in Athens, where I would also be staying until the last week of May and commuting to the Athens Centre. It was totally worth it, because I got to spend almost every night with Katt, and I lost a significant amount of weight just from walking roughly 6 miles a day. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Katt's first weekend in Athens was Greek Easter weekend, and if you are not aware of how they celebrate Easter over here, you should seriously look it up. All I can say is that one description we found said that they mark midnight Easter morning with fireworks, gunfire, and dynamite….and that's about right, because it sounded like a warzone. Anyhow, after Greek Easter/Blow Ourselves to Bits and Hope We Get Resurrected Too Day, I had a week off, and neither of us felt like doing much of anything, so we didn't. Pretty soon Greek Civ round 2 with Alain began (along with the reopening of my favorite gyros place, which made me so happy). The first two site visits were to the Acropolis/Theatre of Dionysus and the National Archaeological Museum, both of which I had been to before, so nothing really new there. The excitement arose, however, with our trip to Corinth on the 30th, where we encountered the chain-smoking, grizzled, British archaeologist we all secretly hoped we would meet someday: Guy Sanders. Guy is an archaeologist trained as a geologist who could tell you about the geological and archaeological history of Corinth if you asked him. He could even give you his interpretation of the Persephone myth in correlation with the rape of Helen, but apparently he does that a lot and his stories always lead back to Helen. He is in charge of excavations at Ancient Corinth, which is excavated by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and he knows Paul,, since Paul had dug there a few years back. He gave us a private tour of the ruins, and by private tour, I mean we walked behind all the ropes and down into old fountain houses and made other tour groups either jealous or confused by Guy's insistence that the areas we were in were closed and they were not allowed in. After thoroughly confusing several people, he led us to a Medieval house/structure with a courtyard and exterior shops where he explained the history of the site. He then led us to the pottery sheds where he gave us a lesson in trade and economics through pottery. He also showed us the newest excavations on the site, where we saw people digging and sifting away, trying to add to the roughly 4% of the city that has been excavated thus far. After offering our goodbyes and a bottle of wine, and petting his fun-loving Jack Russell terriers, we were off to lunch and our other sites. We went first to Perachora, where there is a sanctuary to Hera right on the coast opposite Corinth, marking the boundary of Corinthian lands but also giving us another opportunity to clamber on rocks overlooking the site of the old apsidal temple. We even found a cave to climb into. It was fun times. We hopped back on the bus to the Diolkos, the ancient precursor to the Corinth canal, wherein the Corinthians charged a fee to drag goods or even boats across the Isthmus between the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs. After a bit at the two long ruts in the ground, we headed back to Athens, where we got ready for a four day weekend, including of all things International Labor Day, May 1st. So, faithful and patient readers, until next time…

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