Today, we woke up at 6:00 for a 6:30 breakfast – an early morning. We were not prepared physically and mentally for the flight ahead, and the next leg of our journey, with such an early start to the day.
We departed from the hotel at 7:00 on the coach and successfully made our way through customs. However, some of us did lose our produce that we had bought yesterday at Oro d’Etna, because it had been left in our hand luggage!
We had a successful couple of flights, except some of us were unsuccessful in finding the McDonald’s in Rome airport. This really put a damper on our experience. Our flight to Rome from Catania airport departed 10:20, and our flight to Athens from Rome had 2:50 departure.
We arrived in Athens at around 6:30 Athens time. On the coach, for the first time on this tour we were allocated rooms by Mr Chambers. Some of us were happy with our room allocation, while others did not seem as content with the lack of control that they had. We then checked in to the hotel and had free time until dinner. Most of us rested while others played cards.
We had an 8:15 dinner, which was our first Greek dinner of the tour. There was much pestering of the Greek boys to explain the different foods on show on the buffet. Everyone found the food welcoming and delicious.
The last thing that we did for the day was a history lesson from Mr Chambers, giving us context about the history of Athens, and how it rose and fell throughout the years. We also discussed the many leaders who led their countries to victory and defeat. This was a very insightful lesson.
Today, we had a relatively relaxed morning, breakfasting at 7 30, however, we had a very action packed and tiring day seeing the sights of Athens,
Straight after breakfast, we rushed out of the hotel to catch the metro from Larissa station to Akropoli station. From there we toured the Acropolis Museum, which houses both some original artefacts from the Acropolis, as well as some reconstructions, which really helped us put what we were going to see later into context, as well as aiding in our understanding of the importance of preserving our archaeological history.
Having finished up at the museum, we undertook the short, yet tiring walk up to the Acropolis. The very first structure we saw upon
reaching the top was the Propylaea, the entrance gate to the Acropolis. Despite its age and its missing elements, it was still an imposing, yet beautiful building. As we walked through the gates, the most eye-catching thing we saw was, of course, the Parthenon. We had been able to clearly see the Parthenon from the rooftop terrace of our hotel, however, it was impossible to realise the true size of the amazing temple until we were standing right in front of it. The sight was awe-inspiring. We walked around the temple, taking in not only the building, but the views of the city of Athens, and the glinting ocean. We finally made our way around to the Erechtheion, a structure which, like the Parthenon, filled our minds with awe and wonderment.
After climbing down from the Acropolis, we were allowed to go in groups to get lunch, which we all enjoyed immensely. Having refuelled a bit, we walked to the Agora, which was the central meeting place for all Athenian citizens, and the democratic heart of the city. There, we had a brief look around before a quick visit to the museum. Then we walked up to the Temple of Hephaestus to take some pictures.
Leaving behind ancient Athens, we caught the metro to
a bakery, where Chris Ianuzzi’s grandparents very generously bought us all gelato, as well as some beautiful, sweet Greek treats to take with us. It has to be said that it was surprising that Mr Chambers actually shared them with us, given how delicious they were!
After catching the metro back to the hotel, we were
given the rest of the afternoon free. During this time, some of us went to the rooftop terrace, to either swim in the pool, or just relax, while others just chilled in their rooms, all very grateful for the time to recharge.
The day ended with a buffet dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, and afterwards, more time to relax around the hotel.
By Bradley Parker and Sam Perivolaris