Thanks

To all the boys who came on the tour, a sincere thanks for helping to make it such an enjoyable and fruitful journey. We teachers all agreed that you were a great group of young men. I am sure you gained a wealth of knowledge about classics and ancient history which is simply impossible to attain in the classroom. I’m confident you also had unforgettable experiences and forged deep relationships with each other which will last for years.

To all the family and friends who’ve made the trip possible and supported us along the way, we have really appreciated your help. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.

We have had an amazing time leading the tour; we’ll go home with great memories of our own.

-Alex Fisher, Mark Chambers & Alex Pyne

Final Countdown

Once again, I have shown my ineptitude with technology. After being kicked out of airport Wi-Fi twice, I demonstrated that I do not understand the difference between ‘Save Draft’ and ‘Publish’. So sorry for the late post guys, but here it is:

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After an exhausting day in the gorge, we were looking forward to a chill last day before we left Greece. We woke up late, sat on our front porches and grabbed a quick drink. After breakfast, we hopped on our bus to Suda Bay. We reached the cemetery, where we took a look at some graves and paid our respects to the dead. After half an hour in the cemetery, we were picked up by our coach and driven to Chania. We visited the national archaeological museum of Chania, and saw some ancient things for a short while, like some impressive mosaics and grave steles. Later, we visited the maritime museum, where we saw some more cool things. The museum contained artefacts from ancient Bronze Age times to world war 2. Finally, we went and checked out a replica of an ancient Minoan ship, which was much less impressive than most of us envisioned. Finally, we went back to the hotel, where we had a fun team quiz. We were split into five teams, and we battled it out for the top. After Team One won the quiz by a one point lead after 10 gruelling rounds, we went to bed in preparation for the big day traveling home tomorrow.

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A GORGEous day

What a GORGEous day in the Samarian gorge of Southern Crete. After a big night we were all pretty destroyed just like Brazil. Although we just got up at 5:45 we didn’t lose the world cup. (Germany 7 – Brazil 1). We headed to a lovely buffet breakfast in which no-one woke up early enough to be able to take full advantage and GORGE ourselves on the spread. We were shoved onto the bus which was claimed to be a 1.5 hour trip but somehow managed to turn into 3.

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With all that aside we ROCKed up at the top of the soon to be 16 km walk of the majestic Samarian Gorge. Marcus stacked up on a few early morning coca-colas to get him going. Because that’s the sort of drink that gives long lasting energy”’. Anyway back to the day, we declined a steep 2km very rapidly , showing us as well who was going to be the leaders and laggers of the day. With Mr Chambers at the back keen to swim every time water showed up and Mr Pyne bouncing off rocks convincingly with his sturdy shoes and setting a good pace. With small stops every few km’s and a nice lunch break in the middle of the 5 hour walk, it was truly a serene area. Green trees and humoungous mountains surrounding us. It was at times hard to take in the gravity of how beautiful the area we were in actually was as we continually had to look at where our next step would be. For Ed and I, it was one of our favourate locations as it gaves us and the boys some personal space and ability to take in and remember where we have been, as there was a lot of thinking time.

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With an interesting grand finale of the trip, Tim Latif was chased to the exit by some goats which obviously did not see a future friend in him. Walking out of the gorge and leaving it behind we entered a small town where we waited in the 700 degrees sand/ pebbles/ rock/ and had our daily dose of gyros. Before the ferry back to the bus. We are currently writing this on the ferry with some tired and sore boys on the beautiful waters although it isn’t as Samarian GORGEous. With only one day left the new boys are still going hard.

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(PS sorry for bad puns)

Cheers,

Ed penrose, Rafi newell

Is this not but a Minotaur, a false creation proceeding from the heat oppressed brain.

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Last night was our first night experiencing the great atmosphere of Rethymon, as we adolescently ambled through its streets, and came upon many of its luxuries. These luxuries included feet nibbling fish, and a variety of traditional deserts. Our morale was brought even higher through the anniversary of Nick Adgemis’ birth, and we all aimed to make his 16th as memorable as possible.

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The wake up this morning was an early one, and everybody rose to a large variety of foods presented at the hotel buffet. Having indulged in different cuisines, we left the hotel at 8am and caught a long bus ride (in which most people caught up on lost hours of sleep) to Faistus, the site of a Minoan palace, which harbored a labyrinth. Our guide, Stella showed us around the palace whilst, she and the teachers, bestowed their knowledge upon us. We wrapped it up and got on the bus for the one and a half hour trip to Knossos.

We arrived in Knossos for lunch and loaded up for the big site ahead. We walked around the site with our trusty guide, Stella. After a period of approximately an hour of observing the grand palace, and its world famous frescoes (wall paintings), we got back on the bus and proceeded to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, where we were able to observe the treasures, which used to be at Knossos. There was a lot to be learnt at this museum, especially in the line of archaeology, where Sir Arthur Evans work was on full display. Some questioned and others supported his techniques. As our energy levels began to wane, our tour of the museum finished and we were all on the bus back to our hotel.

Today was one of the longer days of the trip, but now it is time to lick our wounds and prepare for what promises to be a great (and long) day tomorrow, the Samarian Gorge where we’ll walk 16-18kms every metre of which will be made worth it when we get to swim at the end.

Travel to Crete

We’ve had a big day of travel and we’ve arrived safely in Crete for the final leg of our journey.
Unfortunately, we’re having some issues with the internet, so the boys can’t post all their great photos.
Everyone’s well and happy with only a few days left.
Thanks for all the comments, we’ll do out best to keep the posts coming. See you back in Sydney.

Exploring Nafplio and the Islands

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Another late morning, not too long before we return home, we headed off today to Nafplio to see the site of a Venetian fortress, known as the Palamidi fortress, which has changed hands between the Venetians and the Ottomans many times. There were amazing views from the top of the fortress of the harbor of Argolic Gulf. The fortress was built in 1686 though its modern form was completed around 1714. There were many dark tunnels and long hallways to be explored along with tedious flights of stairs. We counted over 900 steps on our way back down from the Palamidi fortress to the small town where we had relaxed for over two hours. During this time, we explored the town and enjoyed traditional beautiful Greek food such as the gyros for lunch. Some of the boys headed to the beach, while the rest split up around the town, checking out the various shops and enjoying drinks and desserts. We then returned to the hotel by bus and planned to go out to travel around the island and coast.

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After travelling for about half an hour in a large boat, we stopped at a small island. A few explored the monastery sprawled on the top of it but most went for a swim, specifically to a roughly 6m high rock where we all jumped off with dives and front flips. We then returned to the boat, which we jumped of many times into the clear water. Having returned to the island, we had more hours of leisure time before we enjoyed a delicious dinner.

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Nick and Jake

Strollin’ through Tolon

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Today to continue our amazing tour of Greece with our guide Katarina, we visited the ancient sites of Mycenae (with the royal beehive tomb) and Epidavros. Mycenae was the capital city of a league of Greek states in the Peloponnese (south-west Greece or “the hand of Greece”), which was the main civilization in Greece that ruled from 1800BC-1125BC (which reached its peak in around 1400BC). Theories about the fall of the Mycenaean people are varied, ranging from a great earthquake to a sudden change of climate but the most accurate theory points to an invasion by the Dorian people from the north. The famed Lions Gate of Mycenae was truly impressive even though the ornamental lions heads of the gate were nicked when first excavated by Heinrich Schliemann who found the Acropolis (((the site of Mycenae is only the Acropolis home to the royal family, varied tombs (the most impressive being the royal Beehive tomb) and of course, temples to the goddess Gaia (meaning mother earth) with which these people were a monotheistic society))). We all went off to take a look at the site in our own time. We came across a small tunnel that led down 40 meters into the earth. It was pitch black and so some of us struggled to find our way down, but luckily no one was hurt. We aren’t too sure what it was used for but at the bottom there is a 2-foot drop, which didn’t lead to anything. After wandering around the Acropolis for 45 minutes and seeing the foundation ruins of these once awe inspiring buildings we left to go to the Mycenae museum which is honestly the “biggest” museum we’ve ever been in. The exhibits in the museum were all quality replicas as the real finds are being held in the National Archaeological museum in Athens. From Mycenae, we drove 40 minutes to the famed healing sanctuary of the god of healing, Asklepios where many came far and wide to cure themselves of a variety of afflictions. We arrived at Epidavros to a nice packed lunch of sandwiches and juice (though many could have eaten plenty more), before setting off to see Nick and Jake do their presentation before having Katarina tell us lots and lots and lots and lots of information about the historical sight. We went into the museum and looked at the artifacts. There were mainly statues and bits of old monuments and infrastructure. When we finished there we headed on over to the theatre and listened to the acoustics it had. We said goodbye to our guide and wandered off to the exit. We got lost and a bee stung Nick Agimus, but we found the exit in time and everyone caught up. However the shop clerk at a drinks stall cursed to Mr. Fisher and so Mr. Chambers was not too pleased with that. But despite all this we made it back to the hotel half an hour before Mr. Pyne predicted us to and so we all had a longer swim. Soon it was dinnertime and everyone ate, the calamari went rather rapidly, then the boys, myself included, went off to see the play. Our bus was late so Mr. Chambers gave us some background info on the story of the play and we waited. We got on the bus when it showed up and we had to get George and Ken, our Greek experts, to translate to the bus driver what we wanted and other stats. Then we were away… for 10 minutes before we had to stop and buy a ticket to Epidavros from the centre square of Tolon. Once that had been semi worked out we got on the same bus and continued our journey. It was a 40-minute drive. We got there and hurried to get good seats before the hordes of people showed up. Our seats were good and soon the play started. It had an odd and slow beginning but then it picked up with song as the background story. Luckily for us there were subtitles for the play so we knew what was going on. We saw the story of Helen of Troy in Egypt as Menelaus, her husband, washed up on their shores. She was set to marry the king’s son but did not wish to. When she met with Menelaus, they hatched a plan to escape and live happily back in Greece. The play came to an end and everyone seemed to enjoy it. We hopped back on the bus and what greeted us was a solid half hour of working out who had to pay whom for the tickets for the show and bus. It was rather tedious and confusing, but at the same time interesting and provoked much thought. Anyway things all turned out well, we got back at midnight and everyone was either asleep or watching the game. We learned quite a bit and everyone is craving the rest day we get tomorrow to explore the city and probably buy some things.

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A Super Mario adventure in Olympia

 

Today on our marvelous tour in Greece, we visited the Ancient site of Olympia, birthplace of the first Olympic games, which commenced over 1200 years ago. The games were held to celebrate the achievements of the human body and to honor of the Greek God Zeus. With our tour guide Mario, we discovered some of the unique secrets hidden inside this fabulous and history rich ancient city, which was submerged in water for more than 600 years. The site contained one of the Seven Ancient Wonders, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, which stood inside the temple of Zeus at more than 60 feet tall. As stated before the Olympic games were held here with fewer events compared to the modern Olympic games.

The games at Olympia are the most prestigious games in history and are still popular in today’s society, having a significant impact on the population when held every four years. Although there were fewer events in Ancient times it was still equally popular and entertaining. Unlike other games of the time, any Greek Poleis even some Roman settlements could participate. Mario, an experienced archaeologist and tour guide (almost 50 years) provided us with insightful detail into this Ancient site, helping us to understand broaden our understanding of the Ancient site of Olympia. The site also contained many other former grand and extravagant buildings such as the Temple of Zeus, Temple of Mother Gaia and the Temple of Hera. Mario explained the concepts of architecture used by the ancient Greeks to provide structural balance and the appearance of perfection of the temples. The temples were all built to different sizes but used the same formula; the side face equals the front face, times two, plus one. The sizes of the temple were determined by the importance of the deities.

After a few hours in ferocious heat, exhausted we were. Mario led us into an air-conditioned museum, a great relief for everyone. This museum contained many artifacts and pieces of archaeological evidence found from the site to be studied. Significant artifacts included casts of the Statue of Zeus, Hermes as well as warfare artifacts such as the Miltiades helmet and many others. We concluded our tour with Mario and embarked on a new journey, the bus ride to Tolon.

The journey lasted around three hours, and when we arrived in Tolon, everyone awoke to the sound of waves on the sea–shore, stunning views of the bay and the smell of sea salt. Within minutes of our arrival everyone jumped into their boardies and raided the sea–volleyball court after being inspired by the spirit and athleticism of the Ancient Olympics. We competed in a ferocious volleyball match and even Mr. Pyne participated.

After our swim, we raced to our rooms and quickly showered, and got changed for dinner. We scoffed our food in time to watch the France vs Germany match we were all excited about.

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Yasas!!!!

William Cassimatis and Jacob Nastasi

Selfie at Delphi

Richardo Zhangalopoulis

The enigmatic figure drew a deep breath, carefully selecting his words. He could feel the innumerable pairs of eyes on him, judging him, weighing up his worth. After a pause that seemed to last for eternity, he knew what to say. G’day mate. The words reverberated around the stadium. And it was that moment that I knew I, Richardo Zhangalopoulis, would forever be remembered for my brave words.

This an account of what happened at Delphi today. It was a wonderful place, and we checked out a sweet theater where I tested the acoustics by yelling our customary Australia greeting – “G’day mate”. In the morning, we all rose nice and early to check out of the hotel. After a short bus trip, we arrived at the museum, where we marveled at some sweet statues and friezes. We learned how the Greeks implemented some aspects of Egyptian sculpture in their kouros and kore statues.

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They also adopted the concept of the sphinx, but modified it so that it reflected their own culture. We then checked out some friezes that depicted: the battle between the Olympian gods and the giants; and the battle from the Trojan war. Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.11.57 PM

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 Then our guide showed us some Ancient Greek music sheets, which were much more complicated than they seemed.Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.12.09 PM

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the Omphalos, the supposed ‘bellybutton/centre of the world’. Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.12.23 PM

 It was a stone placed on the area where the two eagles of Zeus met, held up by this column.

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Our guide then showed us a cool bronze statue of an ancient charioteer, which was made by the same sculptor who made the amazing Zeus/Poseidon statue we saw the other day in the Athens museum.

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Then we went outside to see the actual site of Delphi, which Fin will now discuss.

Thank you Richard for reminding me how you beat me in English. I suppose that by now the faithful readers of the blog are beginning to tire of Delphi so I will keep this short and enthusiastic.

Delphi is the second most vertical place that we have tramped about. The truth is, as with most ancient sites, there wasn’t much left. Like these ancient sites, there isn’t much left of this blog post either. We visited the rubble formerly known as the Temple of Apollo. The main thing we got out of the tour of the site was knowledge concerning the topography of the site, and maybe those with a dash of imagination could imagine how it once was.

The rest of the day involved a drowsy bus trip with a stop to eat some Souvlaki and as always, a swim.

At the close of this blog, I pose to the readers a riddle, one which we have learned from one of the many stories recounted by Mr Chambers that concerns Delphi. And for bonus points, which Greek answered it correctly.

What has four legs in the morning, two at midday and three in the evening??????????????

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That’s all folks!!

Newingtons first battle and a big bus trip

A big day of travel for the boys on the 3rd day in Greece, along with some sightseeing at the National Archaeological museum in Athens a quick stop off to the site of the battle of Marathon and to top it off a warm welcome to the mountains of Delphi and it’s beautiful streets.

With an early morning start tension in the group was high as well as the usual morning race to have the first use of the toilet and shower. After a filling breakfast it was only natural that the trip to the National Archaeological musuem was met with overwhelming enthusiasm (It also helped that the museum was not 3000 degrees and was indoors.)  After a brief walk to the museum we embarked upon a stroll through halls filled with all sorts of beautiful greek history, including statues, pottery, weapons etc. dating back to the very first Greek settlers. As well as the desperate search for seats in each room.

The search for the seat in complete
The search for the seat in complete

What was good is the boys got some time to themselves to split up and look for bits in the museum relating to history that they enjoyed for themselves. We also had a look at the famous death mask of of King Agamemnon (general at Troy). After 2 hours at the museum we headed down to the cafeteria where we discovered a small tortoise they no one worked out how it ate/drunk/survived.

Rafi and the Tortoise
Rafi and the Tortoise

After a refreshing lunch we headed back to the hotel (semi-lost with Mr Chambers) we departed on the 1 hour  bus trip to the site fo the battle of marathon, in which it took less then 5 minutes for the boys to fall to sleep.  We arrived for a quick stop at the historic site of the battle of Marathon in which the Athenians won (Vs Persians).

Mr Pyne enthusiastically explaining the Battle of Marathon. Mr Fisher making an appearance
Mr Pyne enthusiastically explaining the Battle of Marathon. Mr Fisher making an appearance

After a quick chat we got back on and headed to the serene hillside town of Delphi with a smalls top at a country shop where we ingested some of the most unhealthy food ever seen. (a list of foods which I and Finn have never seen before). After this 3 hour drive we got the Delphi and checked into the homely hotel Acropole. With a nice dinner above us where Tim Latiff refused to eat his quiche which caused a debate between us year 11’s which is yet to end at 11 pm tonight. The night ending with a good walk around the town with a pass  of the football in the town square and everyone hoping to get some good sleep for the big night at the historic sites of Delphi tomorrow.

Playing some soccer in the square
Playing some soccer in the square

Cradle of Civilisation!

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With an early start to the day we embarked on a journey that we would never forget.  We caught the metro to Sintagma and walked to the steps of the Acropolis. We started at the Propylae and gazed at the surrounding city.

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We all spent a good hour investigating the sites of the Athenian Acropolis, with special interest to the Erechtheum, Temple of Nike and of course the Parthenon herself.

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Following this, we explored the ancient Athenian Agora, Temple of Hephastus and the Pnyx, discovering the fundamentals of democracy as well as seeing the cultural, social, religious and economical epicenter of the ancient world.

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We then headed to the Acropolis museum after a short lunch break. Through this visit we investigated the various original artifacts, the various methods they use to clean the artifacts as well as the ancient and more modern history associated such as the controversial debate on the returning of original artifacts from Britain after they were stolen by Lord Elgin in the 18th century.

Finally, the group travelled to the Plaka where we split into small groups and visited the various stores and markets seeing some unusual antique stores. After an hour of visiting this large array of stores we once again headed to the metro where we made our journey home.