Category Archives: Medieval & Modern History

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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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

Caserta, fiery chasms and a small-scale budget gladiator re-enactment.

The day began at the civilized hour of 7am when we were shoved onto a bus and whisked away to the daunting Mt Vesuvio. After getting all worked up on the long climb to the crater ahead of us we plunged into the mists and ascended the mountain. IMG_1542

We were introduced to our guide Julian who to Mr Chambers delight spoke fluent Latin.

 

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We entered the palace and instantly we were surrounded in 20 types of marble.

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The garden however are the main feature of the palace because they stretch out into the horizon on a slight slope and it is because of this slope that allows a large continuous flow of water across 120ha through five fountains each depicting a story of shiny white marble. We rode through the Caserta gardens on bikes that broke down repeatedly along the way. I think next tour needs at least half a 6-8 hours there just to hear chamber rant on about the mythology behind each statue.

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Following the water back down the slope to the palace we left to go to an amphitheater in Pozzuoli which is one of, if not the best preserved ancient Roman ring in the world. We could explore the cages and the arena underneath the ring and try to imagine what it would have been like 2000 years ago. Callum Tim and I re-enacted a scene from Gladiator which I inevitably won and we left for the lava fields Solfatara.

 

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After shedding a brief tear for the retirement of last years guide Bruno we walked across the moon-like landscape toward gas vents coming out of the earth. On the way we threw large rocks at the ground and felt just how close we were to a chamber of extremely hot gases. After having a look at boiling mud pools we then took the long trip back to the hotel.

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Going South

 

Ciao!

Having an intense dose of ancient history over the first two days, we mixed the pot this morning by traveling to Monte Cassino. After a two-hour drive along the Italian countryside we arrived at the 6th century Benedictine Monastery / WW2 battleground / Casino. The site is situated on the top of a 1700ft. peak at an almost vertical gradient.

 

After reveling in the traditional dances of the Italian monks (pictured below), we were gifted with quick tour of the monastery, after which we were granted a half hour silent tour of the Museum situated at the heart of the construction.  IMG_2468

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The tour of the museum provided two main benefits to us students. The first, was that we were able to appreciate the works in an environment that was so different from previous experiences, as it lacked the over-crowded atmosphere that was so typical of the Roman sites. The second benefit was the wonderful views that it offered (see below) – which consequently lead to our exploration of the Polish WW2 cemetery – containing the deceased allied Polish soldiers during the battles along the Gustav line.

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After examining the sites, one aspect that we found particularly interesting was the dates at which the soldiers perished. Having a decent understanding of the main battles fought in this region, it was interesting to link the dates with those on the tomb stones of the soldiers. Seeing the hundreds of soldiers tombs marked with the dates of the significant battles solidified the gravity of the aftermath of war.

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Our stomachs gave in on the way to Sorrento. At the bus driver’s recommendation we made a stop at the local deli where we cleared out the prosciutto and consumed a total of 52 sandwiches between the lot of us.

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We are exhausted, so we are wrapping this up without doing it justice and going to bed. Sorry everyone. Other interesting points of the day include:

  1. Learning that the bus driver was the cousin of the centre back for Italy was his cousin – (the guy that got bitten by Suarez)
  2.  Watching Le Football amongst the locals
  3. Finding a gelato shop with a great view

Rating

Le Donne – 11/10

 

Arrivederci.

 

Kenn and Ed

A full-on day in Rome

Today after an early start, we set out into Rome again. IMG_2447

We went to the forum in hopes of going to Palantine hill. Unfortunately we did not have enough time, as we were to meet the tour guide at the wedding cake palace.

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After meeting up with the guide we went to the ruins of the theatre of Pompeii, were Julius Caesar was killed. This has now become a sanctuary for stray cats.

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We then continued on to the Pantheon. This is where performed our speech. Inside we saw the tombs of the Italian kings, Vittorio Emanuele II and his son Umberto I.

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After this we continued to the Piazza Novona. Here, we stopped for lunch and saw a statue dedicated to the four main rivers of the Ancient World (Nile, Danube, ). This was also the site of an arena which hosted athletic events. After a brief stop at a gelato store, we continued by bus to the Vatican city. While waiting for the bus, Kenn successfully haggled ‘RayBans’ for half-price (10 euros, which could have been 5).

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We reached the Vatican, and soon we where skipping the 100 metre queue and going into the main gate. After passing through the security check, we learnt about the early christianity and its art in Rome. Soon enough, we were at the Sistine chapel, where Mr Chambers once again got caught taking photos.P1030657

After dinner, a few of us went to Porta Maggiore, where we saw a tomb dedicated to a baker and his family. This is a unique monument, as it is very rare to find a freedman, who had become so wealthy that he would be able to afford to have his tomb built just outside the city gates.