The final installment of my month of travel series…this work trip took place at the end of January 2017.
(Greece Part 5 of 5)
With the end of the trip looming near, I was grateful to spend the last three nights in one hotel. I had to fight with my door to get it open or closed and it was always a struggle to wedge my room key into the slot for the power to come on, but the bed was comfy. Had I known that there was a jacuzzi with a view of the Parthenon, I might have brought a bathing suit.
Athens is a city of contradictions: its exquisite ruins, sublime metro, sophisticated nightlife, its graffiti, grime, and packs of wild dogs. I’d been to the “glorious city” once before in March 2009, not long after some riots. On this visit, the city seemed quieter, calmer, less crowded. Despite all the debt crisis news, the post-holiday sales ensured packed stores on Ermou Street. I went out one night to a happening place near the Kerameikos where everyone was drinking 7 or 8 euro mixed drinks…life goes on.
(Greece Part 4 of 5)
(Greece Part 3 of 5)
Saturday morning, the fifth day of the trip, marked a low moment for me. After getting off the floating palace (or shall we say administrative center), I struggled to awake from my Dramamine-induced stupor. On the way to Nafplion, we visited Lerna, where settlement began in the Neolithic age, some 8,000 years ago. Among endless orange groves, we found the House of Tiles, a mudbrick building, from the mid-3rd millenium BCE, but I wanted only to sleep. Even my camera was dead.
Additional Viewing: Mycenaean Treasure
Part 4: Beyond the Argolid…
(Greece Part 2 of 5)
Part 3 Off to the mainland…
(Greece Part 1 of 5)
After all 12 of us arrived in Athens, we boarded a plane to Chania, a small city in the western end of Crete. We collected our soggy luggage and headed out into the dark, rainy night to meet our bus. Somehow we managed to pick up an extra passenger. Apparently he was heading into Chania too and wanted a ride. This seemed a hilarious introduction to Greece: our bus driver trying to explain to this man that this was a specially chartered bus just for the group and the man replying, yes, but you’re going to Chania anyway, and I’m not causing any harm, so why not let me sit here. Of course, we gave him the ride.
It was late and I was tired, but I knew the next morning I would get up early to take some pictures…
Part 2 Then, we headed south…
Last week I returned from a two-week tour of Greece. As neither student nor Greek-speaking administrator nor trip leader, I occupied the curious role as the bumbling program coordinator from another continent. Occasionally, I directed the videographer accompanying our group, but more often than not, I served as the noble tripod carrier.
I’d like to say that this was a trip of personal growth, but really it brought into relief all my limitations: my inability to adapt to situations where I have no control, my constant need for domesticity and order, and my plan to pack only practical clothing, which totally back fired for three reasons:
- I always feel like an idiot in white sneakers and a windbreaker that screams AMERICAN. However, I was delighted to be told that I had a Greek face on two occasions.
- Turns out what I packed wasn’t so practical anyway. What I needed was a proper winter coat and a totally waterproof ensemble. An extra pair of shoes wouldn’t have hurt either.
- Clothes are such an important part of identity making and projecting. It’s easy to forget who you are and want to be when wearing a 10-year-old gray fleece everyday.
So maybe this trip didn’t burst my bubble, but it certainly made me aware of it.
The trip was also such a humbling experience, because I got to observe the excellent work of a Greek colleague. With her help, I learned a little Modern Greek and got some insight into the perplexing Greek bureaucracy. Even with the right paperwork, you’ll always have to negotiate with somebody.
The whole time, I was secretly planning a return trip so I could enjoy the sites at a different pace. I especially want to revisit Crete, which totally blew me away with its natural beauty, delicious food, unusual tea, and spectacular white wines. No wonder the Minoan art is known for its depiction and celebration of the natural world.
Two last notes before I begin my photo-journal of the trip. We spent four nights in Crete, a night on an overnight ferry, four nights in the Peloponnese, and three nights in Athens. Our daily schedule looked something like this:
9:00-3:00 visit sites
4:00 lunch and free time
6:30 preview meeting