Reflections of Greece
In March of 2011, I and two colleagues with about twenty excited teenagers got onto a seven-hour flight from chilly, humid, grey Montreal and landed in warm, humid, grey Greece. Yes, in March Greece can be humid and grey. I thought I had no idea what to expect but I was wrong. I actually had very specific expectations. I was expecting Athens to be a Greek Rome and the countryside to be a Greek version of Tuscany. Did I learn a valuable lesson! Expectations set us up for disappointment. I was very disappointed and the fault was all mine. Athens is not Rome, Greece is not Tuscany. I believed I was a “good” traveller. All wrong! But once I threw my expectations out the window (of the tour bus!) Athens, the Parthenon overlooking the city with the sounds of playing schoolchildren at recess (yes, I heard their laughter all the way up there!), the Plaka, the food, and then the countryside – EVERYTHING changed.
Photo by Sharon Mollerus via Creative Commons
Greece has steep and rocky hills covered in olive trees by the thousands. They reach all the way to the shores of the “wine-dark sea” (I then understood what Homer meant in his “Odyssey”). We took a ferry to Hydra with its winding lanes and whitewashed homes and donkeys everywhere. No cars on Hydra! Now everything I saw and experienced moved me. I was finally able to “be” in Greece.
We then travelled to Olympia to visit the place where the Olympics were born. Our students got the unique chance to race in the original stadium! You can see the stone where every four years the Olympic flame is lit and then sent to the modern hosting city somewhere in the world.
Our two final stops were Epidaurus, where our students amused themselves whispering in the middle of the stage of the perfectly acoustical amphitheater, and Delphi. This was the spot believed to be the center of the earth and where ancient peoples from all over the world made pilgrimages to hear the oracles and their prophecies. From the base of the amphitheater, atop the hill, one can see the ruins of the temple to Apollo. It is a magical place. While I was just resting on a stone bench and seeing the mists rising from the valleys below, in the distance almond trees in bloom… I understood why the gods had chosen to live here.
Above image by Bradley Griffin via Creative Commons