Eight Honors students and I met at the Cleveland airport at 9:30am on Tuesday, May 14th, excited about our departure for the Honors Grecian and Turkish Odyssey Study Abroad trip. The trip was tied to the Spring 2013 Honors 390 course, during which students read Plato's Republic, read Homer's Odyssey, studied how "Religion Meets Modernity in Greece and Turkey" andcompleted independent projects on contemporary issues in Greece and Turkey. After experiencing a "Swanson Dash" through the JFK airport, we departed on a 7.5-hour plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean from New York City to Amsterdam. A layover at the Schiphol airport allowed time for posing in front of a familiar sounding slogan before departing for Athens. We landed in Athens at 4:20pm on Wednesday, May 15th (local time), approximately 24 hours after we had met at the Cleveland airport, admiring the mountainous terrain of Athens. We were met at the airport by our Greece guide Cristiana and our minibus driver Kostas. Cristiana pointed out a number of important Athenian sites on our way to the Candia Hotel, where we enjoyed an authentic Greek dinner buffet. You may think that the equation "jet lag + full stomachs = time for sleep" would be true, but this was not the case for five student and me - we hopped on the subway to see the Acropolis at night. We walked around the perimeter of the Acropolis, studying it from every angle while encountering a number of "stray" dogs along our path. (It wasn't until the next day that we learned from Cristiana that Athenians adopted these "stray" dogs as descendants of dogs that were "orphaned" during World War II.) About halfway around the Acropolis, we discovered the Areopagus, the site of one of the Apostle Paul's famous sermons from Acts. The slippery ascent to the Areopagus's summit using the primitive stairway was compensated with a breathtaking view of Athens and the Acropolis at night. We ended our first night in Athens with a brief shopping trip in the Plaka region before returning the hotel, anxious for the first full day of sightseeing in Athens to begin.
Athenian Acropolis at night
This is the first of several postings I will create over the next two weeks about our Honors Grecian and Turkish Odyssey trip, sharing with the readers of this blog the adventures that we had. Additional pictures will be available on the Ashland University Honors Program Facebook page.