Sunday, March 12, 2006

FINALLY some PICTURES

Ok, I KNOW that it's been a long time. Some of you Talia and/or I have talked to, some not. The basic gist of things is: we're back at Oberlin, we're settled into our classes, we love our apartment, we're generally happy people, ...that's pretty much it.

Two things conspired to let me bring these pictures. 1) I built a new computer just recently that is loads of fun to use with Photoshop and 2) I'm not really that busy...so I have time.

So here are some of the pictures:















Athens. This city is HUGE. way larger than I would have expected (though I'm not sure where that notion came from). There are 2 large things that stick up out of the city. One is this - Lycabettus Hill. The other is, unsurprisingly, the Acropolis. This picture was taken from the Agorra, which is at the base of the Acropolis.


Here she is, folks. The Parthenon. Not to be confused with the Pantheon in Rome, this structure is a gigantic doric temple sitting on top of a huge outcropping of rock right in the center of downtown athens. The entire mountain is a site, with various theaters, statues, ruins, and then you wind your way up to the top and find this. To be honest the temple is not in the best of shape. The main reason for this is, as we learned, Acid Rain. Apparently pollution is literally eating away the marble and stone that make up the structures. Greece is trying desperately to come up with some kind of coating they can put on the buildings to preserve them. The temple is also not the best preserved of all Greek temples. The ones we saw at Paestum rival it in terms of form, but certainly not in terms of importance. This temple was the center of life in ancient Athens. Specifically it housed one of the ancient wonders of the world - the Chryselephantine Statue of Athena. This statue, created by a dude called Pheidias in 438BCE stood around 40 FEET TALL!! It was a hollow creation entirely sheathed in gold and ivory. Incredible. We saw a mini roman copy of the statue in the Greek Archaeological Museum. Unfortunately the statue no longer exists today, it was moved during the crusades to Constantinople where it was lost to history - no one is exactly sure what happened. Perhaps it was destroyed, perhaps not...if you can find it I imagine it would make a mighty nice lawn ornament.



Another temple on the Acropolis - this one famous for the pillars that support the awning, made of marble shaped like women.

A view of Athens at night. What you see is the Acropolis in the foreground and the Lycabettus hill in the background. To get this picture Talia and I, at night, climbed a hill nearby the acropolis (and our hostel) that wound up through lots of trees and pathways and peaked at a strange statue with a section of bare rock that provided this marvelous view. It was a bit scary since the thought of walking through a wooded park at night in most cities in America is laughable...but we asked around and everyone wondered why we were even worried - and so we went. It was incredible...


The one thing that made it odd was the guardian. Yes, the statue at the top of the hill had a guardian - a small white poodle with red eyes. A demon poodle, you might say. It constantly circled the statue and kept a careful eye on us the whole time.


Just lying around, the temple of Zeus Olympiad in downtown Athens, literally 30 seconds from our Hostel. I should mention this. We stayed at a hostel called Athens Backpackers. Perhaps one of the most amusing hostels we stayed at, this place was certainly fun and full-featured, but the staff was about as Greek as Kangaroos. Yup, Aussies. A veritable commune of Aussie ex-pats that all just stayed in the hostel all day getting wasted and giving you odd looks when you asked about this opening time or that bus route. But it had a kitchen and it was clean, so two thumbs up there. The best thing about it, though, was its location. It rested in the shadow of the Acropolis, in the best district of Athens for exploring.


This is the fabled Mask of Agamemnon (at least that's what the archaeologist thought it was when he found it). It was part of a huuuge dig done around Mycenae that uncovered tons of stuff from around 1600BCE.

Which brings us to one of the very best things about Greece - if you are a student in the European Union you get into any museum, park, archaeological site, etc. for absolutely FREE. We didn't pay for ANYTHING we saw in Greece except for one monostary in Meteora. Crazy.



After Athens we went North using the very convenient if slightly uncomfertable Greek Bus System. We arrived in Kalambaka, a large town at the foot of one of Greece's most amazing natural phenomena = Meteroa. Meteora is a name that describes a series of rock pinnacles that jut out from the ground to hundreds of feet in height. Even more amazing is what tops these impressive monoliths. On top of many of them lie monostaries, some hundreds of years old. There is a path, about 10k that you can hike and see many of the places.

We stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast directly under the cliffs. It was run by a mother and son. The mother was the type that made sure all our clothes were dry (which became very important later on) and constantly shoved food in front of us. The bedrooms were connected to a very large wooden-beamed room where a huge fireplace served as both a source of heat and a place to cook all our food. They made some of the best souvlaki I had in Greece. And I had alot of souvlaki, let me tell you.

It just occured to me I might be repeating info from previous postings, I totally forgot I'd written stuff before, woops :) Well I'll move on to the pictures I guess.



Metora in the Fog.



The top of one of the rises on the hike up to the peaks. We looked out at what we had just climbed and...well, you can see for yourself.



The path we walked in on. I'm not sure we can go back the way we came...


Amazingly amid all this rock and mist there was color and life.


From Meteora we went on back down to Nafplio in the peloponese. This place is a very cute sleep town that is home to a large fortress which stands over the town and provides some really amazing views of the bay that surrounds the place.



The stairs that led up to the fortress are steep and plentiful. 999 steps or so the locals say.


Aint she perty? I'm rather fond of this picture. If your monitor is too contrasty you may not be able to see her face - lower the contrast and she won't be just a sillouhette.




So that's Greece in photo-form. Next to come is Prague.

Now that I'm all set up again I promise the photo updates will start rolling out.

Hope everyone is well,
Cheers,
Jaimie

Monday, March 06, 2006

just for a test