Roman Mosaics in Zappeion Gardens, Battle of Chaeronea Exhibition, Pyramid of Hellenikon, Argos backstreets, Kenchrea, Tiryns, Nemea, AkroNafplia, Nafplio Archaeological Museum, Lerna, Nestani, Axion Esti Apiculture Museum, Merbaka, Troidzen & Palea Epidavros (incl. X/Twitter Links)
Inevitably I suppose, our planned relaxing Christmas and New Year break was a little busier than intended. We should know better by now.
Arriving into Athens, we were swiftly through customs and baggage control. No sign of reported massive queues for non EU Passport Holders.
The Christmas decorations were wonderful and it was warm enough to sit out in shirtsleeves at midnight for a gyros; 4 tender kebab skewers, salad, chips, pitta, tzadsiki, half bottle wine, 1ltr water = €12.75
The air was warm and dry. We didn’t use a taxi or metro once, just walked and walked and walked……….
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is still in corsets and the resident cat offered sage advic
A light shower didn’t prevent our appreciation of the Roman Mosaics in the Zappeion Gardens and Hadrianic era polychromatic Xmas Partridge although we despaired at the lack of maintenance.
Before picking up the hire car we popped into AELIA BIO (5 mins walk from Hotel Ilissos) for provisions. An organic food outlet suitable for school groups offering healthy, tasty options and with some unusual gift ideas as well.
Somehow, it took us four hours to drive to Nafplio where the weather was a totally different kettle of fish, despite amazing bright blue skies! It was very humid and the temperatures dropped like a stone at sunset, from 25 to 4 degrees in about 20 mins. John said it was refreshing and bracing, I felt I was breathing glass sherds!
It was however, undeniably beautiful both night and day.
We climbed AcroNafplia, watched people swimming, spent a lot of time in the main square soaking up the sun, decided all Banks should have a weight relieving triangle, ate gelato from every school’s favourite Antica Gelateria di Roma and shopped at the Farmers Market.
In addition to visiting friends, we also chanced upon a very ‘locals’ tiny Taverna in the back streets (close to our Air B’n’B, near Aghia Triada) run by two ladies serving FAB, FAB, FAB food of exceptional quality and price eg. for both of us: ouzo, wine, water, bread, pork in oven, patatas me fournos and a huge plate of steamed cauli, onions, carrots and cardamom greens = €15.00 John cooked once in three weeks!
We know time is tight on School Trips but should anyone suggest the small Archaeological Museum of Nafplion is not worth visiting….don’t believe them!
It’s one of the most beautiful and best preserved buildings from the Venetian era in Greece and its excellent collections contains of course the splendid Dendra Panoply: Argolid Cult & Ceremony Geometric C8thBC, Assine & Tiryns, Into the Archaic and Classical Ages, Hellenistic offerings Epidavros, Selection of ungent containers Phoenician and Greek from C5thBC to C1stAD from Palea Epidavros, Assine grave goods and offerings, Kicking off a selection from a private collection, top floor of #Nafplion Archaeological Museum…..a rather fetching if confused & grimacing 😢Boeotian Bovine flanked by lions. C6thBC and the ever never changing face of politics! C2nd BC Land border dispute Hermione v Epidavros / Rhodes v Miletus.
Day Trips were numerous and varied. Some we had never visited before, some you may have never visited before, some we visited only after a long absence. All however are worth considering for School Trips, bar perhaps Nestani and Troidzen………..
Christmas Eve at the Little Theatre of Palea Epidavros is not at all unpleasant!
Troidzen plain was glorious in the late afternoon sun and there were no Bulls from the Sea!
We decided to walk from Theseus’s Stone to the Temenos and Temple of Hippolytos – only to be confronted by very new, very high locked gates and fence without gaps in fence, no matter how hard we looked. Mozzies were out in force! We retraced our weary steps wondering whether the Tower of Diatechisma would still be accessible…. What did we espy?
Tiryns we haven’t visited for years and there have been a lot of changes. No galleries accessible but Postern gate and staircase good, although certainly not wheelchair friendly yet, there are ongoing works. Pleased to be reunited with bath, plug hole and drain!
The House of Tiles at Lerna is accessed via an orange grove justs off the main road. There is a lot of work ongoing and the site will eventually require a far longer visit when works are complete! However, neither Herakles nor the Hydra would be impressed by the Lernean Lake now a filtration plant!
It’s always a joy to return to Nemea, probably *the* best ‘temple construction/architectural teaching site’ for groups. I first visited back in early ‘80s on @BSAthens Teachers Course with Mr Miller himself! I know it’s hard fitting everything in, but I do wish more schools would visit. In addition to the Stadium (with extant propylaea, athletes tunnel and off-centre turning post), the museum has a fabulous collection of Mycenean jewellery and the main site has a fabulous temple, Greek baths and numerous info boards explaining Temple of Zeus reconstruction project excellent for explaining architectural components in situ
The Pyramid of Hellenikon, Argos is another ‘free & out of hours’ stop for School Groups. Is it a fort, burial, watchtower or beacon? Hellenistic, Archaic or Mycenaean? Is it a true Pyramid? Visit & discuss!
We dedicated a whole day to Argos. Obviously, we began with the Agora now far more user friendly with info boards, thence to the Theatre and Odeion before heading into the back streets in search of the archaic. A steep walk took us to a ‘to-die-for’ polygonal retaining wall, very early Bouleterion, unusual horseman cult sculpture and remnants of the Hadrianic aqueduct.
Transport is needed to comfortably reach the Mycenean Cemetery and Temenos of Apollo Deiradiotes (of the ridge) & Athena Oxyderkes (clear-sighted) of which Pausanias makes reference to a rare oracular blood sacrifice (lamb) for the prophetess pre oracular utterance. Is this why there is evidence of terraced ’seating’? Was here also performed a spectacle for the worshippers?
Slightly off track but still accessible by coach is the village of Merbaka and the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin, late C13th & partially constructed of spolia from Argive Heraion. See also Guy Sanders: William of Moerbeke’s Church at Merbaka: The Use of Ancient Spolia to Make Personal and Political Statements
One day we headed up to Nestani in Arcadia to visit the still working Hydraulic Fountain Philip II. Dimitri decided we’d also drive to the Akropolis…………………………………………………………….. how the heck he drove up in a Classic Merc with millimetres to spare we do not know. John actually closed his eyes!
On New Year’s Day we visited Corinth for the Roman Theatre (unlocked and accessed by many steps across road from Odeion) and thence to Kenchrea for harbour remains, also with unlocked gate & incomplete fencing. The Fish lunch was yummy!
Another excellent idea for School Trip would be Axion Esti Apiculture Museum near Nemea. It offers a mini museum, educational workshops, honey tasting, snacks, meals and sells bio products from honey, pollen and wax + gifts.
Eleusis was the final stop of the trip. It’s not as polluted as some claim, the main industrial complex being a good 45 mins walk from the centre. There is so much work ongoing to improve and extend the site that I predict it will eventually demand as thorough a visit as Delphi and Olympia do now – providing they improve parking especially for coaches!
Currently, the whole town grinds to a halt as each coach stops in the main street to drop of and pick up the relatively few groups who choose to visit.
The Site is being expanded and the newly refurbished Museum is fantastic! Terrace and first few rooms explaining origin and development of the Mystery Cult, Roman Eleusis ‘’For the Goddesses and the Emperor” ….of course, Enter the Telesterion! (In attempting to simulate the atmosphere, the Museum has possibly overdone it! Despite repeated warnings from the Guardian, we kept tripping over display bases! Nice music…no ergot!), Taxation at Eleusis (Athens never one to miss an opportunity!), Other Gods at Eleusis, Child burials, rescue operations Classical Greek & Roman housing.
We returned just before Epiphany when many were fasting and almost everything closed – great timing but not at all planned!