Belated New Year Greetings; but as Mensis Februarius was originally the last month of the Roman calendar, it could be argued I have a few days in hand.
Firstly, apologies for the different look to this News Letter. For the sharp decline in images blame the Copyright Troll! The whole mess is well explained by ianVisits (a Web Site worth a visit in itself!)
First off, one for the diaries – the amazing British School at Athens Teachers Course March 2024. Four Examination and Classroom Related Lectures Free and online.
Before I launch into some important updates and changes of which all Group Leaders must be aware, some in-house Hellene Congratulations are in order!
i – We are now working with DfE funded Centre for Latin Excellence as their independent Classics specialised provider creating international enrichment with the aim of increasing uptake and attainment of GCSE Latin across the state sector. To date there are 39 schools in the programme and feedback is good “The itinerary looks fantastic and exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for.”
ii – Hellene has also been voted as one of the top 5 UK educational providers, but declined the offer of contributing to the advertising campaign. We’d far rather use said £2,500.00 to continue subsidising students of restricted means or as a bonus to our staff who work so hard delivering a superior Classical Experience to schools.
iii – Kerry recently appeared as one of the panellists for the indepth discussion which followed a special performance of Colin Murphy’s ‘The Invasion of Melos’ in the very atmospheric Council Chambers of Dublin City Hall as part of the Classics Now Festival.
For more details please see her miniblog at the end of this news Letter.
iv – After learning his photo of Augustus’ Mausoleum is to be used in Mary Beard’s new book ‘Emperor of Rome’, James Heath (our Roman Lead) learns it will also appear in further publications (The Monuments that Made Rome by Paul Roberts, ‘Sackler Keeper of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford’ and possibly How the World Made the West by Jo Quinn). Well Done Jamie!
v – Both James and I have photographs awaiting approval for Eduqas Latin GCSE exam papers 2027-2029 to complement the texts. We can’t tell you which ones as obviously we’d then have to kill you ……………..
TRIP PLANNING – Caveats and changes
Flight prices continue to rise and we are doing our level best to cut back on your behalf. Rising costs may be causing concerns for schools but adult travellers are far from being discouraged. It’s called “revenge travel” according to the WTM Global Travel Report.
Last November, Pompeii reported admissions up 30% on the previous year and the total number of admissions had exceeded 40,000 more admissions than in 2019. Visitors to the Akropolis are up 80 percent from June and early July of 2019.
As a result, there has been a huge shift in Entrance Fees and Regulations and also Hotel Tax in both countries.
If you are undaunted by price increases you may be interested in seeing the ancient Acropolis uncluttered by thousands of selfie-snappers. A solution is in the works, but it will set you back up to 5,000 euros ($5,500). Starting April 1 2024, Greece plans to offer exclusive guided tours of its most powerful tourist magnet to handfuls of well-heeled visitors outside normal opening hours
We are more than aware how much extra work in addition to a normal teaching load is involved in organising Trips………it’s nice that SMT realise that too and now offer additional support by introducing intermediary levels of administrative help (both internal and external) and online systems such as EVOLVEvisits. However(!), sometimes it is ‘a case of too many cooks’ and we have noticed a sharp rise in errors regarding Passport names, DoBs, diets, Itinerary & payment dates and receipt of Booking Forms. Please be vigilant! Don’t assume your Bursary works with the same urgency as you. I’m not questioning intent and commitment but don’t assume your intermediary help is as observant and diligent as you. Please treble check everything.
If only we had £5.00 for every Group Leader who says, “It would have been easier in the long run if I’d done it myself”……….
The EU is also experiencing bureaucratic hiccoughs (O what a surprise!) EU to Delay Launch of ETIAS Border Entry System Again – the implementation of the ETIAS has been rescheduled to May 2025, with the possibility of further postponement, so do keep an eye on this one.
An Itinerary plea! Please don’t be hesitant or embarrassed in asking if we can lighten your Itinerary. Of course we can; you don’t have to stay on Site or in a Museum for the allocated time! Some Group Leaders specifically request a full-on programme, others a lighter one. Our Enquiry Form recognises that and asks for specifics. However, whilst it is far easier to remove visits in situ than add them, please be aware a coach driver on a siesta may not relish being summoned 3hours earlier unless it’s an emergency!
It’s a good idea for you to plan ahead for all eventualities. Just as Lesson Plans are rarely strictly adhered to (as different things occur) in class, planned Trip visits invariably alter depending upon immediate student needs. Highly motivated and keen pupils sometimes become ‘all stoned out’ and desperately require a restorative shopping, football or gelato break. So-called ‘weaker’ pupils may suddenly become enthused and demand that you up your game by providing a more intensive programme. As in class, you have to be adaptable, you have to think on your feet, to be aware of a slight shift in group dynamics etc. You know your pupils better than anyone else.
A dietary plea! Please impress upon your pupils the impracticality of altering diets mid Trip. Tavernas and Hotels cannot always cater for vegetarians suddenly ‘quite fancying’ the look of meat dishes and swapping. Dishes are prepared in advance!
A Hotel Check-In plea! Please could Group Leaders only stand at Reception Desk with Courier to decide on room allocations. Please instruct pupils to stand away from Reception Desk to avoid chaos and only approach to receive room keys when called. Some GLs are allowing pupils to decide their own room sharing on the spot; this should be decided before leaving UK as the resultant in situ pandemonium is distracting.
I – Last Autumn in order to reduce queuing time, we began prepaying Akropolis visits. This worked well and we will continue to do so. Whether this can be rolled out across other sites remains to be seen as the paperwork involved is vast and hugely time consuming not only for us but also our Greek Partners.
II – To compound matters further, because of huge visitor numbers the Greek Booking System is to be further modified, beginning with a trial introduction in April. Inevitably, prices will increase based on a sliding scale of visitor numbers.
The five new categories of ticketing are as follows:
A. Acropolis of Athens €30
B. Archaeological sites and museums (over 200,000 visitors) €20
C. Archaeological sites and museums (75,000-200,000 visitors) €15
D. Archaeological sites and museums (15,000-75,000 visitors) €10
These ticket prices will be in effect regardless of season, as lower winter prices are abolished
“Free entry for individuals up to 25 years of age from EU countries will continue, and the right of free entry for non-EU citizens will be extended to 18 instead of the current age of up to 5 years.”
Please note this is not confirmed. Please note reports differ. I’ve read 3 reports which say yes, and two which say no. We can’t trust reports which contain such current inaccuracies as “Free Entry for all non-EU students up to 25yrs will continue”.
I’m always suspicious and fear it may be part of a general ploy regarding Parthenon Frieze repatriation discussions. I do hope I’m wrong as it will knock off c.£150.00 ppp, sometimes more!
We’ll let you know which sites fall into categories B-D (when we’ve worked it out!) and of course the 50% Reduction Letter will still apply.
IV – The Hotel Tax (per room) is to be replaced with a ‘Climate Crisis Resilience’ Tax. Revenues from this charge will go into a specially created emergency fund for natural disasters
V – Although Whispering Guide Headsets are not officially mandatory for GLs wishing to Guide in the Delphi Museum, Museum Officials ‘encourage’ groups to hire them. Some Groups (without the Headsets) have been ‘invited’ to leave the premises for being too noisy.
VI – Cruise ships are back and as a result some Sites have been incredibly busy. One School (in the mêlée) was overcharged full price at Olympia. Stick to your guns and phone our Agents!
VII – Some Group Leaders were aggressively confronted by Official Guides about Guiding Permits. Again, stick to your guns and phone our Agents!
VIII – The rude Guardians are back at Epidavros!
IX – We love that you love Galaxidi, we do too! However, please remember that Tavernas are small and cannot accommodate large groups at a moment’s notice. It’s also expensive. If you wish to eat as a Group, liaise with the Driver and opt for Itea. If pupils are happy with a cheese pie from a furno, a snack from a minimarket or just ice cream, by all means stop at Galaxidi and leave the Teachers to their squid and ouzo in peace!
I – Piazza Venezia is looking a tad different at the moment and will continue to do so for the next decade apparently, until metro works are completed!
II – Hotel Taxes have also increased.
Rome 4* – €7.50pp
Rome 3 * – €6.00pp
Sorrento 3* – € 3,50pp
Sorrento 4* – € 4,50pp
III – Venice has introduced a new entrance fee for day-trippers only, to be applied during the peak of 2024 tourist season April to July. There may be Autumn additions. Visitors who will be guests of an accommodation facility located in the Municipality of Venice are entitled to an exemption on completion of this form. Large Groups and loudspeakers also banned.
IV – New Entrance Fees for Teachers. Oplontis and Boscoreale have increased Entrance Fee from €6 to €8pp to be paid in situ
V – New Entrance Fees for Teachers. New Pompeii Entrance Fees. Groups wishing to visit the Villa of the Mysteries (with its new lighting system) will have to get the €22 ticket. However, should Group Leaders wish to visit at least one of Stabia, Oplontis or Boscoreale, the 3-day €26 ticket is the best option. As this is ‘only’ €6 more than the standard ticket and as teachers now pay €9 in situ to access Oplontis or Boscoreale, it works out for the best.
Standard entry (called the Pompeii Express) without Villa of Mysteries, Villa of Diomedes and Villa Regina at Boscoreale is €18, Pompeii+ which includes those 3 villas is €22 and then the 3 Day (includes the Pompeii+ ticket, Stabian Villas, Libero d’Orsi Museum, Oplontis, Boscoreale and the shuttlebus between sites) is €26.
VI – Because of acts of vandalism, Groups visiting Pozzuoli have been accompanied by a Guardian and have not been allowed to disperse across the Site. In order to facilitate this, Groups were being restricted to on the hour entrances. We do not know if this will continue in 2024.
VII – 2025 is Rome Jubilee Year……… so Hotel availability may be compromised.
NEW OPENINGS, EXHIBITIONS AND LECTURES
iii – The Battle of Chaeronea at the Museum of Cycladic Art. An exhibition about the day that brought Alexander the Great to the front line of history running from 14 December 2023 to 31 March 2024
v – New Archaeological Museum of Sparta is scheduled to open soon. New Archaeological Museum of Sparta is in its final stages.
vii – 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. (Twitter Link)
i – Hadrian Exhibition coming to Villa Adriana, Tivoli Spring 2024
ii – Boscoreale Antiquarium has reopened
Opening hours: 9am – 6pm Exhibition hall hours: 9.30am – 6pm (last admission 5.30pm)
The tour consists of a freely accessible and walkable part and a section of halls with a museum exhibition.
For the freely accessible part the ordinary ticket24h – Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine is required.
For the halls a supplement is required in addition to a24h – Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine ticket.
iv – The epigraphic section of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli is now permanently open to the public. Twitter Link
vi – ‘City of the dead’: Vatican Museums opens ancient Roman necropolis to the public The site was previously only accessible to scholars and specialists
vii – After a long closure due to COVID and an extensive program of restoration, the Mithraeum of Santa Maria Capua Vetere in Caserta, in the southern Italian region of Campania, has reopened to the public.
ix – Effective January 1, 2024, the Vatican Museums will implement new opening hours and admission policies as part of a significant revamp
xi – St. Casciano bronzes go on display in Naples, National Archaeological Museum 15th February – 30th June 2024
ii – The Roman world. A-level study day for schools. Join British Museum staff and expert guest speakers at this study day for students aged 16+ which will support those studying A-level Classical Civilisation and Ancient History. Friday 8 March 10.00–15.00
iii – Legion: teachers’ private view. Join us for an early evening private view of Legion: life in the Roman army. This event is dedicated to teachers bringing classes to, or teaching subjects related to, the topic. ⭐ Presentation by exhibition curator Richard Adby ⭐ Drop-in workshops and talks. 29 February 16.45–20.00
iv – Archeoscan on X: “Anyone you know fancy being an archaeologist for a day in 2024? Even fancy a go yourself? We expect a full programme of digging next year in the Cotswolds/Bristol area. Twitter Link
The booklet, Gannin’ Alang the Wall, is £5 and is available from the City Library, Segedunum fort, the Great North Museum and by emailing email@example.com
vi – According to research, Emperor Elagabalus asked to be called “lady”, and North Hertfordshire Museum will be referring to the ruler as “she” from now on.
vii – New Horrible Histories trail of Legion exhibition opens 1 February at the British Museum. Families are invited to follow Rattus, otherwise known as Claudius Terrattus, on our Horrible Histories trail. Find out about Roman life, dress for battle and spin the wheel of misfortune at a series of interactive stations for all ages.
viii – Hidden section of Roman Wall near St. Paul’s Cathedral to open as a public museum
BLOGS – out and about with……..
I – Who’s Who, the Imperial Romans at Petworth – James Heath (Attachment A)
II – Sicily with the In Laws – Peter Bond (Rtd HoD) (Attachment B)
IV – On Saturday 3rd February 2024, a special performance of Colin Murphy’s ‘The Invasion of Melos’ was performed in the very atmospheric Council Chambers of Dublin City Hall as part of the Classics Now Festival. – Kerry Phelan (Attachment D)
V – Athens and The Argolid. Christmas and New Year 2023/24 Sarah Thomason (Attachment E)
Battle of Chaeronea Exhibition, Pyramid of Hellenikon, Kenchrea, Tiryns, Nemea, AkroNafplia, Nafplio Archaeological Museum, Lerna, Nestani, Axion Esti Apiculture Museum, Merbaka, Troidzen & Palea Epidavros
Finally, if any of the above seems daunting and problematic, please remember we have heaps of experience and are always here to help.
Also, never forget why we run trips………..
“Something I wanted to share. I have permission from the student. She went on the trip without really knowing anyone and here she is at the end. Her name is Zenda”
We think this picture sums it all up. Very much our pleasure, Zenda!
Happy Half Term and Best Wishes from The Hellene Team……..