Monday, July 6, 2009

Europe Summer 2009

Here is the quick version of my trip (do you really want to know every detail anyways?). Check it out and see what sounds especially interesting. If you would like to know more, just ask me! I left a lot out, I'm sure, but this gives a general idea of what I've been doing for the past five weeks.

May 28-29 Travel
Long plane flight from LA to Athens, arrived around 3am

May 30- Athens
Bus tour around Athens- not a terribly nice city, besides the historical stuff.
Mars Hill- location of Paul's sermon to the Athenians in Acts 17
Acropolis- highest point in the old city, site of the Parthenon (super ancient and huge temple to Athena) and other sweet old buildings
Agora- marketplace of ancient Athens, birthplace of philosophy
Archaeological museum (not sure if I got the name right)- museum with lots of sweet old stuff in it including the "mask of Agamemnon"
St. George's chapel- on top of the highest point in modern Athens, tiny chapel, great view

May 31- Athens/ Delphi
Ossias Lucas monastery- beautiful Byzantine-era Greek Orthodox monastery, serene setting, magnificent mosaics (my favorite!)
Delphi- site of the ancient Greek oracle, center of high paganism, beautiful place with sort of an evil history
Metro ride- got some delicious coffee, metro station had ancient ruins in it (sort of unusual)

June 1- Cruise ship/ Mykonos
Boarded the Aquamarine cruise ship at the Piraeus port
Mykonos- not a very exciting stop, but very pretty and a nice place to chill in the evening

June 2- Ephesus/ Patmos
Ephesus- incredible ruins, really got a sense of what the ancient city was like, enormous stadium, lots of well preserved buildings, read Acts 18 where Paul would have been, site of a very significant early church (recipient of a Pauline letter and a letter in Revelation, ministered with Paul for over a year, one of the first churches in Asia Minor I think)
Patmos- place of John's exile in the first century and where he received the Revelation of the Apocalypse, cave where tradition holds John had his vision, read the beginning of the book of Revelation in there which was amazing, awesome monastery dedicated to St. John and built like a fortress

June 3- Rhodes
Castle- medieval castle that was never penetrated, walked all along the castle walls, palace reconstructed by Mussolini
Beach- beautiful sunny day, beautiful Adriatic, much-needed tan

June 4- Crete/ Santorini
Crete- heard it was great, but we had the option to sleep in so I did
Santorini- really beautiful island, not much historical significance, but gorgeous

June 5- Corinth/ Mycenae
Disembarked at Piraeus
Corinth- more cool ruins
Mycenae- Agamemnon's citadel (king that led the Achaians in the Trojan War, see Iliad or Aeschylus' tragedies), Agamemnon's tomb (our guide was born in it during WWII bombing when his village was hiding in there... he was born in Agamemnon's tomb)
Boarded a ferry to Italy

June 6- Pompei
Disembarked at Bari, Italy
Pompei- incredibly well-preserved ruins, good enough condition that you can sort of imagine what it might have been like to live in that ancient culture, wonderful site worth seeing
Overnight outside Naples

June 7- Florence
Six-hour bus ride to Florence, arrived late afternoon
Walked around the city, group dinner

June 8- Florence
Duomo- incredibly beautiful cathedral in Florence
Beatrice's church, Dante's house, etc.- I think that was this day
Some Medici and Michelangelo stuff that I can picture but can't recall the names
Baptistery- Byzantine-era, where Dante was baptized
Climbed to the top of the Duomo- great view of the city and the sweet painted ceiling of the dome

June 9- Florence
Pitti Palace- last home of the Medici family, lots of great art
Accademia- home of Michelangelo's David, what a hottie
Piazzale Michelangelo- big hill with a monastery on top of it with a great view of the city and a pretty sunset

June 10- Florence
Uffizi Gallery- one of the foremost art galleries in the world for a reason
Santa Croce- pretty church where lots of famous people are buried (Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, etc.)

June 11- Rome
End of Torrey Europe trip, said goodbye to everyone leaving that morning
Train to Rome
All the free stuff- Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps (bird pooped on my head), miscellaneous gorgeous churches

June 12- Rome
Vatican museum- my first time there, amazing collection of art, Raphael Rooms including his School of Athens, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
St. Peter's Basilica- enormous and beautiful, Michelangelo's Pieta

June 13- Rome
Roman forum and Colosseum
Lateran Cathedral- sticks out in my mind mainly because of the gay pride parade we saw outside of it

June 14-July 4- Mussolente
Train from Rome to Bassano del Grappa
Stayed at Malga Rossa in Mussolente with family for the remainder of the trip, but also took day trips and one two-night trip:
-Asiago- home of Asiago cheese, yummmmmm
-Rimini- horrible beach town, don't ever go there
-Ravenna- a great addition to the Torrey Europe trip, Dante's tomb, capital of the Italian portion of the Byzantine Empire, beautiful churches
-Bologna- unfortunately didn't see much of great interest, but nice city, talked to the leftists who had just won the regional election and got a communist flag
-Trento- site of the counter-reformation Council of Trent
-Montegrappa- big WWI battlefield and memorial
-Vicenza, Asolo, Marostica, Bassano del Grappa, Padova...
-We went hiking one day in the mountains about two hours away (Dolomites?); it's easy to just think of Italy in terms of its historical value, but there is so much natural beauty in that country it's really incredible
-Venice- lots of pretty churches, generally a very beautiful city, our third time there though so didn't do much tourist-y stuff

I learned a lot and had a lovely time, but it's nice being home now. I'm putting pictures on facebook. Like I said, let me know if you want to know anything more about the trip. Hope everyone is enjoying summer!

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