Well it seems I am at the tail end of another long day here in Greece! Our professor warned us yesterday that this week would be very busy and tiring, and she was not kidding.
I didn't sleep well last night, to top things off. I fell asleep easily, but woke up at 5am (at the exact same time we experienced a power outage), and couldn't fall asleep again after that. So I only got 5 hours of sleep, and had to get up at 7 in order to get ready for our day. After a hotel breakfast (they seem to be getting more and more meager), we all boarded our random double-decker bus for the 30 minute drive to ancient Mycenae and the Tomb of Agamemmnon (ok, nor really his tomb, but that's what it's called).
We met our guide there and she walked us to the tomb first. The tomb was an ancient beehive tomb, about 3-4 thousand years old, if I remember correctly. It is built into a hill, with interlocking stones that grow narrower as they reach the top. The doorway was massive! You can see a picture of me standing inside the doorway and how tiny I look. However the tomb is actually wider than it is tall, even though it appears opposite. It is one of the archaeological optical illusions the ancient civilizations came up with.
Standing inside the tomb was pretty eerie. Even though it had been standing for thousands of years, it made me really uncomfortable to be inside because I felt like the walls were going to tumble in and crush us.
After visiting the tomb, we went over to the Mycenaen Acropolis, which is the ruins of where the ancient Mycenean palace was--sort of like a capital city. Kings and royalty lived in the palace at the top of the hill so they could see in every direction, and the town spread out beneath the hill.
There wasn't much left standing to see, although we saw two more beehive tombs, as well as some grave circles. Then it was up up up to the top to gaze out at the amazing view! Each view here is unique--at the Acropolis we saw mostly city, at Delphi it was the mountains, and here it was beautiful countryside with vineyards and orange groves and rolling hills.
In the museum associated with the site, our guide showed us many of the different artifacts associated with the culture. Lots of gold and ivory statues, pottery, tools, weapons, the typical stuff. I took some pictures and posted them in my album.
After spending about 2.5 hours at the site, we got back on the bus and headed 20 more minutes down the road to a UC Berkeley-led excavation of the site at Nemea, which held multiple functions. Firstly, it housed a large temple to Zeus. Secondly, it was the site of athletic games similar to the Olympic games and of equal importance in the ancient world. Thirdly, more recent Christian churches and buildings were built on top of and with the ruins of the old temple.
There was a small museum associated with this site, which held items like cups and small offerings from the temple, as well as devices used in the sporting events there. By far the coolest thing about this visit was that we got to walk in and among the ruins in a way we haven't been able to at other sites. We actually walked where the interior of the temple used to be, among the columns. Everywhere else these things have been roped off because foot traffic over many years deteriorates the stone at the site. However, we were special today and got to see everything up close! It was a very thrilling experience, and we couldn't take enough pictures. Off in the distance we could see archaeologists and students hard at work digging up new knowledge!
After this exhausting morning, we headed to a beautiful restaurant for a planned lunch. We had bread, water, moussaka, salad, souvlaki (grilled skewered chicken with bell pepper, yum!), potatoes, and a yummy dessert of vanilla ice cream with strawberry syrup. It was so filling and delicious! I posted some (unedited) pictures in the newest album, which has photos from all these sites as well as Epidaurus and Nafplion. I'll link to it on the main page of the blog as I always do.
Still, our day wasn't over yet! After coming back to the hotel, we had a couple of hours to refresh (read as: nap!) before we had 2 hours of class. Two of the boys actually missed their alarm and overslept class by 30 minutes. Oops!
After class it was off to the old town for dinner and a little window shopping. I found a cute cartilage earring for 4 euros, but that was all! I'm not looking to spend a lot shopping here, as I've already picked out many of my souvenirs.
Tomorrow we have another field trip planned starting at 8 am to Sparta and also to a nunnery. We have to dress modestly for the nunnery, but the Sparta trip is supposedly treacherous, so I'm going to bring one outfit for Sparta and my long dress for visiting the nuns (I can't imagine it would be easy to hike around in my long skirt!).
Until then...please check out the new pictures! There are lots!