Posted on 10 July 2016
Those who had gone before told us it was the trip of their life! They told us it was an amazing experience! They told us it was not to be missed! So it was that 24 Year 11 and 12 Humanities students who signed up to see if the hype matched reality. Greece Tour 2016!
For 22 days, the 24 students and 3 teachers explored the gorgeous realms of Ancient and Modern Greece. Flying over the Greek Islands whetted our appetite for what was to come: half of our time was in mainland Greece exploring Athens, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, Thessaloniki and Nafplion while the final half allowed us to discover the beauty of the Greek Islands of Santorini, Crete and Rhodes. Our itinerary was the perfect blend of discovery and holiday. We delved into Greece’s ancient past whilst enjoying the culture and scenic beauty of this magnificent country.
Touring the mainland began in Athens with the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis (and its museum situated below), the 1896 Olympic Stadium, Temple of Olympian Zeus and then finally Hadrian's Arch. Having dinner at a rooftop restaurant and celebrating two birthdays was surreal; as the sun slowly set at around 9pm, the Acropolis was lit up in all of its glory and a full moon rose. After a few days, our tour continued to Marathon and Cape Sounion with the Temple of Poseidon. The water was so beautifully blue and clear that we just had to stop for a swim in the Aegean Sea! Simply magnificent!
Travelling then to Delphi, we got to follow the State of Origin while having lunch on a balcony restaurant overhanging the cliffs but not before being in awe of the Sanctuary of Athena Pronea and Tholos followed by the Temple of Apollo and the Oracle of Delphi. From Delphi to Olympia, we were able to stop at the Corinthian Gulf and swim in, and relax by, the decidedly cooler waters. After arriving in Olympia we were able to visit the place where the lighting of the Olympic torch occurs to start the torch relay around the world prior to every Olympic Games. Of course we had to race in the Stadium of Olympia before relaxing in the afternoon and evening and driving off to Mycenae the very next day. Mycenae was very impressive and the ruins of the Acropolis were well worth exploring. The trek to the top gave us a panoramic view of the area.
Thessaloniki was a must-see with the Tomb of Phillip II, Father of Alexander the Great. The most unexpected part of our tour occurred in the street right outside of our hotel! The new subway they were building had been turned into an archaeological dig. We were able to look through the safety barriers and watch archaeologists dig up, brush off, send up and categorise the various artefacts found. Simply a phenomenal experience but we can’t see that subway being built anytime soon!
We had now finished our mainland tour and embarked on the Greek Islands component. First stop: Santorini! The classic, Greek white residences on the cliff-side contrasted beautifully against the bluest of blue oceans touched by dusty blue islands on the horizon and kissed by sky blue skies! In Santorini we visited Akrotiri, the prehistoric town and now archeological site. Imagine the ruins of Pompeii and you have Akrotiri although it is so much older than Pompeii with habitation evidence dating back to late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium BC). Of course, watching the sun set over the cliffs of Oia was a ‘bucket list’ item ticked and was well worth the wait!
A hydrofoil ride took us to Heraklion on the island of Crete where we visited the Palace of Knossos which is an amazing archaeological site and considered Europe’s oldest city dating back to the Bronze Age. A day later and we were in Rhodes where we were astounded by the absolute beauty of the Lindos Acropolis, the Sanctuary of Athenia Lindia and St Paul's Bay. Riding donkeys to the top of the acropolis and back down was followed by an afternoon swim in the clearest waters near a white cliff-side/beachside chapel on one side, a beautiful beachside restaurant on the other, and the ancient sites above us on the clifftop. We had to pinch ourselves! A couple of days exploring Old Rhodes Town and the New Town as well as Kameiros and Faliraki and a full day of swimming and relaxing at St Paul’s Bay was a great way to finish off our trip.
This is the trip of a lifetime and every person who went on the 2016 Greece Tour would verify that this is a ‘must do’! This is not just a field trip, not just a tour, this is a life experience!
Secondary School Teacher