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Exchanges & Visits  >  Athens 2016

Athens 2016


All fifteen students studying Ancient Greek at school spent an action-packed long weekend in Athens at the start of the Easter holidays. After an especially punishing start (3am departure anyone?), Mr Assinder, Mrs du Sautoy, Mrs Lilley and I shepherded our charges off the plane into a grey and atmospheric Athens. We hit the ground running; having unpacked quickly, we caught the sunset on Lykavittos, a hill with a panoramic view in the upmarket district of Kolonaki. After scaling the hill in record time, we hit the Athenian food scene hard. Initial cloudbursts gave way to glorious spring sunshine on the second day, when we covered many of the main Athenian sites. The group soon found their feet, and were quick to scope out the best ice cream stops (pomegranate ice cream proved a particular hit), the best spots for ironic hats, and the way to the fish foot spa. 

On Monday we set off for Delphi. We managed to appease the god Apollo after a spate of inauspicious omens on the road; we caught sight of the Red Arrows (training in Greece), looping the loop in front of the minibus; and  we even glimpsed a hawk carrying a snake in its talons. The craze for the Delphi selfie slowed our progress up the hilly site somewhat, but we wound our way to the top of the hill to see the stadium and enjoy the mountain air. 

The staff were particularly impressed by the group’s appetite. Ice cream, loukoumades (small fried honey-soaked donuts dusted in cinnamon) and morning snacks (half an hour after breakfast) of waffles were daily occurrences, and one group even boldly sampled octopus. It’s just as well the group had such rich food to feast on, because those monuments don’t visit themselves. Everyone, at some point, experienced ‘museum legs’ (an ancient affliction), but aching limbs are part and parcel of visiting the impressive Acropolis Museum, and we were rewarded by getting to see Athens’ best structure yet: a Lego Parthenon.  

We all arrived safely home, leaving Delphic dreams and alternative careers as street performers behind. Four days of walking the byways of Athens meant that everyone returned home fighting fit, well-rested, with both vitamin D and enthusiasm topped up ready for the summer term. Some of the students claimed that they had never slept more deeply. It was a joy to take such an inquisitive and eager group of students, and we hope that this has helped to set in context the language and culture of Ancient Greece.  

Dr S Assinder