JUNE 2011 trip to Greece with Bill McDonald and Ed Wingenbach
From Bill McDonald: I’m delighted to announce the “Return to Greece” alumni trip, now set for June, 2011. Dolores and I led a similar trip to Greece in 2006, and we’re enthusiastic about this new adventure, which includes several things we were unable to do then. We’re concentrating on ancient Greece, as before, but as you’ll see there’s an important component of Byzantine Greece, a nod to the 19th century and the Greek revolution against the Turks, and—new this time around—exploration of contemporary Greece’s political and economic situation.
Political philosopher and Johnston aficionado Ed Wingenbach will be my fellow faculty member on the trip with his wife, Development officer Susan Rice, who will be our alumni liaison for this trip. Ed adds valuable dimensions to our journey—a Plato and Aristotle scholar, he's also gearing up to discuss the politics and economics of contemporary Greece, and has a terrific idea involving Thucydides for the night we sail to Crete.
Here’s the itinerary in a nutshell. We begin with four days in Athens:
- the Acropolis and its brand new museum
- the National Museum, repository of the greatest of the surviving ancient artifacts
- a day trip to ancient Greece’s most sacred site, Delphi
Then we spend four days in the lovely Peloponnese seaside city of Nafplion, with day trips to:
- the stunning medieval church @ Dafni (we have special permission to enter this closed-for-restoration site) --
- the classical ruins, and early Christian traces, at Corinth
- Mycenae, the palace of Agamemnon and the House of Atreus
- the spectacular classical theatre at Epidauros
- Arcadia and the temple of Apollo at Vassai, including a visit to one of the launch points of the Greek revolution against the Turks in 1822
- the remarkably preserved Byzantine "city" of Mystras west of Sparta.
Then comes Crete: Rethymnon will be our anchor city (and our best hotel, on the water), with trips to the reconstructed Minoan site of Knossos and the remarkable museum of Minoan antiquities in Iraklion; a day touring the Venetian city of Chania west of Rethymnon; a visit to the famous Arkadi monastery; and a day of hiking: the Samaria gorge, Europe's longest true gorge, descending from the apex of the Crete mountains to the south coast. For those who can't quite manage that 11.5m downhill journey, we offer a shorter but informative flora/fauna guided tour in the hills south of Rethymnon.
Price for the land portion: $2800. That's a full $500 less than we had to charge in 2006 for what is in fact a more extensive and adventurous itinerary (Crete!). Redlands’ new Alumni Director John Serbein and I set a goal: to bring in a first-rate trip under $3,000, and we've done that. The price includes all room (double occupancy), motor coach, transfer and VAT charges, about half of our dinners, all entrance fees except for one (the Samaria gorge, since not everyone will be making that great descent: €13), the ferry to and from Crete, AND the services of trained archeologist and inspiring guide, Maria Synodinou, whose enthusiasm, knowledge, and love of her country made our 2006 trip such a success. All things considered, it's a real bargain. There's also a rich reading/discussing component to the trip. Ed and I will hold 7-8 "classes" in the late afternoon—empty hotel bars are our preferred site—on readings and topics from Homer’s “Odyssey” to Greece and the EU. We’ll flesh out a schedule and bibliography soon.
If our 2011 experience is anything like 2006, the anchoring highlight of the trip will be the motivation and energy of the group itself. Some folks shy away from group excursions, but our experience was just the opposite: the group of Johnston and UofR alums’ enthusiasm for the ancient sites, and their general curiosity about all things Greek, made the trip. The discussions and camaraderie of the last trip were exciting—virtually everyone participated—and we think we’ll attract a similar group of stimulating travelers this time around.
If you have friends who would like to join the trip, the “alumni” tag is no barrier; we welcome interested parties who didn’t have the benefit of a UofR/Johnston education (!)
We're NOT offering a special Redlands air flight to Athens, since we will have people coming from all over the country. If you're committed to going, I urge you to buy air tickets soon; the price will only go up. You can work out a round trip now from around $1400-1500 from the west coast. Dolores and I will be booking soon, and I'll be glad to share our choice. Dates: plan to fly on June 19th and to be in Athens on the 20th. The hotel expects us for that night, and the tour starts the morning of the 21st, when we'll climb the Acropolis. The trip ends on July 3, when we'll be docking in Piraeus from Crete in the morning. A flight home in the afternoon would be safest—unless, of course, you want to stay longer!
Questions and queries welcome