Belvedere College - Tour of Classical Greece

Tour of Classical Greece

Tour of Classical Greece

2017 Tour of Classical Greece
Report by Tom Hegarty

Day 1 Athens 3/6/17
The day began at 3.25am in Terminal 2 of Dublin airport. We were warned by Mr Hogan that anyone who arrived late would be left behind as we had to keep to a tight schedule. So, as soon as Mr Dunne arrived at 3:50am we were off.
The flight was a comfortable four hours that went by quickly. We landed at 12pm Greek time and split into our travel groups. Mr Hogan, Mr Dunne & Mr Doyle were the three teachers leading us on the trip accompanied by Ana Maria Dias Doyle, Mr Doyle’s wife.

After a quick bus journey we finally arrived in Athens. The city itself was littered with winding streets and aggressive salesmen. We soon split off and went for some food (Pork Gyros, try it) before meeting back up at the square for a tour.
We all packed into the Athenian underground, what seemed like a far more hygienic DART. We were warned not to eat or drink on it as it was a punishable offense.
Once we arrived at the Areopagus we learnt all about how ancient murder trials were held and why they weren’t held in a courthouse. It was because the ancient Greeks believed that murders were suffering from an illness and they had to keep them away from society in case it spread so they held their cases atop a hill. After that we travelled down to the Agora where we explored the temple of Hephaestus and play with all the local tortoises (best part of the trip). Finally to end the day we went to the Stoa to get an insight into how ancient Athenian politics worked.

Day 2 Delphi 4/6/17
At 7:00 in the morning we were awoken by the rhythmic beats of Mr Hogan’s fist on our door and were told we had fifteen minutes to be downstairs for breakfast. We quickly scoffed down our breakfasts and began our three hour bus journey to Delphi. Although long and tedious the road we travelled was spectacular. From long inter-twining valleys to towering mountains hanging from the clouds, this journey really made us realise we weren’t in Dublin anymore.
Upon arrival at the Delphi museum, still drowsy from the bus journey, we were told we would be waiting twenty minutes before our formal tour would begin. The city itself was most well known for “The Oracle of Delphi”, an ancient prophet who would predict pilgrim’s futures as they passed through, but only for a price. Since here reputation as the best Oracle in all of Greece was known she was highly sought after which meant she would often be enlisted by Kings or rulers. It was later found out that the sacred tripod she would sit one while making her predictions was sat on a methane leak telling id that much of her ‘predictions’ were nothing more than bad drug trips from getting high on toxic gas.
After the museum we all split off once again to find some food in some questionable restaurants. In the restaurant we went to for food we were welcomed by a dead bird under Dónal’s chair and a leak coming from the wall beside Dylan. Needless to say, the food at this restaurant was probably the best on the trip. After our meals we all went back to the hotel and were told to get some good sleep before a long journey.

Day 3 Olympia 5/6/17
Our third day was accompanied by a four hour car journey to Olympia, home of the original Olympic games. We travelled for two hours at a time and took a break in between and unsurprisingly scenery on the journey was breath-taking (or so I was told after I woke up). Arriving at our hotel was unlike any we had stayed in yet, with a pool and air conditioning, we knew this would be a comfy stay.
Post diving competition in the pool we gathered together and set off to discover the history behind the ancient Olympic games. From boxing to chariot racing and everything in between we learnt of every sporting event held during the ancient games. We also learnt about the origins of the games, an old King wishing to wed his daughter to whoever could beat him in a chariot race. The King won every race until one challenger sabotaged his chariot with wax, winning him the empire and the King’s daughter’s hand in marriage.
After our tour we were welcomed to race in the original Olympic stadium. After an intense race, separating the men from the boys, Rory Doran was crowned victor with the traditional olive wreath atop his head.
Day 4 Mycenae & Tolo 6/6/17
We were blessed today with the gift of only having to get up at 8:00. We then set off for Tolo where we would be allowed rest for a day at the beach but before all of that we were going to stop in the ancient city of Mycenae.
This ancient city is best known for being ruled over by the great King Agamenon. It was a refreshing sight as rather than just a basic tour around a museum and seeing fragments of an ancient temple we got to explore the actual ruins first hand and really visualise the great castle. The ruins were the oldest we had seen so far by a few thousand years.  Sadly enough, all good things must come to an end and during our visit tragedy struck when our own Andrew Lynch tripped and fell cutting his knee. He marched on and we all made it back to the bus relatively safe.
Once we arrived at Tolo we wasted no time in heading to the beach and spending some well-earned relaxation time playing around in the ocean.

5 Tolo 7/6/17
Today was our rest day and we really did not waste it. Straight off the bat we all went down to the beach where we began the fun with. It was evident from the get go that Mr Doyle wasn’t a capable referee when he began declaring his team was winning in the volleyball tournament.
After strong campaign by both sides of the volleyball championships we all went off to get food. With our meals not reaching above four euro each we came to the conclusion that the meals could of definitely came out a lot worse than they did.
After our meal we went back to the beach to begin the soccer tournament where Dylan Dimond and Alex Harding led their team to a tremendous victory beating out the other 4 teams.

Day 6 Corinth & Athens 8/6/17
Bright and early we woke in Tolo to begin our journey back to Athens, but not before stopping off at the theatre of Epidarus, a tremendous theatre that could hold over 14,000 people back in ancient Greece. They would usually house four or five shows in the theatre in one day. They would begin with the Dramas and end with the comedies later in the day and then finally the audience would vote on which were the best. The best play would then be allowed to be shown again but the ones finishing last would not. Ancient theatre had 3 rules that each play had to follow: Only three actors were allowed on stage at any one time, the play could only be based in one scene and it had to be set within the time period of 36 hrs.
We then visited Corinth itself where we saw another ancient temple to Apollo and learnt of the great town that lay there and also of its large scale corruption.
Finally before reaching Athens we stopped to see the Corinth canal, a large canal made from a dynamite to allow passage for cargo ships.
When we arrived in Athens we journeyed through the town to see Syntagma square and see the Greek parliament. We witnessed Evzones march and later saw the temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple in Greece. We finished the day in the original modern Olympic stadium that isn’t used very often anymore as the size is not regulation.

Day 7 Athens 9/6/17
Our final full day in Greece was spent atop the Acropolis. We visited early in the morning to avoid large crowds. Towering over everything else was the Parthenon. The word Acropolis means ‘highest point in the city’ with ’acro’ meaning highest and ‘polis’ meaning city. The site is an honour to the Goddess Athena, the ruling God of the city. On the pediments it depicts her birth from Zeus’ head and also the famous competition between Poseidon and Athena to become the patron saint of Athens.
This was an amazing way to end an absolutely ideal trip and I think anyone that went on it would testify to that. I’d like to take this time to thank all the teachers, Mr Dunne, Mr Doyle and most importantly Philip W. Hogan who without we wouldn’t have the trip.
Tom Hegarty



A few of us lads went to Greece this June for a Transition Year trip. Nothing much really happened, but we decided to write down everything that did. Here’s what did happen (in the incredibly differing grammatical styles of Harrington and Ryan - we apologise for the clashing past and present tenses...)

After a year of rugby, musicals, activities, pursuits, work experience, community care and, perhaps, a little bit of dossing, the Transition Year tour of classical Greece began on June 4th with take-off from Dublin airport. Twenty transition year students, accompanied by Mr Philip Hogan, Mr David O’Grady and Ms Laura Freyne, assembled in Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport at 11:30am and set off for Athens. After a four hour flight, the group touched down in Athens Airport at 9:30pm Greek time and headed straight for the ‘Hotel Ilissos’ in the centre of the city - ten minutes from the famed Acropolis. Upon arrival at the hotel at 10:30pm, we were sent straight to our rooms under the recommendation of a good night’s sleep - we had a busy day ahead of us on Sunday!

SUNDAY June 6th - Delphi (Ben)
After an early start we made our way back onto the bus and left Athens, heading for Delphi. Travelling through the country we soon got to witness the vast mountains and sprawling valleys Greece is known for. We soon reached Delphi and stopped at our first attraction of the trip: The Temple of Apollo.
High in the Greek mountains, lying in wait for unsuspecting travellers to stumble upon, is the vast, majestic site of the Temple of Apollo. The ancient ruins cover a large area, with the scenes only amplified by the beauty of the surrounding sights. The attraction itself consists of a museum and the archaeological site. The museum surprised me as to how important it was in adding to the spectacle that is the site. Here we learned more about the god in question, Apollo. God of the sun, Apollo was worshiped by many as a sign of respect to the all-powerful being. Once lining the entrance to the temple were stills of great battles that had taken place throughout ancient Greek history: The Battle of Athens and Sparta, the Gods versus the Titans and many more. Statues are of course plentiful in the museum. They vary from Gods to famous nobles and all are extremely impressive to seen in person. Our tour was filled with stories to explain the artefacts within the museum. These consisted of some well-known ones mixed with interesting new ones. The Greek scholars among us (I not being one) were tested in their translation abilities however I must admit they were a little rusty (it has been a little while since the JC!) The detail and sheer amount of stories preserved from the time is fascinating and highlights the importance of the Greeks from a historical point of view.
The site itself was (through a little imagination) a great way to discover lots about the Greeks. Massive stone and marble columns show the pure skill of the Greeks at the time. The temple had various sections including an altar for sacrificing goats to appease Apollo, a stadium and a theatre. I really got to appreciate how much these buildings represent the life and beliefs of ordinary Greek people. The Greeks had everything we have now in some form or another, from market stalls to chariot garages. The legends surrounding the site are quite unique in my opinion. The detailed backstories are quite interesting to discover and the visit to the Temple was a great way to learn all about them. So with that our first full day in Greece was complete…now onto Day 2!

MONDAY June 6th - Olympia (Eoin)
After a well-earned and enjoyable night’s rest in Delphi, the curtains were opened and the wheels were set in motion for day two of our tour of classical Greece. The journey from Delphi to Olympia encapsulated some stunning views, a €65 toll bridge and some very tasty Greek gelato. We also encountered a Greek native who offered us “free” cherries - Mr O’Grady was, however, precautionary, to say the least. Upon arrival in Olympia, we were sent away for a bite to eat - myself and Luke Maguire misinterpreting the instructions for a “light” lunch and ordering enormous cheeseburgers. Temperatures in Olympia were as high as 32 degrees celsius, so the next item on the agenda was a visit to the local swimming pool - where an intense game of water polo took place. Finally, a visit to the site of the Ancient Olympic Games. We were given a guided tour of the archaeological museum first, where we were shown the evolution of the games from early Greek to late Greek to Roman and finally to Christian times. The influential statue of Hermes and Dionysus was one of the items on display. We then reached the site itself - we were shown various artefacts, including the temples of Zeus and Hera. The last item was one to check off the bucketlist - a 192m foot race at the very first Olympic stadium. In the battle of the Lukes, Mr Gauvin-Grennan just held off Mr Maguire for the victory in a tight contest. The gods would have enjoyed that sporting contest…

TUESDAY June 7th - Mycenae (Ben)
I’m genuinely running out of descriptive words to describe all these attractions so I apologize for my repetition however today we had another exceptional day in Greece. On our travels today we journeyed to the oldest site we will visit this week: The Ancient settlement of Mycenae. Dating back to 1200 BC, this site is not from the Classical Era (500-400 BC) like most other sites and is surrounded in myths that ancient Greeks would have believed in, so it’s pretty old! Here we learnt about (from our expert tour guide Mr. Hogan) King Agamemnon of Mycenae. This man is closely connected to the Trojan War and is noted for abandoning his wife for 10 years and sacrificing his daughter (not exactly ‘Dad of the year’ material). The war is predominately believed to be based on myth and deals with the Spartans and their quest to rescue Queen Helen…there was also a horse involved I think. Mycenae was the headquarters of Agamemnon’s attacks and was in surprisingly good condition. The views were just incredible as the site was chosen for its strategic location to have a view of the coast in case of enemy attacks from the sea. While the site was great it wasn’t the biggest surprise of the day. This strange phenomenon known as ‘rain’ occurred during the afternoon - however, it couldn’t dampen our spirits!

TUESDAY June 7th-WEDNESDAY June 8th - Tolo (Eoin)
After Tuesday’s visit to Mycenae, we headed for Tolo (via a stop-off in Nafplio for lunch) - a picturesque seaside resort where we took our “chill day” at the beach on Wednesday - after we had celebrated Sam Balfe’s 16th birthday on Tuesday evening. Games of rugby were contested in the sea in Tolo with a football - water football rugby is quite a new game, I must say! In the evening, we took a break for an intense game of football in the local abandoned stadium - Luke Logan taking “man of the match” for a sensational volley and hat-trick, in a tight 5-3 win for the Chris Hutchinson-captained team against the might of Luke O’Sullivan’s opposition.

THURSDAY June 9th - Epidaurus and Corinth (Ben)
After a brief stop-off at the remarkably well-preserved theatre of Epidaurus this morning, we visited the ancient city of Corinth. This site is perhaps the best example of the layout of a city in ancient times. Overlooking the Gulf of Corinth (obviously!), whoever controlled this city ruled over the trade routes in that area and therefore gained lots of wealth from passing ships. We also visited the Corinth canal, a man-made canal that separates the Peloponnese from the mainland. This was one of few things we saw that was from Classical times and instead was built in the 1900’s. The Ancient Greeks attempted to build something similar - however, they couldn’t manage it and only using dynamite could it actually be achieved. I think we would all agree that bungee jumping would be a great idea for next year’s trip! Eventually, we reached Athens (again!) - let the chaos begin…
THURSDAY June 9th-FRIDAY June 10th - ATHENS (Eoin)
Upon arrival in Athens, myself, Ben Ryan, Conor Ryan and Luke Maguire were taken out into the city of Athens by Mr Hogan for a preview of the unprecedented (to us, at least!) chaos that is Athenian life. We were given a sneak-peek of the entire group’s route for that evening - we first visited the 1896 Olympics’ Panethinaic Stadium, before taking a stroll down the political area of Athens - a glimpse of Greece’s prime minister preceded our view of the Presidential Palace and Parliament building. After our night’s sleep in Athens, we headed for the Areopagus - the rocky hill adjacent to the Acropolis where murder trials were carried out in Ancient Greece. The murder trials were held there because ancient Greeks believed murderers had a contagious mental illness and the hill kept them away from where the disease would spread. Another of the sensationally strange beliefs of the Ancient Greeks...after the Areopagus we headed for the ‘agora’, the ancient marketplace of Athens, where the temple of Hephaestus stands near-perfectly preserved. A brief stop for lunch followed - where myself and Ben tried the local cuisine - I would highly recommend pork gyros to anyone planning a trip to Greece anytime soon! A busy day of travelling in the intense Greek heat ended with an evening visit to the Allou fun park, where rousing renditions of “Only in God” and “Oh, Belvedere!” followed on the various rollercoasters. Upon our return to the hotel, we were given firm instructions to skip the second half of France v Romania in the opening game of Euro 2016, as we had an early start the following morning - something tells me that order may not have been obeyed...what a last minute winner from Payet, eh?
SATURDAY June 11th - Acropolis (Ben)
Today was the day we finally got to see what Greece is so famous for, the Acropolis. We visited it early in the morning to avoid large crowds and it was truly a sight to behold. Towering over everything around it the massive Parthenon is a testament to the skill of the Ancient Greeks. The word Acropolis means ‘highest point in the city’ with ‘acro’ meaning  highest and ‘polis’ meaning city. The site is in honour of the Goddess Athena (the city is named after her after all) and on its pediments depicts her birth from Zeus’ head (it’s a long story) and the famous competition between her and Poseidon to become patron of the city which would become Athens. This site was a perfect way to finish the trip and soon after we headed for the airport to make our way home. Another successful Greek trip completed and I can gladly say how much everyone enjoyed the week. It provided an engaging, educational and most importantly fun insight into the world of Ancient Greece and a massive thank you to Mr. O’Grady, Ms. Freyne and Mr. Hogan for making it possible.
I would like to echo Ben’s thanks to Mr O’Grady, Ms Freyne and Mr. Hogan and say that the Greek trip was one of the best weeks I have spent in Belvedere so far! To anyone trying to choose their TY trips, I would highly recommend the Greek tour and I’m sure the rest of the group would too!


Tour of Clasical Greece 2015


Tour of Clasical Greece 2014, an article written by Fergus McCormack (SF) and Conor Tansey (SF) can be viewed here...

Greek Tour 2013 group on the Acropolis.

Greek Tour group 2013 at Mycenae.

Greek Tour group 2013 at Olympia.

After being given the job of writing this article of the Greece trip this year I wasn’t sure what to write. Everyone had their own experience of Greece, and I’m sure everyone learned different things. So I’m just going to give you my account of what happened, in the hope that you might peak an interest in the ancient world, as I did when I went to Greece. I will however take quotes from the ever-wise Mr Brendan ‘second place’ O’Shea.
Day One
Our first day in Greece was spent in the ancient site of the Oracle, Delphi. Going into the ruins of Delphi I thought I had a good idea of what to expect. I had watched a documentary about the site and I was aware of the historical relevance of the Oracle of Apollo. It wasn’t until we arrived in Delphi that I was struck by the sheer magnificence and grandeur of the location. It wasn’t the well defined statues or colossal temples that impressed me. The landscape itself sets the tone for the Delphi experience. With the Temple of Apollo and the surrounding buildings being built into the side of a mountain, it is hard to dismiss the beautiful scenery. Below the site is a valley ringed by mountains which provides breathtaking views from any location within the site. Then you delve into the history that lies within the ruins of Delphi and you are greeted by an array of extravagant buildings and impressive statues, all in different states of deterioration. Finally you arrive at the Temple of Apollo, which housed the great Oracle of Delphi, the world’s greatest source of advice for a thousand years. Above the entrance to the temple it reads ‘Know Thyself’ and ‘Nothing in Excess’. These sayings were read and pondered upon by all of the great kings, warriors and noblemen who came here for advice, leading me to believe that the true wisdom of the Oracle lies not within the words of the Oracle’s priestess, but within the walls of the temple itself.
Day Two - ‘I WILL NOT BE BEATEN’ - Mr O’Shea?
On the second day we visited the original Olympic stadium. The stadium that for hundreds of years held the world’s greatest ever sporting event. And yes, the stadium that held the annual Greece trip race. I could describe the beautiful Temple of Hera or the impressive 13 metre high statue of Zeus but it would be to no avail. For the real excitement lies in the thrill of walking down the Olympian tunnel and realizing that you are walking the same path that thousands of men walked just minutes before they competed in the most glorious sporting event in human history. This was the most memorable experience of the trip for me. Followed closely by the experience of beating Mr O’Shea in the stadion-long sprint that we had in the stadium itself. The victory followed the disqualification of one ‘Brendan O’Shea’ who false started. Mr O’Shea must now pay for a statue of Zeus, engraved with his name and his offence (false starting), so that people may spit on his name as they pass. This statue will join 16 others that were paid for by the 16 other cheaters of the original games.
Day Three - ‘Technically, I could be arrested’ - Mr Hogan
Despite the offences committed by Mr O’Shea, we allowed him to join us in our visit to Mycenae, the ancient fort of Agamemnon, who began his conquest over Troy by setting sail from the nearby shore. The fort was built on a hill near the sea to provide both protection and a water supplied. Both of these facts were NOT provided to us by Mr Hogan as this could be construed as providing a tour without a licence, an offence for which you can go to prison. Instead we had to conveniently ask him questions so that he was within his rights to give us information. Mr Hogan did not want another run in with the Greek police. We saw all of the details that made this site such a strong fort, such as its flexible walls, built without mortar, and its well that provided water during a siege. We managed to do all of this without anybody getting arrested.
Day Four
We spent the fourth day of the trip relaxing on the beach, swimming and eating pizza.?The weather was a lovely 26-30 degrees and there was not a cloud in sight. Surprising then that no one got burnt. Oh did I say no one? Well there was someone, who got burnt from head to toe and had difficulty walking normally for two days. Yep, I think it’s safe to say we all enjoyed our time at the beach.
Day Five
On day five we went travelled back to Athens, making two stops along the way. The first was the ancient theatre of Epidaurus that seats 14,000 people. It was a huge stone structure that was built into the side of a mountain. This was an amazing site to see, considering the theatre had lasted over 2000 years and was almost perfectly preserved. The most impressive feature of the theatre however was its acoustics. We were given a demonstration of this after a short while in the theatre. We were all told to quieten down and pay attention to a man down in the centre of the orchestra (the circle at the bottom of the theatre). We looked down from our back row seats to see what he was doing and we heard a coin drop. It took me a moment to realize that he had dropped the coin as it was quite hard to see from all the way up at the back of the theatre, yet we were able to hear it perfectly, it was quite an amazing feat.
We also visited the ancient city of Corinth which was pretty cool because it had the ruins of an entire city. You could see perfectly where everything would have been in the city. It gave me a much better insight into what ancient life would’ve been like in Greece and it was very helpful in terms of putting the rest of the trip into context. There were also ruins from a time when the Romans had been in Corinth, which meant there was another layer of history on top of the Greek history.
When we finally arrived back in Athens we went to go visit the 1896 Olympic stadium, the first stadium of the modern Olympics. Exciting for all.
Day Six - ‘Oh he’s having a tiff’ - Mr O’Shea?
On the sixth day of the trip we were escorted by Mr O’Shea and Mr Hogan into the centre of Athens to visit the Athenian Agora and the National Archaeological Museum. We took the metro in order to get there. Mr O’Shea, as vigilant as ever, was concerned about some man ‘having a tiff’. To this day we are not quite sure what he meant, we can only be thankful that our watchful guardian was there to protect us.
We arrived eventually at the Agora and were greeted by a magnificent site, the Temple of Hephaestus, which is one of the few temples in Greece that has survived almost to its original form. It is spectacular to see a temple such as this with all its glory, in its original form, towering over the ancient Athenian marketplace. The Museum was full of magnificent statues and artifacts that have been found all over Greece. The statues were the most interesting as they have been sculpted by the greatest artists of the ancient times. The facial complexity and muscular definition of the statues provide an almost life like portrayal of famous figures from ancient Greek history, religion and mythology.
Day Seven - ‘This is tight, This is tense!’ - Mr O’Shea?
These are not the words Mr O’Shea used to describe the Greek political situation. These are in fact the words he used to describe the final of a Gin-Rummy competition that was played on the roof of our hotel. Mr O’Shea lost out to immaculate Jack Natin (myself) in the fourth and final round of the competition and thus he was christened ‘Second place O’Shea’ forever. Yet we all quickly forgot about the card game when we reached the top of the Acropolis, the final tour of the Greece Trip 2013. It was a brilliant way to finish the trip as it really did sum up the Greek experience. The huge and incredible Parthenon looming over the concrete jungle that is modern Athens. It is hard to believe that the two can coexist in harmony as the acropolis is such a peaceful, beautiful place. As damaged as it may be, it is still one of the most amazing buildings you can possibly hope to see. The best part of the Parthenon is that the entire city can be seen from there. All of the ancient ruins, all of the modern buildings, the city itself is a living wonder.
I would like to thank all those involved in making the Greek Tour 2013 a resounding success.

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