Sunday, March 29, 2009

Athens - Acropolis & Areopagus

Athens is probably the biggest city I've ever been it. Certainly on this trip at least. Standing on the Acropolis where I took this photo, it stretches out like this as far as the eye can see in every direction, accept the ocean. There are hills, around parts of the city, and also sticking up out of it like you see here:

Here is the Parthenon: I was almost blinded when we got up here. It had been cloudy that morning and I left my sunglasses in the hostel. When we got to the top though, the sun came out, and there was nowhere to hide from it (well, actually there are a couple olive trees around the back, but I didn't find them until later.) So now I'm a little sunblind, and burned as well, but it was worth it:

Adjacent to the the Parthenon is the Temple of Athena-Niki. It is unique because it has columns in in the form of woman:

We went to the Areopagus where Paul preached to the Athenians 2000 some years ago, and it was really neat, and made almost entirely of stone with steps carved in it to the top. Here are Stephany, Claire and Katy sitting on it:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

No Borders

We made it. Walk, train, bus, plane, another plane, bus, another bus and a walk later, I am sitting in a hostel in Athens Greece. It is definitely early to make a judgment, but I have to say that I like Greece a lot. Our plane came over Greece at about 6:00 PM, and the coast and everything beyond was bathed in this golden evening light. The hills were chaparral all the way up to the ocean, and even out into it on some islands, which was very striking. We landed and walked right out onto the street. It blows my mind that you can travel from Ireland to Turkey without a passport... it really does... and just think... if I weren't telling you all that I'm here right now... no one would know... not even the State Department.

Tonight we got kebabs, and I ate for 2.20€. Now, the sad fact of the matter, is that in Italy, that wouldn't have bought me a bread crust... so I'm definitely happy with the concept of cheap stuff... it will be a nice break.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Checking the Charts

Well, I handed in my final paper to Professor Palmer this evening after supper. I think I'm really going to miss him, which is not something I say about many profs. but it's true. He was great to listen to, very profound, yet soft spoken, with a very interesting accent that's somewhere in between British and Australian and American, and turns out to be none of the above, as Palmer is South African. We actually watched a lot of movies in his class, and I don't think I've ever learned as much from movies before. But anyhow, that's that.

I'm packing for Greece right now. Tomorrow morning, God willing, I will get up at five (or rather Yontz will wake me up at five) go meet Katy, Katy, Claire, Stephani and Lauren. We will walk two miles into Casarsa, ride an hour and half by train to Venice Marco Polo Airport, fly to Leonardo da Vince airport in Rome and from Rome to Eleftherios Airport in Athens. We have a hostel reserved for two nights in Athens, were we will kick around the Parthenon and the Aeropagus and museums and things. From there, it's not quite as set in stone, but we hope to take a ferry out to Naxos in the Greek Isles, where we also have a hostel booked, but we are only out 15 € if we can't actually find a ferry to get there... so... you will have to watch Moon Spinners.

So, if could pray it all goes well, it would be nice.



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Roma III: Vaticano

On our second day in Rome we visited the Vatican Museum. It has treasures and art work from Egypt and Greece as well as ancient Rome as well as a lot of modern art. Here is the Caesar of Prima Porta:

This is who I believe to be the Roman God Janus. He was the God of beginnings and of history in a sense, because he can see both the past and the future:

Here is the hall of maps - they were beautiful:

Here is an illustration from one of them:

Here is the roof of the Sistine Chapel:

Here is the School of Athens by Raphael; it was one of my favorites. Jennie Tes and I somehow took a detour past it walking through the museum, and because of how they have it set up, it's impossible to back track, so, with little time left, we ended up racing through the entire Vatican Museum as fast as we could. We finally made it, and it was worth it!

There may have been more Asian tourists in Rome than Italians....

Speaking of running, we this is a view from the top of St. Peters, which we also raced up:

Jennie and I looking in what we thought was a mirror. It turned out that it's one way glass with security guards behind it... I bet they were laughing:

Chad, myself and Jonathan... we didn't color coordinate on purpose.

Here is inside St. Peters... it has to have been the most over-the-top thing I've ever seen! The whole time though, I couldn't shake the knowledge that it was built, largely with money extorted from the poor of Europe through the sale of indulgences (the very one's that Luther started the reformation be complaining about) and with the sole purpose of consolidating the Roman Catholic Church's legitimacy of power... so I guess there was a little bad taste in my mouth the whole time... it was still mind blowing though!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Roman Ruins II: The Forum and the Pantheon

Directly across from the Colosseum lies the Forum - a sprawling compilation of ruined buildings that were once the Government, market place and imperial palaces of Rome. I took a nap on Palatine Hill, the home of Caesars palace, leaning against a block of stone that had once been part of that very building. At one point I looked up and these two young Italian boys were playing soldier with wooden swords here.

Much of the forum was only recently opened to the public as so much of it was under archaeological study. They are still working on it though, as I could see in this picture:

Here is Caesar's Palace:

Our group broke that evening and I went to see the Pantheon with some friends.

Here is the inside. It was actually the largest dome in the world for over a thousand years, and the occulous in the top is open, so rain comes right in, and there is a drain on the floor below. The building was turned into a Catholic Church at some point, which is unfortunate in that all the original sculpture and decoration was lost, but fortunate in that it's probably the only reason it survived to this day.

After that we went to the Trevi Fountain. It was beautiful, and I threw a coin in, which apparently means I will be back:

All for now!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rome - Pt. I - Roman Ruins: The Colosseum

The second stop on our trip for fine arts class was Rome. It was amazing! I saw so many things that I had dreamed of since I was little like the Colosseum.

The inside used to have a floor over those walls and columns you can see sticking up. They kind of reconstructed it over at the far end there:

Here is myself:

A similar view without me:

Here is down on the ground level near the entry way:

I played soccer today with about twenty other people for a couple hours - I forgot how much I enjoy playing soccer... it ended for me when I decided to play goalie (which has historically ended in my getting hurt) when I got kicked in the shin really hard. I didn't realize how bad it was for a few minutes when it didn't stop hurting. I looked down and there was the most massive goose bump I've ever had on my body in the middle of my right shin... so I walked back and put some ice on it. Now I can hardly walk....
The new prof. arrived last night and spoke this morning at chapel. He is really cool. He is from South Africa, and it's a joke that now he's African American, even though he's white. I went out for coffee with him at Martins with a few friends and he basically asked for our input on how we would like the course to be. He sermon this morning was amazing, so I'm really looking forward to his lectures. This is good, because if my leg doesn't improve significantly, I may not be able to do much else for a while.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Florence - Domes, Doors and Medicis

Here is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, often known as Burnelleschi's dome, after the architect who designed it. It's interesting to note that the people who built the foundation did so knowing that the technology to build the dome didn't exist yet... talk about a little bit of faith. The round looking building on the left is the Baptistery, the building behind is the Cathedral, and obviously, the dome:

Here are the famous doors of the Baptistry, forged by Lorenzo, Brunelleschi's rival.

Here is Yontz, on top of the Dome:

Myself on the dome:

The view from the dome:

The paintings on the inside of the dome... they were surprisingly graphic and distrubing for a church....

Here is the roof of the baptistry:

Here is the main hall of the Medicic family Palace: It was built by Cosimo, the first Medicic ruler of Florence. He was first apointed because, having been raised alone by his mother, he was assumed to be weak minded and able to be manipulated. Instead he ended up being the most powerful ruler in Florence's history.

Here is a photo I took of the Palace from a hill across the river from Florence:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Grand Time

Well, at about 3:00am this morning, we arrived back at SBI. We made it to Florence and Rome. I have to say that so far it's been a highlight of my whole trip. I saw so many things that I've always dreamed of like the Colosseum and St. Peters and Santa Maria del Fiore and many others that I hadn't heard much about but enjoyed almost equally like the Medici Palace and the Roman Forum.

I don't really know how I'm going to try to sum it up in a post... so I would say that it will come in multiple installments. In the past, however, this has usually been a cop out on my part and means I will never get back to it... so I guess what I should say is that I'll try.

Perhaps tomorrow night... tomorrow I will be in Venice again, this time studying. That should be interesting, and I'm giving a short presentation on the Doge's Palace, which should be fun... so that's all for now. I'm doing well, but tired, as I got up at the normal time this morning to eat and write a paper and do my chores... so it was a really short night, but anyhow... it's been a grand time.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Can you find Gollum in this picture?

This coming week is travel week for Fine Arts Class. At five-thirty tomorrow morning we leave by bus for Florence for a day and then Rome for two days. We will be back here on Thursday, and then off to Venice on Friday. With all this coming up, I decided to hang back close to home base this weekend (not to mention it saves money, and all the travel coming up this week will be paid for already : ). Yesterday I took a train just a few miles South to a town called Sacile with Jonathan. It's a place were people from Venice used to go for Vacation or to escape the plague. I guess they wouldn't feel at home without some canals though, so they have some. Challenge: can you find Gollum in this picture (click to enlarge it):

Today I went for a run with Cate, who is a little girl from Montanna who eats prodigiuos amounts are fruit, and very little else. I kept up, but just barely! We went for about forty-five minutes and I think it was the farthest I've run since last summer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bologna - The City of Too Many Steps

Last week we wrapped up New Testament Literature and Interpretation with Dr. Legg and have now started Fine Arts with Dr. Wilhoit. This class is going to run for two weeks, the first of which will be just lectures and things. The second week though, we are going to travel through several of the major cities in Italy including Florence and Rome, which I am looking forward to a lot.

Last evening I booked flights for Dublin the last weekend I'm here. It's just before my parents hope to come, so it was good timing. I found out since then that Pete and some other people were planning on going to a concert that weekend, so I was kind of disappointed about that, but no one told me, where the people going to Ireland let me know about it several times. I think I will prefer Ireland to Bob Dylan though anyhow.

I've begun to realize that I haven't actually been writing much on here... mostly just posting photos and things. Photos are ok... but I think I'm going to try to actually say a little more about what is happening.

I'm spending way too much money. Large, obscene, ridiculous amounts of money... and I'm not really doing anything crazy either, just riding the train on weekends and buying a little food here and there... everything is expensive because of the exchange rate though. I was expecting to spend a lot though... so I guess that's ok. I was debating about whether it was worth it for instance, to buy plane tickets to Ireland. Round trip was about $150, and I wondered if it was worth it. Afterwords I was thinking though, when I'm back in the states this summer, if I had a chance to go to Ireland for the weekend for that much, wouldn't I do it? Certainly.

I have a cold now... mostly just a soar throat and general tiredness. Hopefully it won't turn into anything else though. Here are some pictures from this past weekend in Bologna. We saw a soccer game, climbed a really tall tower, and a about two and a half miles of steps up to San Luko. I decided to call it the weekend of steps.

Check this out, I love these things, and they are everywhere over here:

Here is Bologna, as seen from the top of the tower in the picture below:

Climbing up to the tower - there must have been about fifty flights of these ancient looking wooden stairs:

Here is the tower from the ground: This is the Asinelli tower, named after the family who took up ownership of it. There are about 10 of these around the city, sometimes reffered to as the private towers, because they were not built by any government or army. It was apparently more like some neigbors got together one day and said: "I think we need a tower."

We went to a soccer game between Bologna and Sampdoria. Bologna won 3/0. Check out this block by the Sampdorian golie though:

The crowed was pretty into it:

Here is a view of San Luko's: You can start to see the hills just beyond it. The land on one side, where Bologna is located, is completely flat (thus why they built towers I suppose) but just on the other side is turns into these beautiful hills. I miss the hills a bit.