Back in the Eternal City

by Berck

Nothing too exciting happened in Athens that I haven’t mentioned. From Athens, we headed to Nafplion, a small beach town. Here many UD’ers felt compelled to swim in the Aegean regardless of the fact that the water was quite cold. I happen to know what cold water feels like, and wasn’t persuaded to jump in just because it was Greece. (I didn’t stick more than my feet in Lake Superior either when I was there this summer.) We were all warned upon entering Nafplion that the rocky ocean bottom was covered in Sea Urchins… This didn’t stop at least 5 swimmers from stepping on them, which led to Joe Weinpel, the student life coordinator, spending the better part of an evening and night with a needle, a magnifying glass, and my flashlight with me holding it. Two of the victims were my roomates, so I had the choice of trying to sleep with the sounds of “YOW!” as Joe poked around with his needle, or assist by holding the flashlight. In addition, another girl got out of the water, said something about the fact that she was freezing, and proceeded to pass out on the rocks shivering. She ended up being just fine, in spite of the Greeks saying “This is not America, the water is still very cold even though the air is warm.” They were a helpful lot anyway, and I believe they assisted in transporting the hypothermic girl back to the hotel.

In addition to Nafplion we also stopped at Corinth and Mycenae to look at a whole bunch of old rocks which I had a hard time finding too fascinating, even if I managed to grasp the importance of some of them.

We also made a stop in Epidaraus where I got to read in the enormous theatre on the site. It was an amazing feeling to stand on the “alter” in the middle of the orchestra and read the part of Pentheus in the Bachae while a classmate read Dionysus. With the theatre mostly empty, its natural amplification due to its shape was phenomenal. Standing the center, it felt like I was talking with a microphone. It’s no where near as lound in the audience, but even at the very top of the top section, one could still here quite clearly. I really wonder what its like when the theatre is full. The reading was only a few minutes, but still, it was in incredible experience.

Our last stop was Olympia where we toured the original Olympic site and those athletic ran the length of the stadium. The professors competed in a relay event and managed to win through a clever bit of cheating–all in the original Greek spirit, they claimed. The UD’ers have a knack for finding a disco club wherever they go, and somehow they managed to convince several of the professors to join them. I didn’t attend, but heard it was quite a sight.

During our last meal together in Greece, Lunch in Olympia, Joe Weinpel presented the award for the most Gyros eaten in Greece. There were two awards, one for the girls and one for the guys. He had all the girls stand up and sit down when the number of Gyros they’d eaten was surpassed by the number Joe called out. By the time he hit 14 or so, Claire Nerbun was the only one left standing. For the guys, he started at ten, and at 24, Brian Potts, Jon Bird, and myself were left standing. Potts sat down at 25. Joe called out numbers with a look of disbelief until I finally sat down at number 36. Bird managed 38. However, the contest was officially between the students, so I won the prize: a box of Tums wrapped in what should have been laurel leaves. It was quite an accomplishment, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily something to be proud of :)

The bus ride to Patros and the subsequent return on the Superfast ferry, specifically the “Superfast II”, was rather uneventful. Dustin decided he didn’t want his couchette because he planned to stay awake all night for some reason, so he gave it to me. (Dustin, my first roommate at UD, stayed up many nights, whereas I only attempted that feat once and failed miserably.) I, once again, slept quite well.

In the evening, as the ferry was just pulling off, there was quite a strong wind on the water. Once we started moving about 20 knots, the wind on deck was incredible. I stood on deck and could lean back into the wind and it supported me as if I were leaning on a wall. At one point though, it ripped my glasses from my face, and hurdled them at least 20 feet in the air, and I, with a feeling of horror, watched them land on the fan tail where someone, thankfully, stopped them from blowing off the boat entirely.

The bus ride wasn’t really too eventful either, save the fact that I was actually awake for a good bit of the trip having slept the night before. The Italian Autostrade was fascinating. The buses cruised at fairly slow 100 km/hr, while I witnessed motorcycles and fast cars fly by at what had to be their top speed. Three lanes per side of a fast divided highway, and I never saw an Italian have to pass ANYONE on the right side. They all stay to the right except to pass. Furthermore, its not like there isn’t a wide variety of speed, there are little scooters that can’t be traveling faster than 50 km/hr, to cars and motorcycles traveling 200 km/hr or faster. And somehow it all seemed to work. They all use their turn indicators to change lanes as well, but they’re used in a manner completely different from how I’m accustomed. To pass someone in front of you, you turn on your left turn signal, pull into left lane, leaving your left turn signal on, then pull back into the right lane, all the time with the left turn signal on. [It’s starting to warm up in Italy, and Italians don’t seem to shower. Ever. Ugh.] Furthermore, if you’re in the left lane and want the person in front of you to let you by, you just flip on your left turn signal. There are all sorts of other times they use the turn signals as well, but those are the only two uses I’ve managed to decode. The Italians get really scared when they drive in the US, because of all the passing on the right and unpredictability of American drivers.

I’ve got two more midterms on Tuesday, Philosophy and Literature. I tried reading on the metro on the way over here. It seems to require a skill I don’t have. You’ve got to make sure no one is trying to do something to you (i.e. pickpocket you, etc.), make sure you don’t miss your stop, keep from being thrown about, and READ at the same time? Maybe I’ll get it down eventually.

Anyway, I’m hungry and am going to go find a nice Pizza Rustica (It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve had Pizza!) and head back to campus and study, perhaps paint as well.

Until next time.

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