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Erin

Greece, J-term 2016 Trip

Day 11 ~ Athens

Yet another glorious day in Greece! Today was our day off, so we used our time wisely and started our day with a group study session. We worked on our homework and projects for a long time and realized doing math is a lot more fun when you have a view of the Parthenon right in front of you and the Mediterranean sun shining down on your back (who knew, right?!).

In the afternoon, a group of us took the metro down to the sea. We lay in the sun and (most of us at least) jumped in the sea – it was freezing but worth the experience! We all met up in the evening to hike the large hill on the edge of the city to watch the sunset. There is a small church named St. George right on top of the hill, so everyone refers to the hill as “St. George’s”. The hike was rather steep, but the view from the top was phenomenal. We brought some picnic food and sat and watched the sun set behind the Acropolis and over the Aegean Sea. It was a breathtaking experience and well worth the hike!

After we got back from our hike, we all dressed up and got ready to go to the opera house. We saw The Marriage of Figaro and thoroughly enjoyed it despite the fact that it was only in Greek. The actors did a fabulous job and kept our attention for the full three hour show.

We are loving our time here in Greece and cannot believe it is almost over! The sun and warm weather have us all in perpetual good moods, and the food here is incredible. We all want to stay!

 

The view from the top of St. George's at sunset

The view from the top of St. George’s at sunset

 

The girls all ready to go to the opera house!

The girls all ready to go to the opera house!

Greece, J-term 2016 Trip

Day 10 ~ Athens

Our day started with breakfast at the hotel and we took full advantage of it – we are going to miss these buffet style breakfasts when we go back home! Our guide, a graduate student at the National Technical University of Athens, met us at our hotel. We drove to the University and toured around. We had a question and answer session with our guide and learned about the Greek higher education system and the culture of the students at the University. We saw a few different buildings and had a special tour of the library (it is currently the Greek equivalent of finals week so there were plenty of students around studying).

When we got back to our hotel, we walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch. We enjoyed some very traditional Greek food and the owner of the restaurant talked with us about Greek food and how to make it. After lunch, we had class and learned about fractals and took a quiz. We had the afternoon free and used our time to walk around the Plaka (the oldest section of Athens) and find dinner at local restaurants. We are absolutely loving Athens and how sunny and warm it is here!

 

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Our group touring a computer lab at the National Technical University of Athens

 

Greece, J-term 2016 Trip

Day 9 ~ Athens

What a glorious day in Athens! The weather is perfect and sunny – so sorry to all of our friends freezing back home in Minnesota!

We began our day with a hike up to the Acropolis. There were hardly any people there because it is January, so we pretty much had the whole thing to ourselves. We were absolutely stunned by the views of the city from all the way at the top of the hill.

We walked down from the Acropolis and through the Plaka when we were finished with our tour. The Plaka is the old section of Athens that has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. We also toured the Acropolis museum and were able to see many artifacts and pieces of art from ancient Greek times. We had class in the afternoon after all our tours were finished and did some homework together. We all walked to a nearby restaurant to eat dinner together and enjoyed traditional Greek food.

 

Touring around the Acropolis

Touring around the Acropolis

 

A group shot of us in front of the Parthenon

A group shot of us in front of the Parthenon

Greece, J-term 2016 Trip

Day 8 ~ Athens

Our first day in Greece! Our morning was not particularly interesting as most of it consisted of traveling. We got to the Barcelona airport and boarded our plane without any hiccups. When we landed in Athens, we took a bus to our hotel and met our guide. During the drive, our guide gave us some great information and we got a tour of the city from the bus. We drove by the Olympic stadium that housed the first modern Olympics and had to get out and take a picture!

After we got to the hotel and got settled, we listened to a presentation and then broke into small groups to explore the city and get some dinner. We are very excited to see the Acropolis tomorrow!

 

Our group at the Olympic stadium

Our group at the Olympic stadium

J-term 2016 Trip, Spain

Day 7 ~ Barcelona

We woke up to an absolutely gorgeous day here in Barcelona. We walked for about 30 minutes to see Casa Mila which is one of Gaudi’s civil architecture works. His buildings stand out so much from the street, and they are even more impressive on the inside. We climbed all the way to the top and had amazing views of the city (including La Sagrada Familia only a few blocks away). We also walked to Casa Batllo which is another civil work by Gaudi. The interior was just as impressive as the first building we saw, if not more so.

After we finished our sightseeing for the day, we had some free time and then class. We learned about Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Ratio, and columns and took a quiz. The rest of the day was free, and a group of us walked to the Cathedral for Mass. We all ate dinner at local restaurants in small groups, and the guys found an Irish pub that is playing the Vikings game!

 

An exterior view of Casa Mila

An exterior view of Casa Mila

 

Our group on top of Casa Mila

Our group on top of Casa Mila

J-term 2016 Trip, Spain

Day 6 ~ Barcelona

This morning we got to sleep in (sort of – getting up at 7:45 still counts, right?). We boarded our bus after breakfast and met our guide for our tour. We ascended a large hill on the edge of the city and got out to see amazing panoramic views of the city of Barcelona from above. We also got to see where the 1992 Olympics were held and even walked around some of the stadiums and fields.

After we were finished seeing the Olympic area, we went to La Sagrada Familia. We were amazed at the beauty and incredible engineering of the massive Basilica right in the middle of the city. For a group of engineers (and some math majors), the unique architecture and designs were awe-inspiring. We spent plenty of time taking in our surroundings and enjoying La Sagrada Familia.

In the afternoon, we took the bus to Park Guell to tour around a little before we went to the FC Barcelona soccer game. The game was great – Barcelona won 4-0!

When we all got home from the game, we broke into small groups and went to dinner at local restaurants. We are all trying new foods and enjoying all the new experiences! We had a great day today and are looking forward to more sightseeing tomorrow!

 

Enjoying the Barcelona game

Enjoying the Barcelona game

 

Our group on top of the hill overlooking the city

Our group on top of the hill overlooking the city

 

An exterior view of La Sagrada Familia

An exterior view of La Sagrada Familia

 

An interior view of La Sagrada Familia

An interior view of La Sagrada Familia

J-term 2016 Trip, Spain

Day 5 ~ Barcelona

Yet another great day in Spain! We had a very early start this morning and boarded our bus to go to the airport. We flew to Barcelona and were in the city and settled into our hotel in time for lunch. We broke off in small groups for lunch and ate at local restaurants. We met up in the afternoon for class. We listened to presentations, and then Dr. Hennessey taught us about arches. We learned about different types of arches, types of forces applied to arches, ideal arches, and looked at some examples of arches both here and from back home.

After class we had the whole afternoon free to explore the city. We are staying very near where the Olympics took place in 1992, so a group of us went to explore the Olympic buildings. Another group of us walked to a bullfighting ring that has recently been renovated into a shopping center and apartments. Some of us went shopping, some of us stayed back and napped or did homework, and overall we all had great afternoons.

We met up as a large group again for dinner and walked to a local restaurant. We had a variety of tapas and got to enjoy a whole plethora of different types of food. We are excited to go to the FC Barcelona soccer game tomorrow!

J-term 2016 Trip, Spain

Day 4 ~ Granada

Today was a very relaxing day for us. We had class in the morning for a few hours which consisted of lecture and a quiz. After class, we had free time for the rest of the day, and we broke into small groups for the afternoon. Some of us went to lunch, some of us toured the cathedral, some of us went to the gym, and some of us stayed back at the hotel to study.

A large group of us met up for tapas (small meals or appetizers) in the evening. We had a great time taste-testing a bunch of different types of Spanish food!

 

Dr. Hennessey lecturing during class time

Dr. Hennessey lecturing during class time

 

A group of us studying in the afternoon

A group of us studying in the afternoon

J-term 2016 Trip, Spain

Day 3 ~ Granada

This morning we got up bright and early and began walking to the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a massive fortress and city at the very top of a steep plateau in Granada. Some of us braved the walk all the way up the sloping cobblestone streets, and some of us chose to take the city bus up the steepest part. When we arrived at the Alhambra, we met our guide and began our walking tour. The architecture and decoration of the palaces were magnificent. We learned about many different types of symmetry in class, and we were able to see symmetry in use all around us in tile patterns, paintings, wood carvings, and many other types of decoration. Our guide was very knowledgeable and taught us a lot about the history of the Alhambra and the many different monarchs and sultans who lived there. The gardens and courtyards of the Alhambra were beautiful and held plenty of vegetation despite it being the middle of the winter.

 

When our tour was finished, we walked back down the hill to explore the city, get some lunch, and go back to our hotel to work on some homework. We had class in the afternoon and then set off to go to dinner and watch a Flamenco dance performance. Many of us had never seen Flamenco dancing before tonight, so it was very interesting to learn about this unique part of the Spanish culture.

 

The weather here is chilly but much more mild than Minnesota, so we are all very happy. We have been walking a lot (over 5 miles a day!) and eating tons of good food, so we couldn’t ask for better.

 

Our group at the Alhambra

Our group at the Alhambra

 

One of the many beautiful views in the Alhambra

One of the many beautiful views in the Alhambra

 

Some of our group at dinner right before the Flamenco dance performance

Some of our group at dinner right before the Flamenco dance performance

J-term 2016 Trip, Spain

Day 2 ~ Toledo and Granada

Hola from Spain! We woke up this morning and began our day with class. After two hours of learning about symmetry and listening to presentations from our classmates, we had a couple hours to spend on our own in the city. We broke into groups to walk around the city and eat lunch at local cafés. A group of us went to the edge of the city and were able to walk atop the city wall and look out over the river and valley below. After lunch we met up with our local guide and began our walking tour of the city. We visited two synagogues and got to see the main gate of Toledo. Our guide told us about the history of Toledo and the coexistence of the Muslims, Christians, and Jews that is evident in the buildings all around the city. For example, the first synagogue we visited was designed by Muslim architects and had Islamic inscriptions written on the walls but was never used as a mosque. The same building was later converted into a Catholic church and today is a museum.

When we finished our tour, we headed back to our hotel and boarded the bus for Granada. We had a four hour drive which most of us used to work on some homework. We arrived in Granada and settled in our rooms before heading out in small groups for dinner. We are now headed for bed to get some rest before our full day of sightseeing and class tomorrow!

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Walking on the city wall in Toledo

 

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The View from the city wall in Toledo

 

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Listening to our guide during our walking tour of Toledo