Metsovo & Ioannina & Meteora, oh my!

I didn’t realize just how mountainous Greece was. Athens is on a hill surrounded by a couple of mountains, but I didn’t feel the overwhelming presence of the mountains. As you get farther away from the city, you begin to experience the natural mountainous landscapes of Greece. And, let me tell you, they are marvelous. Earlier in the semester, I wrote about a CYA-led optional trip to the island of Chios. This weekend, I went on another trip, this time to the mountains of northern Greece: in just three days, we visited the villages of Metsovo, Ioannina, and Meteora.

Metsovo Cheese!

For the weekend, we traded the hot Athenian sun for fall weather. It was needed after weeks of consistent heat and beating sun (I think it’s only rained twice since being here!). When we arrived in Metsovo, we learned about its unique wine and cheese production. We went to one of the leading cheese producers and tried a unique (and delicious) assortment of their finest cheeses. Obviously, this was paired with a glass of red wine straight from the mountains. Coincidentally, next semester, I will be taking an Honors Seminar called “Chemistry of Wine.” I understand that I’ve been doing some serious research during my semester in Greece. 

The next day, we went to the village of Ioannina. At its prime, Ioannina served as the hotspot for intellectual engagement and excellence. Most of our time here was spent talking about Ali Pasha, an Albanian ruler who ruled strictly as an Ottoman Pasha. While learning about his rule and the village’s deep history, we were able to visit Ali Pasha’s tomb and castle.


Meteora was the last leg of our trip. It is home to some of the most impressive Eastern Orthodox monasteries upon naturally magnificent rocks. In the 10th century AD, Meteora had ten fully functional monasteries. More now than ever, many have lost interest in monasteries and they are closing their doors. Currently, there are only six monasteries open for visitors. Despite being breathtaking, the current times simply value different lifestyles. It’s a shame because they are so beautiful.

In Meteora!

Having grown up in the city my entire life, I feel like I’ve missed out on something. During these trips to the mountains, I often find myself feeling small among these creatures of the Earth. They are not threatening, yet offer protection and solace. During the evening hours, the stars embrace us from across universes. I don’t know how it’s possible, but it truly is a transcendent experience every time. I love it here.

One of the Monasteries.


All About Athena at the Acropolis 

Subtle flex: going to the Acropolis to learn about Athena. One of the courses I’m taking is called “Greek Mythology and Religion.” Briefly, it deals with the myths of Ancient Greece, puts them into perspective with the ancient Greeks, and analyzes their reception and possible relationships with our mortal world today. It’s quite an enjoyable course, especially while studying in Athens.

On the Acropolis!

If you don’t know, Athens is named after the goddess Athena, a virgin warrior goddess known also for her wisdom and craft. She is the namesake of Athens following a contest with Poseidon. For those dwelling in the area (soon to be known as Athens), Poseidon produced a spring, but it was salty; Athena produced the olive tree, bearing a multitude of fruits and gifts for the mortals. As you can guess, Athena won this contest. Thus, Athens received its name. 

In the discourse surrounding the goddess, Athena is also known as Parthenos (Παρθένος): virgin. Like the other goddesses, Artemis and Hestia, she was to remain a virgin. If you didn’t know, now it might make more sense how the Parthenon got its name. During our lecture on Athena, the Parthenon, and Athens, we had the opportunity to learn more about the relationship between Athena and the ancient Athenians. We also discussed our opinions and thoughts on the modern implications of this relationship. 

Nina Papathanasopoulou (CYA) giving a lecture on the friezes and pediments of the Parthenon.

I chose to study abroad in one of the places from where my Classics major comes for several different reasons (which I can elaborate on in the future). Of course, being in the spot where the Athenians lived, learned, and worshiped is close to the top. I’d take a lecture on the Acropolis over being in the classroom any day. I feel grateful to be able to learn about the illustrious Athena and her temple while being in its very presence.