Meet Mr. Lincoln in the city he called home and loved best. With Jerry Podair, Lawrence University Professor of History, and James Cornelius ‘81, Curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, as our guides, we will visit Springfield’s most important Lincoln sites, including the Lincoln Home and Tomb, the Presidential Library and Museum, and more! Join us as we retrace Abraham Lincoln’s epic journey on the streets that he walked. The cost is $775 per person, double occupancy. Click below for a complete trip itinerary and reservation application.
Check out this article written by Ron & Molly Shiffler about the LU/Björklunden trip to Greece April 21-May 4, 2012!
On a Saturday afternoon in late April, nine of us Björklunden travelers pulled out of Lawrence’s Banta Bowl parking lot in a Lamers “party” bus to begin our Greek Odyssey. Others joined us in Milwaukee, O’Hare, the Munich airport, and finally Athens. Our “Taylor Made” 1 tour2 began with a brief bus trip around central Athens and then a Sunday dinner reception at the Athens Gate Hotel’s Roof Garden Restaurant overlooking the Acropolis with the softly lit Parthenon on its crest.
Monday morning we headed up to the Acropolis, stepping around and over the ubiquitous Acropolis dogs before entering through the Propylaea and passing by the small but exquisite Temple of Athena Nike on our way to the Parthenon and the Erechtheion with its Caryatids holding up the porch roof. We also visited the Agora, where Socrates hung out, with its charming little museum. That afternoon we went with our excellent tour guide Evi3 to the National Archaeological Museum and gazed in awe at all the archaic and classical statues and the gold of Mycenae. We enjoyed a group dinner in the Plaka4 at a Greek tavern with live Greek music and folk dancers. As an added bonus, Peter Roop ’73, took to the dance floor with anyone brave enough to join him.
Tuesday featured a morning visit to the New Acropolis Museum, which is an award-winning aedifice housing thousands of artifacts from the Acropolis. It also included a place for the hoped-for return of the Elgin Marbles from London. During construction, more ruins were discovered at the building site, so the museum designers built a glass indoor-outdoor floor showing the ongoing process of archaeology. For lunch we ate fish caught fresh that morning and then visited the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. The site is as stunning to modern tourists as it was to the ancient Greek sailors. Later, back in Athens, on the recommendation of David and Elvia Ridley, six of us ate dinner at a Greek restaurant where we were presented with 14 trays of entrées to share.
Wednesday was a free day in Athens, so everyone went out on his/her own. Mark, Ray5, and I visited the Numismatic Museum, which is housed in the Schliemann66house. We returned via Syntagma Square, the Greek Parliament building, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We were able to catch the Evzones7 during their “stretch” at the half hour. We strolled through the National Garden and then walked under Hadrian’s Arch and around the Temple of Olympian Zeus, all of which were right across the street from our hotel. Others accompanied Dan to the Theatre of Dionysus and then to the 4th century BCE Kerameikos Cemetery, where they stepped on the path that once led to Plato’s Academy.
Thursday we left Athens. On our way to Mycenae we made a pit stop at the Corinth Canal, where we were surrounded by hundreds of school kids on holiday. At Mycenae in 1874 Schliemann discovered a fortified palace complex, which dates back to the late Bronze Age (1700–1100 BCE). We entered through the famous Lions Gate, viewed the tholos tombs and royal palace, and later walked along the Cyclopean Walls8 into one of the huge beehive tombs. We continued to Epidaurus, where Dan delivered a few lines in Greek that carried throughout the Theatre with its near-perfect acoustics.
Friday we visited the site of the original Olympic Games that began in 776 BCE. While Mark just ambled down and back on the original Olympic track, a few chose to run. Ann Yonamine took up a previous challenge from husband Ed that he could outrun her anytime. Well, he never got out of the blocks! We celebrated with Paul and Nancy Rosenheimer on their 55th wedding anniversary. Tourist #409 joined us later that night in Olympia.
Greece is a land of mountains and valleys. It is composed of a northern mainland, a southern peninsula (the Peloponnese), and more than a thousand10 islands. With the Ionian Sea to the west, the Aegean to the east, and the Mediterranean to the south, the sea is obviously central to Greek life. Since Greece is at the crossroads of Mediterranean sea lanes, castles and fortresses were built to protect against pirates. Temples and monasteries were built high up in the mountains to be closer to, and hopefully protected by, the gods. Most of Greece has limestone bedrock11, while some of the islands such as Santorini and Patmos are of volcanic origin.
Saturday we headed north along the Ionian coast of the Peloponnese, crossing the Gulf of Corinth on a new suspension bridge (and the only bridge across the gulf). Then it was on to Delphi, the religious center of ancient Greece—the Omphalos12—and the dwelling place of Apollo, where worshipers came to consult the Oracle. Delphi is set in rugged, mountainous terrain, and its Sacred Way leads up to the Temple of Apollo. Further up is the theatre, and even further up is the stadium, from where we could look down the mountain to what would be our next stop, the wonderful Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia with its beautiful, round temple. That night we stayed in the village of Arahova, a ski town on Mount Parnassos. The slope was so steep that the shops on the upside had living quarters above the shop, but across the street on the downside, living quarters were below the shop! After stopping at the lovely Monastery of Ossios Loukas, we arrived back in Athens on Sunday with time for last minute sightseeing, shopping, and dining alfresco.
Monday morning, after another huge buffet breakfast atop the Athens Gate Hotel, our bus delivered us to the port of Piraeus, where we boarded our cruise ship, the Cristal, and set sail for Mykonos, waving to the Temple of Poseidon as we sailed by Cape Sounion. At Mykonos our guide Amaryllis led us on a walking tour of the 400-year old maze of streets throughout the town, which was composed of lime-washed buildings with candy-colored trim. The purpose of the maze was to slow down invading pirates and allow residents time to flee to safety. We saw 16th-century windmills, the famous Paraportiani church, Little Venice, and Petros the Pelican, the island’s mascot. Back aboard the ship, we slept while the Cristal sailed toward Asia.
Our half-day in Turkey consisted of a guided tour to the ancient city of Ephesus, where we saw Roman baths, aqueducts, the two-story Library of Celsus, the giant theatre, and, most interesting, the ancient men’s public toilets, which were marble slabs with appropriate sized holes, side by side, allowing seating for about 20! There was running water underneath to flush things away and running water in front in a gutter to clean up by using a sponge. Guide Susan left us off at a shop vigorously selling Turkish carpets, resulting in several sales to our group. Turkish merchants are high-pressure salespeople who almost drag tourists into their shops. We were afraid to stop and even look into their shops! We sailed on to Patmos, where Saint John was imprisoned in 95 AD. According to most authorities, he had his vision in the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse and dictated the book of Revelations to his scribe. We also visited the Monastery of Saint John, which is still an important Greek Orthodox institution.
After another all-night sail, our ship arrived in Rhodes Wednesday morning. Our guide Anna took us to Lindos, where we climbed up—way up—to the ancient Acropolis dedicated to Athena around 400 BCE. On the way back to Rhodes, we stopped at a local potter’s shop and were amazed at the skills involved in painting the delicate designs and “throwing” the pots. Our suitcases were a little heavier after that stop. We finished the tour in Rhodes Old Town—a citadel built by the Knights of Saint John in 1309, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage City. With free time until late afternoon, souvenir and gift shopping prevailed.
We arrived at Heraklion, Crete’s capital city, at 7 a.m. Thursday and set out for the Palace of Knossos, the Labyrinth of Greek mythology, which was discovered and partially restored by Sir Arthur Evans between 1900 and 1929. Its Minoan culture dates back to 1900 BCE. The walls are decorated with frescoes, including the famous dolphin fresco as well as the mural with acrobats jumping over a charging bull. A short sail took us to Santorini, a lovely island famous for its white, flat-topped roofs and churches with blue domes, the favorite honeymoon destination in the world, and our final stop. The island was formed in prehistoric times by many volcanic eruptions, but around 1628 BCE a massive eruption blew out its center, creating a caldera with a bay replacing what many believe was the ancient city of Atlantis. Thira Town sits on top of the cliff. Getting up there requires either riding a cable car or taking a lengthy zigzag path on foot or by donkey. Everyone took the cable cars except the Carringtons, who, not heeding Dr. Dan’s advice, chose the donkeys. A pregnant woman who walked beat them to the top!
Friday morning the Cristal pulled into Piraeus, and we hopped onto our bus for the ride back to the airport. On our way through Athens, we made one last stop at the Olympic Stadium where the first modern Games were held in 1896. As we passed the Greek statue honoring history, Prof. Eisler lectured us on the importance of Truman’s Marshall Plan in keeping Greece from falling under control of the Soviet Bloc following World War II. At the airport our group of 40 split up, with some going to Istanbul and others to Paris and London. Our Greek Odyssey over, the small group of nine returned to the Banta Bowl some 24 hours after leaving Athens. Probably no one was more relieved than Mark after spending two weeks shepherding us around on the land and sea and in the air. Our own drive back to Medford passed by Marathon City, Athens, Corinth, and even Milan—all towns in Marathon County! The Greek (and Roman) influence certainly remains with us today.
1) John Dreher, email on 5/4/12.
2) In preparation for our tour, our trip leaders Dan and Donna Taylor spent two months in Greece and scouted things out. Dan also prepared emails describing what we would be seeing, along with lots of Greek history and culture, plus tips like “Don't ride the donkeys!”
3) After a bad experience on his scouting tour, Dan insisted that we have the best guides available, and we did; they were all thoroughly knowledgeable and very personable.
4) Athens’ ancient version of the Fox City Mall.
5) At 89, Ray Smith was the senior member of our tour.
6) Heinrich Schliemann, an Indiana Jones-type of archaeologist.
7) Elite infantrymen in traditional dress who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
8) Walls made of huge stone blocks.
9) Molly took a four-hour taxi ride across the Peloponnese from the Athens airport.
10) This would be counting every rock sticking out of the water!
11) Not unlike Door County.
12) The navel of the Earth.