This year, Gateway Challenges Funding and the Rosemary Murray Travel Fund enabled me to travel to Athens for six nights with two fellow Medwards students.
Having come to the end of studying Tragedy as part of my English Tripos at Cambridge and still feeling that it was by far my most difficult paper, a trip to Athens gave me an opportunity to revisit Greek Tragedy in a new light after the pressure of learning for exams.
Flying to Athens only two days after graduating, this trip was both a great celebration to end our degrees with and our last proper time together before each moving on to our prospective graduate jobs.
We managed to book a stay in the tallest hotel in Athens which gave incredible panoramic views of the city—a great way to take it all in as a whole. We stayed slightly out of the centre which meant that we got a great look at the modern-day Athens city life and then got the metro every day into the ancient city centre. The metro was by far cleaner, easier, and even colder than the London tube which made travelling stress-free!
With temperatures going upwards of 36 degrees and extreme UV warnings, much of our sightseeing had to be done in the early evenings. Even then, it was upwards of 30 degrees as we set off on the uphill climb to the Acropolis (or ancient city) and its surrounding archaeological sites. Exploring things such as the Herodes Atticus, I understood quickly how Athens acted as the beginnings of democracy, philosophy, and culture in Europe. The stunning 360 degree view of Athens than we got from the Parthenon was also definitely worth the climb.
However, my favourite thing I visited remained at the bottom of the acropolis. The Theatre of Dionysus played a huge role in my studies of Greek Tragedy during my time at Cambridge, and it was amazing to see it in person. Imagining the Athenians gathered around in there stone theatre reminded me again why, even though Tragedy was a difficult paper, it was also one of the most culturally rich and rewarding.
At night, we got to see the contemporary side of the city meet its ancient counterpart. Fashionable modern bars met traditional Greek restaurants as tourists streamed down the city’s streets. The food (including far too many Greek kebabs) was amazing! We found ourselves stumbling upon ancient ruins when out for dinner (like that of Hadrian’s Library) and a look up gave a brilliant view of the lit up ruins of the Parthenon and other ruins.
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to conclude my degree at Murray Edwards—a great time spent with wonderful friends, remaining curious and interested in what the world has to offer even outside of Cambridge’s confines. I’m extremely grateful to Gateway and to the RMTF for enabling us to have this experience.