20 April 2012
21 students and 3 staff set off on the annual Classics Trip, which this year was to Turkey. Over the next six days we saw the fantastic Greek, Hellenistic and Roman ruins at Afrodisias (scene of this year’s Classics Department ‘Race-in-an-Ancient-Space’, won convincingly by Calum Page, Mr Kettley an equally convincing last), Hieropolis, Pergamum (which we reached by cable car and which features surely the steepest theatre in the world), Ephesus, and Troy which, remarkably, still boasts a Wooden Horse as well as the walls we imagined being climbed by Patroklos in Book 16 of Homer’s Iliad.
We travelled great distances by coach and ferry to end in Istanbul, where we marvelled at such world-famous sights as Topkapi Palace and Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. We also enjoyed shopping in the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar, and ate wonderful, authentic food (in one restaurant we were serenaded by a guitar-playing parrot). The students enjoyed searching out their own restaurants in Istanbul; footballing and belly-dancing also occurred, as well as therapeutic dips in the hotel baths near the hot springs of Pamukkale.
We were accompanied throughout by our Turkish guide, Neco, who spoke immaculate English and was a fund of information about ancient and modern Turkey: we learnt about Turkish caravans, attitudes towards National Service in Turkey, and the incidence of brick factories in the outskirts of Izmir.
The students all took a lively interest in the different cultures, ancient and modern, to which they were exposed. Standing in the theatre at Ephesus, looking out over the plain of Troy or over the waters to Gallipoli, hearing the early morning or early evening call to prayer in Istanbul….all these and others were magical experiences on a magical trip. My thanks go to the students for being such a good group to travel with, to the staff and support staff at school who helped set up the trip, and especially to Miss Boyt and Mrs Ward for their help and hard work while we were in Turkey. Look out for Italy 2013!