Trip 17 - 2011

Trip 17 - 2011
Back row - Julia Saunders, Carroll Oliver, Stefan Torelli, Cassie Howard, Camela Flowerman, Mari Nakagawa Front row -- Dory West (assistant), Alex Sonett


  • Egypt:
  • Turkey:
  • Greece:
  • Italy:
  • Austria:
  • Germany:
  • Switzerland:


  • Camela Flowerman
  • Cassie Howard
  • Mari Nagagawa
  • Carroll Oliver
  • Julia Saunders
  • Alex Sonett
  • Stefan Torelli

Trip Leader

  • Mr. Taylor

Trip Assistent

  • Dory Weston
  • Cory Taylor (Vetran Host)

Trip Highlights

Dory Weston, trip assistant
Cory Taylor, guest host and instructor

June 13th --- Arrived in Cairo, took our traditional walk outside of hotel near midnight; loosened up our fear of Islam and went to bed.

June 14th --- We did go to Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo to meet the professor at the university; armed policemen treated us warmly as we were hurried through a door in the wall off a narrow street; the professor generously spent two hours sharing what he personally experienced in the streets earlier in the year, in the now world famous, Tahrir Square with scarred buildings rising above us, we ate lunch in an outdoor restaurant next to the Cairo museum; our security guard had surveyed the scene before he waited near the entrance the professor had told us he was in charge of the "official archives" of the Revolution; he had taken us after our visit into a display room with wall size pictures capturing what a shocked world witnessed on television; was the liberal professor being tracked by the authorities; was Arete going to experience another terrorizing travel moment?

June 15th --- We drove out to oldest pyramid at Saqqara, no tourists at the site; two guards with machine guns wereeasily influenced to beat it and let us climb up behind the “Step pyramid” and view the Libyan desert where we could play music from “The English Patient” sound track; I still can't believe I ........

June 16th --- The setting of Alexandria harbor was beautiful, and the Cecil hotel of the famous British and Greek writers only 100 yards away from our lodging; we joined these literary legends in the famous Cecil for dinner after two in our party took an afternoon run through the streets and along the waterfront; ; one of our girls was not sensitive about the length of her shorts and deserved the nasty comments she received from scarf covered Muslim girls. The young women of Alexandria wore colorful head scarfs and were covered to their ankles, but they didn't neglect the eye "make up" and facial creams.

June 17th --- Back to Cairo, wondering if we were going to be trapped, held captive by a street demonstration in the crowded city streets; the driver of the tour van asked if he could stop for “ten minutes” to enter a roadside mosque and pray; I said, “of course”.

June 18th --- As we reached 30,000 feet on our flight to Istanbul, I thought of the frightened parents back home who would have wanted to know that moment that we had escaped "Tahrir Square" and were out of Egypt; I felt satisfaction in having delivered Cairo, but was damn glad to be out of Egypt. This day was not over as we picked up the van at the Istanbul airport and headed for our motel near Troy; would the ferry transport cars all night from across the Hellespont; would we make it to the hotel for dinner with that fantastic view across the channel; Dory and I alternated aggressive driving roles before we joined Alexander the Great in successfully crossing the Hellespont

June 19th --- We drove the rental van out on to the ancient battlefield of Troy, but not the usual way with those grooves and thick weeds threatening to tilt the van over; there is a smoother route if you follow the tractor paths from the north side of the agricultural fields; after each of us ran alone, thinking of someone important to us who had died, one of the girls told how she identified with Hector, who was up against ruthless Achilles, how she remembered feeling over matched and letting fear win in the recent county track finals; another girl, a "Bruin" now, cried from the Trojan walls over the agony that Hector’s wife, Andromache, experienced; her having to wait torturous moments for news that her husband, Hector, had indeed been killed by Achilles.

June 20th --- We crossed the Hellespont again, to the petite little beaches with the endless graves at Gallipoli; the little waves wash up so innocently on the shore, far away from the savage sounds of war.

June 21st --- With Dory behind the wheel, I jumped out of the van and went into a hotel lobby in old Istanbul to check on how to make our way through the maze of streets to our tradition place of lodging; I discovered when I came out of the hotel with clear directions that Dory left me because cars behind her were honking; I hiked around the Blue Mosque and down to our hotel, then found with some satisfaction that Dory needed a vodka to calm herself down; at least she had a fantastic of the Bosphorus upon accepting this drink from the hotel manager.

By evening brilliant lighting delivered the awesome Ag. Sophia and Blue Mosque, while the powerful “Call to Prayer” made man so small and Allah great.

June 22nd --- A morning run along the Bosporus was perfect by temperature, air and view; the "Bruin" disappeared in the Blue Mosque, and we waited; that evening from the bridge by the Golden Horne allowed the magnificent setting of Istanbul to sway the day.

June 23rd --- The flight to Athens and a occupied Syntagma Square left no trouble in parking in front of the Astor hotel; fear of potential destruction by fire bombs contributed to the vacancies; we did race through the flea market again to our tradition ambrosia reward, the Souvlaki sandwitch; the owner at the stand knows me now and gave me a free drink; we gobbled the sandwiches only fifty yards from where Socrates was charged with "corrupting the youth of the City".

June 24th --- We walked swiftly to be before the Parthenon ahead of thick crowds, then by student readings heard of 5th century, B.C. Greek brilliance by war victories, architecture, sculpturing, playwrights, historians, the minds that shaped philosophy and science forever. Ethan and Natalia fed us dinner with Dr. Ford holding his newborn son; the '87 Arete veteran is professor of micro-biology in Athens with a staff of some fifteen Greek scientists limiting his research by their unending questions.

Another "hit" on an Arete trip took place on the metro returning to the hotel as our Cassandra had her wallet lifted (e.g., Arete thefts in Stockholm, Rome, several Swiss youth hostels on other trips come to mind); I warned this girl earlier that the name, "Cassandra", was trouble.

June 25th --- We drove up to our meadow above Delphi, our special golden home above the magnificent archaeological site on Mt. Parnassus; a light rain kept company with our four of our distance runners as they ran some a good ways to gain a "once in a lifetime" view of the Delphi track far below; the wind blew, as if angry that night, with furor through the thick pine; early morning found us first through the gate at the archaeological site below and up through the staggered ruins; the track is closed to foot traffic presently, but our 2 boys avoided the eyes of the stadium guard and raced a fast two hundred meters.

June 26th --- Arriving after midnight by sea on Ithaca, the dark road high over the two great channels of water allowed for a silent, unnoticed return by Odysseus once again.

Nicki was waiting by the little parking lot of our charming motel, the Nostos, guided us quietly to our prepared rooms; truly a special Greek friendship.

June 27th, 28th, 29th --- The little coves and privacy of a sea of beautiful blues of color, the tavernas by night at the little harbor just a couple of one-hundred yards below our motel; our traditional handicap run up over the village of Stavros and down to the cove produced a very close finish between a champion boy and the girl who was robbed in Athens; after four years of cross country "Cassie" discovered that she really could race.

The precarious drive along the spine of Ithaca on the “Jess Taylor highway” shared absolute beauty and still another incredible Arete travel view.

June 30th --- to Nemea by early morning sea, the home track of Arete in Greece; we spent the evening and night in the home of the famous Greek archaeologist, Dr. Stephen Miller, and his gracious wife, Effie; the next morning Arete feet returned to the familiar track, ran brief relay legs in the stadium that Arete resurrected in 1993 by the staging the first competition there in 2300 years.

July 1st --- Lunch was at the picturesque resort port of Nauplion; archeology by afternoon sun at the remote temple of Hera with her view of the plain of Argos; after a full and tasty meal in our wonderful Mycenae hotel that resides alone between the village and the mighty ruins, it was time for the frightening drive with eerie music, and without van lights at times, to the great fortress.

July 2nd --- The morning walk, alone, through the fortress was unbelievable; how can we have such history to ourselves; we experienced the 12th century, B.C. ruins without company, stood with Agamemnon in his throne room looking out across the plain of Argos.

Then a beautiful drive through the mountains to Olympia; the friendly hotel manager, "George", has been dead for a number of years, but his son greets us today.

June 3rd --- The track of Olympic history and the traditional Arete relay race brought forth some moans and groans about threatening muscles; no injuries resulted; the engaging museum with Apollo and Hermes was next, then across the sea by darkness to Italy.

July 4th --- The train ride to Rome and my terrifying pace across City traffic by foot to the Campo di' Fiori for dinner was successfully completed;; a cellar in a nearby restaurant, not far from the statue of the courageous martyr Bruno, followed the appreciated meal; the students were nervous, cautious, resistant when I led them to a restaurant cellar where people were eating dinner, but when I asked a waiter to open a hidden door in the wall their excitement, even awe, suddenly broke out as we entered the ancient theater of Pompey, we were actually below the streets of modern Rome; it was here where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in 44 B.C.; we had gotten off the ship at the port of Bari only twelve hours before.

July 5th --- Rain and lightning ripped through Rome the next morning as the students looked down upon the Roman forum from the Capitoline hill; it was as though the gods were displaying the power and mystery of ancient Rome, its ruthlessness, intelligence and madness; they ran and soaked themselves in a rare experience of the forum.

Dory led them by metro over to St. Peters while I rested at the hotel; one boy of little religious background felt St. Peter's was overwhelming; even ranked it ahead of the Parthenon; heresy; I took them on an early evening walk along the Tiber river, passing where Caesar Augustus and Hadrian rested in their tombs; then diner in the Campo di' Fiori.

July 6th --- Our youth hostel villa in Florence, hidden within the orchards above the river Arno; still yellow in color, the remains a tremendous setting for our stay in the expensive city.

July 7th --- The David of Michelangelo after a long, long wait in line took the morning; later in the afternoon some of us completed the traditional runs up the shaded hill to the youth hostel; a very nice final evening was spent quietly in our villa.

July 8th --- We left early in the morning and reached Vienna some ten hours later; it is a long drive from Florence to Vienna but Dory and I alternated the wheel; I thought I was going to get a ticket when I went through a red light upon arriving in tje city and a police car pulled up alongside of me as we waited at the next signal; I handed a officer from my window and through his window a map and asked for directions to our hotel; I didn't receive a ticket.

We took the trolley down from the hotel to the rewarding international food booths in front of the Rathaus on the Ring; it erased the agony of lengthy miles on the road.

June 9th --- In the morning the museum of Freud again rewarded Arete students greatly; after walking a few blocks up the street we paused where Beethoven died, then listened to some of the music from "Immortal Beloved" in the park a block away; however we were chased away from where Mozart died because it might hurt the business of the store that now occupies the property; Mozart just doesn't get a break in Vienna, does he?"; the Rathaus and the marvelous selection of international foods and drink awaited our evening.

June 10th --- Near Linz at the concentration camp at Mauthausen the students entered a gas chamber by the stillness of the early morning arrival; we chose to escape the noisy tours that would arrive shortly; our champion runner on his own chose to run up the many, many steps from the bottom of the quarry to remember the 120,000 or so Jews who didn't who didn't survive the steep path with the loads on their shoulders/

A river, screams from our lighter weight girls as they were able to let the rushing water sweep them rapidly down stream, then my son Cory, our host and teacher, appeared with my grandson Liam; we are in the mountains above Salzburg, Austria where absolute beauty resides with Adolph Hitler, the Eagles Nest, the Tea House, the stench of the Nazi past merged within majestic mountains and lush green colors.

Rain drives us into a large lodge room by the river and we avoid a night with wet sleeping bags.

July 11th, July 12th, July 13th a marvelous storm, lightning and thunder, the students dancing wildly in the rain, then in our cabin to “Zorba”'; by morning hour Cory delivers us to where the “executives” of the death of millions made their plans during World War II; ; lunch within the thick green foliage of Hitler’s favorite place to visit when in the Berhtesgaden; Cory is on top of his information, the depth of volumes of reading comes forth and overwhelms the Arete students; it all really happened; by nights we join Cory with his wife Julie and Liam for dinner; Julie is a "Bruin", too the Nietzsche walk is closer to sea level than the traditional climbs out of Sils Maria in the Swiss Alps, but Cory has chosen a breathtaking trail up a narrow gorge with thunder-us clear water powerfully feet away from a carefully prepared path;

Each student gave their interpretation of a Nietzsche verse, his thought (i.e., they were given the quotation the night before); one girl, so timid back home, presented her saying with confidence and challenging insight;; the girl who turned down Stanford untangles a difficult one brilliantly we pause at the train station in Berhtesgaten that the architect, Albert Speer, built for Hitler; I reminded the students that Adolf Eichmann routed trains to Auschwitz from his office in Vienna, the city we had just left a few days before; a choked up Cory told of a courageous young German woman who stood up to a Nazi court, alone, informing them that "they would be where she was standing within weeks"; the real of the past was there with us on a platform at the train station; I spontaneously asked for a vote, a vote for "death" or "life time in prison" for Eichmann;

Each student took awhile, weighed their decision seriously

July 14th --- We detour on our way to the town of Freising near the Munich airport, drive to the Olympic stadium and the apartment village where Jews were killed in the 1972 games; a group has paused to remember the fateful day below the actual balcony that many of us remember from television; we extended the Arete trip to the very place where the Israeli athletes died; Arete doesn't stop after the students presented their closing thoughts in a festive, old restaurant atmosphere on our final evening, we stopped for a moment in a small square outside and listened to a deeply engaging moral speech by Robert Kennedy.

July 15th --- Flight home

Mr. Taylor and Dory Weston (assistant) returning from a view of the Libyan desert from behind the oldest pyramid of them all at Saqqara, Egypt, made possible by a clever, spontaneous, surprise action by Mr. Taylor.

Arete 2011 spent two hours with Egyptian historian very near Tahrir Square in Cairo. Khaled Fahmy is in charge of the archive museum at the American University and provided Arete with a brilliant and personal account of the revolution.

Cory Taylor and his son, Liam, had joined Arete 2011 in Bavaria and on the final afternoon of the trip led us to the location where the Olympic murders of Jewish athletes had taken place; this was the day after walking the trail of Hitler to the "tea house".

Arete lass reads of Freud in his former suite of offices in Vienna.

Preparing for Rome at sea on ferry from Greece to Italy.

Maybe you can ask "Mr. Taylor" what in the hell he was doing in Egypt by the oldest pyramid of them all at Saqqara? He is happy to relate his successful negotiation.

The hill of Cronus was burned completely to the ground in 2007. The massive fire did not reach Hera's temple, immediately before you, but the hill where sacrifices were made to the father of Zeus was scorched. Arete has celebrated from the top of the hill a number of times, being able to look down at the actual Olympic track. But this climb and ceremony was interrupted over recent years due to the lack of plant life. Welcome back to history, Cronus!

Oh! The drivers, incidentally, cooperate very nicely in Cairo.

Egypt was richly rewarding in 2011. It went smoothly. Perhaps we had the best of the company we hired to drive us to the pyramids and Alexandria due to low tourism because of fear.

The patio of the Nostos hotel on Ithaca, the location for many, many Arete seminars on the island of Odysseus.

We had Egypt, and the ancient site of Saqqara, to ourselves. Tourists were absent due to the revolution. That is the oldest pyramid of them all behind the students.

We gave a "handicap" race on Ithaca. The lad in front started well behind the lass not very far behind. In their way, both were winners. The ritual run is concluded with the discarding of the shoes and floating in the clear blue water of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus.

The students loved the lightning and rain of the Roman forum. Again we escaped tourism, the summer crowds packing the ancient ruins.

The eerie trail of Adolph Hitler to the "tea house" in Bavaria. "The Fuhrer" traveled down it to his favorite abode over three hundred times. Hitler was real.

She found the grave telling of a seventeen year old boy who died at Gallipoli.

A seminar in Alexandria, Egypt. Outside, within 200 yards of the hotel, is the Cecil hotel. Famous British and Greek poets and writers once conversed there.

Our "Helen of Troy" crosses the Hellespont with Arete XVII.

The road along the spine of Ithaca has this spectacular view. No wonder Odysseus came home? We call it the "Jess Taylor Highway" because he was the first to press his dad to drive along it

Mr. Taylor's other son, Cory, captured Arete XVII with his knowledge of the Nazi locations in Bavaria. A winner of an Emmy when he worked for National Geographic, he recently produced "The Power of the Powerless", a documentary about the peaceful transition in Czechoslovakia under the leadership of Victor Havel. It has been shown in some forty countries.

Two of the 2011 boys on Mt. Parnassus in Greece with the Delphi track and archaeological site down below.

Arete maiden enters the waters between Ithaca and the Cephallonia, perhaps where the son of Odesseus, one Telemachus, sailed from in serach of his father?

Another view of this dramatic mytholgy filled channel between Ithaca and Cephallonia.

Seminars and friendships and spontaneous moments occur with frequency.

Alone with her thoughts of the thousands of dead at Gallipoli.

Deprived due to leg injuries of virtually all of his high school racing, none-the-less Stefan claims his moment for courage and fortitude at Olympia.

Mari on the Acropolis in Athens telling of an important event in Greek memory.

Within the narrow passage ways of the souks in the Cairo marketplace. "Where the hell did Julia go?

Arete 2011 in Rome by the Pantheon.

Julia and Dory reading from Acropolis in Athens from Mr. Taylor's "Athenian Odyssey".