We received an e-mail saying: “The winning group of the Acropolis Museum Challenge is group 12”. AAAAAAH! That was our group! The challenge had been directed at all IBA students of the University of Twente and consisted of two assignments. The final goal was to give suggestions for improving the Greek Acropolis Museum’s website. The whole contest was arranged by professor Constantinides of the Marketing course, in cooperation with the Acropolis Museum itself. And the prize? A trip to the Acropolis Museum in Athens!
Thursday, the 18th of November, was the day we headed for Athens. At half past seven in the morning we met at Enschede’s central train station to catch our train to Schiphol airport. We were all excited as we boarded the plane, and even more so as we arrived in Athens. Only one member of our group had ever been to Athens – this person had, in fact, lived there for some time; for the rest of us it, was all new and very exciting. “How will Athens be? Will it be warm? How will the Acropolis Museum really be?” These were some of the questions we discussed on our way there.
When we finally landed at Athens airport, it was very warm for the time of year, certainly compared to the Netherlands! Luckily, we had someone in our group who speaks Greek and was able to buy subway tickets to the hotel. Wow, what a hotel room! We had a great view of the Acropolis mountain from our own balcony! The Acropolis is beautifully lit by night, like one of those great pictures you always see on postcards. But this was no postcard, it was for real. Amazing. On our first night we went out for a tasty Greek dinner (which means a lot of meat) and ended up on the balcony of our room, sitting, chatting and enjoying the view.
The next morning, we had a meeting with the Acropolis Museum during which we were to officially hand over our report. We also were given a guided tour of the museum. The Acropolis Museum turned out to be larger and more impressive than it had seemed on all the pictures and videos we had seen. It was a very instructive and interesting visit. An artifact ‘comes alive’ if you know the history behind it.
After the visit, we stopped by the hotel to change clothes and shoes, and headed for the Acropolis itself to see some of the other sites, old temples – like the Parthenon and Erechtheion – and to enjoy a stunning view of Athens from above. We also did a whole city tour that day, stopping at many squares – such as Sýntagma, Monastiraki – and a range of other places, from Armani shops to souvenir shops, and from churches to statues and more. At the end of the day, we had a delicious dinner. Our Greek professor Constantinides ordered 15 traditional Greek starters, followed by a main course for each of us. It was a huge meal, but very tasty and pleasant.
Saturday was our last day. Outside the hotel, we first had breakfast and Skyped with the university about the Open Days. Then we went to see the ancient Agora and wandered through the city. Athens is the kind of place where you can be wandering around and suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re standing right in front of this ancient building or pillar with a great history. It’s so incredible and different. We also went back to the Monastiraki square to find some souvenirs to take back home. That night, we all went out for an after-dinner drink, despite the fact that we had to get up early the next morning.
At 6 am the next morning, it was time for us to leave the hotel. Packed with our (slightly heavier) bags, we took the subway, had a healthy breakfast at the airport’s McDonalds and boarded the plane to go back to the cold.
Thank you, University of Twente, especially professor Constantinides, Petra de Weerdt and Sanne Spuls, for this amazing experience!