My Nonnie is getting better and I heard that there was a great party at the Uncle Tom house last night. I really wish I could have been there, and those are the things I’m really looking forward to about Kansas City. Michael and Colleen have revealed that their baby girl will be named Evelyn, which is such a beautiful name. I cannot wait to meet her. Patrick and Lindsey are moving back to KC, which is just thrilling because we really missed those guys… so all in all there is a lot of amazing news from the home front. I couldn’t be happier to see everyone again so soon. I’m so lucky to have a family full of such wonderful people.
I have to begin a little earlier than the beginning today. As you all know, I really enjoyed Prague but I left early to come to Greece. I had heard from some friends that there may be flooding after I left, and as the days went on Zuzana kept me up to date.
The places we had been walking were entirely underwater. None of the metro was running. The bridges were almost swamped. I’m not sure if I would have been able to get out, if I had stayed there any longer. I am so lucky I left when I did. Today, the Czech prime minister declared a state of emergency and began evacuations. Zuzana is fine and her flat isn’t near the river, thank goodness. My narrow escape is a little harrowing to look back on. I hope that the beautiful city and it’s wonderful Inhabitants will all be safe and well. I am so glad I’m in sunny Greece.
So today, Jolie and I woke up around 6:00. We wanted to get to the acropolis to best the crowds. The reason we’d waited til today is because Mondays are supposed to be the least busy, but mornings of course are even better. I thought it might be overcast in the dim morning light, but this is just what dawn looks like. I’ve seen the early morning quite a lot in the past few weeks, but I’ve been so far north that it’s never really dark.
We had hotel breakfast. It had a lot of the Greek goodies, of course, but as a hotel that accommodates a lot of western travelers it also had the good pastries. I ate more chocolate croissants than I care to admit, but tried to balance it out with some eggs and fruit as well. As much as I enjoy a Mediterranean breakfast, I can’t resist a buttery chocolate filled baked good.
Jolie and I arrived at the acropolis not long after it opened. There was a disappointingly large number of tour groups near the entrance, but once on the plateau and able to spread out it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves.
There was no reprieve from the beautiful Greek sun up there, but fortunately I had bathed in sunscreen this morning. I’m doing right by my skin and my mother.
To be amongst the Greek ruins is an amazing experience. It’s an experience I wasn’t sure I’d ever have in my life, and the moment you see these columns is a little surreal. Everyone has studied and seen pictures of Greek historical sights, as it really is the cradle of our western world. When you finally see the pillars of the pantheon or the porch of the maidens, it finally hits you.
Not only were people able to construct something 4000 years ago with more staying power than any of our buildings today, but they did it on top of an enormous hill. Cutting the marble and somehow assembling it without the use of modern machinery is hard enough to believe, but then you have to consider that all of those pieces were carried up the enormous hill you just scaled yourself.
It was unfortunate that it was covered in scaffolding. Restoration work is being done currently to correct the faulty restoration done in the past. It will be really wonderful to see when it’s finished, if it ever is. It seems that with most of these historic sights that aren’t even half the age of the acropolis are under constant reconstruction. As soon as they finish restoring one part of the building, another part is falling down again. The maintenance of these places is like a modern myth of Sisyphus.
From here, we visited all of the other major ancient ruins in Athens. On our way down we saw the Aeropagus. This is the rock where St Paul preached Christianity. There were ancient stairs carved into the stones as well as new, even, metal stairs. We took our chances on the stones, and are now confident that we have walked in the literal footsteps of saints. That’s pretty cool.
We continued downwards and saw a few smaller buildings on our way to the Theatre of Dionysus. Jolie and I ran into an Asian couple who needed us to take their picture, but then the girl asked if she could take a picture with me. This is now the third or fourth time this has happened to me, and I am so glad Jolie was there because now I finally have a witness! It’s so strange how this keeps happening. Do I look like some celebrity I don’t know about? Jolie snapped a picture with my camera, too, so now I have a photo of me with an Asian stranger to prove that this really happened.
The theatre was pretty cool, but it was a tough walk down. It was our last stop in the acropolis complex because it was the lowest elevation and right by the acropolis museum. The museum is supposed to be one of the best in the world. It has glass floors because below it is an excavation site of the ancient city. It has replicas of the sculptures stolen from the pantheon from the British, with signs saying that they’re still waiting on the originals.
Personally, I don’t think those sculptures are ever coming back. It’s not fair, no, but that is how the world works. Almost every major museum in Europe is basically a showcase for the spoils of war. The Nazis marched straight up to the doors of the Lourve when they took Paris. Granted, the Lourve had been completely emptied in anticipation of this (ha! suckers!) but this is still how these things work. Even my hometown Nelson Atkins Museum of Arthas some very angry Chinese temples “waiting” to get walls and sculptures back, and I don’t even want to start talking all the Egyptian treasures scattered around the globe. It’s time to move on, everybody.
The museum isn’t open on Mondays. Somehow it had slipped our minds that no museum is ever open on Mondays. Fortunately, we still have another day left, so we will go tomorrow.
We found a few other temples and ruins that weren’t physically connected to the acropolis complex, including the Roman agora and the Temple of Zeus. These were less crowded and you could get closer. Plus, they weren’t covered in ugly scaffolding and construction workers. There is one we saw from a few days ago we couldn’t find our way back too, but around high noon we knew it was time to get out of the sun.
We had a coffee first. Jolie bought some table runners for her family. Greece, like Turkey, has amazing textiles at great prices. We took our lunch at the place we’d had dinner last night and it was just as good. Then, we went back to the hotel. As hard as it is for me to accept the pace of the southern countries, being in the sun and the heat gives you a sudden appreciation for the siesta concept. We took a little nap and lounged indoors til the worst of the afternoon had passed.
All of the main shops had closed by the time we went back out into the city. We contended ourselves with a bottle of white wine and a Greek salad back at Commerce, where Marios told us he’d be after 3:00. I hope we don’t get him in trouble for chatting too much, but we have such a great time with him. He takes very good care of us and has fantastic stories. We’d talked about going to the acropolis together today, but he wasn’t able to. He’s coming along instead to the museum in the morning, “for our first date,” he said. “Our threesome date.” He’s hysterical.
Marios mentioned that he is a blogger. I’m going to try to get a link from him, but I’m guessing it will be in Greek. His Facebook statuses are pretty weird to see in my newsfeed since even the alphabet is so different.
I don’t know how we got on the subject, but Jolie and I did learn about a fun Greek tradition. I think it’s because we were talking about English food, then beans, then barbecue beans, then black eyed peas… Which got us onto the subject of New Year’s traditions. Apparently, in Greece, you wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve and this brings good luck to that section of your life.
I had to share this on Facebook, of course. This is clearly something people need to know. My mom responds that she needs to go shopping… Dad goes, “Wait, when did you get to Greece?” Thanks Dad. Love you too. But this means that I can say anything that I want to about him, since he clearly isn’t reading my blog! I haven’t laughed so hard in a while as I did at that.
Jolie and I went afterwards to a restaurant with her favorite cat and favorite baklava for a short dessert before bed. My tolerance for baklava has been reached. It’s so good, but just way too sweet for me. I don’t need any more for a few years. We retired after this, hoping to get another fairly early start tomorrow to go to the museum.