Athens, Greece (10/18/09)

“All my life one of my greatest desires has been to travel- to see and touch unknown countries, to swim in unknown seas, to circle the globe, observing new lands, seas, peoples, and ideas with insatiable appetite, to see everything for the first time and for the last time…” (Legendary Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis)

Two lessons about Athens:

1.     If you go to the Athens Hilton for cocktails be prepared to take off your shorts

2.     There is no roof on the Parthenon, or anywhere nearby, so take note if it is raining

We spent a lovely, though not weather-wise as it rained for a day and a half (see lesson two above), few days in Athens taking in the sites. The only plus side of the rains was that the tourist hordes at the sites were reduced. Between the Acropolis, the Agora, and various temples we got a good handle on the historic sites. The new Acropolis museum was fantastic both architecturally and in terms of its (very manageable in a couple of hours) content. While the exterior of concrete and small angular windows seems odd from the outside, once inside it all makes sense with wonderful views of the Acropolis as the background for the exhibits.

To lesson number one: We met a friend of a friend, Sophia, for a drink. She suggested the Hilton roof top bar, which had a lovely view of the sun setting behind Athens- the ring of mountains surrounding Athens along with the punctuations of hills within the downtown (of which the Acropolis is but one) make for a lovely dusk. While the view was nice, apparently it couldn’t be enjoyed in shorts so Jed was barred entrance to the terrace. After some negotiation (in Greek by Sophia) Jed was able to exchange his (inappropriate shorts) for a pair of Hilton provided pants (which were actually very comfortable in the end).

 Finally, our time on the Greek mainland was rounded out by a day trip to the mountains of Delphi, along with a lunch in Itia, which  is surrounded by the a large and majestic grove of olive trees (described by Greek writer George Seferis thusly: “It is nice to… enter among the olive trees under the silver leaves of the plain of Criseos, enumerating, as you pass by, the wrinkes on the dense gathering of trunks”). Special thanks to our very hospitable Athens hosts Nicole and Barnaby for putting us up at their flat (with a view of the Acropolis from the roof!) in the historic center of Athens, Plaka. 

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