Thursday, June 04, 2009

Athens, Greece

We arose early for breakfast, eager to meet Themis, our cousin from Kalamata. He works in the airline industry in Athens, so he agreed to take some time off to meet us and to spend some time with us and play tour guide for a day. He was waiting anxiously for us as we stepped off the ship. We brought him an OU t-shirt and we all greeted him with hugs and kisses. We left the port in Piraeus, and walked about a mile to a bus. We purchased tickets and took the boos to a train station where we boarded and then headed towards the Acropolis. He graciously led us there even though he has been there many times before.

The site was quite intimidating though staring down at us. We purchased our tickets into the Acropolis for about 11Euros each, and began hiking upwards. To the left when you enter is a museum and artifact building. I am not sure what it was originally, but it has been recreated using the original structure and marble. Concrete and lintels and wooden doors were added. Up top there were many glued laminate beams that made up ceiling joists. There was a long room inside with various artifacts, sculptures, coins, and other ancient pieces that were displayed by period.
Acropolis 3
To the right was a row of statues that appeared to be before the Roman rule and led to a temple for the god of technology and fire. We visited it first... yet looked to the long walk up a mountain to the Acropolis. We took photographs and glanced at the view overlooking the city below. It was very impressive.

Next we headed up the mountain toward the Acropolis. There were small pebbles of marble everywhere we stepped. I know that the people who erected these structures might have been slaves, however the individuals who lived near the Acropolish and who were general residents had to have been fit individuals.

After stopping for water, we walked along a marble layed path up several steps and an incline. We oeverlooked the ampitheater, which is still used for concets and events. It is literally built into the side of the mountains. It was spectacular and unline any of the photographs I have ever seen in my architectural and interior design history courses. I do have to say that it is a place that you must visit to get the whole idea.

After climbing more steps and another incline, we approached the top of the mountain and entry into the Acropolis. The columns were massive, and the structures larger than I had interpreted or imagined. There were many people visiting and taking photographs. we walked around the Parthenon to a raised concrete pedestal with a falg and took more photographs of the city. After resting a bit we walked to the other side of teh Parthenon which is undergoing restoration to the the Erectheon. I was excited to see the Caryatids too, the female columns. They are still much intact, I was impressed and surprised. Everything was definitely a site to see.

We left the Acropolis and walked to a local restaurant for an afternoon lunch. I was thinking that the Gyros sandwhich would be different to what we find here in the United States, but it was not. They even serve it up with french fries. I treated myself though to a tomato and cucumber salad with a piece of spanakopita. They were delicious though. We sat with Themis and talked to him a bit more, and he showed us photographs of the rest of the family and his pet dog.

We experienced some of the local beggars who harass people and run down the streets. It was quite entertaining, although not for those involved. There was a starving cat who ran off to possibly feed her kittens with a piece of chicken unfinished by my brother's girlfriend.

Later we walked towards the center square of Athens and witnessed teh changing of the Guards for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The soldiers were in their traditional foustanella and stood still and erect while we each took a photo with them. Only one person is allowed to stand next to the guard at a time.

Following a bit of shopping, it was time to head back to the ship. We boarded the train to Piraeus and then took a bus down near the port. We stopped for drinks just outside of the port, and for some final chatting with Themis. He told us that we must come back and visit for at least a week. We had fresh loukamathes just before we walked back toward the pier. We all said goodbye to Themis and thanked him for playing tour guide all day. It was fun to meet hime, and I am glad that we did.

Get the flash player here:

No comments: