Ok, real travel review of Greece; It was cold, the coldest it has been in Athens in winter for 5 or 6 years, the temp hovered around freezing all 5 days. The only day it did not snow/rain/sleet was the day I went to the Acropolis, it was actually sunny, but the wind was a constant 20 miles an hour or so, making it feel really cold up on the Acropolis. I never realized how tall the Acropolis was, I know it was a big hill, but it is really big, more like a mountain than a hill. The ruins on the top are very cool, but (just my luck) all are covered in scaffolding while then do some reinforcement and renovations before the Olympics in 2004. The coolest thing about the whole trip was walking around the top of the Acropolis, walking on streets more than 2000 years old, and thinking to myself, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, Demosthenes, Pericles, and countless others who helped to forge Western Civilization walked down these streets and stood in these buildings. I don’t know how to describe it but it made me feel giddy, in awe of everything, and insignificant.
On the front size of the Acropolis the Theater of Dionysus and the Odeon (amphitheater) are very cool. And on the back side you can walk down the old streets past really tiny ancient churches into the street market district. It goes on forever and is very crowded.
As for other things, I went to a monastery (can’t pronounce the name) that dates from the 6th century. That was very interesting, I have never actually been in a Eastern Orthodox church, lots of paintings of saints, lots of paintings of saints! At this monastery there is a place called the “hidden school” where the monks educated children during the Turkish occupation in the early 1800’s, in secret. It’s all dark undergrounds rooms with small alters and benches made out of granite.
I was going to spend a day at the museums, but that ended up as a disaster… The museums are not centrally located and the subway does not get very near them, and since I cannot read the bus signs it was decided that my host’s mother would drop me at the Benaki Museum on her way to work, and then after a few hours she would pick me up and take me to the national museum. So at 9am she dropped me in front on the Benaki and said she would pick me up at 12 to go to the National. OK, sounds fine. So she drove off and I went up to the Museum, but when I got there I found out that it was not the Benaki, it was the Museum of Cyclidic art. Oh, well I said, I will just explore this one for three hours and then go to the National. The museum was cool, there was an exhibit of all the stuff they dug up when they built the metro last year. Very cool. Anyway, when I left at 11:30, (the museum was not too large so I actually got to see it all in less than 3 hours.) I went out side into the rain/sleet to wait for my ride on the corner of the street. At 1:00 I got a little worried and went back inside to try and call my ride, I could not get a hold of her, but got her office and they said that she was looking for me. I tried to tell them that I was not at the Benaki but, looking back, I don’t think their English was good enough to understand what I was saying. I think they just heard Benaki and went with it. Well I went back outside to wait under the false impression that I had explained that I was not at the Benaki but at the Cyclidian Art Museum. A 2:30 I decided that something was really wrong, and I went to make another phone call, but the Museum closed at 2… Damn so I walked down to a convenience store and managed to get a calling card for the pay phone. I tried my rides cell phone again but no luck (I think she gave me the wrong number!) so I called my friend C—- at home, and spent the next 10 minutes trying to explain where I was, which is not very easy when you cannot even pronounce the street names because they’re in Greek! Finally he said he knew where I was and would send his mom to get me. So I wondered back over to the street corner and waited another 30 minutes in the snow. Finally, just after 4 my ride showed up! I was cold, wet and tired after 4+ hours in the cold, rain, and wind! And it turned out that I was three blocks from the Benaki and that my ride had been running around the block the Benaki was on for 4 hours and has even called the US embassy, she was so worried about what happened. We drove around the area and she realized that she dropped me in the wrong place! Aaaah! Anyway I have been quite sick for the past few days because of that! Oh well, c’est la vie!
Anyway, Greece was fun. I hope I can make it back in the summer on my inter-railing adventures.