Monday, August 30, 2010

Pragurkreece: In Which We Cannot Put Our Heads To The Use We Would Like To Put Our Heads To

And then, because it was cheaper and more time-expedient than taking a ferry and a bus, we flew to Athens.

Guys?  We were definitely in the east-Hastings of Athens.  Lonely Planet called it the 'sleaziest area' of town, and there were cops on literally every corner.  Also?  Our hostel room had no garbage can, so we just gave it a Greater Garbage Regional District under the side table.  After the beauty and general friendliness of Turkey, and a relaxed, glorious few days on Samos, I spent the first day or so in Athens being all, Ick.  This place is dirty. 

And it was less dirty than random (sketchy alley becomes open square with upscale shopping becomes park full of hobos becomes the restaurant we were looking for), and I feel like it has stopped trying.  Turkey knows it would never occur to you to go to Turkey, so it needs to woo you and charm you and dazzle you with sights so that you'll tell your friends.  Athens knows you have to come to it because it has the Parthenon.  So.

We did a walking tour of Athens (in 40-degree weather, in the middle of the day, for six hours.  I've never been so happy to be in a sack dress) and were immediately dismayed not to be able to clamber all over the Temple of Olympic Zeus the way we'd clambered all over Ephesus.

Even from a roped-off distance, though, one can still have one's fun with ruins.

We stopped by the Parliament building to watch the changing of the guard, and a woman passing by paused her cell phone conversation so she could harangue the building in vociferous Greek.

Re: the guard...I'm not one to make fun of any country's special forces, for fear they'll track my IP address and aerate me with a bayonet, so I'm just going to do this:

Hem.  We visited the Olympic stadium, and Leah and I ran a faux-marathon (I lost):

And then Leah and Joel had an impromptu triple-jump competition.

We visited an ancient stola, full of headless statues.

Obviously the first thing Leah and I do is get behind the statues to give them our heads.  A stern Greek woman stops us and says, Do not go behind the statues.  Which, that is a perfectly acceptable rule.  Except later, when I try to give my upper torso to a pair of statue-legs placed in the middle of an open area, she tells us again not to get behind the statues.  And ok, technichally EVERYTHING is behind this statue, depending on where you're standing.  Further stern conversation clarified that the rule is not 'Do not go behind the statues' but 'Do not give the statues your heads' because it's disrespectful.  Which, again, TOTALLY an acceptable rule.  But if the rule is 'Do not give the statues your heads' then you should say 'Do not give the statues your heads' when tourists try to give the statues their heads.  This can't be the first time this has happened.

And then we hiked to the Acropolis and the Parthenon and this was the hottest I was the whole trip.  Also, the most cranky, and the least hike-to-the-Acropolis-and-wander-aroundy.  It didn't help that the Parthenon was all roped off, and half of the thing was under scaffolding.  Most of the next hour is lost on me, because I was just so damned hot, but I seem to have been having fun.

On the way out we stopped by the ancient wishing well. 

I wished for air conditioning (we found some in the lobby of the museum [the actual museum was too expensive to bother with]) and Mike wished for beer (which was sort of a given) and Leah wished for ice cream, but she missed the well and so we got no ice cream that day.  Alas.

We spent our last morning in Athens at the flea market because Greece is expensive and we are poor and also very, deep-seatedly Mennonite.  Our various omas would have been proud.

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