Well, we quite nearly missed our plane to Greece. We forgot that the bus schedule is different on Saturdays, so Joey sprinted for a taxi at the last minute and we just barely made it to the check-in desk on time. We arrived in Athens and then proceeded to sweat immediately. We took the bus to Syntagma and then the metro to Monasiraki, the public market in Athens. We did a little shopping while a thunderstorm rolled in drenching us with rain drops, lighting up the city with lightening bolts and shaking our bones with thunder. It helped us cool down a bit before we headed out to Moschato, a district of Athens, to meet our friend Dimitris. He welcomed us with home cooked Greecian delicacies made by his mom. That night he took us out to Gazi, where he was DJing in a bar that night. Gazi has a little bit of Seattle flair because it is built up next to an old gas factory like Gasworks park in Seattle. Dimitris’s bar was a bit of a let down for him because Greece just passed a law that bans smoking indoors. It seems all the patrons were outside having a cigarette instead of inside dancing to his music. Considering Joey and I didn’t get much sleep, we headed home before Dimitris. It was a good thing too because Dimitris didn’t get home until 8:00 am. WHOA.
The next day we decided to devote to the “biggies” as far as Athens sight seeing goes. We started out at the National Archeological Museum near Victoria station. This is a huge museum full of mostly Ancient Greek sculpture. We saw the famous bronze spear thrower that was lost in an ancient ship wreck and rediscovered in the early 20th century. It was here that I got in trouble for posing with the artwork. Apparently pretending like you are also throwing a spear is disrespectful to the ancient culture. My bad. I also saw the triangle posing soldier from Attalos II’s Pergamon Victory Monument that I wrote about in my thesis on images of suicide in Ancient Roman Imperial art. I had trouble finding a good photograph of this while I was writing, so I made sure to get at least 4 or 5 good ones.
After the museum, Joey and I, dying from heat made our way towards the Acropolis, making a few stops along the way to rest, get ice cream, water, etc. When we finally climbed up the hill, we were impressed by how huge Athens is and also by how similar the architecture all over the city is. Each house looks about the same: a tall white building with 4 or 5 floors, each floor with a balcony as long as the wall, every balcony with a cover with scalloped edges. The ancient architecture was a different story. It was all so beautiful, but unfortunately most was hidden under some scaffolding due to conservation. My favorite part was seeing the Karyatids, the columns in the shape of female figures. After the acropolis Joey and I splurged on dinner so that we could have the traditional Greek tavern experience. When we headed back to Dimitris’s place, we met another couchsurfer, Paul from Poland, who would be staying with us. That night Dimitris took us all out to a bar around the corner to meet up with his friends.
On our final day in Athens, we tried to visit as many sights on our 6 Euro student ticket as possible. This included the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora complex and Kerameikos. I also stopped by the famous Poet Sandle Maker’s store to pick up some shoes for mom. This guy is so cool. Apparently the Beatles came to buy shoes from him in the 1960s and he didn’t ask for their autographs. Someone asked him why and he said, “Why should I? I’ll be around longer than the Beatles.” Guess what. He was right. In the afternoon we were so beat from the heat and sunshine that we simply had an ice cream after our late lunch and then headed home. Now we’re going to have a small nap before grabbing our bags and taking the metro down to Piraeus, the port of Athens. Tonight we have a over night ferry to Santorini, a beautiful island in the south of the Cyclades.