Sunday, April 05, 2009

Acropolis (March 31)

The beds in Greece seem to be even more uncomfortable than the beds in Egypt. Our beds at Amaryllis Hotel were hard and lumpy. I almost have the feeling we were sleeping on a box spring instead of an actual mattress because every time we rolled over we would hear sproingy metallic sounds.

To make matters worse, Rachel’s mattress consisted of a folded-up blanket on a piece of plywood and she was so uncomfortable that she refused to sleep in her crib at all. So the little wriggle-worm slept with me. In a twin-size bed.

Sleep was evasive.

We dragged ourselves out of bed at around 9:00 AM, making sure we had time to catch breakfast, but didn’t make it out of the hotel until almost 11:00 AM. We walked from our hotel (at Omonia Square) to Monastiraki Square, which is only one metro stop but still quite a bit of a walk.

Rachel, who hardly slept at all through the night, promptly fell asleep in her stroller. I took a picture of her with a bunch of sleeping dogs. Public sleeping seems to be encouraged here.

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There are dogs wandering around everywhere. Big dogs, too. I’m petrified of dogs but the dogs in Athens were so well-behaved that they hardly made me nervous! Quite unlike the feral dogs we have here in Cairo, running around in packs, barking and chasing people on bikes, the dogs in Athens don’t care a fig if a person walks by. They all have collars on, too, which I thought was strange because there didn’t seem to be any owners around anywhere. But since they left me completely alone, I didn’t mind them, either.

The walk to the Acropolis was another long trek up a steep hill, but it was well-worth it when we got to the top. We bought discounted tickets to the Acropolis for only 6 eur (because we’re young like that), which also let us into several other sites for free.

The Acropolis is really quite amazingly huge. We thought we had reached the Parthenon when we made it to the Propylaea and were rather confused. It looked nothing like how we remembered it from textbooks!

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IMG_8282 But that’s because it wasn’t the Parthenon at all. It was the entrance to the Parthenon. The Parthenon is much bigger, and looks a whole lot more like the Parthenon, than the Propylaea.

I haven’t studied Greece since grade 6 so my mythology and Ancient Greece knowledge is pretty insignificant, but I do remember writing a paper about the Parthenon. I had learned about Athena from David when he studied Ancient Greece two years earlier and absolutely loved her for some odd reason, so of course I would choose to write a paper about the Parthenon when it was my turn to study Ancient Greece.

I don’t remember much about what I researched and I’m sure that at 11 years old I didn’t research very in depth, but I was quite sad to read more about the history of the Parthenon. What were the Ottomans thinking when they stored their gun-powder in the Parthenon?! Can you imagine what it would look like today if it hadn’t exploded in 1687? Sheesh!

Embarrassingly enough, I actually wanted to name one of my daughters Athena when I was 9. I also really liked the name Persephone. Luckily those desires have faded through time and Athena isn’t on my list of names at all, let alone Persephone. I have also since stopped reading my older brother’s textbooks. Mostly because we don’t live in the same house anymore. Now I have to thrill myself with reading Andrew’s textbooks.

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Rachel learned several new words while we were in Greece, Greece being one of them. Jaehee told her to say, “Hi, Greece!” on the bus from the airport, so she did. She also learned how to say “Picture!” and started climbing up on things and running in front of obvious monuments, demanding that her picture be taken. The three following pictures were composed by Rachel.

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IMG_8359Pooh Bear went most places with Rachel and got every bit as dirty as Rachel, who was very much into collecting rocks and then wiping her hands on the front of her jacket.

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The two of them were like best of friends and helped each other avoid temper tantrums. Mostly Pooh helped Rachel behave because he likes it when Rachel is a nice girl and it makes him sad when she gets upset. She likes to keep Pooh happy. It’s a good system.

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We were amazed again at the top of the Athenian Acropolis, how absolutely huge Athens is. It just keeps going and going and going.

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Rachel didn’t care very much for the history, the view, or the architecture. She mostly just cared about rocks and snack time (which is technically illegal on the Acropolis, only we didn’t see the ill-placed sign until after we’d come back down). So, while Jaehee and I were admiring the sheer colossal size of the Parthenon, Rachel asked repetitively for a snack until I finally gave in.

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We also spent some time exploring the other sites of the Acropolis, such as the Erechtheum, which seems to be mostly fake by this point in history. Most of what we saw were replicas of things that are now housed in the British and Acropolis Museums.

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IMG_8374  We also saw the bird’s-eye view of the other sites we would visit later on. It’s quite amazing how many things there are to see in such close proximity to each other. I learned that Ancient Agora was uncovered by removing around 400 modern buildings in the early 1930s. I wonder what else this sprawling city is covering up!

We thought for sure that we would get to see some more things after the Acropolis, but as luck would have it, everything closed between 2:30 and 3:00 PM, instead of the 5:00 PM that we were planning on.

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IMG_8388 It was a little disappointing, but at least we saw from the Acropolis what we would have seen had we gotten up a little earlier in the day. We spent a while winding our way down the steep hill, stopping to look at some souvenirs.

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Rachel loves clothes and found a stack of shirts in a store. She immediately started rifling through them, unfolding them, and holding them up to herself. When she saw one with some marathon runners on it, she claimed one of the runners was “dada” and wouldn’t put it down. So we got her and daddy matching Athens Marathon t-shirts. She was so proud to carry the bag out of the store, and I was happy to have a change of clothes for her because we had split and orange and it squirted down her shirt she had on earlier, staining it a lovely bright orange and making her look like a ragamuffin.

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We spent a good part of the afternoon sitting behind the fence of the Ancient Agora complex, letting Rachel play with rocks and enjoying a quiet, lazy afternoon. As much as I found Athens to be a dirty, grungy city, I have to admit that it was still a welcome change from the desert of Cairo. Flowers were bursting in full color everywhere and I kept getting excited over the most normal bugs in the world: butterflies and ladybugs. Those things are hard to find in Cairo!

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IMG_8408 IMG_8328That last picture is an attempt at Rachel saying, “Peace!” Jaehee tried the whole trip to get her to make the peace sign, but in the end, Jaehee started mimicking Rachel instead!

2 comments:

  1. I too have always liked the Goddess Athena, and her name. And if you decided to name a child Athena, I would think that was cool. I still like that name.

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  2. Great pictures! I really miss Athens, now... isn't it great to just enjoy a lazy afternoon there?

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