Day ?: Athens, Greece

Greek flag, behind the Parthenon

Greek flag, behind the Parthenon

It’s amazing how quickly I’ve completely lost track of time. I think it had something to do with the 13 hour plane ride(s), which ended in daylight again, somehow. We were on a party plane; they served champagne about 10 minutes after take off and the general consensus seemed to be to get wasted as quickly as possible. People were clutching little wine bottles and swaying gently from side to side, wandering about the plane like they were at a cocktail party. Then a little boy told me that my front tooth stuck out funny.

One has very few freedoms on an airplane – a tiny light, an air vent and the ability to recline 4 inches – yet, the women surrounding us felt we were taking advantage of these freedoms. One decided to shake Ellie’s shoulders and then push her seat forcefully in order to make her move her seat forward. Another woman resented my tiny overhead light and pointed and grunted at Ellie to turn it off. It was broken, but that didn’t stop her from coming over and pushing buttons on my chair until she finally gave up and sat back down. I understand that there’s a language barrier, but is violence ever the answer?

We are staying with a very nice guy in Athens named Mike, who owns a flower shop, I think near Makrygianni, south of the City Centre. But who knows? I can’t read anything. I’m finally starting to understand why foreigners/tourists are so drawn to the McStarbucks – “Oh my god, I can read that sign! Let’s go get a pumpkin spice latte!” How soothing brand identification can be when you’re abroad. Also, they always have bathrooms. I used to think of that as subtle rebellion. I’m going to use your bathroom and NOT buy anything. Take that, corporate takeover!

Our attempts to speak Greek have been embarrassing. It took us 10 minutes of rehearsing “Two coffees, please” (dhio kafes parakalo) only to have the cashier ask like 7 follow up questions, which rendered our little phrasebook worthless. It’s true that many people speak at least some English, but that doesn’t reduce the awkwardness of negotiating details that I’ve always taken for granted. Plus, “Do you have a converter that fits my iPod?” is not in the guidebook. But we did find out that “French coffee” is the closest thing to drip coffee they have here and it’s much cheaper than the ubiquitous frappe that everyone is drinking.

Erecthion, sanctuary in the Acropolis

Erecthion, sanctuary in the Acropolis

Spent the better part of yesterday walking among the ruins of ancient Athens, named after the goddess Athena who won a contest put together by Zeus, who challenged the deities to come up with the most valuable legacy for mortals (like ya do). Athena produced the olive tree and voila, here’s a city. The Acropolis (high city) is described as the most important ancient site in the Western world. It is home to towering monuments like the Parthenon (which means virgin’s apartment, even though, girlfriend, they are all up in yo bizness), inspiring temples and dozens of stray dogs and cats, who do not seem to take advantage of the splendor, instead deciding to nap.

cats

After that, we went to the Agora, a famous meeting spot for philosophers to “shoot the shit” as they said back then. In the Agora was the Temple of Hephaestus, who Ellie refers to as “the ugly God.” He lucked out, both in life and in perseverance. He married Aphrodite AND his temple is pretty much the only one that was not completely demolished by the Persians/Turks/time.

hephaestus

Nearby was Hadrian’s Library, where we saw two turtles fighting, continuing the theme of violence.

turtle

We tried to find a vegetarian restaurant that probably doesn’t exist anymore (Diavlos, anyone?) and have been eating a lot of baklava and spanakopita, which we are sure doesn’t have meat in it. Gelato is another food that we are pretty sure is vegetarian. Thankfully, it’s everywhere. And so is H&M. No kidding, we’ve passed by 3 H&Ms, and that’s just in central Athens. Does anyone need a skinny tie? If so, holla.

Next stop, Pireas, the port of Attica, the Temple of Poseidon and the beginning of our island-hopping, starting with Crete.

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4 Responses

  1. Hot Damn! So happy for you and jealous at the same time. Keep the hard to remember place names coming ladies.

  2. Wow, I totally remember how much the language barrier emphasizes culture shock. It can be exhausting at times. Loving your travelogues. Miss you both.

  3. Wow – you got transported to such a DIFFERENT time and place, not to mention the culture shock. No shock greater than not being able to easily access the internet OR coffee! that’s enough to destabalize us westerners. You two are brave and adventuresome and we love the stories – keep them coming! Thinks about this – if people are rude to you, you can say stuff like BITE ME and they won’t know what you are saying…cultural revenge – at least it prevents violence.

  4. We have similar pictures of Hadrian’s Library in our kitchen! And I’m not sure how you are not eating lamb…so when it doubt you should get the salads, just tomatoes, cucumbers and lots of feta! Mmmmm

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