Monday, July 20, 2009

Athens & Delphi (Day 12 & 13)

Phoebe and i had to get off the boat by 8am, so the day began rather early... miserably early to be honest!
When we got off the boat we grabbed a taxi to our hostel (which ended up costing an arm and a leg, but it was worth it to be dropped off right at our hostel). We were crossing our fingers in hopes we would be allowed to get into our room early (9am) and be able to take a nap, but alas it was not to be. Instead we put our luggage in the luggage room and enjoyed their free wireless internet and then at 10am we joined a walking tour of Athens.
Some of our destinations...
Temple of Zeus - where we learned that (in the words of our Greek tour guide) that the Greeks "like to destroy [their] heritage" and a lot of the columns were torn down to become part of the foundations of the surrounding buildings.

The original Olympic Stadium - which hold over 60,000 people. The original olympic games were performed in the nude, but they eventually switched to requiring clothes. At one of the games a woman disguised herself as a man and won one of the marathon races... promptly upon crossing the finish line all her clothes fell off and the secret was out. After this women's games were introduced for certain events.

Parliament of Greece - where we saw the "changing of the guards"... the Greek guards are ridiculous looking and their changing ceremony is silly as anything I have EVER seen

The guards' uniform is very specific in its meaning... the number of the pleats in the skirt is 400 to represent the 400 years of oppression of the Greeks. The puff balls in their shoes are to hide the daggers in the toes of their shoes... very clever to hide daggers with something so very subtle and inconspicuous... haha!
A main street in Athens... the good shopping street

After roaming for a bit around the city learning things about the Greek Royal Family which was not in fact originally Greek and therefore were not liked and when they fled the country in fear of a war, they were refused back into the country for all time it would seem. We also learned about how one of the Greek Prime Ministers introduced the potato into the country rather recently in its history and therefore changed the face of greek food. We then began our ascent up to the acropolis with fresh strawberries and bananas bought at a fruit stand in town. We walked up the hill and sat ourselves down on a hilltop just below the acropolis and took in the best view of Athens.
The Ancient Greek Agora - the ancient main market place in ancient Athens


As the story goes, the tale behind the name of Athens came from 2 propositions presented to the city elders from the Goddess Athena and the God Posidon. Athena offered the city in return for them naming the city after her, wisdom, education, art, culture, and justice. Posidon wanted the city named after him and in exchange he offered the city victory in war, ships, trade, and safety at sea. The elders went with Athena and as a result Posidon sent a great flood to destroy the city. Athens consequently built a lively temple to the god of the sea at the shore.
You also may be wondering the name of the hill on which we were sitting, or you aren't wondering at all, but I'll tell you anyways... the hill in Greek is called Areopagus and translates into English as "Mars Hill". So if you haven't caught on already Mars Hill is the mountaintop on which Paul preached to the men of Athens in Acts 17!! It was awesome to stand there and think on that passage.
It was there that our tour ended and Phoebe and I decided to continue on up to the acropolis from there.

The acropolis in Greek means "farthest point in the city" It is known to be the most significant ancient archaeological site in the world.

This is the theater where Yanni played his "live at the acropolis" concert

Theater of Dionysus

The erechtheum also on site

After the acropolis Phoebe and I walked down to the Ancient Agora to explore the site

For lunch we went into the market and got a gyro - SO DELICIOUS!!! We then set about shopping... we had pretty much seen everything in Athens we wanted to as far as historical sites. Surprisingly a lot of the famous sites can easily just be walked by and you don't have to pay to get in. So Phoebe and I shopped YAY!
Along the way through the market Phoebe and I were joined by a stray dog... Athens has TONS! of stray dogs everywhere! This dog we named Raul and he was awesome.

By this time it was close to 3:30pm and we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hostel for a nap before dinner. Our room wasn't air conditioned and it happened to be 94 degrees out, so it wasn't the most comfortable, but it was restful. After our nap we headed to the roof bar to check it out... had a drink, met some people, and then we ventured out for dinner.
Our hostel was literally down the street from the acropolis, so I caught this picture on the way to dinner

We also had a chance to walk by the new Acropolis museum which was going to open the following day! Currently most of the Parthenon interior and other big statues are housed in the British Museum (which I had seen of course), but Greece is hoping this museum opening will be a step in the direction of Britain returning the pieces... I am not seeing that happening soon.

So with our incredibly productive day in Athens, we found ourselves with little left to do in the city and so we decided our second day would be spent on a day trip to Delphi in the north. Delphi is of course known as the hope of the Oracle of Delphi.
The bus ride was 3 hours and I was able to doze for a little bit... accept there was this painfully loud minnesota man who I don't think truly grasped the volume of his voice. haha.
We finally arrived at Delphi and it became apparent we were in for a VERY hot day.

Delphi was at one point thought to be the center of the universe because Zeus sent out two eagles in opposite directions around the world and they collided at Delphi. (As you may have guessed the line between mythology and Greek history is very blurred). So at the center of the universe they placed a stone with magical powers and called it "the navel" basically just like your belly button which is essentially the center of your body. The rock is believed to give you strange dreams when you touch it... this is interesting for me since my dreams are always weird

hugging a column

This is foundation of the Temple of Apollo which is where the Oracle was housed. The Oracle was basically some young girl strung out on Laurel leaves who had spies everywhere who fed her information to make her predictions somewhat accurate.

So basically the Oracle was just an ancient flower child hippie

Delphi was a full fledged city and therefore had a theater

and a stadium - which you cant run in anymore cause someone tripped and subsequently sued the site for their injuries... stupid people

Delphi also has a museum with some smaller artifacts in it. It's not a very popular place and appeared to have more people working there than people visiting. They also had a rule that fully allowed you to take pictures of the artifacts as long as you didn't have people in them... strange. Our tour guide let us go in alone because she is banned from the museum. She doesn't exactly have her tour guide license, which you need by law in Greece, and so all throughout the site we had to act as though we were just friends and she wasn't allowed to explain things to us very loudly. She was awesome though!
Before we headed back to the bus we had a lovely picnic provided by the tour. We sat in the shade which was nice.

After Delphi we headed to a small town to do some shopping. I forget the name of the town, but it was small and charming and nice to roam through. Some rain clouds also came in and drizzled on us a bit which was really nice after the heat.

We boarded the bus on the other side of the town and were ready to set off back to athens (after of course we found a missing member of our group who was lost for a good 20 minutes).

Once we were back in Athens Phoebe and I went out for some food and one last shopping trip. It was our last night in Greece, our last night in Europe and our last night together! Once we returned to London the following day we would go our separate ways only to meet up on monday at heathrow before I boarded my plane home to America. We ate at this lovely restaurant right below the acropolis. It was great food and we totally splurged. There were two guitar players serenading the restaurant, which was almost empty but for us. The host, who was awesome, asked for them to play a song especially for us and they began to play "Let it Be" by the Beatles... It was one of those moments where everything hit me... the amazing trip, the perfectness of this spot, this moment, and to have experienced it all with my dearest friend Phoebe!! I totally burst out crying. It was just such a perfect moment!
This is me and Phoebe trying not to completely lose it

Our guitar players

It was a delicious meal and then for dessert we got watermelon on the house... AWESOME!!
Afterwards we went to look through the stores. One such store I went into I began flipping through their shirts and all of a sudden the lady who owned the store starts following me. When I finish flipping through a rack of tshirts, she promptly shoves in between me and the rack to begin to fix it... she begins muttering under her breath how I am a "stupid American chicken!" EXCUSE ME!!! I had no idea what happened... I promptly left the shop thoroughly confused and only after I had left did I realize how angry that made me... I had NO IDEA what I did to deserve that!
We shopped some more and we even walked by the Museum to catch some of the grand opening festivities. They were projecting cartoons of mythological tales on one of the outside walls so we stopped and enjoyed the show for a moment.
Back at the hostel we packed for our return to england and had quite a fun time throwing out clothes, shoes and toiletries we would not be using again... I love throwing out unneeded things.
One last picture before bed of Phoebe and I... post showers

So this is Goodbye Greece... this is goodbye continental Europe... the adventure comes to an end and I return home wiser and in more awe of your amazingness. Thanks Europe for being awesome!!!

1 comment:

NanAZ said...

It all looks so amazing! The Acropolis is especially cool. I started crying when you were describing your last dinner, even before you told me you were crying. What a sweet gift to end your time there. Thanks for sharing all your highlights. It has been an awesome journey.