After a grueling bus and train ride from Budapest, crossing many borders and varying geography, I have arrived in Athens.
I found a lovely room in a small hotel overlooking a square in the Plaka
, the old town centre of Athens. It has a beautiful curving wooden balcony that extends out in the square where old men sit on benches surveying the bustling life going on around them. The Plaka fairly pulsates with activity, between the bars and restaurants, the shops and markets, no one stands still for long.
Yet, for all its life, Athens is so incredibly OLD! Once again, I have to choose the best and most meaningful for lack of more time. What choices!!
-- probably the most important monument in world -- was amazing. The Parthenon, which is the largest Doric temple ever completed in Greek and the only one made entirely of marble, is the gold standard for architectural grace and harmony.
The Odeon of Heroditus Atticus
, built on the side of the hill that the Acropolis stands on, was built to seat 17,000 sometime in the mid-200 BC. It's still used today and, during the summer, you can see works by Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes.
The National Archeological Museum was, as one might expect, spectacular. The depth and quality of articles on display was staggering. Unfortunately, the experience was marred somewhat by the power-drunk guards on duty who persisted in bellowing and whistling at anyone who remotely challenged their authority or who came anywhere near to the exhibits. It actually became quite comical in the end, but it really pulled focus from the high quality of the museum itself.
I have been thoroughly enjoying the food and wine of Greece, although the retsina is an acquired taste (I'm acquiring it quite nicely, thank you very much!!). The food is so good -- fresh fish and vegetables, moussaka, and lamb. The Greeks are very curious about me travelling alone but I don't find their curiosity intimidating -- it feels like genuine concern for my well-being. I certainly don't feel threatened but really appeciate what feels like very geniune concern.