Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Acropolis

After climbing the steep hill up to the Acropolis, we entered through the Propylae and saw the Parthenon for the first time. What an imposing structure, even with all the scaffolding all over it.

My favorite temple is the Erechteion, however. Notice that the columns now have Ionic capitals and are much slimmer and more graceful. The whole temple is just lovely, its feminity underscored by the wonderful karyatids which gaze out over the city of Athens.

This is how high the sacred rock of the Acropolis rises above the city.

Next stop, the ancient Agora at the foot of the Acropolis, where the public life of Athens took place and where Socrates, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Xenophon and St. Paul instructed in the stalls of the building below. Many of the great debates of Athenian democracy were held here. The Agora was marketplace, administrative center and THE place to hang out in the 6th century BC.

For now, however, I must say " καληνύχτα " ( that's good-night to you ) , we must go to bed so we can get up early for our last day here in Athens. What to do - more Agora, both Greek and Roman ? or the National Museum with priceless treasures from the ancient world ( gold mask of Telemachus anyone ? )
Time is just zipping along and getting short- tomorrow we also board our ship for the beginning of The Cruise ! There is so much to do and see here, I haven't talked yet about the food ( yummy ), the people ( fun to watch and very pleasant ) and the amazing breakthrought that happened to me late this afternoon in an alley - I am beginning to be able to read Greek !!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Greek Adventure Day 1

It seems like just a day or two ago that we were sitting in a little Greek restaurant at home, celebrating The Patriarch's 70th birthday and trying to recover from the shock of his magnificent present.We were still trying to come to grips with the reality of this magnificent gift as we were packing for the trip and now we are actually here !

Does this look familiar to anyone ? It's the Acropolis, as seen from just outside our adorable hotel, the O&B, a ( and I quote ) " boutique hotel, very modern, but very cozy. " And indeed it is. The staff is incredible, someone came out into the street as soon as we pulled up in our car (complete with driver ! The luxury ! ), greeted us, whisked our luggae to our room, brought us tea and frappe ( iced Greek coffee ) and made us feel totally welcome and at home.
The first thing we did after our loooong flight, was take a nap and then we took a stroll up to the Acropolis as the sun was setting and a big full moon came out to light our way. As in all mediterranean countries, the twilight hour is the time to take a stroll, to see and be seen, and we enjoyed not only the Antiquities at every step, but the local color as well.

Athens is a huge city,very spread out, but cozy in feel. There are mountains on three sides and the sea on the other. This hill has a small church on top which lit up fiery and golden as the sun set.
After a lovely dinner in our hotel ( American Greek food does NOT equal Greek food in Greece ! ) we are ready to turn in early so that we can do a long sightseeing day tomorrow - Acropolis, Agora, and more-a !!!!
Thank you again, incredible family, for making this dream come true !

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Recession Amusement Park

Two seats aboard The Couch, newest ride at the Old Homestead Amusement Park - $0

One Indulgent Uncle - $39.99 (cost of Korean pork belly lunch)

Childish Mirth - Priceless


70 is a landmark birthday. Perhaps The Patriarch was expecting Le Cirque? Why was he driving further and further away from the bright lights of Baltimore into Greek town! Why on earth was he dressed to the nines standing outside a neighborhood hole in the wall? Surely his daughters had given him the wrong address? Where was valet parking?
We played in cool - greeting him with hugs and launching into a platter of never-ending souvlaki, saganaki, pita, hummus and leg of lamb. Fine food, but certainly not 70th worthy? Where was the filet mignon? The crystal, the linen tablecloth? A bottle of Moet was produced and toasts were had all around. This was more like it. Maybe they were scrimping because of the Dow? Poor daughters. How prudent of them. We presented the patriarch with "The Odyssey," a tale of epic adventure for a lifetime. How thoughtful.
As the evening was winding down we produced one more small gift - a silver box. Inside - SURPRISE!! Two tickets to a cruise of the Greek isles! Leaving on Tuesday! Tears, cheers of "Opa!" from the surrounding diners, many laughs and high-fives - success.