I arrived in Athens late at night and immediately headed off to find my hostel. After depositing my stuff I decided to walk around the block. Imagine my surprise when -- BAM -- the Acropolis was RIGHT THERE. I hadn't seen it when I came out of the metro because my back was to it and I was focused on finding where I was going. It was really breath-taking, all lit up at night. I have never seen anything quite like it.
I spent the next morning exploring the Acropolis and the surrounding sites. It really was incredible. I have always wanted to see the Parthenon, ever since first studying it in art history. And it didn't disappoint. Incredible to think about how old all the buildings are and how the Acropolis has been the center of the city for 3,000 years. It was amazing walking around Athens and thinking about all of the history that has happened there. All of civilization as we know it was born here, including democracy, art, architecture, drama, literature and our ideas of beauty.
One of my favorite things about the Acropolis was the rocks the buildings are built on. There are slabs of rock that are completely smooth (and very slippery). I loved walking across them and thinking about the billions of people who have walked here before. The rocks are so smooth because of the centuries of feet tramping across them.
Surrounding the Acropolis are numerous ruins and historical sites. I really enjoyed the Ancient Agora. The Temple of Haphestus was amazing -- one of the most complete temples remaining. It really makes me wish we could have seen the Parthenon in all it's glory -- rather than just a pile of rubble. I loved wandering around the agora, the ancient marketplace that was the center of the city. This is where Socrates used to meet with students and discuss philosophy and morality. Being in Athens, I really couldn't help but think about how much of our current civilization is shaped by Greek ideals. Specifically, Washington DC came to mind. Not only the whole process of democracy, education, arts, etc., but also the physical aspect of our cities -- how they are arranged. So many of the buildings in DC are modeled after Greek buildings and ancient Greek architecture. It is really impressive how far-reaching this one civilization has been.
I spent an afternoon at the National Archeaologic Museum and loved it. There were so many ancient statues, it was mind blowing. This museum is literally the entire first few chapters of any art history book. From prehistoric fertility cult figurines, to the Mask of Agammemnon, to the first kore statues. Amazing.
I had a couple of great nights hanging out with new and old friends in Athens. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe (enjoying the view of the Acropolis) when I started chatting with two girls from LA, Vanessa and Diana. We were watching a delivery truck who had somehow managed to get his front wheelrim stuck on a pylon that separated the pedestrian and traffic areas. He couldn't get the truck unstuck, and eventually there was a crowd of about 15 guys all scratching their heads and giving suggestions. It was really funny. I think it took at least 20 minutes to get the truck free, and we watched the whole process with amusement. Vanessa and Diana were on vacation in Greece and had just returned from the Greek Isles. They invited me to join them for wine that night. They were staying at a hotel that had a roof garden and an AMAZING view of the Acropolis. We had a great time drinking some Greek wine and hanging out. The next night I spent hanging out with the Greek guys that I had met in Madrid. At the beginning of my trip (it seems so long ago now!) we were roommates in the hostel in Madrid and had hung out there. I emailed them to let them know I was in Athens and we met up for drinks. It was a great night -- really fun. They are such nice guys and I had a great time hanging out with them.