04 March 2007

Ancient Athens

I believe I have found a city that I prefer over Rome. Athens has a similar vibe as that Italian capital, but not quite so chaotic and perhaps even better looking. The city is full of history and activities. I feel rewarded to finally be here.

I arrived Wednesday night and went to dinner with an Austrailian guy I met on the bus from Kalambaka. As we were eatting dinner a Canadian walked by and we invited him to join us. Then a group of three American girls, whom the Canadian had previously met, randomly passed by and the Canadain invited them to sit with us. It surprises me how easy it is sometimes to meet people.
My first full day in town I visited the Acropolis, the walled hill you see behind me in the photo above. On the Acropolis rest the ruins of the Parthenon, a temple to the Goddess Athenia, patron god of Athens, built from 447 - 432 BC. While walking up the rough marble steps of the Acropolis I again could not believe I was about to view the Parthenon, a site I have wanted to see for years now.
After the Acropolis I visited the National Archealogical Museum, supposedly one of the finest in the world.
During the day there were a series of student riots and protests in the downtown area of the city. I stayed clear of the action when I saw police in full riot gear marching down the street. That Australian I might later told me that he unknowingly ran into the path of tear gas fumes and suffered for a bit of time because of it.
The other sites I've taken in are the ancient Agora, the Greek Parliament building, the changing of the guard in front of the , and many more.
Yesterday I visited the stadium that held the first games of the modern Olympiad in 1897. Then I rode the subway out to the complex which hosted the 2004 Games. Aside from a handful of hours early fans for an evening soccer game, most of the complex was empty. I would like to go to the Olympics someday, I only missed this series by about two and half years. Maybe I can time it better for the 2008 Games.
My hostel is located in the Plaka neighborhood, which lies on the northeast side of the Acropolis. The Plaka is also one of the nicest sides of the city. The narrow streets lack cars, are lined with outdoor resturant and cafe seating, and some are even paved with slats of marble.
The food is fantastic and it must be fattening. Most street vendor food includes fried filo dough and cheese in some fashion.
Actually, I did have one bad food tasting with a local dish: tripe soup. The main ingredient is cow intestines. It never occurred to me what it would taste like until the bowl of soup arrived at my table and I smelled the first whiffs of steam rising up from it. Think of it like this, what goes in the toilet is the same thing that sits in intestines. After an entire animal's life it does not matter how well one cleans the intestines, they will still smell and taste of feces. I took a spoonful of the brothy liqued with floating chuncks of intestines and prepared for the worst. I was only able to finish two-thirds of the bowl before I left the cafe. I had no feelings of disgrace walking away from that table.
On a brighter note, I couldn't ask for better weather Athens. I didn't bring any shorts because I didn't think I would need them, but I could use them in this city. I would guess the temperature has been between 60 and 70 degrees during the day. From here though, the themometer will go down as I continue my travels.
Tonight I leave this wonderful city for Bucharest, Romania. The train ride to get there will take 23 hours, then my stay in the city will last only a day or two before I head deeper into the country and to Transylvania.


DaddyO said...

Nicholas, I knew you would like Greece, given your affinity for it as a young lad. I've never been to Greece, however I would like to someday. Sounds like your having some interesting conversations with people you are meeting (per our phone discuss last Saturday). Heading to Bucharest, I will be interested in reading your comments. Now in Transylvania, be sure to walk around with garlic at the ready, in case you run into that guy who likes to fly around as a bat!

DaddyO said...

Nicholas, oh yea: I like the picture of you with the Acropolis in the background.

MC said...

Hey Nick, we went to see the movie Black Snack Moan yesterday and you know we never did see your jeep in it but we did see you. Yes you are in it! Although had you not given a detailed description of what you were wearing and when to look for you, it would have been hard to find you but there you were in the background with your green polo shirt on! We never did see the jeep though. We will have to get the DVD so we can start and stop. We liked the movie - probably would have never seen it had you not been an extra but glad we did.

Enjoy your visit in Bucharest with the other jet setters and in the know travelers!

natalie said...

Haha I was about to make a crack about how awful and cold and rainy France is and to prepare for the worst, but it's actually been getting a lot better this week. I think Spring may be coming... Can't wait to see you! That picture is a keeper.

Nick O. said...

Dad: Yes, I thought about the garlic. And I like the picture too. It was taken by a stranger, but I edited it slightly to end up with what you see there.

MC: Glad to hear about the movie. I'll have to wait until I return before I can see my Hollywood debut.

Natalie: I'm looking forward to my visit as well. The weather on this side of the continent is still fairly nice.

Grandma said...

we are enjoying your adventure and pleased to receive your postcard from Napoli. So happy you were able to find the villa in Lucrino where we lived. Looking forward to seeing the picture. Athens must really be a beautiful city to see. Keep safe and enjoy the next leg of your trip.

Nick O. said...

Grandma: Thanks for the comments. I really enjoyed finding your old house and seeing where you used to live.