Tuesday, October 30, 2007

9th October, 2007

Day Two in Greekland. Why isn't it called that? It was lights out at about 8.30 pm with much anticipation of a 6 am start. Hah! I got up at 8.00 am. Todayu= is the day for the Acropolis, or high (Acro) City (Polis). That hill top and if we persevere all that was Ancient Athens around it. First the relics today and then the museum in the following days. My turn for the shower. Katester has emerged.

Yes, emerged refreshed. Thank you Jackson for deciding to bring the Brisk Brew and coffee. We used it. Sunscreen and pedometer(on) equipped we are ready for breakfast on the roof. It is open air with canvas awning, and a spectacular view of the Acropolis. It is warming up quite quickly.

Breakfast was good - fresh fruit and excellent yoghurt, plus a greek salad offering of cucumber, tomato and feta, ham. Plus poached eggs and bacon. Boiled eggs were also available in the shell. Two of those will form snacks for late on. Fresh orange juice. It is a really lovely dining area and I can hardly believe we are here. The sky is bright blue, there is greenery all around. We are at tree height. We see pink and yellow buildings with half moon tiles, greet shutters. Sum total of 486 steps. There will be more.

Back in our room getting ready to sally forth and I found that I had packed a bogong moth! I think it is doomed here. Poor thing.

Later - at 2.45

Indeed the step count rose. We are now at 16,741, or 12.5 kms. Much of it was uphill, and just as much downhill! We set our sights on the Acropolis and off we went, through the Ancient Agora.... no, that was later - or was it? The Acropolis was in construction mode, and crawling with people. Nonetheless it was a thrill to be there, and every bit as magnificent as I had anticipated. MWJ says we did the Acropolis first - get the steep steps done first. Marble all around. It must be terribly slippery when wet and no handrails! The museums old and new were not open, in the throes of moving from one to the other, alas. After the Acropolis we did the AGora, including a rather lovely museum. The Stoa of Attalos. Then walked through up to the "Big Road" (private joke of ours when lost while travelling) Apostolou Paulo) and on up and up to the Pnyx (pronounced -p-nicka). What a contrast - quiet, peaceful, and only a couple of other people, and a few stray dogs. Wonderful views of the Acropolis from there. Onwards in search of the Prison of Socrates. Up and down, roundabout, getting hotter and crosser, much fruitless map consultation. Useless signs with what purported to be information. We retraced our steps and just as we gave up hope and were setting out to go home, there is was! Phew! Back around the Acropolis, skirting the Agora, back to the hotel and air conditioning.

A big day for relics. First the Acropolis - the High City - a lot of steps and a lot of people. A great many photographers trying to pose pictures amid the throng. I am sure I am in a good number of those pictures. Many seemed fascinated by the vista - houses and more houses. I concentrated on the scale and size of the buildings. It was good that I had seen the replica in Nashville to simulate something of what it must have been like - a kind of Disneyland of its day. By that I mean a sense of overall order amonth th buildings, some designed to relate to others, each more elaborate, painted, gilded and carved and textured. The Parthenon dedicated to the city's patron - Athena - the most spectacular of all. The whole thing built on a nearly inaccessible hilltop. "We choose to do this because it is hard, not because it is easy" JFK said of the Apollo Program to land on the moon. So Pericles might have said of the Acropolis. In both cases the result was a demonstration to enemy and friend alike of what we can do, if we choose to do so. Even more impressive in the Athenian case to know the hill top was scorched by the Persians before Salamis. Pericles devoted most of his 18 year political career to the Acropolis, and much of the building was done in 8 years, spending the taxes of the restive allies in the Delian league (a NATO alliance against the eastern tyranny of Persia.)

Then down from the Acropolis and a restorative ice coffee and cheesecake, before the Agora, starting with the Stoa of Attalos. The Agora was the market of its time. Here Socrates mixed and mingled, iand irritated one and all. I saw a Spartan sheild from Pylos in the Agora Museum. Neither here nor in the Oberlander Museum in the Keremeikos have I seen much sign of the characters from the Iliad and the Odyssey.

The Acropolis shop was a closet. The Agora had no shop.

Then it was time for another hill - the Pnyx. Off we went, up we went. Had it all pretty much to ourselves. Found the bema where Pericles, Diodotas and others argued their cases with the sacred Acropolis overlooking the proceedings from the right of the speaker and the left of the auditors. There followed the search for the prison cell of Socrates. The Borch Map which has our hotel in the wrong place and on the wrong side of the street led us on a pursuit of an untamed ornithod, as Mr. Data once said. We couldn't find it and decided to cut our losses and head back to base, and then a sign said "Socrates' Prison" and there it was.

Nota bene that our misadventure using the Borch map however took us by the tomb of Kimon and Thucidydes. The attribution of this tomb, like Socrates' prison, is inference from location.

Back to the slammer! Three rooms, one that was double behind locked iron gates. There must have been a stoa (porch roof) to give shade.

Then on back to the hotel. Kate took the key and went to the air conditioned room. I went to get the International Herald Tribune (IHT) and while doing so spottened Athena with an ol for later. Got the IHS and three drinks and trekked back to the hotel to the .....AIR CON! Whew! I think that's it for relics and steps! Although.....

We did venture forth once more. We saw the Athena statue with owl. I saw a fabulous blue cameo necklace. We went up and down a bit, then settled at the Ydria restaurant. Bread and olives and cheesy stuff to begin, then moussaka for us both. It was very pleasant sitting outside under the trees. No mosquitoes I saw or felt. Glimpses of the lighted Acropolis but no temptation to retrace any of our steps. Speaking of steps we reached 18,178, or 13.63 kms. More or less than yesterday? We'll never know.

Made contact with the repository people and will see them later this week. Definite day to be confirmed tomorrow morning. The alarm phone has been set for 7.30 so time for a shower, etc, the work call at 8.15, breakfast, then we'll hit the museums.

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