Sunday, November 04, 2007
10th October, 2007
We stirred around 6 am. Lights went out about 9 pm. Much creaking from our creaky joints. Today we fathom the subway to go to the National Archaeological Museum which also includes the National Epigraphical Museum, and the Numismatic Museum. Altogether a big program. We saw the illuminated Acropolis in glimpses last night. Ooops, just realised that the Numismatic Museum is somewhere else.
We think we have the aircon set at about the right temperature - slept well. We are ready for more steps today. I have set the pedometer, wondering whether we can beat that high tally of yesterday. Museum steps. Is there a multiplication factor for them, as there is for vertical steps??
I've had my "shower." It reminds me of the setup we had in our Florence apartment in 1994, with this tiny square bathtub with a shelf in half of it serving as a seat. I put the plug in so my feet could have a bit of a soak, then used the water to wash out a few things. Washing is ongoing on this kind of trip. It will get to 28 degrees C today, I gather.
The Scottish National Tourist Board is needed here. Even in the tourist zones of the Acropolis and Pnyx there are few signs, and most of them are useless. No "You are here" symbol that I have seen except one. Still, "this is it" or "X marks the spot" or anything, would be useful. On the other hand the pricing is cheap. Twelve Euros for all the ancient sites in one ticket.
We have remarked how easy it is to deal with the locals here - unlike Italy (Florence) or France, despite the abrasion of endless tourism. In that respect it is more like Waikiki, where the locals seem genuinely happy to see you, even when you aren't spending. Without the history to sell to the world there would not be much to do in Athens. But without such a commodity, I guess, like the Finns, the Greeks would have to think of something like Ericsson or Nokia.
It is pretty amazing to have breakfast at dawn in view of the Acropolis. It was still dark when we ascended to the rooftop, but the Acropolis was not illuminated then. Any night photography expedition will have to be at night, not early in the morning.
Michael has a plan for the museums today, with some highlights specifically itemised. Although it is calm in this early morning the sound of jackhammers can already be heard in the distance. The sun has not yet appeared over the mountain.
We set off for Monastiraki Station where we bought tickets and validated them for our trip to Victoria Station, two stops away. Easily done. A train arrived immediately and we boarded. Alighted at Victoria and made our way to the National Archaeological Museum. I believe the step counter was not accurate because by the time we sat down for a coffee after being through the museum we had reached only 1100! Surely there would have been more! Anyway, we saw a lot of stuff at the museum. Too much, really. Bronzes, Cycladic figures, an Etruscan pottery bathtub (like a very big round pot that had been squashed into an oval tub shape, Korae, Praxiteles statues, gold masks and jewellery, and on and on. Crowds of tourists and schoolchildren made it noisy and bustling - a good thing for a museum. The shop was good, but we didn't buy anything.
When we'd had enough of the Museum we went out and around to find the Epigraphic Museum. A library or sorts - all rock! A dusty rock smell pervaded everything. Amazing to see those wooden racks piled high with stone, all inscribed with ancient writing. It didn't take long to have had enough of that too! Unless you are a scholar, it really is just a pile of rocks (I sound like a heathen...)
We traced our way back, past the Skid Row, through crowded streets. We found the Central Market. What a place! We found the meat market, plus poultry, plus the fish market. WOW! We saw cheese shops and nut shops. Alas we did not find any fruit shops and I am beginning to crave bananas. Specifically lady finger bananas. We did pass a fruit vendor near the Station with peaches, figs, pomegranates and bananas.
As we neared the hotel we saw an Internet Cafe. Oh no! Stairs! I ought some rayon thread (for bead knitted necklaces) and Micahel went on up. And up. And UP! I joined him - it was on at least the fifth floor - a marble spiral staircase just didn't seem to stop!! Did our email stuff and came back down - there were 79 steps (real steps, not pedometer steps.) No wonder the attendant was so slim. I decided to buy a kilo of Greek cotton (blue) for 26.40 euros. Pretty good, I thought. I am still mourning not buying a kilo of Scottish Wool (that Scottish Tourist Board was not quite persuasive enough) when we were at New Lanark a few years ago. I don't know what I'll make with this cotton, but something will come to me.
Back to the hotel for a relax and a cold drink. Total of 8974 steps but I am SURE there was a malfunction early on.
I have my appointment tomorrow afternoon so I was glad we had the opportunity to reconnoitre the rendezvous spot.
The metro was easy. Put the euros in, get the tickets out. Validate the ticket, get on the train. Two stops later get off. The National Archaeological Museum is vast. Saw Agamemnon's mast and much other gold. A roomful of Cycladic works too. And a lot more. Then out around the corner to the Epigraphical Museum where we seemed to be the only punters. Kate found the edict of Themistocles , and I snapped it.
We cooled our heels on a bench and then strode back toward the hotel down Aiolou Street, gawking at the central market. We saw fish, meat, cheese, and nuts, but somehow missed the fruit and vegetables.
Then on to our local Alpha Prime. Kate checked the price of a trinket - too expensive. Hmmm. While she bought the cotton I ascended those very vertical steps to check email. Kate made it up the steps too and did her email.
This arvo we head for the Temple of Zeus. It is the only way to get the steps we need.
We got the steps - 15,741, but we STILL believe there was a miscount. All those museum steps MUST have been worth more than 1,000. Am I being obsessive???
We went to the Temple of Zeus that took 800 years and a Roman Emperor - Hadrian, called the Greek because of his love of Athens - to finish, even longer than the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Huge. Many snaps of its columns. Its open ground afforded yet another perspective on the Sacred Rock - the Acropolis.
I went snap happy.
This one is of the column that fell during a storm in 1852. It clearly shows how the drums are connected to make a column.
(please bear with me as I figure out how to put images in that are hosted on Imageshack - Picasa complete album is in the right sidebar.)
On the say back Kate bought some fruit and eats for tonight. We;ll stay in with our wounds (feet) elevated. Kate bought ma a birthday present - Athena wih the owl on her outstretched arm. There are many many owls, but only one with AThena and the owl so that is it.
I also encouraged Kate to buy a necklace. She seemed to accept this encouragement! That's for tomorrow.
When we headed back from the Temple of Zeus I saw a glass roof. sure enough - the New Acropolis Museum. It seemed unfinished but Kate asked the man at the gate and he pointed us to the adjacent building where we found a small exhibit on the process of building the museum. It is being erected on, maybe "over" is a better word, an archaeological site. So this exhibit displays some of the finds on the site, illustrating the work - mostly by hand. A 1st Century AD Bust of that alien master Aristocles caught my eye. I walked past it and then turned and went bac. Yep, Plato, once again calling me.