Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Post! Athens, Greece

So here's my first post. Please excuse the quality on the first few of these, it's been...years I think since I've done any blogging whatsoever, so my writing style may be a bit rusty. Since this is probably going to be read by friends first and foremost, I'm going to skip introductions for now and just get right down to things.

I arrived here in Athens after about 24 hours in airplanes or airports, the longest leg of which was my flight from Portland to Frankfurt. It actually wasn't too bad (I had an aisle seat, so I could stretch my legs when I needed to), it was more or less like a red eye flight that just happened to leave at 1 in the afternoon.

Got to Athens and met up with both my brother and my CouchSurfing host. He's a really cool guy, the apartment is, what's the best word...Characterful. Imagine a student or starving artist apartment, and that's basically exactly what you have. Only about half the plumbing works (but at least it works consistently), and the views consist of a wall, an airshaft, and a church. About 5 feet away from the window. Don't let me give you the wrong impression, though, I'm really hitting the 'low' points because that makes for a more interesting mental picture (IMHO). It's clean, it's literally 4 blocks away from the 'Acropolis' metro station, and nitpicks aside it's actually rather comfortable.

My host, on the other hand, I can recommend without reservation. The starving artist metaphor did not come out of thin air, he's basically a musician. He's gregarious and funny, and he loves to have company. At the moment there are about 6 other people couch surfing with us, one girl who just got done teaching english in France, one guy who I think is her ex-boyfriend, two girls who just got done learning spanish in Spain, and two mexican guys that I haven't had a chance to meet yet.

Today me, Peter, the girl and her ex went out to sample the touristy things that Athens had to offer. We started out at the Acropolis (of course), which was actually more or less everything it's cracked up to be, in terms of impressiveness. The effect was a little bit spoiled by the scaffolding everywhere, but the combination of the view of the entire city and the sheer SIZE of the Parthenon itself came together to be pretty awe inspiring. It probably didn't hurt things that, because this was the first Sunday of the month, pretty much every single archeological site in the city had free admission. We then wandered over to the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, which was less impressive. It was basically a dozen or so standing columns, one tipped over column, and a wall looking down over some excavated foundations. Whee.

After that we decided to get some Greek Coffee (just to try it out). It wasn't BAD, per se, but if you'll excuse the phrasing, it wasn't really my cup of tea. Maybe it's an acquired taste, but at least I can die happy knowing that I'm not missing some culinary delight. We decided to head to the National Archeological Museum, but the ex-boyfriend wasn't that interested, so he split off to do his own thing (bicycling with our host, as we later found out). We hit the museum, and it was actually pretty interesting. For the first hour, anyway. It was at about that point that we found out that the first hall (which was basically Mycenean artefacts, man what a lot of gold they must have had), which we thought was about half the museum, turned out in fact to be closer to 1/4 of it. We still had the statues, the iron tools, the friezes, and the pots (oh god, soooooo many pots) to go through. I tried to stay interested, really I did, but coming up on hour 3 of 'Now THESE pots were painted black as their background, while THOSE pots were painted white' I was losing interest. I know that each piece of crockery and each buried weapon and each votive offering tells a little bit about the culture of the time it was made, but at that point I just could. not. care. less. It's ANOTHER fricking statue of Poseidon, I get it, can we move on please? But at least I got some good pictures.

We did some other stuff (saw the National Garden, the Parliament, the stadium of the 1896 olympics, the Agora) that I'm going to gloss over, because at that point I was getting pretty tired, and my feet were KILLING me (we had basically walked the entire day), so any description I give will probably be colored by that.

After all that I got to come back and take a nap, and I felt a bit better, then we came here to the internet cafe, and my email/webcomics fix got me feeling much better. Now I just need to get some dinner in me to be fully recovered I think. We're still deciding what to do next, but I think the Islands is the next logical step. Santorini maybe.

Let me just say, to anyone coming out to follow in our footsteps: Yes, you probably can do Athens all in one day. No, you almost certainly should not. You need some time to recover so that you don't burn out too quickly, and that way you'll get to enjoy the later stuff just as much as the early stuff.