Day 54: Athens, Greece

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January 19th 2010
Published: January 22nd 2010
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Day 54: Tuesday, January 19, 2010.
Athens, Greece.

Today I decide to tackle the Acropolis. It's only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the entrance and along the way I learn a trick that is helping me to survive Athens, I listen to music. That way I can ignore the many people who come up to me and try to sell me postcards or whatever else they think I need to buy. Yes, I'm probably not doing this travel thing "the right way" but it helps me to keep my sanity. I don't like mingling with people I don't know even when I'm in the States and know what's going on. That feeling doesn't change when you put me in a foreign country and add the language barrier, sorry.

I get to the ticket booth and buy my ticket but before I can get inside I am stopped by 2 different people who want me to hire them as my tour guide. The first one backs off pretty easily but the 2nd one is more persistent. I tell her I can't afford a guide and she offers me "the reasonable price of a private tour for 45 Euro". I say no. She says "30". I say "I'm not trying to haggle, no." She then says that she'll do it for 15 Euro if I don't mind joining up with a couple of other people. That gets my attention, for 15 Euro I'll take a tour guide. So, I say sure and sit down and pull out my book while she snags a couple of other people. 15 minutes later she's not having any luck and I'm tired of waiting, so I thank her and go on in. Once inside, another lady stops me and says she saw me talking to the other tour guides and she can be my tour guide for only 25 Euro. At this point, I want them all to fuck off, so I say no thank you and she asks "why not" and I just walk away.

I take the road in front of me and wander down the path towards the Odeon of Herodes Atticus theater. After that is various ruins and temples and then the Theater of Dionysos. At this point I realize I have walked down many steps and I'm at the bottom of the hill and, wonders of wonders, the Acropolis is at the top. Dammit. So, I start going back up the hill and, after stopping a few times to act like I was taking pictures when I was really trying to get my breath back, I get back to the beginning and see the other road with the big sign that says "Acropolis". Once again, I miss the obvious. I head up a few more steps and I'm standing at the entrance to the Acropolis compound, the Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike. The pictures really tell the story at this point- breathtaking. And, even though my calves are still killing me 2 days later, I am glad I did the lower portion before doing the Acropolis. If I had done the Acropolis first and then wandered down to the other ruins, they would have paled in comparison.

So, I wander over to the Parthenon and stare in wonder. There's a photographer up there taking pictures of a couple and with a background like that, how can you go wrong? (unless you take a picture of them and her eyes are closed- like the one picture I took.) I ask one girl to take a picture of me with the Parthenon in the background and she is kind enough to do so. Then, as she walks away, I can't stop staring at her ass. No, I'm not switching teams, she had written something on the seat of her jeans and it looked like it said "Rough". Ooookaaay. So, I did what any smart person would do, I took a picture and then zoomed in on my LCD to read what her butt said- it said "Tough". Not sure how that's better. Tourists, go fig.

I snap a few more pictures and then wander over to the Erechtheum. The statues on it are amazing. I then head back down the path I had taken the first time to the exit which is right by my street and the New Acropolis Museum. The building is very new age, but cool. Plus, the floors on the outside and first floor are plexi glass so you get to look down and see ruins below. They're planning on opening that as an exhibit later this year- wish I could have gone thru them. I pay for my ticket and take the elevator up to the restaurant, I'm starving after all that step climbing. After that, I wander thru the museum which isn't that big really. There are many cool statues and artifacts but sadly most are damaged.

I head back to the hotel and crash for a few hours before heading back out for dinner. The concierge recommends a restaurant on the next street and I go and enjoy a wonderful meal of Beef Slovaki. I eat outside and allow myself to watch people as they pass by, fighting my instincts that tell me it's rude to stare. I pay my bill, thank the waiter and walk back to the hotel. When I get in, I go up to thank the concierge and he's on the phone so I wait. He then covers the phone and asks me if I have my wallet. I give him an odd look and say yea and reach for it in my inner pocket. Um, no, I don't have my wallet. It dropped out as I was leaving the restaurant and luckily the hotel sends customers there all the time so they called there to report it. I rush back over and get slightly side tracked by 3 other tourists who are a bit drunk and try to talk to me thinking I'm a local. Finally, I tell them they're speaking to one of their own (2 were American) and for them to enjoy their night. I get to the restaurant and sincerely thank the owner who is the one that found it. I try to offer him a tip but he won't accept it. I only had 5 Euro in the wallet but it was still there as was my travel card (and its balance is fine.) I leave thinking nicer thoughts about Athens and questioning my stupidity.

Additional photos below
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It's Greek to me! And above it the Parthenon.It's Greek to me! And above it the Parthenon.
It's Greek to me! And above it the Parthenon.

Come on, you know I had to make that joke sometime.

24th January 2010

You left the city in ruins?
Perhaps you need to embrazen the word "Tough" somewhere upon your wardrobe, so that the locals will not be so quick to haggle with you.

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