The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
May 20 - Sweatin' With the Oldies

We are not city people. Two days in any city in the world is about all we can handle. In Athens, we are fairly unanimous that a day is enough. The city itself is not particularly pretty. It seems to be predominantly nondescript concrete buildings with no redeeming architectural qualities. The ancient Greeks got it right -- their modern counterparts seem to have lost interest in continuing the legacy.

We started the day by walking a few blocks to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the changing of the guard -- a very precisely-choreographed exercise. The soldiers' uniforms look a bit gay to the western eye, but there's no accounting for tradition. Any jokes you might be tempted to make die quickly when you get a closer look. You immediately see that these are very tough and serious soldiers. There was a large crowd and it was difficult to get a clear shot of the ceremony itself, but the entire troop marched right past us on their way back to wherever they go between these hourly ceremonies.

Coming to Athens and not seeing the Acropolis would be like going to Rome for the first time and not seeing the Colosseum, so the Marvins and the Chesters took the (very clean) Athens Metro one stop to the Akropoli station. Along with dozens of cruise line tour groups, we climbed to the top of the rock to marvel at the Parthenon ... or at least what we could see of it behind the scaffolding.

There is a perpetual restoration project going on at the Acropolis. Some of it is to reconstruct the buidings to what they looked like in the late 1600's before an explosion blew the roof off (they were using it to store ammunition, of all things. Pretty classy warehouse!) Some of it is to correct mistakes made in previous restorations where the right pieces were put in the wrong places. It is rather like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle ... with very heavy pieces!

The day had been beastly hot and I think my thermostat must be broken, because I spent most of the morning dripping wet and dehydrating fast. My least favorite things are high heat coupled with high humidity and large crowds. I went three for three today. I can't even begin to imagine what the Acropolis must be like in August at the height of the tourist season! Fortunately an intermittant light rain cooled things down a bit as we took a gentler route down from the top to the neighborhood around the hotel for lunch and a spot of shopping in the Plaka.

In the evening we gathered on the roof to watch the Acropolis light up again, this time without the rain of the previous night. Then we headed down an alley and around the corner to a new neighborhood to see what we could find. Once again, another amazing surprise!

Tomorrow is our last day in Athens and then it is back to the US via Atlanta on Tuesday. I suspect that the final chapter of this trip won't be posted until after we return, but if you have been following along, you already have the gist of it -- it's not as much about what you see as what you learn along the way. Travel is the most eye-opening experience I know of -- a wonderful way to get very humble very quickly. I recommend it highly.

Everything Old is Becoming New Again

Why Don't We Do it In The Road?

[Itinerary Page]

© 2007 Restaurant Doctor