Spring 2010: Greece
Tue 16/03/10 11:20
The Final Hours Before the Trip Home
As you may have guessed by the date of this posting, I’m home and have been for a few days. I didn’t really have any time to make my final entry, and actually I don’t really have time right now, but it needs to be written.
The final morning in Athens was very much like all the last days on my trips. I am one of those people who constantly has to be early for everything. Sometimes I end up being early for an early appointment. For example they say that you should arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight, so I make sure that I’m there three hours early… and in one recent case, three and a half. L I had about three hours before I had to be at the airport two hours early, so I decided to wander around the old town for a while and take some pics. The streets were empty and it kind of made me feel like how it may have been centuries before the massive numbers of tourists flocked to the shops lining the narrow streets. It was nice.
At the end of all my trips I like to kind of give a quick summary of my view of the time spent at whatever location I was at. I have to say that Athens was a surprise for me. I went with the expectation that I was going to not enjoy myself because of the comments that I’d heard from others, but I left with a great feeling of the city. For the most part everyone was friendly, there was lots to see, and there were lots of places to go. In general I’d have to say that Athens was one of my favorites, about fourth or fifth on my list. So far, Istanbul is still number one, and I don’t see any city dethroning it anytime soon.
I got back to Dubai at about 10 pm and back to work the next morning... oh and I actually stopped and bought beer at the duty free store at the airport. So for the first time in about three years I have beer in the house. So sweet it is.
If you followed my journey this spring, thanks, if not, no worries maybe next time.
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Fri 12/03/10 22:47
The Morning Before I Head Back
It’s Saturday morning at about 6:30, and I’ve been up for about an hour mostly drinking coffee and updating this blog on what I did yesterday. In no time though I’ll be headed to the metro for the airport, and ultimately for my trip back to Dubai. My flight leaves at 2:15, so I still have enough time to play a little before I go. What I’d like to do is find some souvenirs somewhere. I’ve been looking but for the most part all I can find is garbage. Not that I expect the souvenirs to be high value items, it’s just that if I’m going to display something that I bought to commemorate my time here, I don’t want to be embarrassed while doing so.
I think I mentioned this before, but I think that it is time that I leave, Athens has been great but I’ve run out of things for a normal tourist to do while staying in the city. I could visit some islands, or take a trip like I was going to do to the small city outside of Athens, or possibly a lot more of the things that people would do if they have more time. But as for Athens, I think I’ve experienced it sufficiently to say that I like it. As I mentioned more will come later on after I’ve had some time to “digest” my time here.
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Fri 12/03/10 21:50
A Trip to the Sea
but no beach.So my spring break in Athens Greece is coming to an end and it’s time to start winding down a little bit. In no time I’ll be heading to the airport for the trip back to Dubai and I think I’m ready. Although I pretty much have summed up my view of Athens in my head, I want some time to look back a little before I write about it.
Today I headed to the Mediterranean to possibly go for a swim. I took off right after breakfast and made it to the sea in about an hour. I was actually surprised how easily I found it and how quickly I got to it. It’s not like there is a beach in sight or for that matter you can’t even see the water, you just know the direction and navigate the roads to find it. Where I went was the location of some of the events for the Olympics, at least that’s what it looks like. It’s really quite sad too, there are these huge expanses of spaces or walk ways that one can imagine that when crowded with people would have been incredible to see, but now are pretty much being left to slowly decay. I just checked on google maps and the area I was at appears to be where the gymnastics was held.
Here’s an image from google maps of the area. Notice the warships in the lower left corner and the stadium in the upper rightThe first thing I did was to go to the maritime museum to check out some old war ships. One was an old battleship and the others were a destroyer and a replica of the ships of the “Homer” era. After that I wandered towards a marina where some activity was going on. It turns out that I think there was some kind of race scheduled, because there were a lot of sailboats and windsurfers getting into the water and heading in the same directions. I was so envious. I really need to find some hobby that I can spend my time in, or around, the water. Anyway, I got some good videos of a couple of the people heading out.
After that I spent the rest of the day kind of just killing time. I walked around the marina for a little bit, then headed towards the hostel stopping for lunch. After getting back I decided to take a break before heading out again.
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Thu 11/03/10 22:10
The Day the Sun Came Out
My second day in AthensSo I went down to the lobby of the hostel to sign up for a trip to a nearby city. Supposedly this place is very picturesque and worthy of a two-hour journey out of the city, so I had planned for today to be a day outside of Athens. The only problem is that when I went down to the lobby, it turns out that it was canceled due to lack of interest. I asked the guy if he thought that I’d be able to find the tour someplace else and he said that he doubted it because of the general strike that was going on now. Hmmm… a general strike? Apparently so because all the buses and metro weren’t running, the airport was closed and a host of other services were suspended for the day. That being said, I had to find something else to occupy my time. So I headed towards the Acropolis and instead of turning left up the hill, I went straight, straight towards Constitution Square. This is one of those centers that many European cities have, they all usually have historical significance to the city and Constitution Square is no different, it was the place for many of the big political events in Greece’s recent history. When I got there, there were police everywhere, and not just normal police, but police dressed in riot gear. So cool.
I waited there for the riot to start, but after about three minutes of waiting and with no rioters showing up I decided that I’d watch it on tv… if it was going to be televised. For about an hour I just walked around going to different places that I wanted to see. There were so many places that I went, I don’t think that I’ll write about them, but I’ll show you the pics of the day, or a good chunk of it at least. There was one thing that I saw that for some reason really struck me as being cool, it was a street lined with orange trees all full with oranges.
About noon the sun came out and showed Athens, and more importantly, the Acropolis in a completely different way. Where it was just okay before now it was stunning to look at, if you’ve ever seen the movie Taps, there’s a part where Tom Cruise in a “psychotic fit” is firing a machine gun out of a window and he looks towards the camera and screams, “It’s beautiful man!” Well, that’s the way I felt with my camera taking photos of the Acropolis; it was absolutely beautiful sitting on the top of the hill being lit up by the sunlight.
After taking close to a ga-jillian photos I decided to walk to the sea. I had a map and knew which direction to go, but I didn’t know what street I was on. The map said one thing, and the street signs said something else, and since I couldn’t seem to match the names I eventually gave up and decided that I’d do it tomorrow.
I got back to the hotel at around 1:00 and rested a bit before going out again.
At this point I spent the rest of the day just wandering the souvenir shops and walking around the Acropolis. Not very many photos the second part of the day, but all told I walked about 15 miles today (according to my gps), and took about 143 photos…
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Wed 10/03/10 23:12
The Acropolis & The Ancient Agora
with a couple of museums too.Day two started out on the same vein as the trip here, everything just seems to be going smoothly. The apartment/room in the hostel is great and although I requested a dorm room to save money I have been the only person here. So basically I’ve got a furnished one-bedroom apartment in Athens, Greece for about $20 a night. Not bad, I get free breakfast in the morning and as much coffee as I can drink all day long. About the only thing that makes it difficult is that there isn’t anyone else staying in the room. I know, that last statement conflicts with the one above, but the benefit of not sharing the apartment also means that there’s no one to talk to.
The first thing on my agenda this morning was to see the Acropolis, it is after all, the reason that I considered Athens a “must see” location. So right after breakfast I headed up the mountain to get a look at the “must see” item on my list. Because of the time difference between Greece and Dubai I’m getting up about 2 hours earlier here, about 5am. This is kind of nice in that it gives me a lot of time in the morning to get prepared for the days events, such as going to the Acropolis. I was probably the tenth person to go through the gates this morning, and although it was quite chilly on the top of the mountain, it was very nice to not fight with the crowds that would eventually arrive.
From the Acropolis you can see most of Athens, the blurred building lapping against the sides of the distant hills. If you squint the city looks very much like Amman, Jordan. Most of the buildings on the Acropolis are in pretty bad shape and those areas that seem to be in fair to okay shape are being restored, so although it was great seeing for myself what most people only see in textbooks, it lacked the grandeur that I expected. Not that it wasn’t great to see the Parthenon, it just wasn’t quite as awesome as I thought it would be.
After thoroughly exploring the acropolis, a job that took about 2 hours, I headed for what I think was the old part of Athens know as the Ancient Agora. I spent probably two hours just wandering around, sometimes retracing the same route that I took earlier. All in all, it was nice to see what remained of the old city. There were plaques set up to give you some detail as to what was there originally, for example knowing what a building was used for or what lined a street. I even was occasionally yelled at by some of the guards for being in places that I wasn’t supposed to be in. The Greeks really take the security thing seriously. There must have been as many guards as tourists at this place. Now when I say guards, they’re not armed or even uniformed guards, they’re just people that have a lawn chair strategically staked out within the walls of this ruined city.
After my trek through the Ancient Agora, I headed in the direction of my hostel, wandering the narrow streets that are lined with souvenir shops. My objective was to get something to eat, take a break and then head out later for a trip to the Acropolis Museum.
The Acropolis Museum was created just for the Acropolis, which pretty much makes sense, but if you consider all the other historical sights in Athens and you realize how specialized this museum actually is. It’s a new building and you really get a good sense of what the acropolis must have been like “back in the day.” Unfortunately though they don’t allow photos to be taken so no photos here. It was very informative and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more. I can’t help think about Galina Mcguire, my art history professor from undergrad, when I think about the Acropolis.
I ended the day back in the apartment with a bag of chips, two beers, and the computer, in preparation for telling you what I did today.
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