Friday, March 17, 2006

Live from the Acropolis….

Athens is a bit like So Cal, Mexico and Europe all rolled into one. So Cal for the weather, the smells of the ocean and the flowers, citrus and olive trees…Mexico for the hustle and bustle, traffic, quaint little markets and local stores and Europe, well, for the Euro…and maybe the Tavernas.. After hearing so much bad press about, we shouldn’t spend more than a day here… that it is crowded, loud and dirty, we expected just that. I have to say that we have been very pleasantly surprised. It is no more loud, crowded or dirty than many other European city that we have seen, although it seems many times larger. We really have enjoyed it here. I really enjoyed the fact that the weather was warmer, for one…the flowers were blooming and the people have been friendly.

We even made a friend when T and I were walking up a steep hill. A woman was struggling with her cart of produce. T offered to help her, so we followed her back to her house, which was just below the Acropolis, up a winding and narrow side street. She motioned for us to follow her, pantomimed and said the word “Coffee?” We accepted, of course and were welcomed into her quaint and rustic courtyard where she sat us down and prepared for us some sweetened Greek Coffee and Toast. (like Zwieback)..Our conversation consisted of much pantomime, combined with T’s efforts to read from our glossary of Greek Phrases. From this, we were able to introduce ourselves, ask how long she lived in Athens and tell her “Thank You”, “It was good to meet you” and “Goodbye”.. There was a lot of laughing, and “I don’t understand, I’m sorry” was uttered a bit, but it was a wonderful experience.

The Plaka, the area in which we have stayed, has been perfect for exploring little side streets, Tavernas, churches and getting lost all while using the Acropolis as a beacon, to guide us back. Of course, then, there is the Acropolis. I had also read in the past that it had lost a lot of its splendor, due to its many constant restoration efforts, but it is still a very impressive place. The Acropolis houses many more things than just the Parthenon, and it took us a few hours to soak it all in, to explore the full grounds of the ancient past that is buried and unburied here.

On that note, I’m afraid that I may have offended someone when we were up at the Acropolis. T and I have taken a few funny Yoga shots, here and there, and I thought, a perfect shot would be doing the Warrior 3 in front of one of these ruins….well, once I got into the position and the camera took the shot, we heard the yells and the whistles blowing…I thought, ‘geez, what is all that noise…someone is really in trouble’ …well, that someone was me. I was so ashamed and embarrassed when the guard came over and demanded that we erase the photo. It turns out that photos are allowed, but the photo that I was posing for may have been considered a mockery of their religious site, something that I feel horrible about doing. At the time, it didn’t occur to me, but now that I think about it, I feel like it was so foolish of me. Here is something that has been preserved for ages, in which Gods have been worshipped..and I went and “cheapened” it, all for the sake of a silly photo. Lesson learned..

Anyway, back to Athens..
We spent a little time also wandering around the open air markets. We also stumbled into a meat market. It was something like I have never seen before.

Definitely, not a place for the vegetarians or the “blood and carcass” wary.

There were whole animals hanging, piles of goat(I think) heads, skinned rabbits, chickens, all hanging, blood dripping on the ground, butchers busy chopping up animals out in the open, blood on their aprons, pieces flying.. People all around. It was a sight to see.
On a sweeter note, we also found ourselves in a lovely bakery in which we sampled the local flavors of Halva (YUM!)…Baklava (very sweet, but YUM!) and Turkish Delight (also very sweet, and good..) This was lunch.

After a few homemade Caprihanas, (liquor purchased from the duty free store, limes from the market) we headed to a Taverna, for some authentic Greek food. We ended up in a Creperie, in which I had a crepe with spiced meat, feta, onions and tomatoes, and T, a crepe with feta and chicken.. To top it off, we strolled the alleyways, and I soon found myself at the counter of a local gelateria ordering up a cup of straciatella, or chocolate chip gelato. It was a great way to end the day.

Next Stop, Santorini….

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