BY ABBY AND BEN, BUT MOSTLY ABBY (According to Abby).
08.02.2013 - 08.02.2013 17 °C
Today our group split up into two because of varied interests that people had. Hannah and my dad went off to enjoy an educational day full of history, while my mom and I set off to spend a day in the great outdoors. The first place that the two of us headed was the post office, as I had to send a super-secret postcard to a recipient who shall remain nameless at the moment. Mysterious business I know. After making a fool of myself while trying to buy a stamp the postcard was ready and mailed. As we were walking we noticed a small restuaurant, and as it was just noon we decided to take a seat. We each got a two euro gyros and some water, and enjoyed it a lot. It's important to have a large lunch in order to have a large supply of energy for the day.
After this we went to a large garden that housed fountains, trees, shrubbery and a small assortment of animals as well. We walked around for a little, noticing that, like most of the gardens we have seen on our trip, it was not as well cared for as most back in Victoria are. But even so I enjoyed it very much, especially when it came to the animals. We saw various species of birds including cockatiels, peacocks, roosters, geese and ducks. We also saw some goats with large horns, turtles and one lonely rabbit.
After the garden we decided to look at the shopping area that we had quickly passed by yesterday. We walked in and among the shops, pointing out any strange items that we saw to each other. As we walked we realised that we were a little hungry, even after our large lunch. It took us a good three quarters of an hour, but we finally located the shop we had gone into yesterday for donuts. We ordered the classic platter of six small donuts with a honey-like syrup and cinnamon on top. The two of us finished it in under three minutes. All this time I had a feeling that we were going to see my sister and my dad, and about thirty seconds after saying this to my mom, they walked right in the door. They too ordered a plate, but after trying some of the leftover syrup on our plate they decided to go with the same platter as yesterday, seven donuts with chocolate hazelnut sauce instead. A good choice I think, although I enjoyed both a lot. We talked for a while and my dad got himself a coffee before heading out again. My mom and I walked them to their next destination, and from there we went to the grocery store. We picked up a couple items for breakfast and some ingredients for salad as well.
When we got home my mom made a salad for the two of us, and soon the other half of our posse was home too. Tonight we plan to order in some gyros, because we feel it is best to end our time in Greece with some traditional take-out on a Friday night. Just because we're classy like that.
Ben's Not So Short Addition to this Blog Post
Hannah and I set off for the National Archeological Museum after a leisurely passing most of our morning in our apartment. Although Athens as a whole is large the most popular sites are all within walking distance of each other if you are not put off by a 3 kilometer stroll to your destination. What Athens lacks in signage it makes up in the incredibly detailed free tourist maps they give out so it is fairly easy to navigate on foot. The city streets are no more a jumble than in other cities we have been in so far.
Athens is a combination of characteristics we observed of Paris, Madrid and Syracuse (Sicily). It is like Paris in that businesses congregate in districts or streets with fabric sellers on one street, mechanics on another, hardware and household goods and appliances on yet another. The high noise levels are similar to that of Madrid and the streets have the same explosion of graffiti and grittiness that we found in Catania. Athens is in no stretch of the imagination a pretty city but it compensates for it in part by an abundance of hearty good food and generally good natured people.
Hannah had put the National Archeological Museum on her wish list for Athens. I knew before we left Victoria that Muriel wanted to pass on this museum since she had memories of tedium when we visited it 20 years ago. One of our favourite photographs from our trip back then was of a sleeping museum employee. Both Muriel and I had decided to skip Athens altogether for this trip but put it back on the itinerary so Abby and Hannah could have a chance to judge for themselves.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the archeological museum much improved from when I saw it all those years ago. The entire museum has been spruced up and the displays much better organized and labelled and perhaps judiciously culled. I remember from my first visit the mind numbing number of objects on display with little in terms of explanation. As before the Museum devotes a great deal of its space to the evolution of Greek sculpture over a 600 year period. Both Hannah and I found the bronze statues the most captivating. The funerary monuments were also very intriguing. Another highlight is a temporary exhibit dedicated to the Greek objects recovered from Antikythera shipwreck discovered in 1901 and more fully recovered in 1976 from the bottom of the Mediterranean. In addition to some fantastic bronze statues it is most famous for holding possibly the world’s oldest computer. Archeologists theorize that a badly corroded and decayed instrument consisting of a great assortment of gears that they recovered from the wreck computed the phases of the moon and eclipses many years into the future, as well as predicting the orbit of a number of planets. The complexity of the gear work is beyond what most clockmakers would use in the early 20th century. It appears that the true greatness of ancient Greece is hard to over emphasize.
After Hannah and I had spent three hours at the museum we were ready for a change of pace. I fondly recalled the warm donuts and Greek coffee I had enjoyed yesterday. I suggested to Hannah that we should try and relocate this shop on our way to visit the National Gardens. It was not necessarily a short walk to this place but some things are just worth the extra effort. Hannah and I wondered on the way to the shop if Muriel and Abby might think of returning to this shop as well (we had not discussed it that morning and we said yesterday that we probably wouldn’t ever be able to find it again). We couldn’t believe it when we walked in the door and the first people we see are Muriel and Abby sitting at a table with a very, very clean and empty donut plate. There is no doubt Muriel and I are meant for each other and that the kids have inherited our DNA. It was a true case of "birds of a feather flock together."
After hearing the report on Muriel and Abby’s visit to the National Gardens, Hannah and I decided skip the gardens and climb Lykavittos Hill instead. This hill is just behind our apartment and is one of the major green spaces in Athens the highest point in the midst of the city. Our timing could not have been better. The haze over Athens had cleared substantially. We could see Athens sprawling out in all directions and see the Mediterranean in the distance. Athens is almost uniformly made up block type apartment buildings around 6 stories high with facades of white or very pale stucco. There is little greenery between buildings or along streets that are visible in the aerial view from Lykavittos Hill thus producing a generally off-white landscape as far as the eye can see. Hannah and I savoured the view for a while and then headed back to our apartment quite content with our day’s exploration.