Another walking tour. This time from the “start.” I say “start” because we walked there. We walk everywhere. So, we started the walking tour off by sitting down, with a Nescafe frappe for me. It wasn’t as good as the one in Thessaloniki, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and then, we started walking. First through Syntagma Square, past the Parliament building, through the gardens, to the old stadium, then back around to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and finally, to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. It was a long, yet very awesome day. One of those days that makes all of the 12 hour bus rides worth it. One of those days that makes missing nachos and cheese coneys worth it. One of those days that makes not being as connected with old friends worth it. It was one of those days where I didn’t think about how I’m spending all of my money and I don’t have a job or an apartment or leads for either when we get back. It was one of those days where I was reminded that I’m continuing to make my dream of traveling around the world come true, and recognizing how fortunate I am to have somebody so wonderful to share it with.
Now I’ve come to value these days even more than I normally would because as the trip is over the halfway point, I have found myself sometimes getting caught up in negative feelings of how expensive this trip can be. How hard some of these long bus rides can be. How difficult it is to have a reasonable sleeping schedule when we’re sleeping in different places every other night. And how maybe everyone who thinks we are crazy for doing this trip just might be right. Sometimes I panic a bit about about being in my 30’s (barely) and how I don’t have a job, let alone a career, or everything else that is expected of someone my age. I even find myself getting frustrated over the lack of South Korean internet speeds in other countries around the world and falling behind on the blog. Sometimes, (aside from Andrew and the much appreciated almost daily emails from my cousin, Amy) maintaining the blog is the only “normal” I have of this trip. It helps me process everything I’m seeing and motivates me to take pictures and videos and be creative even when I don’t feel like it. But, it can be a bit of a bubble at the same time. Having recently met up with Josh and Leanne, I was relieved when they said could relate to not always knowing what was going on in friends’ lives because of this trip. Everyone knows what’s going on with us and our trip because of our blogs, but that doesn’t mean we know what’s going on with them… with YOU! SO, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Well, I’m taking a page out of their book. Comment. Tell me what’s going on with you. And if you do, I’ll send you a Postagram from Greece!
Now, back to our day: After my frappe, and Andrew’s coffee, we went to the Parliament building and ogled the guards and their funny uniforms. My favorite part? Their shoes. Who doesn’t love a good pom-pom?
We walked through the gardens on the way to the first modern Olympic stadium. It was everything I expected it to be. Big. Stone. Flags flying. We took a picture and headed to the Temple of Olympus Zeus. We were both in absolute awe getting closer to the ruins than we were the night before. The columns were gigantic and just knowing how old they were is enough to make you stand… and stare… and gawk at the possibility of how it was created without modern day technology. Later, Andrew told me visiting this site was his favorite part of Greece so far. I readily agreed it was mine, as well. There weren’t so many people around. We felt small and like we really were in the presence of greatness. I felt a little guilty I enjoyed it more than the Parthenon, but as you can see above, I’m not necessarily one to do or like what everyone else does or likes…
Some fun facts: The temple took around 700 years to complete. Hadrian had a statue of himself built right next to that of Zeus. They were the same size. Hadrian was so full of himself. (Ok, maybe that’s not a fact, but my own opinion…) When it was begun in 520 BC it was built in hopes to surpass the Heraion of Samos and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus- the temple (what’s left of it) that we just saw in Turkey!
The column that has fallen was blown down by a gale of wind in 1852. I’m assuming that it has laid there ever since. Equally incredible is how the column is still impressive in pieces on the ground as it was standing up!
After a lot of lingering around the Temple of Olympian Zeus, we made our way up around the Acropolis and the Parthenon. I didn’t pay too much attention in my Greek Mythology class in college. Big. mistake. So I find myself absolutely clueless about the Greek gods and moreover about the difference between the Acropolis and the Parthenon. So. Let me attempt to explain. The Acropolis is the ancient citadel that contains several buildings, the most famous is the Parthenon- the one specific building that the mess of photos below is of. (Sorry, it was one of those buildings that I felt like I HAD to take a bajillion pictures of. Different angles and vantage points and all that jazz…) The Acropolis (the city-hill) and the Parthenon were constructed by Pericles sometime in the fifth century BC.
The Parthenon is the temple itself. It’s dedicated to the maiden goddess Athena, the goddess of everything. Seriously, you can look it up on Wikipedia. She knows everything. The best story about her, is the story of her birth. If you paid attention in your Greek mythology class, feel free to skip ahead. I read about it in the Acropolis Museum and thought it was awesome. Zeus, her father laid with Metis (goddess of wisdom) but then was afraid the child would be more powerful than himself. So he swallowed her. Unfortunately for Zeus, it was too late and Metis was already with child. I don’t know how much later, but Zeus was suffering from a headache and Prometheus struck an ax into Zeus’s head. Athena then burst out of his head fully grown, and armed.
I overheard another tourist say that was pretty much how her daughter came out and had to chuckle.
Every part of the Parthenon tells a story. There are relief sculptures all around it and there is a recreation of the sculptures in the Acropolis Museum below the Acropolis. It’s a wealth of information. There was even a video that recreated the Parthenon and described how it was destroyed (Persian invasion), then converted into a Church, then a mosque… The worst part of the Parthenon’s history was when a Venetians blew it up and then an Earl, or a Scottish diplomat (whichever title you prefer) removed some of the sculptures. Those sculptures are currently in the British Museum in London. Greece wants them back. But London hasn’t agreed. yet.
I overheard a woman exclaim that to get a picture of the Parthenon without anyone else in it the last time she visited was impossible. She was so surprised not many others were visiting the ancient site. Her guide said our timing was good, usually the cruise ships drop their passengers off at eight in the morning. We were there in the middle of the afternoon, around three.
I got tired of yelling at Andrew to get out of my shot all the time, so now I just take one with him in it. I’ve even started tagging the images on Instagram #andrewlookingatthings. Obviously he loves this idea. He says he doesn’t. But we all know he secretly does.