Monday, February 8, 2010

Ancient Temples, Baklava, and Strikes

Day 8: Athens, Greece
I arrived in Greece two days ago, where I was welcomed by miserable weather and inconvenient strikes and construction. I am CouchSurfing with my host Priyam, who recently moved from India to the Athens suburb of Kifissia. We went to a Carnival party in Athens on Saturday night, and it took like an hour and a half each way to get there. The metro line was closed along part of our journey, so we had to make a connection by bus, which took a ridiculously long time to travel a short distance due to the traffic. I was exhausted from a long day of travel that started in Paris and involved five metro trains, six buses, and a three hour flight. After the party, we finally arrived back at Priyam's apartment at about 3:00 AM. After all that (in the cold and rain, no less), I passed out for the night.

The next day, it rained ALL day. We went into Athens again and walked up to the Acropolis, which is free on Sundays. It was so rainy and windy that I could hardly even see the Parthenon and other sites because I had to shield myself with an umbrella, which blocked my view and kept turning inside out every two minutes. I didn't even attempt to take pictures. Since pretty much all the tourist attractions in Greece are outside, there's not much to do when it's raining except eat, so we ducked in from the rain into a restaurant for a Greek salad and souvlaki. We decided to start the long journey back to Kifissia mid-afternoon so I could catch up on e-mail and relax.

Today I pretty much did the same thing as yesterday, except by myself and without the rain. I went up on the Acropolis again, and this time the weather was gorgeous. There was a grand view of Athens from the top spanning from the mountains to the Aegean. I walked around the narrow old alleyways surrounding the Acropolis and photographed some of the cats that lived on the tile roofs overlooking the city. Then I went to the National Archaeological Museum, which contains all the best examples of ancient Greek art. It's always exciting to see pieces that I studied in my art history courses during college. It started sprinkling again when I came out of the museum, so I guess that meant it was time to eat again. This time I had gyros and baklava.

Parthenon, Athens, Greece © Matt Prater
The ancient Parthenon dominates the Acropolis in Athens, Greece
Cityscape from the Acropolis, Athens, Greece © Matt Prater
Cityscape and Lykavittos Hill from the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Bronze statue, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece © Matt Prater
Ancient bronze statue of Zeus or Poseidon (ca. 460 BC) in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece
Marble statue, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece © Matt Prater
Ancient marble statue of an athlete (ca. 100 BC) in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece

The day was going pretty well until I arrived back at Priyam's apartment and checked my e-mail. Air traffic controllers are striking in Greece Wednesday, which is the day I am supposed to fly to Abu Dhabi. I am going to call the Etihad Airways office tomorrow morning and try to book a flight for tomorrow. So we'll see how that goes! The other bit of bad news is that the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building that just opened in Dubai a month ago, is already closed for repairs! I just booked my ticket for the observation deck three days ago, so I guess I'll see how that plays out. I'm not having very good luck tonight. I should probably just go to bed before anything else happens!


  1. I'm sure things will get better once you arrive in Africa!

  2. Where nothing can possiblai go wrong. *ducks*


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