Athens: That City ‘Mess’ Up
In an ode to the colorful grammar used by one of my sister-in-law’s former 3rd grade students, I have to say Athens is a little ‘mess up’ right now. The ruins are in ruins, of course.
My little Hercules at the Temple of Zeus
That said, it seems like everyone and their mother warned us about Athens, about the crime, about not going out at night – we even met a woman on the subway who lived in the OC for 35 years. Even she warned us to make sure we were home before dark. I don’t know though, people in Orange County probably say the same thing about LA too. Still, parts of Athens were certainly no trip to Disneyland.
If you know Kiran, you know you don’t go to Athens and visit just one Olympic Stadium, you visit two. Here’s the site of the 1896 Olympic games, built on the site of the ancient Olympic games from a couple thousand years ago.
You study the Parthenon in history, you see the pictures, but like the Great Wall, you really can’t know what it’s like to see it until you’re actually there. Built under the direction of Pericles in the 5th century BC, the Parthenon and the hill it sits upon and the surrounding structures (the Acropolis) have seen numerous changes. The Parthenon has been a church, a mosque, and an army garrison headquarters. One of the surrounding buildings, the Erechtheum, used to house an Ottoman governor’s harem. The Parthenon also used to be a gun powder storage house, and when it was shelled by the Venetians in 1687 during the X War, the building blew up, causing much of the damage still seen today. Sadly, much of the Parthenon’s statues were looted by the English and now sit in the London Museum. Shouldn’t the Brits give that stuff back?
Anyway, this was our best self-photog attempt
Regarding safety in Athens, and anywhere where you travel, they say to avoid demonstrations and large crowds. And, generally, being right outside the US embassy isn’t the brightest idea either.
Well, it turns out I took Kiran to her first neo-Nazi rally! Technically, it was a gathering of Greece’s far right “neo-fascist party,” Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn members say they are nationalistic and racist but not neo-Nazis. Either way, at first, I didn’t think anything was that suspicious – half the people there didn’t even look white, not by Scandinavian standards at least. But as soon as I saw some guys with shaved heads and white shoelaces, I thought it was time to get the h-ll outta there – get Kiran out of there at least, I figured I was safe with my blue eyes.
The lack of police, or any people protesting them whatsoever, was really surprising honestly. Sad really. Later I read that Golden Dawn is a minor but ever growing political force in Greece. And assaults on brown/ black people by members of Golden Dawn are quite frequent. WTF Greece?
Then, next door in a park, we heard another person on a microphone and saw another crowd gathering. Undaunted, we went to check that out too.
We stuck around and spent the early evening listening to some great R&B in a city park with the beautiful American flag waving to us in the background. Look in the upper right hand corner. As CEO of Silverado Hospice Loren Shook says, “Love is greater than fear.”
For my birthday, I said the only thing I wanted from Kiran was to NOT go out to eat. No restaurants, just stay home. I think that’s what most men want actually.
Lastly, thank you to Bruce and your wife not only for dinner but for the awesome restaurant recommendation. Neoklassiko was AWESOME and so cheap!