Monday, May 19, 2014

Acropolis Now

The post title is in honor of Marc, who loves Apocalypse Now and who kept saying this all day long. This morning, after a little neighborhood walk to get some coffee, we headed up to the Acropolis, which overlooks everything it seems. The little window at the end of our hallway? Yep, there it is. A quick glance between buildings? O there it is, the Acropolis. The Parthenon. The other temples and sites on that great hill.

yup -- a random glance. There it is!
a beautiful walk up to the top -- this gently rising pedestrian street never felt like a climb
And then all at once there we were. On the Acropolis, among the ancient buildings that I studied in my art history classes in college.

the old girl is always undergoing renovation, I guess. The palace of Athena -- the Parthenon

Here is one side view; there is some marble sheathing on some of the columns

the back side, just so magnificent

the other long side

some column details. Yeah, I was crying. Hard not to. I've dreamed of this place for decades.

the photo spot -- we were all taking pictures for each other.

such beautiful work

I forget which forum this was -- for Dionysus, maybe? With Athens spreading out below.

I look at the incredible precision of that carving and think about the
anonymous man who carved it so many centuries ago. That's his work.

column segments

out of my mind with happiness. Me. Athens. The Parthenon.
We just kept saying what a perfect day it was to see this place. It was cool, and not too terribly crowded. The skies were overcast, and in fact it drizzled a tiny bit here and there. I'm sure it would look very different in a blue-skied day with bright sunshine. I'm glad we saw it the way we did, no overcrowding, no overheating, no brutal sun beating down. We saw a few other things along the way:

That's Athens below, and that's a huge swath of some kind of evergreen trees.
Really such a beautiful city.

Along the climb up/down the hill there were random ruins scattered here and there.
A cave for Pan. A hidden spring-turned-fountain. This former home with the remnants
of a tile mosaic floor. I love to imagine living here then.

We stayed a few hours, which was enough for us. I have notes and can name the various sites we saw, and can probably deep dive into my memory for the architectural details of the sites, but it doesn't matter. I got to see these places. I remember reading about them in the World Book encyclopedia when I was a very little girl, and reading the stories of the gods and goddesses, the cult of Athena, the greatness of the civilization. But then, when I was reading those stories, it wasn't even a crazy wild dream that I might see the place one day. I didn't know how to dream that dream. And today I got to stand on the site, amid those magnificent ruins, with Marc, and realize another of my dreams.

After a wee nap, we went out again to wander around; we toured the Plaka, visited some little shops, sat in this square and that, found the Metro station for our trip to the airport tomorrow, and then went out for dinner at this fantastic little restaurant in our neighborhood. Lithos is just a beautiful little place, run by (I think) two brothers who are very Greek, in different ways. And so funny; the customer sitting behind me asked how big a dish was and he quickly said, "It's big enough!" When he brought their wine, he said not to worry if they didn't like it, he'd take it inside and drink it himself -- really, don't worry. Always with a smile. We had a beautiful meal:

Oof, delicious crusty bread with AMAZING olive tapenade. We ended up
just eating it with a fork it was so wonderful.

our appetizers: saganaki, really wonderful, and zucchini croquettes with
a tangy dilled yogurt sauce. YUM.

I ordered mussels in a white wine sauce but they came in this
egg cream sauce -- still delicious, just not what I thought.

Marc ordered lamb joint. When he asked about it, the waiter stepped aside
and pointed to his knee and his upper thigh, and said, "It's this part."
It just fell off the bone, so delicious. And BOY do the Greeks
know how to roast a potato.

then, surprise! On the house -- coconut cake with coconut ice cream.
A very generous serving, two slices of moist cake and a gigantic scoop.

I wanted to take a picture of the restaurant; Marc didn't know I was including
him so he's just about to say something to me. I love that.
Athens is a very interesting city. I was expecting it to just be the background while we zipped in and saw the Acropolis, but it wasn't like that at all. It's a vibrant place, covered in graffiti, with beautiful crumbling buildings (and not just the old ones, either) alongside beautiful newer buildings. The people are funny and wry and friendly, for the most part. I don't imagine we'll ever take the chance to see Athens again, so I'm glad we stopped here so I can know Athens in my heart.

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