Saturday, August 8, 2009


I did not journal the night I got back from Delphi. I was wiped out. Wiped. Out. (I attributed this more to the lack of water on my hike up to the stadium than any lack of fitness on my part.) In any event, I strolled by the hotel spa to see if they had any massages available that night. (Thank goodness they didn’t. They wanted something like 150 Euros -- about $225 -- for a massage. Yipes.) So, I went back to my room, took a long hot bath to wash Delphi off myself, decided I wasn’t up to shuttling to the Plaka, so I had a bite in the “cheaper” of the two hotel restaurants. (11.50 Euro for a tuna sandwich. A TUNA SANDWICH. 6 Euros for a pot of tea. Freakin’ extortionate.)

Thus fed, I went to sleep, to get a good night’s rest before Jordan picked me up for my Athens adventure.

Bright and early (and with a bottle of water, dammit), I waited in the hotel lobby for Jordan. (Waved goodbye to the Intercontinental and their $17 tuna sandwich). And off to the Acropolis. (I actually did substantially better when Jordan quizzed me on what I was going to see at the Acropolis. Propylea, Parthenon, Erecthium, Temple of Athena Nike. And I had impressive stats on the Parthenon, like it was built from 448-432 B.C., chief sculptor Phidias, 8 x 17 columns (double counting the ones on the corners). He didn’t ask me about the decoration, but I was pretty much on top of that, too. Yeah, I’d studied up on the Parthenon.)

I liked the whole private driver thing, but what I really liked -- both at Delphi and the Acropolis -- was not following the tour guide waving the red umbrella (or whatever), stopping where they wanted to stop, staring where they wanted me to stare, and listening to what they wanted to teach. I got all my background info before walking up (Jordan earned his fee by pointing me toward a second, less-used, less-arduous route up to the Acropolis) and then got to stare at whatever I wanted to stare at for however long I wanted to stare at it. Want to stroll all around the Parthenon? (Yes.) Stroll away. Want to blow off that thing over on the West side of the acropolis? (Yeah.) Blow it off. I quite enjoyed having all this power over my own tour. Took as long as I wanted, snapped a lot of pics, and headed back down to Jordan.

Who then, at my request, took me to the New Acropolis Museum, where I got to play Compare and Contrast with all the treasures I’d seen earlier this week at the British Museum. (The New Acropolis Museum is very helpful in this regard. The upper floor of the museum is all about the the Parthenon. They’ve got the entire frieze running around the room, all the metopes displayed above, and both pediment sculptures -- at least, all the bits in existence. It’s just that the stuff that ISN’T in the Acropolis Museum is a plaster cast of the stuff that’s elsewhere, with a little notation (most often: BM) for its current location. And in this way, the museum silently yet eloquently makes its argument for getting this stuff back to Athens, because you can’t possibly look at the real fragments next to the plaster casts and not think, “someone’s got to put this stuff TOGETHER.”) New Acropolis Museum also has some fairly nifty scultpures I’d studied forever ago in Art History -- think Kouroi and … whatever the plural of Kore is … the archaic statues of young men (naked) and women (in all sorts of drapery). Sort of an added bonus.

Jordan then drove me all over Athens to fit in about a half dozen other sites (Temple of Zeus, Roman Agora, changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace [where, honestly, they look like they’re trying out for the Ministry of Silly Walks -- but I was one of only four tourists watching, so I kept on my best proper behavior and didn’t giggle even once], Socrates’s prison, Hadrian’s Gate… all sortsa stuff) and finally, brought me to the dock where I picked up my ship.

We’re currently at sea now. They’ve cancelled our first island -- Mykonos -- due to high winds and replaced in with Milos tomorrow morning. (It isn’t far; we may well have dropped anchor outside it already.)

I’ve met some nice folks on this cruise already. Bless the Windstar, when you walk into the dining room, they ask if you want to share a table or eat alone, and seat you accordingly -- which saves me the total awkwardness of walking up to strangers and asking if they mind if I eat with them. I mean, I can do that when we’re all sitting by the pool, or having drinks, but a meal is a bit of a commitment, you know?

ANYWAY, I should try the internet connection and post this already. Shades of my cruise in Australia -- I’ve come up to the lounge to do my journaling (then, it was reading) after dinner, figuring I’d listen to the piano player during. As in Australia, I’m the only person here -- everyone else has turned in already -- so I’ve had a nice chat with the piano player. As I told some folks I met earlier here (the young guy was concerned that there wouldn’t be any young people on the cruise), when the passengers let you down, you can always hang out with the crew.

No comments: