Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hot town, Summer in the City: Last Weekend in Athens

A picture of the guards marching to Syntagma for the hourly changing of the guard. I love watching them march in their uniforms and wooden shoes that they clack together.

This is a close up of the "winds" of the Tower of the Winds. This monument is a water clock decorated with figures representing different winds. The colder winds have on shoes and jacket, but the warm winds, like the south, have no shoes and are dressed lighter.

I love this picture. This is a column from the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens.

This is one of my favorite monuments. This picture features the temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens with the Acropolis in the background. This temple was finished by Hadrian in Roman Imperial fashion with Corinthian style columns. It is even bigger than the Parthenon!

The view of the Acropolis from the Pnyx, where the Athenian Assembly met.

Heart mosaics that I saw in the Roman Agora.

A herme at Olympic Stadium. There was a young man's face on one side, and an older man's face on this side. This is a symbol for the god Hermes. They were placed on crossroads and country borders for protection of travelers.

This is me sitting in the regal seats in the Olympic Stadium with the view of the Olympic Symbols in the background.

This is me in letters, standing at the pnyx, with a view of the acropolis in the background.

Time flies in the big city. The past four weeks feel like they have gone by faster than I have ever felt time pass. There has been so much to do and so much to see, the days and nights run together. I haven't been diligent in keeping up this blog because I have been so occupied and therefore its been almost a week since I have last written!

There is so much that I have learned and observed that it is hard to record it all or even recount everything that I know now. From the small things like the social nuances, reading the signs in Greek, learning how to use the public transportation system to the academic things like learning the history of the agora and the construction of the Acropolis, I have gained so much experience from this time in Athens. But as much as I liked Athens, I am ready to go spend my time in Paros and see the islands. I think I will like the island life better. Athens is nice, but it is a bit dirty and sketch in some areas. As my friend Ben said in his facebook status," goodbye Athens-monuments, hagglers, hobo dogs, brotos, 1.80 E. gyros, CYA, cars that'll wake you up at any notice, and peeps that I met."

There were a couple things I was suprised about being in Athens though. It seems like the people here are very nice and really promote the idea of xenia, a host relationship that treats those who are far away from home as friends. The natives are very helpful to tourists. Even if they don't speak English, they attempt to draw pictures to help us find our destination. Some Athenians even bought us wine and prepared us food. There may be a lot of hagglers, which I am not a fan of pushy salesman even in the States, but sometimes you can get a good deal. Although, the waiters and shop keepers are more pushy than I'd like. Some of them are pretty clever though. One waiter had the line "this table is for models, this table is for supermodels, you girls sit with at the table for supermodels." Once the boys got free water, wine, bread, dessert and 10% off! I have not gotten any deals that good but I have gotten my fair share of desserts and drinks. The other thing I was suprised about is that I encountered some examples of racism. They are not too fond of some asians, like my friend Ben seemed to be treated a little less well than us. And even more blatant racism was when a restraunt owner turned away a black people from eating there, winked at us and said we don't serve them here.

It is also interesting how the unions operate here. The metro system has been down since Thursday and will be through Tuesday of next week. This is really inconvenient because then it is difficult and a lot more expensive to get around. If you can't take the metro to Piraeus, the port city, you need to take a taxi. The taxi isn't cheap but I need to go to Piraeus Monday to catch my ferry to Paros.

In terms of class this week, we visited the Olympic Stadium, Lysicrates Monument, the slopes of the Acropolis, the Pnyx (where the Athenian assembly met( and did a tour of Roman and later Athens. Then we also toured the Numismatic Museum (Heinrich Schliemann's House) and the Benaki Museum. The Olympic Stadium was neat because we could sit in the seats. We also walked around the track and in the tunnel where the athletes came out. It is pretty cool being able to say my apartment was right next to the Olympic Stadium. The Lysicrates Monument was erected by the choregos patron Lysicrates for the first prize play judged in the Festival of Dionysus around 334 BC. The rich persons could be exempt from taxes if they sponsored plays in the festival.

The slopes of the acropolis we saw the theater of Dionysus. Here the plays of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus were performed. That was pretty awesome to sit in the same seats as the spectators of those original plays. The pnyx was interesting to see because it had a great view of the acropolis. The last couple days were spent writing my term paper and preparing for the final exam. After that, a relaxing weekend ensued. My friends and I went to Lake Voliagemni Beach and spent the day. Sadly, I am extremelllly burned. Turns out a pale, swedish blonde + only 15 spf sunscreen + mediterranean sun =burn kate :( Nevertheless, it was a relaxing day. Tomorrow, I will be packing and departing for Paros! stay tuned for life on the islands and check fbook for more pictures.

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