Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Athens in all its Glory

Day 12


Good morning! Today, we were up bright and early to have breakfast and be kicked overboard escorted off the boat. We had to find a way from the dock to the our hostel which were quite a way from each other. Looking up there was a sign that said a taxi from here to the city centre was only about nine Euros – great! We get in a cab, drive to the city centre and are asked to pay something ridiculous like... 27 Euros – “what? How does that work?” I said. “Well” said the money hungry taxi man “you had to pay extra for the two suitcases and more because its daytime and more because you are girls and more because you are wearing blue and more because I have a tooth missing...” and so on and so forth. He had a lot of lame rules that we only found out about... after we arrived. Typical. So we paid the poo head and went on our way.

We arrived at our hostel and were too early to check in so we helped ourselves to their wireless internet and collapsed onto their couches. The receptionist told us that there was a walking tour starting at ten and that we should go on it to kill some time. Good idea, we thought. The only problem was I needed to pay and I only had a fifty Euro note. So we went looking for a cafe or shop where I could break it – you know get the change not destroy my money you silly reader. Anyway we went into this little store and I picked something up and went to pay with my fifty. Dear god. I will NEVER try that again. The woman went from complete shock then silence to IMMA KEEEEELLL YOU!! Needless to say (but I will) we walked around trying to find somewhere else and I can never show my face in that place again.

On to the walking tour. The lady that was taking us around was really funny. She was brutally honest about everything and admitted she does this every day so nothing was super exciting for her anymore – just like how I will feel about Brisbane (my home town) when Miranda comes to visit. Not that I do walking tours here – too depressing. Anyway she showed us the Temple of Zeus which has a few remaining columns. When asked what happened to it – expecting a story of natural disasters – she said calmly “Greeks like to destroy their heritage. In about the 18th century the people thought it would be a brilliant idea to break up the columns, melt them, and use them as foundations for all the crappy apartment buildings around the area.” That and acid rain. Yep.

Oh - here is another interesting fact (maybe to me only) but when the discus was first invented... they use to do it backwards... it was much harder - as you can imagine. Just thought you might like to know.

Next stop was the Olympic stadium! This thing holds... drum roll... 60 000 people! It was funny because Miranda got in front of it and did this pose...

And then I did...

And then basically the rest of our tour group did! Miranda set a trend...

We were told that originally only men were allowed to compete in the Olympic games – no surprises there... and then came the race that changed it all... the race where one athlete won the race and had their clothes fall off... revealing them as... A WOMAN! They should have been suspicious from the beginning given that this random very feminine looking guy wanted to compete in clothes unlike the rest of the athletes that must have bobbed all the way down the track... I mean if you think about it... which I am now trying to stop – ARRR GET OUT OF MY HEAD! So from that moment on women were allowed to compete – in their own separate games of course...because the men couldn’t hack it when they lost to a woman... huh.

Next stop was the Royalty Gardens. Okay I think this is right but let me know... recently there was a king and queen put on the Greek throne. The only problem was they were from Bavaria and therefore had no Greek blood and everyone hated them for that. So this pair took off and fled to London where they still reside and are not allowed to ever come back to Greece because they betrayed ‘their’ country. Oh another interesting tale I learned that there was a famous Prime Minister in Greece who decided to take firm action against the amount of starving people in the country. Or rather he took action to help them... not against them. Anyway he took a boat to Spain, filled it will potatoes and brought it back for the people of Greece who then made it one of their key crops. I always just assumed potatoes were one of their signature dishes – like lemon potatoes – but no, they were introduced... man I am interested in the most random of topics – nudity and potatoes... dear me. This Prime Minister is one of the favourites of the nation... sad thing was that he was murdered. He was shot. Not very nice.

Then we were showed the Parliament house which was guarded by the goofiest looking guards I have ever seen... Seriously LOOK at them... pom-poms on their shoes and skirts. I’d think I was going to get a juggling performance rather than a bullet in the head if I were accosted by these fellows. The pom-poms are meant to hide the daggers on their shoes... and the skirts have 400 pleats which represent the 400 years of oppression that they had. And then there’s the walk they do! This is their British equivalent changing of the guards...Oh my goodness... waving their legs around and everything! I tried to upload the video but it isn't working so... too bad.

We were shown the main shopping street and warned that shops would all close from 2:30-5:00 so everyone could have a siesta! This place is AWESOME. They totally get me... We stopped in at this little church and it was meant to be all holy, silent – you know what I mean? That was until I heard this stupid guy talking really loudly on his mobile whilst lighting a candle... Don’t you think you’re giving mixed messages to God? Continued walking and saw Hadrian’s library, the Roman Agora – very old marketplace and saw the man locally named “crazy pistachio” guy.

I kid you not. He has this little wagon filled with nuts that he sells and to advertise it – he raves. His little wife was there and watching the two was like watching a slap-stick comedy show because she was quite round and he was skinny and they were raving away...I didn’t buy any pistachios though. We did buy a big bag of cherries that were like... 2.50 for a kilo or so!! This may not shock some of you but cherries, in Australia, cost about 20 dollars a kilo... this was luxury. Miranda and I hiked our way onto the mountain called Aeropagus and could see a view of the whole city – it was amazing!

The only problem was it was unbearably hot and we had to stop and rest. Looking at the city was breath taking and we were told that when the city was formed they had a choice between two gods to be the patron god of the town. It was a toss-up between Athena who would give them wisdom, culture and education and Poseidon who would give them trade, war and safety on the ocean as well as a bag of Doritos (just kidding)... if you can’t guess who they chose you can go far away from this blog and eat a lemon. So after they chose Athena Poseidon got so pissed off that he flooded the whole town. Damn. They thought. So they quickly built him a big ol’ temple to calm him down – which worked.

We then struggled up the hot hill to get to the Acropolis which is the furthest point of the city and the most important site in the ancient world. It was funny because walking up that beast of a hill made us so tired that we sat in a shady spot just outside the Acropolis for a good while. Here we were admiring the view when the most important site of the ancient world was sitting right behind us! Oh, by the way, there are lots of stray dogs around here and today there was one just lying asleep near us. One of us joked that the dog was all like “Don’t wake me unless you have gelato”. Then this Australian family sat behind us and ruined my day and made me not want to go back to Australia more than ever... “Why was this thing built on a hill?” DUH! That and this stupid girl said it with a really Australian accent and I really wanted to throw her down the stairs. But I didn’t. Miranda was shuddering because of Americans on the boat, I was shuddering because of Australians off the boat. Oh then there was this other family that came and sat to have their photo taken but one of the kids kept scowling and not wanting to so the dad was like “we are NOT leaving until you do this RIGHT” – so the family forced a smile and headed off.

We finally went in to see the Parthenon but it was strange because we had already seen most of what it had to offer in the British Museum – except for the building itself which was amazing. I tried to keep from melting and slipping over as the stones which made the path had been worn smooth and I almost took a couple of spills over the course of the day.

We were making one of our dancing video segments in front of it when this woman (Barbara) wasn’t looking and walked right into our shot – hilarity – because the husband was going “Noo! Barbara! BARBARA NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” in an American accent. Good times. Barbara will make an appearance once I post the video.

We went down to get a better look at the ancient agora and met another stray dog. After that we got some lunch (yummy gyros) and set out to shop – that’s what we DO okay? As we were walking along looking at the markets this other random dog (which we named Raoul) who followed us all the way along. So we decided to test his loyalty. Miranda goes “Hey Raoul I just want to look at this shop. Can you wait a minute?” And he stopped. And waited. And then we all continued. He became our canine guide.

We went back to have nap at the hostel (neither Raoul or our initial guide were with us any longer just to clarify) and then ventured up to the rooftop where there was a ‘bar’. We had a cocktail each and met this Canadian and Australian guy – neither of which were actually staying at our hostel... they just liked the ‘bar’. Typically this Australian guy was from Brisbane (AHHHHH!!) and both of these backpackers began to tell us about how they were into weed and cocaine. Yay. It was really nice sitting there, despite them, because it was sunset and the Acropolis was all lit up and beautiful. The horizon was a bit hazy and that’s due to the pollution and acid rain... which is a bit sad.

That night we actually ventured out – after dark! This is the first time because we haven’t really felt safe before... but there were lots of people bustling about and we had a delicious dinner of pita, tzatziki and Greek salad. Back to the hostel for a well deserved sleep – we get a lot done in a day! Oh and for one more random thing... one of the other women staying in our hostel room said that they had just finished visiting Spain and they complained about how much ham was on EVERYTHING. The reason was because during the Spanish Inquisition there was only one real way to prove you weren’t Jewish – eat pig. I thought that was a really interesting little note but she went on to tell us how they ordered a ham sandwich and it had, like, a mountain of ham on it – bleh who could eat that anyway? Random note to end on but stay tuned for Delphi!


  1. It's so annoying how they will charge more because you're a foreigner. I had that problem in the Philippines.

  2. I fully plan on taking you on a walking tour of parts of Phoenix... and since Phoenix isn't super interesting, I will be making up most of the historical facts I will tell you :)