Athens. Take me back to sweet Athens.
Looking at the Athens map standing outside the hostel, it was pretty clear that I would have to use navigation skills in a new way here. The signs often written in Greek were not going to be easy to recognize. Best remember where you’re going.
Locate Acropolis and memorize general direction. Check.
The food? Outstanding. Period.
The chicken gyros were “a meat exception” for me in an otherwise vegetarian diet throughout Europe. I simply can’t imagine Greece without chicken gyros. Pronounced “eeeros”. I had to remind myself this every time. Not chicken j-eye-roh …. it’s eeero.
A place down the street sold take away gyros for under 2 euros, which was also the best gyro I’ve had in my life.
Garlic, rosemary and lemon hints made an appearance in meats and vegetables of all kinds. Then there’s the crispy phyllo pastry layered with crunchy walnuts and pistachios, soaked to oblivion in fresh clover honey. Baklava.
Every single day I was in Athens, I made a trek down a touristy street lined with souvenir shops to have my daily baklava. There must have been a hundred shops selling close to the same touristy items. Paintings, calendars, bronze patina-ed statues and Greek coins. None of the travelers I met could understand how some 100 shops selling basically the same thing with a few variations could stay in business. For under 2 Euros you can get a large piece of baklava from a small bakery/dessert shop. A daily dose of Greek baklava is recommended. Imagine grocery store baklava goodness times a thousandfold.
I’m not a major fan of reading history books, however living and walking through archaeological sites is like you’re “living history”.
You smell the air from the olive trees in the grove around the Parthenon. A very faint rotten leafy-vegetation kind of smell wafts by as you pass tour buses unloading dozens of “package tourists” with their clicking cameras.
So being at the Acropolis is like living history. This garners a different appreciation then any documentary, book or museum. You start to absorb the art and time passage of a culture that accumulated. Regional quirks become apparent and a greater understanding of how these places came to be as they are today starts to resonate.
Greek mythology and Gods as concepts are familiar knowledge in the western world. Exploring these sites engages all of that sense of wonder that childhood builds up through great stories. In school these concepts emerge, and through them we learn.
Hopefully a greater understanding for the morals behind the tales ceases our own replay of past mistakes. What have we learned from these past mistakes? How can we avoid the same fates and strive for that of the heroic, idealistic tale. Yes, Greece if anywhere has immortalized the heroic tale.
We’re still learning thousands of years later from these stories.
I feel at home in the ruins. Like they signify the test of time and how through war, destruction and natural elements, something is still capable of remaining. Who will stand among the ruins of our “now world” in another 2000 years. Will they appreciate our sacrifices and all that we had been through to continue on prospering and existing?
I hope for Greece’s sake that I return to a Country under more stable circumstances.