April 5, 2009

Athens, Day 11: Tesikles

After doing not much the whole day yesterday, Anna and I decided to go for a run at 5. We ran in the cemetery across the street, which was quite nice but very confusing, as sometimes branching off uphill would lead to dead ends. The cemetery itself is mostly marble entombments, family plots in the style of the big cemetery in Buenos Aires. I’m not sure how far down they go, but I saw one that went three deep. A lot of them said ΟΙΚΟΣ, which means family, followed by a group of first names.

Shortly afterwards (preceded by a cold shower as we didn’t have time to heat up the water), we headed to Syntagma to meet Aida and Paige for shopping. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the completely whack schedule the shops here have – most weekdays they’re open til 9 or so, Saturdays til 4, and closed Sundays; some choose to close at 4 an additional weekday or two. Since we were there at 6, everything was already closed. Instead we headed to Monstiraki for dinner, where we found a taverna in a little square. It was a really weird area, as there were tourist hot spots like the restaurant, local hangouts (the crepe place across the street), and a bunch of junkies wandering between the small sketchy alleys. While waiting for food we observed someone who was quite possibly on shrooms, which was rather entertaining as (in the Greek style) the food took an hour to arrive. The three of them actually went back to this area later to go clubbing and discovered that it was absolutely hopping between the hours of 1 and 4 am, and it nearly impossible to get a table at any of the bar or tavernas. Although the meal was good and very filling (I had beef in tomato sauce) we still had gelato immediately afterward.

This morning I woke up early to go museuming with Eric, Paul, Tony, Priya, and Helma. We first went to the Epigraphic Museum – a museum only of stone inscriptions – which Eric tried to convince us would be completely boring, but which we rather enjoyed. Priya and I went around reading things in ancient Greek and attempting to figure out what they meant; then Helma would come over and translate fluently. Often we were right about things. (This really wasn’t a difficult task, as if you notice a name somewhere and an odd word or two you can usually tell whether something was a legal decree, a historical plaque, or a grave stele. We also sort-of learned the ancient Greek system of numbers.) The museum had only five rooms; part of one was devoted to education and had cartoony timelines of ancient Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China (just to put things In perspective). It also had some posters about the beginnings of writing and how Linear B developed into Greek.

Next was the National Archaeological Museum, which we will actually revisit twice as part of the course. We saw the giant geometric funerary urn, some Archaic and Classical statues, a giant amount of vases, and the Akrotiri collection. (I’ve decided I must go to Santorini over break to go see recent excavations there.) We had exorbitantly priced drinks at the museum café, bought postcards at the gift shop (which was mostly overpriced replicas of artifacts, and not even that many), and then visited the Mycenean section (including the “Mask of Agamemnon”) very quickly. It was mostly gold things.

I just woke up from my afternoon nap and will soon make dinner, which should contain most of the vegetables we have so they don’t rot while we’re away.

OH ALSO We tried to recycle some bottles at the money-for-bottles recycling machine. The current price is 1 euro-cent per bottle (and we have no idea where to take the slip to get paid), but it was worth it for the delicious glass-crunching noise…)

Weather: 50s and drizzly

Currency: 1.34 dollars/euro

Gelatos eaten: 3


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