March 20th, 2011

Greece - Day One

We got into Athens at about 10:20 a.m. local time, after a flight that involved a very…I believe restless is the politically correct term…boy and probably a single hour of sleep, yet from the moment we stepped out into the sunshine you could not have slapped the smile off my face.

I’ve always wanted to see Greece.  Always.  Or at least beginning in the fifth grade, when I started taking Latin, and we learned a lot about Greek history and mythology.  Athens is everything I always thought it would be but was afraid it wasn’t, if that makes any sense.  You build a place up in your mind and then fear that the reality can’t actually live up to the imaginings.  But Athens is amazing—the most unique and yet familiar place I’ve ever been (at least thus far).  The alphabet is different, the quality of light is unbelievable, and there’s beauty everywhere you look.  There’s a certain lack of pressure exploring Athens, because it’s impossible not to stumble upon archaeological sites, which are everywhere, and the day to day beauty of old stone houses, orange trees everywhere, stray dogs and cats basking in the sun…. On the other hand, everything is so amazing that the thought of missing any of it is heartbreaking.

Luckily, the very hotel we stayed in, The Athens Gate, was situated to make the most of the views.  Our room looked right out on Hadrian’s Gate, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Lycabettus Hill and the sunrise.  Our friend Peter, who came with us, had a room looking out on the sunset, facing the Parthenon.  The rooftop garden of the hotel had excellent views of both and served an amazing dinner on top of it.

Day One was mostly walking about, situating ourselves, visiting the Plaka (old town marketplace), shopping and eating in a lovely café overlooking the Lysicrates Monument, a choragic monument erected in 334 B.C. to commemorate the winners of a dramatic competition in the Theatre of Dionysus.  I absolutely love how much theatre and the arts are celebrated.

I order to get a better view of the city, we climbed the hill on which the acropolis sits for some truly incredible vistas.

That night we drank a bottle of Greek wine with our dinner and watched the sun set over the sights.