Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Athens Soup With A Side of Corn Bread
For more photos go to our Greece photo Album at our photo website.
So Troy and I found Athens to be about as appealing as pea soup: hot, lumpy and not very pleasant to look at. We assumed it would have a lot of history around town but all we found was grafitti and ugly, boring block buildings. We thought Athens was going to be like Rome with so much to see and do so we booked 4 nights at a Marriott (using Troy's points, of course). After our first day there, we realized it was 2 nights too many. Don't get us wrong, the Acropolis and Parthenon was one of the most beautiful and amazing things we have ever seen but we quickly found out that besides these monuments, there is not much else to see. We did a stupid bus tour around the city and knew it was a boring city by how much sleep we got on the tour bus. By 4:30 on our first day there, we both looked at each other and said "What do you want to do now?"
Like I said, the Parthenon was amazing but extensive restoration work is going on right now so there was no way to get a photo angle without some sort of scaffolding (or tourists... those damn tourists) getting in the way. Comparing the Parthenon in postcards to the Parthenon we saw, we could tell that at least 25% of the columns are gone right now for the restoration work.
There were also a lot of tourists. I mean alot. The most annoying thing about the Acropolis were the "Acropolis Police" for lack of a better term. These are people that are either volunteers or are employed by the city to help protect the Acropolis area. I call them police because they were constantly blowing their whistles at people to stop doing things they were not suppose to be doing. Wether it was someone who stopped to take a picture and was blocking the flow of traffic or if someone stood on the wrong thing to have a photo taken. It really took away from whole experience (or what was leftover after the tourists were done with it). I felt like we were in second grade with the school yard attendant yelling at kids. "Billy, get down from there!" "Cindy, stop throwing rocks at that 3rd century BC statue!" But yet, tourists can sometimes act like second graders. I completely understand and agree with why they're there but they need a little more etiquette with their whistles.
Right near the Acropolis is a small hill at about the same elevation as the Parthenon that has this tiny little monument on top that is actually quite old (sorry, I forget how old). To get away from the crowds Troy and I went up there and found the most amazing view of the Parthenon and the surrounding city. The best part about it was there were 4 other people there. We found a back way up to this hill that bypassed the main gate and one evening we went up there to see what the city and the Partnenon looked like at night. This was probably the best part of Athens and the one thing we liked the most.
Speaking of the thing we liked the most... the thing we found the least intrigueing were the people. We found them to be either hot or cold, nice or rude. There was either the guy at the cafe buying us a beer for no reason or the guy at the newstand who would ignore me when I would ask a question about the bus stop nearby. We couldn't decide if we loved them or disliked them alot.
After 4 days in Athens (we decided to stick it out) we took a ferry to Santorini Island. Santorini Island is basically the side of the top of a volcano that sticks out of the ocean. Most of the hotels and buildings are either located along the beaches (which were not that nice because they were black gravel, not black sand as they were advertised to be) or the buildings are located on the side of the caldera of the volcano which plunges steeply down to the ocean. This is where we chose to stay. We can stay at a beach anytime, gravel or no gravel, but the uniqueness and the incredible views from the side of the caldera were very cool. But besides the beaches and the caldera view, the rest of the island was dry and very bland.
On the tip of the island is a village called Oia. This village claims to have the the worlds best sunsets. We witnessed every single sunset and even though they were beautiful, we both agreed we had seen better sunsets in Mexico and in Colorado over the Rocky Mountains. I think what took away from the WOW of it is that we were having to share the sunset with... ok, people like us. About a half hour before sunset, everyone staked out their spot to get the best picture. So at sunset, all the rooftops and sidewalks were packed with people. When we were in Costa Rica we came across this amazing black sand (not gravel) beach with the roaring ocean on one side and the rain forest on the other side. It is by far our favorite beach we have ever come across. We both agreed if we had to share this beach with 100's of other people it would not be so special. So for us, that is why Oia was not so special for sunsets.
We are back in Italy now and took the long ferry ride back from Greece. This time it was a 20 hour ferry ride since our destination was farther north then where we originally departed from Italy. We dreaded this boat ride since our one to Greece was so pleasant with our first class airplane seats. But this was a different boat and we were given the option of sleeping in dorms.
Even though they were male/female dorms and Troy and I would be sleeping apart, we jumped at the chance knowing we would sleep. This ferry was empty. It was maybe 25% full, which meant that my dorm that could sleep 30 people, only had me and 2 other women. Troy's dorm was just as empty.
We have found that we love the Italian people. They are such a nice break after the Greeks. But in defence of the Greeks, we have come to realize that their behavior is not purposely to be rude, that is just how they are. Now of course there are the instances when they blantantly turn away from you when you ask a question, and then of course there was our lovely hostess in Santorini, but for the most part they are just being Greeks.