Athens is huge city in Greece, which is sort of in Europe. At least I think it still is. I remember hearing something a couple years ago about Europe wanting to kick them out for being too poor or something like that, but I guess they talked everybody into letting them stay. Maybe they promised to get less poor. Anyway, we have wanted to visit Greece for a long time, so we were pretty excited to go there finally. Athens is a really famous city, one we even read about it in school and everything. I don’t remember all of it but I’m pretty sure it’s where all those old guys sat around in togas and discussed stuff like philosophy and physics and sodomy. Mostly boring stuff, but good for filling textbooks, I guess.
My phone said that it was going to be 35 degrees Celsius while we there, which is pretty hot, even for a big city. We only had one day in Athens because we flew in late from Romania and had tickets on a ferry to Naxos the next day 5:30 in the afternoon. We decided one day would probably be enough because even though we like big old ruins, we get bored with history pretty fast. It always seems to be about really old stuff. Plus, we knew it was going to be really hot so we didn’t want to stay too long. I only have a few t-shirts, so when they all get sweaty, that’s it, I’m out.
We were staying in Piraeus, the port area, so we wanted to take the metro downtown to see the sights. We had a hard time finding the metro because we thought it would be underground like a subway but actually where it started it was above ground, which I thought just made it a train, not a really a metro. Now I’m confused, and I don’t really know what the difference is. Also, the metro station was surrounded by immigrant people selling odd things, like hats with flashing lights and key chains shaped like penises. It was hard to concentrate on our search.
Eventually we found it, though, and we got off at the stop near the Acropolis. Everyone likes the Acropolis, probably because of the cool name, it sounds like a spaceship or some awesome electronica band. I guess that’s why there was a really long line for tickets. Actually, there were two lines. We thought about it and picked the slow one. Then after we waited for a long time this lady came out and told us there was a problem with our line and we should all just move over into the other line. This didn’t go as well as she probably hoped it would, because the people already in that line didn’t seem to want to let our line get all mixed up with theirs. Nobody really said anything, but I could tell by the way they looked at us that they weren’t too happy. They frowned a lot, and one guy actually squinted at me in sort of a mean way. After we joined up and waited for a while a girl behind us up and fainted. Maybe it was heatstroke, you know, like when you go golfing and forget to wear a hat, or get too drunk in a hot tub. It was too bad for her because even after she woke up she wasn’t looking too good, and decided to leave even though she had probably really been looking forward to the Acropolis. It worked out good for one guy, though, because while everyone was paying attention to the girl on the ground and trying to help out, he managed to move way up the line, ahead of the girl and her boyfriend, and lots of other people, too, and seemed pretty happy about it. I asked him if he thought that was the right thing to do, but he just acted all confused and said he’d been there the whole time. I kind of snorted, like when someone says something you think is sort of crazy, and not true, but he just turned around and stared straight ahead. I guess he wanted to be on his best behaviour to make up for it. After a bit another lady came out and said we could make two lines again so everyone rushed over to the new line. But a couple minutes later there were problems again so it ended up being one line after all. This time it didn’t even really look like a line, and this time there was quite a bit more pushing.
After we finally got in we went straight up to the entrance to the Acropolis. Whenever there is a hill I like to get up as high as I can as soon as possible. You never know when something will happen and, who knows, maybe you never get to the top. So I like to do that first thing. The Acropolis is the most popular place in Athens because it is made of really big pillars, way bigger than most pillars, and a lot of them haven’t even fallen down yet. There is also lots of scaffolding and some really big cranes. They look newer than the pillars, but I bet if you had a big mechanical crane back in those days you could really make a killing. Everyone would want to you to help them build their houses, and get fruit from really tall trees, probably. I don’t think they had telephone poles back then, though, so don’t get your hopes up thinking you’d be a shoo-in for a Sasktel job just because you already had the crane.
We walked around up there for quite a while even though it was so hot. There were a lot of other people up there, too, but most of them were busy trying to fit into a few small spots of shade. Behind one low building, a space under a sort of crappy tree, and some people just crouched a bit and followed bigger people around. A lot of people were wearing jeans, which was kind of surprising seeing as it was super hot out and all. I think maybe they don’t really like people seeing their legs, maybe because they have a weird shape, or maybe because they have some tattoos they are embarrassed about. Like names of ex-girlfriends, or maybe some poorly drawn naked ladies. If I had a really poorly drawn naked lady on my leg I guess I wouldn’t wear shorts as much, either. I probably still would have that day, though.
We ran out of water but it turns out there is a water fountain there after all. Just one fountain, though, for all those people. I think maybe it was an experiment or something. Like, they want to see how many people will wait in a long line for free water and how many will just stay thirsty and walk away. It was about 50-50, I think.
After we saw all the best stuff up top we went down and walked over to a big rock nearby where lots of people were standing to take photos of the Acropolis and the hill and the city and stuff. This seemed pretty clever so we went up on the rock, too, and they were right. The view was pretty good. Plus, there were all sorts of gaps and crevices between the rocks where people could put their empty water bottles and ice cream wrappers and pieces of broken glass. And you couldn’t even see any of it from down below, which seemed pretty smart.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the neat little streets, doing that really slow stroll people do when they don’t really have anywhere to go, or maybe they are pretty tired and lost but don’t really want anyone to know. The streets were pretty cool, but the shops mostly sold all the same tourist stuff. Almost everything said Greece on it somewhere, even the underwear. I bought an ice cream cone, though, and it didn’t say anything on it at all, and Laynni bought a new hat. I think it was because so much sun had been shining on her head all day. She didn’t want to that to happen again, and maybe she was still a little confused. She says she’s a hat person now, but I’m not so sure. After that we walked around the streets for a really long time looking for a garbage can to put my napkin in, but they really know how to hide those suckers in Athens. Finally I found one, but was really full and I thought back to that garbage rock from before and it started to make even more sense now, but by then we had walked pretty far and it seemed like too far to go just to throw away my napkin. So I just tried to balance my napkin right on top, really careful, just so it wouldn’t fall. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, either. I just hope it stayed, at least until the garbage truck came.
Even though it was so hot we enjoyed our day in Athens. We saw some pretty amazing stuff, a lot of really big pillars, and a lot of slippery rocks all around the pillars. Those rocks were way slipperier than we expected, so a lot of people almost fell a bunch of times. We hadn’t expected that, so it was pretty cool. Altogether, like if you count the Acropolis and all the streets around and the restaurants and the metro stations and things, that may have been the most tourists we’ve seen at any site anywhere in the world. There were a lot of people at the Taj Mahal, too, but a lot of them looked like they actually lived in India, like, all the time, so I don’t think that really counts. Anyway, Athens was fun. You should go sometime.