My feet are swollen and throbbing, so yeah, an eventful day today.
We started out bright and early on the Metro to the National Archaeological Museum. There, we saw the artifacts and death masks (including the famous “Mask of Agamemnon”) found on Minoan Crete. We moved through the ages, from Mycenaean to Classical Greece, through their reliefs and statues.
It is so odd to actually see the things you read about in your textbooks. I recognized a pot today that I remember from my Ancient World class’s Art History textbook, and it blew my mind a little bit.
After the museum, we took the Metro again to another stop, where we watched the changing of the guard–an elaborate, serious affair with lots of unnecessary but ceremonial leg movements.
We then walked for what seemed like forever to a large square and I got a sandwich for lunch. We shopped for a short while before trekking to the Agora, which was the center for political life as well as marketplace for Athenians. We saw where Athenians would do business, conduct democracy, and socialize; in addition, we saw the Temple of Hephaestus and its replicated accompanying garden. We saw a spot at which Socrates would stand and lecture. The Agora was also where it was decided he would be sentenced to death.
Afterwards, we walked back up the hill of the Acropolis to our hotel, and I napped before dinner (much needed). Then we ate at a restaurant where some dude was giving us flowers and I thought it was a scam thing, like on the street, turns out the restaurant owner gave us all roses and I was being an ass saying “NO DON’T GIVE ME YOUR FLOWER.”
After dinner we had a drink and sat next to a wonderful trumpet player on the street. A dog adopted us (he’s been named Argos, Cerberus, and Jack) and barked at anyone that came by. I love the strays here in Athens. They’re friendly, well-fed, and apparently loyal. It was sad to say goodbye to Jack/Cerberus/Argos.
My feet are still killing me, and the thought of the beach at Aegina tomorrow is keeping me going. Bed time now!
Fun facts for today:
1. When the Persians destroyed Athens, the Athenians defaced funeral reliefs, flattened them out, to make them fit when they rebuilt the walls. In addition, sometimes statues were used as bricks for masonry, like in this picture, and you can see the sculpted drapery that’s unlike the other stones.
2. There were 7 times as many bronze statues as marble ones, but bronze is more easily melted down and recycled, so more marble statues are found.
3. The only god represented without a beard is Apollo–he is pictured having eternal youth–but at times Dionysos is pictured as a younger, un-bearded man.
4. On the Temple of Hephaestus, a relief depicts a scene from a myth where a woman is pursued by Poseidon, and she requests to be turned into an invincible male warrior in exchange for Poseidon’s affections. She (now he, named Caeneus) is, and centaurs end up ramming him into the ground like a nail into wood because he is immortal and can’t be killed like a normal human.
5. Through the streets of Athens, restaurants have employees who stand near the street and yell at passersby to try to convince them to come into their restaurant.
6. In Greece, you don’t flush toilet paper. You ball it up and put it in a trash can because the sewer system isn’t equipped for it.