Guns and Frocks

Loving Delta and the Bannermen since 1987

Strike two

Monday, 17 March 2008

Today is my last day in Athens, and my last day in Europe. I’m leaving tomorrow morning at 9 am to fly to Tokyo via London, where I’ll meet up with Calvin.

Yesterday was another beautiful day, hot and sunny: for the first time, I shed the jacket completely. I decided to head up to the Acropolis again. This time I started with the excavations on the south side and the Theatre of Dionysus. Then up to the Acropolis itself.

It was still spectacular. It was Monday, and entry was no longer free, so it was less crowded. I took a couple more pictures, but basically just tried to memorise the place as much as I could. This time I noticed that from the Erichtheion you could see the Ancient Agora and its amazingly intact temple of Hephaistos. I also saw a lump of rock nearby which people were clambering on, and suspected that I knew what it must be. I headed towards the exit.

Before I got there, I ran into the American students again. They’d been having fun, and were getting ready to leave the next day.

The lump of rock had a plaque on it quoting the chapter of the Book of Acts where Saint Paul preaches to the Greeks about a God previously unknown to them. This was the Areopagus. I wandered up, marvelling at its slipperiness and wondering if there were as many beer bottles there in Paul’s day. I saw the American students again, but climbed down before they saw me: it would have been ridiculous to say goodbye to them for a fourth time.

Closeup of a bronze plaque set into a stone surface. The plaque is inscribed with Greek capital letters.

I went through the Ancient Agora, and walked around the temple of Hephaistos. They have little tortoises here, like the one that killed Aeschylus. I emerged from the agora into a fabulously cool street, full of roadside cafes where attractive young people were playing backgammon and drinking that scary frothy Greek coffee. I vaguely decided to come back and eat here that night.

Souvlaki for lunch: the best thing I’ve eaten since Italy. Then the National Archaeological Museum for the afternoon. Had a happy time looking at all that gold Schliemann dug up in Mycenae, and spent quite a while looking at the Neolithic artifacts. By the time I reached the  fantastic ceramics rooms on the top floor, my knees and ankles had had enough, and I didn’t do more than a cursory tour.

It was dark and overcast when I left the museum, but not yet time for dinner, so I walked back to the cafes near the Ancient Agora. It was quite dark when I got there, and the bookshop I’d spotted earlier had no books in English, and it was too dark to read at any of the cafes anyway, so I decided to head back. Not before seeing the Acropolis all magnificently lit up, though. I tried to take a photo, but it was dark and the camera’s a Sony, which means that I can’t work out how to change any of its settings.

There was a notice at Thissio station, which looked like it said there would be a train strike for the next 36 hours. When I got to Omonia station, there was an English announcement that confirmed it.

So, no trains today. I can’t face the buses, frankly, and so I’m stuck doing things within walking distance. That might mean another trip to the Archaeological Museum to take a proper look at the pottery and a trip to the Kerameikos. Or it might mean dicking around on the internet and drinking at the pub next to the hotel. Let’s see, shall we?