My 26th birthday was spent at sea in the middle of the Mediterranean heading for Athens, Greece. I don’t know any better way of spending a birthday than exploring Italy and Greece. I really had no complaints and felt completely numb to the fact that I am no longer 25 years old.
I have been dying to go to Athens for so many years now, especially having learned and studied the history and architecture of so many ancient iconic buildings upon Acropolis. Acropolis means a city on a hill, therefore, there are many more Acropolis’ but this is THE main and well-known Acropolis.
We all gathered on a bus and made our first stop to the changing of the guards which was in front of the Parliament building where Athens President lives, though the President is not the important one in their government system – the Prime Minister is. The guards stood and guarded the grave of an unknown solider who represented all of the soldiers who had died in war but had not been found of discovered. Every hour, they change guards and two new guards take on a shift but to change is quite a process. Their outfits were really interesting. They wore a pleated kaki colored skirt, with about 400 folds. It took the soldiers hours to iron each pleat. Their outfits have to be perfect. Their top was kaki as well and they wore long white socks with shoes that looked like Swedish clogs with a huge red pom pom on the tip of their toes. The backside of their socks had a long black tassel. They had another tassel attached to their flat kaki cap. The whole culture of the procedure was really neat. While we waited for the changing of the guards, there was a bird whisperer who handed me a handful of bird food and before I knew it, pigeons attacked me and landed on every inch of my hands and arms pecking the food out from my hands. It was crazy! I was sure that I’d be foaming at the mouth by night.
Our next stop was to a very beautiful Greek cemetery. Our tour guide was perfect; she was as Greek as they come. She was very tan and had olive skin color dark hair, the thickest Greek accent and was adorned in nothing but gold Greek jewelry. All of her necklaces and bracelets had the pattern of the Greek Key, which symbolized eternity and life after death. Greeks are very interested and large believers of life after death and they muse over the fact that life should be celebrated and that you should always continue to look forward and never look backwards. Each meal at night is more of a celebration with large amounts of food and wine and they don’t eat their supper until around 10 pm so that the whole family can be together. It’s beautiful, their way of life.
While in the cemetery, dark clouds starting to roll in and she informed us that Greek’s believe when it storms it’s Zeus and his wife Hera fighting and having a quarrel. That was my favorite fact of the day and I’ll always remember that when a storm rolls in. Greek history is so fascinating to me and I love learning about all of the Gods & goddesses as well as the Greek philosophers. I wish I could time travel and live just one day during those times.
Our final and favorite stop was to Acropolis, the city on the hill home to the Dancers & the Parthenon. On the walk up to the city, there were olive trees covering the sidewalks forming a canopy and there were smashed olives all over the streets. I loved it. I knew olives were Greek but I didn’t expect it to be all over and be such a distinct detail of Athens. I wanted to pick them off of the trees so bad but was fearful they’d be poisonous so I waited until lunch to order a Greek salad.
Acropolis was even more beautiful and unreal than I had imagined it to be. The wind was roaring and everything surrounding you including the ground you walked on was made of straight marble. Everything was marble and everything was exquisite. I was surprised by the Dancer columns, as I thought they’d be a lot larger and taller but they were still so beautiful and the Parthenon blew me away. It was the most incredible structure I have ever seen and also is the oldest piece of architecture in the world that dates back before Christ. It was unbelievable. The Parthenon is my favorite and I for sure love it more than the Coliseum. That’s how incredible it was.
After Acropolis, we went down into the town and shopped and ate our first Greek meal. I ordered fried feta cheese, a gryo and a greek salad. Zeke is partial to Greek food, but I think I love it. Oh yeah, we also ordered a tiziki sauce, which trumps the tiziki sauces in the states. It was so thick and creamy and is so amazing just dipped with white bread. I want to start making these foods at home, especially the Greek salad. Zeke and I finally found and purchased some Greek sculptural head busts. I have been waiting to purchase these forever and we ended up buying two. We bought Apollo & his twin sister who’s name I cant remember but it is written on the sculpture.
Overall, Athens has to be one of my favorite stops. The whole city was so enchanting. I can’t believe I can say, that I have seen the Parthenon. I am so so lucky.