We had expected Athens to be a large,
polluted, overcrowded city, but, as in Rome, we were pleasantly surprised.
They're hosting the 2004 summer Olympics, so I suspect there has been
a lot of cleaning up, not to mention the construction of a nice
subway and Englification of everything. It was the end of our
trip and we were too tired to do much more than the obligatory tourist
things, which worked out well because our hotel room was literally
on the roof of the building, and sitting
on our bed we could leave the door open and
see the Parthenon.
The Parthenon is on top of the
Acropolis, a plateau visible from anywhere in the city. It's
amazing and under reconstruction. We also went to the
Archealogical Museum to see endless
ancient artifacts. I'll
spare you the hundreds of pictures we took of everything. The
museum allowed pictures, but didn't allow "posing" with the
artifacts (out of respect, apparently). So we have a lot of
pictures of us standing nearby artifacts, looking uninterested.
Mostly, though, we walked around aimlessly. We visited the
Agora, the large area in the shadow of the Acropolis that used
to be a market and still has many squares and restaurants,
goats on sticks,
outdoor markets, etc.
We couldn't understand why people, women especially, were dressed
in black and in long dresses and shirts. It took us a couple days
to realize that we were there at the end of lent, right at Easter
(celebrated in Greece a different day than in France, where we'd
been for its Easter just weeks before). One night we got caught
up in a midnight vigil. Very nice.
The day after Easter all the miniskirts came out. That's more
the Greece we were expecting!
The travel guide (and numerous signs) told us to not put toilet
paper in the toilet. Apparently the pipes in the Greek sewage system
are too narrow and toilet paper clogs them up. You're supposed to
place toilet paper in the trash. I'm curious to see what'll happen
during the Olympics.