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Lawrence Kesteloot (Sunday, July 27, 2003)

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, cute alleyways, 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.

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