13 November 2010


No, but I am back (and excuse the ancient cinema reference.)
Touched down on Wednesday evening at 930 pm, which means I had been up for 22 hours, and in the air for 14 hours. When I left the terminal in GR it was the first fresh air since I entered Eleftherios Airport (aerodromeio) outside Athens. By the way, they even have ancient statues at the airport. They turn up anywhere you dig I think.

To prove I was there, behold yours truly alongside the actual Parthenon. We both look a little worn, but it is getting better. Yes, it will take a few years (another forty at the rate they are going) but for something that's 2500 years old that's not even 2% of its age.

It is astonishing in scope, vision, mass, and form. The new Museum is a fitting and fabulous partner in revealing the life of the acropolis. The Parthenon itself is just part of the place, and in some ways less impressive than the Erectheum and the Proplylaea.

And the acropolis also includes structures on the slopes of the place, back to an enclosed spring used by the first Mycenean developers of the place. The spring is no longer accessible to the public but little shrines to Aphrodite and others have left their marks in niches in the rocks and smoky caves that are as evocative as the great buildings on top.

For a fan like me, one or even two hours is not enough. Knowing I
may not be back again, I arrived at 9 am and left after 5, including the museum.
For me, it is not only the sights, but the sensations like the bright sun and the feeling of the wind and the smell of dust. While groups, many of them each with their leader talking in wonderfully accented English, trouped endlessly about, I sampled the hard water of the one drinking fountain and sat in the little bit of shade I could find. As tourists limbered about I translated a little plaque honoring the liberation of the acropolis from the Nazis in 1942. And when I could no longer pretend to have anything left to see, I sat on the steps at the foot of the Propylaea for a long time and tried to fix in my memory as much as I could before climbing down the slope and back into the city around it.

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