Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Acropolis, Acrobatics Athens, Greece, Sunday, 27 December 2009 11:17pm

We spent most of today walking. We did a walking tour that took us by the ruins of several ancient sites and Byzantine churches, and then visited the Acropolis.

One of the things that never comes across in pictures of these sites is how enormous they are. Even though I'm used to moving in cities where there are much larger structures, they don't have the same sense of scale. Being next to something big and solid like a skyscraper or a mountain doesn't give the same feeling as having tall columns with lots of air space between them. There's no sense that you're in the middle of the enormity.

Temple of Olympian Zeus
Some of the sites, like the temple of Olympian Zeus were pleasantly uncrowded, but the Acropolis itself was quite busy. If this is what it's like in low season, I can see why the guidebooks suggest visiting at off hours in high season. The New Acropolis Museum was also mobbed, but that might have been because we were visiting just after the Acropolis closed, so most of the people who'd just been shooed off the hill were arriving at the same time.

The museum gave a pretty good idea of what the Acropolis might have looked like in its prime, and detailed the disasters that had befallen it and marred it (early Christian Iconoclasts, Venetian cannonballs, British antiquities hunters, and Turkish gunpowder, combined with a great deal of straightforward neglect and air pollution).

We stumbled across the Academy of Athens later in the evening, which I suspect gives an even better idea of it because you can see sculptures in place and the decorations have color in them (as the originals at the Acropolis did).

Acro Academy
Before we left the US, Tinny had contacted a woman named Kate from Metafilter, who was planning a trip to Athens in the same timeframe as ours. We met up with her for dinner at an asian noodle bar and wandered around eating macarons. She somehow found out that Tinny was an acrobat, so we taught her some tricks on the steps of the Academy. She's a pretty talented first-time flyer. We managed to not drop anybody onto the marble!