(I stopped counting at the Parthenon)
I woke up around 9 am alone in Vicky's apartment. I packed my things as I have always done and put up a blog post before heading out the door to catch the train that I had come in on the night before. I went back to Monastiraki, and the place that I had left off on foot, and made the short trip to a place I have been waiting a long time to see: the acropolis, and the Parthenon.
I paid a huge 12 euros at the ticket booth, and excitedly made the climb past swarms of people. Up the hill...through the main portal...and there it was (not quite in all its glory): the Parthenon. I couldn't stop smiling and laughing to myself, to the point that I got worried about straining a muscle in my cheek. There it was, the primary example of great classical architecture--a testament not to the perfection of imperfection, but of a calculated deviation from rectalinearity and symmetry. The Parthenon deceives the viewer through slight modification of what is perceived as parallel regularity, evoking a sense of scale and rhythm beyond physical possibility. If the ancient architects wore square framed glasses and skinny ties, they might call it "distorting the grid."
Anyways, with all the hype, expectation, slides, plans, elevations, perspectives, etc...it was pretty much just like I expected it to be...except for the scaffolding, tourists and amount of unoriginal stone (the caryatids of the Erechtheon, for example, have been replaced with concrete casts).
I went around, gazing up and snapping photos. I took one photo of my shoe with the Parthenon that one of the attendants told me to delete (you can only take photos with people as subjects?). I very earnestly worked away at my phone, pretending to delete the photo...and eventually they left. I was kind of frustrated by their lack of understanding, and in a way, it spoiled the rest of my visit (a bit like my experience at Ronchamp).
I spent the rest of the day in the new acropolis museum (which I won't review here) and at the nearby Plaka market area. I bought some of the only souvenirs that I have purchased on this trip: two cheesy Marathon-Athens t-shirts. I figured it was time to expand my wardrobe a little bit.
Around 5 pm I met Vicky and her friend Zoe (and for a brief moment Stefano, who came to give my my own magic "Panathinaikos" jersey). We walked together to Kalimarmaro, the classic Olympic stadium. It was a beautiful track, and I couldn't resist the urge to hop the fence and run a "victory lap." I made it about 20 meters down the first straightaway before I had whistles and shouts close behind me. I knew that if I turned back there was no way they would let me run the rest of the lap...so I just kept going around. The security attendant cut me off on the other side of the straightaway and gave me a serious talking to. I don't think it helped that I was grinning the whole time. We walked back to the edge of the track and he told me to hop over the fence (he would follow). I hopped over, and Vicky, Zoe and I walked away very quickly. Awesome.
In the evening, I went to dinner with Vicky and some friends at a restaurant near where she lived. She, like many others before, was almost too good of a host. I went to bed well fed and excited for the coming morning. I would be going home.
04 October 2009