Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Walk in Athens

It's Thursday and my spring break is mostly over.  I'm a little bitter about it - for the first time in a very long time I haven't gone anywhere, and instead, am supervising my students in a service project.  I was going to take them to Greece this year, but it didn't pan out, and I have no money to go elsewhere because I spent it all going to the NAEA conference in Chicago last month.  So here I am.
My darling brats were asking about the blog today (they found out about it because of last year's trip), and in an attempt to feel slightly less bitter about my lack of vacation, I decided to relive last fall's trip while pretending I'm there now.  Basically it's impossible to get too much Greece.  You might gain 10 pounds and come back with olive oil spots on your clothes, but you will always come back for more.  Or maybe that's just me?  At any rate, I convinced Engrish and Five that gallivanting amongst ancient ruins was a great thing to do in October, and away we went.
I've been to Greece many times since the first, in 2007, but this was only my second trip up the Acropolis.  Unfortunately the main facade of the Parthenon had scaffolding on it for some maintenance, but the porch of the Caryatids has always been my favorite, anyways.  It was super hot, even early on an October morning, and sweat was dripping off my hair by the time we were on top, so after a good look around we headed back down into Monastiraki where we got coffee, coke, or ice cream (depending on which of us we're talking about).
Monastiraki is great for shopping and food, and we did a little of both - including taking Engrish to buy sandals from Melissinos, the poet sandal maker of Athens (yes, that's a thing, and his sandals are the best) before heading back to my favorite hotel.  The Evripides Hotel seems like it's in sketchy neighborhood but trust me, it's actually fine.  I've stayed there several times on my own.  Along the way we got to see one of my favorite things about Athens - its awesome street art.
I actually made Engrish and Five go down this alley with me later when it was dark; I was hoping all those lamps would be lit up.  Sadly, they were not, and they really figured out what I meant when I said that our neighborhood felt sketchy when it was dark and no one was around.  After a little rest at the Evripides, we went back for more.
I led them past Plaka and over to visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus before it closed for the night.  I love the openness of the area and that you can see the hills all around (including Lykkabetos Hill, the Hill of the Wolves, which I thought would have been a good place to visit since that's our school mascot, but we just didn't have time.  There aren't any wolves actually there, but the view is killer, especially at sunset).  We walked through the national gardens and then headed into Plaka, for yet more shopping and wandering before ending up at Stamatopolous, another fave of bygone days.
It took me some work to dredge up that name.  The first time I can to Athens, Mariette and I went looking for music and food and found this taverna, which was at the foot of the Acropolis and served us a free shot of ouzo.  The three of us were offered that and other treats throughout the trip at the restaurants we ate at - we were also given a complimentary platter of fresh fruits, which - being expensive and of a limited selection here in Mongolia - we devoured with more enthusiasm even than the baklava, let alone the ouzo.

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