Sunday, 19 January 2014

Athens: Badger, Yoghurt, Hadrian

Athens, Greece

The fabled death mask of Agamemnon! Not knowing it was held at the National Archaeological Museum, it gave me a bit of a fright when I saw it. As always, seeing things you have studied at university in person is a strange experience. 

My favourite item in the museum was this little guy. We thought he looked like a badger, though archaeologists believe him to be either a hedgehog or a bear. Isn't he cute!

The acropolis. We went first thing in the morning and it was crowded with people. We could not move on some occasions when we were trapped on all sides by slowly moving bodies, mainly of middle aged fellows in brightly coloured shoes and part of a tour group, the lead of which held an umbrella or other object above their head so that the rest of the group didn't get lost. 

There was still a bit of reconstruction going on, but what was available to see was amazing - huge structures dedicated to the gods. It's interesting how religion has had such an enormous impact on architecture.

We had a snack at the Acropolis Museum's cafe. Greek yogurt. It had a very different texture than I thought it would, and not like the Greek yogurt you can buy in supermarkets.

Close up!

The Acropolis Museum had built over ruins, and you could see them through cutaway parts of the floor. They were incredibly old, and archaeologists aren't sure why they constructed rooms in such shapes and configurations.

The temple of Zeus. Emperor Hadrian was a big fan of Greek culture, and visited Athens a lot. This temple was taking far too long to be built, so he threw money at it and it was finally done. Not much remains, but it must have been a monster of a temple. 
The acropolis can be seen in the background. 

Hadrian's arch - good ol emperor Hadrian constructed this arch to brag that he had completed the temple of Zeus. Fair enough. 

For lunch we visited the flea market, which had rows and rows of stalls. We didn't go to a taverna (small Greek restaurant) like we usually did, but to a cafe. I got meatballs on rice, which was super delicious and just the right amount of spicy. Yannick, who had a view of the window, told me that a second hand street vendor outside had his gramaphone fall into his head. When I looked, he was just putting it back as though nothing had happened. 

After lunch we tried to go to both the Greek forum and the Roman forum, but they were closed. We did get to see them, though, as it was only a short fence that contained them. 

Hadrian's library. Not only did it have scrolls but it also had lecture halls for public learning. We did get to go in, but we got shooed out shortly as it was closing as well.

We stayed in a campground outside the city. We almost didn't find it, as we were sure that the website had lied because it was in a very busy and industrial part of town. But it was there, and so was a bus load of Australians. It was so hot that we had to keep our tent flap open as long as possible, even after sunset, but the Mosquitos came in and we had to sweat it out. Knowing that this was incredible heat, I said to an Australian "It's hot, ae?" and they replied "Yeah, it's boiling." Australians thought it was too hot. Ridiculous.