Tag Archives: Greece

Athena – City of the Gods

Greece, better know to the Greeks themselves as Hellas or Ellada (Greek: Ελλάς, Ελλάδα). Here we start our journey in Athens, named for Athena the patron Goddess of this ancient city, with a history that dates back to a first settlement of  situated on the rock of the Acropolis in 3000 BC. The ancient ruins however largely date back only as far as the 4th century BC due to the ravages of time, earthquakes, military conquests, and the vandalism of early Christians.

Ilissos Hotel Lobby

So stepping off the plane into 48 degree heat (that’s X for those primitive Americans out there) was a bit of a shock as I’d been chipping ice off my windscreen the morning I left home. Thankfully the hotel was air-conditioned or the trip may have ended right there.

The streets of Athens are an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new, modern roads, internet cables overhead, and in the distance  the Acropolis or Hadrian’s Arch peaking out from behind some trees.

Of course one of the first things you’ve got to do when stepping into a new city is try the food. The very first of course, and as soon as possible after 42 hours in transit, is get in a shower. So two of our first stops were the Fruit Market where we would get the nicest fruit we would find all trip, and the Meat & Fish Market where a spruker almost ended the trip early by giving the mum-in-law a heart-attack. Sadly no photos of that moment.

So the first meal of the trip was, in fine Greek tradition, souvlaki. Now having grown up in Sydney in an area with a large Greek population souvlaki was no stranger to me, I was however travelling with the two fussiest eaters on the planet so after many suggestions and rejections I ordered them meat-on-a-stick and gave them its name later. Thankfully the waitress could speak English, as my brief childhood exposure to Greek had in no way prepared me to speak the lingo.

Euro-Trip 2012, a Wyrd Aussie in Europe

“Adventure? What sort of adventure?” I hear you mutter to yourself down the pipeline of the internet, and I mutter in turn “buggered if I know”. All two meters of me is going to be folded into a tiny airline seat like a human sardine, and then the distinctly un-aerodynamic looking metal tube will be flung violently from continent to continent with an underbelly full of highly explosive dinosaur extract.

Economy Class

Economy Class

From the moment I set foot on this winged technological death-trap, the ‘adventure’ starts, and it looks tragically bad. A tragedy worth of the bard himself, should he have lived to this modern age without creeping senility; and be so hard up for a quid that he’d need to churn out another truly trashy play. Surely if man was meant to fly we’d be able to mate with seagulls… hmm… somebody look into that. Romeo and Ethel the seagull, I feel a Pulitzer prize coming on.

In a few days I do the white-middle-class rite of passage, I get on to a plane and schlep around Europe for a few weeks. I will look down upon these quaint provincials and proclaim how modern and wonderful the world is where I come from, with our high tech communications, long working hours, lack of vacation time, stress induced breakdowns, and death due to obesity and sedentary lifestyle.  In turn, as they do with 10’s of thousands of school leavers taking their gap year, the locals will stare at me, wonder why this barbarian doesn’t speak a civilized language, and then bilk me for every penny they can. It is a long and honorable tradition.

The flip side is that I haven’t  been a teenager for almost 20 years, and I’ll have my wife and elderly mother in tow. This kind of precludes drug fueled orgies in Ibiza, and extreme skiing, so we’re doing the whole ‘cradle of western civilization’ thing, and sticking mainly to Greece and Italy. As this little pressure cooker may result in a vacation-triggered divorce from which I may need to slink back to the anonymity of Korea to work (and these days they test for both THC and transmittable diseases [1]), there is no point going to Amsterdam.

Still… drug fueled Ibiza orgies 😦

So hopefully I’ll be able to blog the saga… as long as nothing overly incriminatory comes to light, such as the last place my wife and mother-in-law were seen alive.

Last Stop

[1] It is obvious that demon, white-skinned, teachers are polluting South Korea with drugs and AIDS… even if all the dealers are natives, and sex ed is a joke. Of course as all the evidence shows that abstinence only sex ed only ever leads to increasing teen pregnancies, so maybe it is all a government plot to boost the chronically low birth rate.