Sept 6th, 2016
We said goodbye to Ireland and boarded a flight to Tel Aviv, with a long layover in Athens. Our window was from 6:05AM – 4:30PM so we emailed Athens Free Walking Tours the day before (procrastinators) and fortunately for us they replied within an hour. Two available tours that day lasting roughly 2.5hrs. starting at 9:30AM, fitting perfectly into our layover window…even when our flight was delayed and arrived more than two hours late.
We checked our carry-on bags at the Athens Airport with Left Luggage by Pacific Travel, jumped on to the Metro to Monastraki Station (45 minutes) and thanks to our Downloaded and SAVED google map of Athens we were able to navigate the small jigsaw streets of the city. And we arrived at the walking tour meet-up point just as it was about to begin 🙂
The following consists of:
1) Notes I managed to jot down as our well-informed, history enthusiast tour guide took us around the city. These notes have NOT been fact-checked. I have slow penmanship and I hate asking anyone to repeat themselves, so I realize that summarizing what I may have heard isn’t always 100% accurate.
2) Quotes from one of Siobhan’s favorite movies, which thus far had been one of our only points of reference for modern Greece. These quotes have absolutely nothing to do with the photos they’ve been inserted next to. I’ll let you figure out the title.
- Church of Panagia Kapnikarea, 11th or 12th century, one of the oldest churches in Athens
“Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”
- Hadrian = the coolest Roman emperor. Loved and respected Greeks so much that he tried to change the capitol of the Roman empire to Athens. First to rock the greek beard. Considered third of the “five good emperors”. Hadrian’s Library marks the beginning of the end for the Roman Empire. His Greek lover was a boy, which may be why he isn’t talked about.
“You know, the root of the word Miller is a Greek word. Miller come from the Greek word “milo,” which is mean “apple,” so there you go. As many of you know, our name, Portokalos, is come from the Greek word “portokali,” which mean “orange.” So, okay? Here tonight, we have, ah, apple and orange. We all different, but in the end, we all fruit.”
- Athenians were basically pirates in 15th century BC. With the Best navel fleet they went around to the islands charging for protection
“I had to go to Greek school, where I learned valuable lessons such as, “If Nick has one goat and Maria has nine, how soon will they marry?”
- The Greek Marketplace (agora) coined as the birthplace of democracy, judicial system, and monetary system (Greek coins from 6th Century BC were found in Egypt)
“There are two kinds of people – Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.”
- Temple of Hephaestus is the most well-preserved temple in all of Greece
“You better get married soon. You’re starting to look… old!”
- Mars Hill (or the Areopagus), where Paul preached (paraphrasing) “There are many temples here, even one dedicated to ‘the unknown god’. I’m here to follow Jesus, the unknown god and only god.” He converted only three people then was beat up and kicked out of Athens. Also the site of a higher court that held the trial of Ares, god of war, for killing Poseidon’s son.
“Now, you are family. Okay. All my life, I had a lump at the back of my neck, right here. Always, a lump. Then I started menopause and the lump got bigger from the “hormonees.” It started to grow. So I go to the doctor, and he did the bio… the b… the… the bios… the… b… the “bobopsy.” Inside the lump he found teeth and a spinal cord. Yes. Inside the lump was my twin.”
- A lot of young Greeks today are staunch communist supporters because the other governments they’ve had have failed. Our guide argued that we’ve also seen communism fail many times and history shows it doesn’t work.
“My dad believed in two things: That Greeks should educate non Greeks about being Greek and every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex.”
- The Acropolis was for the wealthy and high priests. Some think it was a bank that housed pirate protection money which was called a gift to Athena. Within the Acropolis, the Erechtheion Temple is most important site despite its size.
Nick-“Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become” Toula – ” Nick thats beautiful” Nick – ” yeah that dear Abby really knows what she’s talking about.”