Return to Greece, 2016. Part One: Athens

This iAcropolis flag 07-01s the first in a series of posts about my trip to Greece, June 30-July 20, 2016 — an amazing journey of history, family and discovery. This trip builds upon the research I conducted during my previous visit in 2014; those posts can be read here.  

The Acropolis never fails to move me. Through its 2,500 year history, the structures (Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaia, and temple of Athena Nike) have stood as beacons of majesty and edifices of glory.

Acropolis, July 2016

Acropolis, July 2016

I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my Greek grandchildren to the land of their ancestors. My daughter, Kathy, joined me as she did in 2014. Last time, we took her daughters, Elli and Christine; this time we brought her older sons, Ben and Andrew.

l-r: Carol Kostakos Petranek, Kathryn Lynard, Ben Soper, Andrew Soper, July 2016

l-r: Carol Kostakos Petranek, Kathryn Lynard, Ben Soper, Andrew Soper, July 2016

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l-r: Ben Soper, Kathy Lynard, Andrew Soper, July 2016

Although it was just two years ago that I stood on these grounds, I was elated to return and absorb the spirit that radiates from every column and piece of marble. I feel the “collective unconscious” of this land (Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness); the pride of the Greek people; their triumphs, defeats and revivals.

Immersion in history is comprehending the timelessness of the human experience; connecting oneself with the whole of mankind. It is astounding and humbling–never to be dismissed or forgotten.

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Sunlight on the Acropolis; photo by Kathy Lynard, July 2016

Acropolis collage

Pure majesty, July 2016

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Old Museum on Acropolis site; July 2016

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The flag of Greece flies proudly on the Acropolis, July 2016

Greece in July is hot! I quickly learned that 40 Celsius is 104 degrees Farenheit! It doesn’t matter that the heat is dry; I found myself wilting in the sun. Rather than walk, we decided to hop on a tour bus to take us around the city — a wise and refreshing choice.

Athens is a mixture of old and new; classic and modern. The contrast of stately Grecian columns with flat, square, concrete residential buildings is glaring. Sadly, graffiti covers many statues and buildings, detracting from their elegance. Churches are everywhere, as are motorcycles. Driving in the twisting, narrow streets is a nightmare. Several times, my GPS and Google Maps were as lost as I was!

Athens City

Athens City, July 2016

Many families in all parts of Greece have apartments in Athens. Work, school, and the need to conduct business in the city has created a massive urban sprawl, radiating from the city center into the foothills.

Overlooking Athens, July 2016

Overlooking Athens, July 2016

Monastiraki Square, in the center of Athens and adjacent to the Plaka, is a lively place to spend an evening. Our friends, Gregory Kontos and Giannis Michalakakos, met us for drinks and dinner. The rooftop restaurant gave us a breathtaking view.

Drinks at dusk, Monastariki Square. l-r: Kathy Lynard, Giannis Michalakakos, Gregory Kontos, Carol Kostakos Petranek, Andrew Soper, July 2016

Drinks at dusk, Monastariki Square. l-r: Kathy Lynard, Giannis Michalakakos, Gregory Kontos, Carol Kostakos Petranek, Andrew Soper, July 2016

And just when you think it can’t get any more beautiful, night falls on the city.

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View of the Acropolis from Monastiraki Square, July 2016

 

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