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