Fw: Athens Saturday 16 July 2011, Epidavros Sunday 17 July
Fri 22 Jul 2011 15:17
37:59 N 23:44 E
2 nights and one whole day to do Athens! We had been warne off of Athens because of the danger of riots, but found it surprisingly quiet and suburban. Like everywhere we have been, the restaurants and hotels are not full, we met one Canadian family whinging like mad about poor value in the tourist restaurants. And Sandy’s camera has gone, we think stolen from the car by the lad who cleaned our windscreen.
But it wasnt all bad! We could see the Parthenon from our room (just) and had a great time exploring the real thing. Parthenon means Temple of Virgins. It is dedicated to Athena Parthenos. The friezes have all been removed – many of them to Britain (Lord Elgin is mightily unpopular here), and the remaining ones are in the Acropolis museum. The friezes depict Athena and Poseidon having a competition set up by Zeus, to see who could give the best gift to the Greek people. Poseidon wanted to give them weapons, but Athena produced an olive tree and Zeus said this was the best because it would make the Greeks prosperous (they got that wrong then). So Athena won and Athens was named after her.
Dinner in the tiny street cafe opposite our pension was interesting. It is owned by Marcos, a half Greek half Egyptian, with his wife and little son, and they did a really good job of making us feel welcome, in contrast to the rather aggressive attitude in the touristy restaurants. While we were eating there was a lot of shouting and arm waving in the street, between this cafe and the one opposite, and 2 heavy looking chaps came and sat down at our cafe and looked menacing. I went back into our hotel and asked the night porter what it was all about, and I gather the big chaps are a sort of mafia that make sure the restaurant gets custom, and protects their touting territory.
Next day it was off early, heading for Pelopponese to Epidavros. This is not far from Athens, and seems to be a popular weekend trip for Athenians. They host an arts festival at the ancient Epidavros Amplitheatre, so we went to a performance. The show was described as “a mixture of Greek tragedy and comedy, with a modern twist”. The costumes, choreography, stage setting and music were fantastic, but it was basically a play consisting of a series of sketches, and we didnt get a single word of it. The chap next to us was roaring with laughter so it was obviously very good!