Night Location - Athens
A Muse of the Day: We now have confirmation that David is an international spy. How? When asked during our escape the room challenge, "Are you ok with handcuffs?" David instantly replied, "Yes."
We awoke this morning feeling greatly refreshed and headed down to breakfast. The breakfast was an impressive spread, complete with waffle making machine that Gareth and Gemma mastered. It will be utilised again tomorrow.
David booked us a private tour of the Agora and the Acropolis and so we set off very thankful that we are in Athens in September and not July as it was still quite hot. The Agora was the hub of life in Athens with both retail and parliamentary precincts. It was fascinating to learn that politicians were randomly selected and only in office for one year. No tax payer funded election campaigns. Every citizen was required to take part in parliament. It should be noted that this meant only 5% of the population, as participants had to be citizens who were over 30, residents of Athens and males who were not slaves.
Thanks to the Rockefeller family for recreating the Stoa of Attalos, the local shopping arcade. This really helped with perspective as imagination becomes limited after a certain number of foundation stones.
The Agora looks up to the Temple of Hephaestus, the best preserved temple in Greece. Here we learnt the difference between Doric and Ionian columns, and that Greeks keep the more ornate columns for the interior. Interestingly, the number of the columns on the length of the temple is equal to double the number on the width, plus one. As Gareth would say: L=2W+1.
Gemma and Amber were a little daunted when the guide kept mentioning our 'stroll' up to the Acropolis, which essentially from the bottom looked like a cliff face. It didn't help that Gareth and David had been joking earlier about rock climbing and handholds. It was a surprisingly easy walk and provided great views over the city below. Gareth and Gemma climbed over a rocky outcrop that marked the Supreme Court. This is where St Paul spoke to the Athenians in the 1st Century AD.
The Acropolis has had quite an interesting history. It was first a fortress and then converted into a place of worship where the goddess Athena presided over the city. Myth has it that Athena and Poseidon competed to be the patron of the city by offering gifts to the original kings of the city. Athena planted an olive tree, while Poseidon struck the rock with his trident so that water would pour out. The water was salty and therefore not useful, so Athena won the privilege. A temple to worship Athena sat in front of the Parthenon. The Parthenon itself was not a temple or place of worship at all. It was simply the place that was used to store the gold and treasure of Athena and therefore the city.
After Athens came under Roman rule, the Parthenon was converted to a Christian church complete with bell tower. Following this the Ottomans converted the Christian church into a mosque complete with spinneret. The Ottomans initially used the gatehouse as a gunpowder storage facility, this was struck by lightening and exploded so they then used the Parthenon as the new storage facility, and this too was blown up when the Acropolis was under attack.
After 3.5 hours in the sun, we were ready for a cold drink and a lie down. We instead went to the Acropolis museum. Our first stop was the restaurant where we discovered the Cappucino Freddo, the 'in' drink of Athens. Incredible! The museum itself is brilliantly done and the entire top floor is created in the exact orientation of the Parthenon where you can walk around and see what remains of the friezes. For the others... see the British Museum. Still quite controversial and interesting to hear the Greek side of the story.
Feeling amazingly educated we returned to our hotel and to the pool where we could look up at what we had climbed.
Today being Gareth's birthday, he had an elaborate game planned for the afternoon in what is called an 'Escape Room.' We have been instructed not to go into too much detail but let's just say that it involved handcuffs, physics and 16 locks. We have just made the long 20m 'trek' from our room to the hotel rooftop where a fabulous meal was enjoyed with the Acropolis in the background.