Ruined

This blog entry about the events of Friday, September 01, 2006 was originally posted on September 03, 2006.

DAY 8:  Athens, center of the Greek universe for millenia, is as legendary as the Goddess of Wisdom it was named after, Athena.  The present-day capital of a civilization credited with democracy, philosophy, art, mythology, and the Olympic games, it is truly a “must-see” on any traveler’s list.  But perhaps Athens’ attractions are on too many tourists’ lists because groups come by the bus loads, almost hourly in the summer days, completely breaking the mystique that is supposed to come with a Wonder of the World.  The ruins of ancient Greece have been ruined.

The centerpiece of Athenian tourist attractions couldn’t be more prominent; towering high above the city is the iconic (and ionic) Acropolis, the epicenter of ancient Greece.  I tried to beat the crowds by starting my visit early from the south entrance by the Temple of Dionysis and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, but it didn’t seem to work.  By the time I got up the hill and through the Temple of Athena Nike, the crowds were already there (picture above).  (I blame Rick Steves for recommending everyone to go in the “shoulder season.”)  Each one was led like a herd from the front of the Parthenon — centerpiece of the Acropolis ruins — to the museum and the Erechtheion (huhuh, I said “erect”), listening to their guides answer their own questions like, “And why is this one doric instead of ionic?”  I circumvented this all with the ripped out pages of my guidebook to explain everything for me and my short attention span.  However, I immediately regret not being in a tour when those pages accidentally flew away with the wind and landed down the hill in a restricted area.

With that said, I apologize for not having my usual historical tidbits in this blog entry — but it’s a travel blog, not a history blog anyway, remember?  Like the sights of Egypt, there were so many ruins to keep track of anyway and they all started to jumble up in my mind and form one big indistinguishable brain mass, especially for my over-saturated jaded mind.  I pose a question:  Are these works of ancient Greece genuinely a wonder in most minds, or is it only because the Western World has conditioned us to think so?

Anyway, down the hill from the Acropolis was the old ancient marketplace (and present-day area for many sleeping stray dogs), the Agora (and Agora museum), also double-y ruined from wars and tourism.  Nearby were all the other sights included in the price of the Acropolis ticket, Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Olympian Zeus (also a haven for sleeping dogs).  After just one day, I had been “ruined out” with all the ancient sights — the most exciting thing was when I saw a turtle walk right into The Danger Zone of the ancient Keramikos cemetery.

Fortunately I got a break from it all when I walked passed Socrates’ prison and up the much less-crowded Hill of Muses with a spectacular view of the city.  With only a handful of people wandering near the Philopappos monument on top, I managed to just sit out undisturbed — in fact, I took a short nap.


INSPIRED BY THE MUSES and a yummy Greek salad, I head back to the Inn to gear up for my overnight ferry to Crete.  “You’re Erik,” called out a voice in an American accent.  “I recognized the shirt.  [I wasn’t going to say anything until I saw it otherwise I’d be a racist.]”

“Wow, that’s the fourth time someone’s recognized me,” I said, amazed that I’d met two New Yorkers two days in a row.

Her name was Lilit, a self-proclaimed hipster from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC — who also gave me shit for living on the Upper East Side — and her recognition of me wasn’t too impressive; she had been tipped by someone that I would be in Greece at the same time as her — in fact, we had mutual friends.  Lilit had been talking to another girl in the courtyard from Queens she’d just met until I bumped in.

“[I go away to get away from all this, and everyone here is from New York,]” Lilit said (to the best of my memory).

“Well, with that said, I have to go.  Seriously, I have a ferry to catch.”  (All this way to get shit for living on the Upper East Side, two days in a row?)

We swapped emails before I took the Metro to the ferry port at Pireaus.  Minoan Lines’ Festos Palace, a vessel that was more of a big gaudy luxury cruise ship than an ordinary “ferry”, took me across the Aegean, away from a place tainted by wars, mass tourism, and a couple of New Yorkers.






Next entry: Wandering Without The Cyclops

Previous entry: It’s All English To Me




Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “Ruined”

  • GREETINGS FROM HANIA, CRETE! Here’s another… I’m about a day behind;
    be patient!

    I’m more encouraged, the more comments I get…

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • Aw, you met Lilit. Don’t worry she gives me shit for living on the East
    side too.

    Posted by Rachel  on  09/03  at  10:29 PM


  • Crap! Totally thought I would be first!

    Sherie

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/03  at  11:14 PM


  • Hey Erik, glad to see you are out there again. I have to go and catch up
    now so I can comment properly. I did however see that you snuck a poo
    shot in already!!!

    Your Canadian Friend,
    Lisa

    Posted by Lisa  on  09/04  at  03:27 AM


  • Hey Erik,
    That picture and comment re danger zone in a cemetary has peaked my
    curiousity…..why would a cemetary be a danger zone?
    Hope you are enjoying yourself as much as I am reading each entry!
    Rose

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/04  at  05:09 AM


  • Amazing photos as per usual! But I must say the key word for this entry
    is “jaded.” I got the feeling you didn’t really enjoy being there?

    Posted by Janice  on  09/04  at  05:49 AM


  • Hey, at least you weren’t called a “loser” again! smile

    Dude! Your photostream is jumping so far ahead of your blog!

    Seriously, hope the tourists didn’t take away the full experience of
    seeing those structures in person.

    Posted by Oogy  on  09/04  at  05:55 AM


  • Lilit gives me shit too about living in Manhattan! I wonder who you will
    run into next.

    Kathryn

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/04  at  06:20 AM


  • Bah - all Williamsburgers think they’re cooler than everyone else. Jerks.

    Posted by Ryan Dunlavey  on  09/04  at  08:36 AM


  • Wow, so many tourists! Was that a tourist walking through the cemetary
    that was off limits?

    Posted by Dan 3  on  09/04  at  03:17 PM


  • Q: Are these works of ancient Greece genuinely a wonder in most minds,
    or is it only because the Western World has conditioned us to think so?

    A: There is no “wonderment” in my mind of ancient Greece, rather I’m
    wondering why those Williamsburgers are all jerks still. Zeus ain’t shit.

    Posted by markyt  on  09/04  at  04:40 PM


  • Here’s a little Acropolis story for you. When I was there in 2002, I was
    walking down a quiet side street - alone - trying to find the entrance.
    I was flashed by a Greek guy who was, uh, pleasuring himself. It was
    really gross at the time (but it’s kind of funny now). My greek
    phrasebook didn’t list what to say to a flasher/masturbator. Does yours?
    I think I yelled “EEW!”

    I can’t wait to see how you liked Crete. I’ve never been there. I’ve
    been to a bunch of the cyclades and dodecanese islands.

    Have some Ouzo or Mythos for me. Mythos is sometimes a little skunky,
    but it’s not bad!

    Posted by sara  on  09/04  at  06:19 PM


  • GREETINGS FROM HANIA, CRETE! I just did the Samaria Gorge trek today…
    I’m exhausted. I’m behind two days on the blog but I aim to have them up
    within the next 12 hours.

    BTW, thanks for keeping up; my counter reads over 17,000 hits on the
    TG&B blog alone so far!

    Now some A’s to your Q’s:

    ROSE: Danger = death? I dunno.

    JANICE: Jaded is right. But it’s not that I didn’t enjoy being there; I
    still did get that “wow, I’m at the acropolis” feeling.

    DAN3: No, only a small section was labeled “The Danger Zone” for
    renovation or something. Perhaps the sign was only there for turtles.

    SARA: I’ve heard a similar story from Tracy, when she was on the
    islands. Keep your snakes on the plane, guys. BTW, I’ve had at least two
    Mythos since I’ve been here, and I’m slowly transitioning into daily
    doses of ouzo. OHPAA!

    ON THE SUBJECT OF WILLIAMSBURG:
    For those who aren’t in the NYC area, Williamsburg is a neighborhood in
    Brooklyn that used to be cool for its population of writers and artists,
    who set many “hip” trends—like the big Aviator sunglasses trend,
    funky hairdos, etc. Williamsburg was (arguably) cool about 5-6 years
    ago, but word got around that Williamsburg was the cool place to be, so
    all these 1981er wannabe “hipsters” from all over American suburbia
    decided to move there and label themselves as “hipsters”—only it has
    become played out and contrived. (Someone truly hip and avant-garde
    wouldn’t label him/herself a “hipster.”)

    Nowadays, these hipsters of pseudo-hipness represent the counter-culture
    movement of NYC, and they hate everything for pretty much no reason.
    Most particularly, they hate anyone who is not from Williamsburg. All
    they do is brag about how they live in Williamsburg, thinking it will
    give them some sort of street cred, and about how everything is better
    in Williamsburg—even 5,000 miles away in Athens. It is not a
    Brooklyn/Manhattan rivalry per se; in my circle of friends (including
    those who live in Williamsburg), most people think the hipsters are
    pretty annoying.

    Fuck em.

    (Retorts and support welcome.)

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • Absolutely. Fuck em! and those 1981ers and a younger (exceptions to
    those are not on my shit list)

    Posted by markyt  on  09/04  at  10:42 PM


  • Lilit’s and 82er…..

    Posted by Rachel  on  09/04  at  11:12 PM


  • Williamsburgers? Seriously? You do know that most of the people in my
    ‘hood are vegans, right?

    That said, let’s all stop arguing about the inane intricacies of New
    York City geography. We can sure be some provincial bastards, can’t we?

    Posted by Lilit Marcus

  • LILIT: Agreed; it wouldn’t be New York without it. smile

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • Erik - I’m glad you did feel some wonderment, even if you did feel a bit
    jaded. I was going to ask the same question, as I can only imagine what
    it would be like to be in the places where so many things have happened.
    The same thing I felt when in Angkor Thom, for sure - just the age and
    history behind things…

    Those arguments about ‘hoods happen in LA and SF too - whatevs.

    Posted by tallgirl

  • That’s not true Llit! I am from there and LOVE BEEF and turtles…

    Posted by bil Chamberlin

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This blog post is one of twenty-five travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Tomatoes, Grease & Beer" (originally hosted by Blogger.com), which chronicled a trip to Spain's wild Tomatina festival, Greece's awe-inspiring islands, and Munich's world-renowned Oktoberfest in August/September 2006.

Next entry:
Wandering Without The Cyclops

Previous entry:
It’s All English To Me




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1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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