We have spent Nickys birthday in some interesting places, two years ago it was in the rain on Fraser Island just North of Brisbane, at the start of our big lap trip. This year it was in Athens - a fascinataing place for the past 5000 years, but particularly interesting right now.
Nicky was busy at the conference so didnt have as much time to discover Athens as Stuart, but our first trip would co-incide with that for 99% of visitors to Athens, to the Acropolis rock and the world famous Parthenon. Its quite a climb to the top, 150m or so, and though we were fairly early, the crowds were building and so too was the temperature.
At the end of the second video clip, the camerawoman skillfully panned across to a hill in the background - this is Filipapos Hill, from where the next clips were shot...
Lord Elgin would not be the most popular guy in Greece, assuming he was still alive. He took the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon and sold many of them to British Museum. He claimed to have done so to protect them from the rampaging ruling Turks, who were trashing the joint. The new acropolis museum is stunning, and has an excellent, display on the top floor of the marbles around the perimeter of the parthenon, which can be seen thro the window. Most of the exhibits are plaster casts, with location of the originals on a sign underneath. The message is loud and clear.
This is an issue creating angst for the Greeks, but as we were to find out later in the trip, it doesnt take a lot to get the Greeks upset. Like those nasty Germans and French who are balking at having to work until over 65 so that thier countries can keep tipping money into Greece so that the locals can retire on big fat salaries at 50. And that is only the tip of the economic iceburg.
We just missed the first major demonstration - the day we arrived some of Nic's conference delegates were tear gassed as things got ugly. The mood was lighter when we were in Syntagma, but we couldnt help thinking that the economy might be in better shape if the lazy, tattoed, hair extensioned mongrels went back and did an honest days work rather than stopping others from doing so. It was interesting talking to waiters and people on the streets - those in the private sector were working, of course, and had very different views from those demostrating outside parliament.
We have all had mediterranean food, but here it is just the right stuff to eat. Nicky was seriously into her Haloumi, cooked cheese and Stuart went hard on the taramasalata. But that was OK as we had salad....er dripping in dressing! And the beer is vital, to keep fluids up!
It was great to catch up with our paediatric dental buddies, many from Australia. We had a ball.