|FERRY ARRIVING IN PAROS. ROUGHLY 30 DEGREES, BLISS|
My reading diet from about age 8 to 16 included a significant amount of classical mythology and history, in one form or another. I originally intended to complete a second major in classical studies and took a variety of classics papers in my first year at university (this was before I fell down the rabbit hole of studying law – a story involving not knowing where to go to get course confirmation, meeting an awesome girl who did know and happened to be signing up for law and being embarrassed to say to a room full of potential doctors, dentists and lawyers that I was *just* studying for a BA. Yeah, good reasons hey?). I’m not ashamed to admit I also saw ‘300’. Also, I studied in New Orleans for three weeks with a Greek guy who was a complete crack-up and who loved to drink and tell dirty jokes. I figured that I’d get on fine in modern Greek culture too, if he was anything to go by. Anyway, whatever the source, I had really high expectations for Greece and experiencing the ruins of classical Greek culture.
So yeah, arriving at the Acropolis was a dream for me. Despite the heat, the hordes of tourists, the cameras and “photo-ops”, I transported myself a few thousand years with absolute ease. It was outstandingly beautiful. The Acropolis museum was also amazing, enough detail without overkill and a collection of treasures that made my heart happy. Fantastic.
My NOLA-Greek mate wasn’t in town, but he’d sent us a list of places to visit and I must heartily thank him for his recc of the rooftop bar at the A for Athens Hotel. Sure, the drink prices were eyewateringly expensive, but it had an uninterrupted view of the sunset beside the Acropolis. The Parthenon reflected the most beautiful colours as the sun sank.
|THIS IS BASICALLY THE ONLY PICTURE I TOOK OF THE MAGICAL ROOF TOP SUNSET MOMENT. A STINKING BIG NEGRONI, SOME DUDE'S BALDING HEAD AND A BLURRY ACROPOLIS BACKGROUND. MUST HAVE BEEN 'IN THE MOMENT'.|
The Cyclades were full of sub-25 year old Australians looking to get shitfaced. Who’d’ve thunk it? The weather was amazing, the water warm, the scenery beautiful and the prices generally right: absolutely asking for an invasion of morons on their OE (including this girl, obv). We avoided most of the really heinous sinkholes advertising “treats” like jam doughnut shots or cheesecake cocktails and enjoyed our time immensely. Paros was fabulous – Dina’s Hotel was a steal on a mid-range budget and oh so beautiful in a white-washed, blue-appointed way. Santorini was dramatic but completely over-touristed. It was overt that a building boom had ceased some time ago – much like Ireland, empty, half completed dwellings were everywhere. I’m truly grateful we didn’t bother with Mykonos or Ios – I know people say that they’re beautiful and I’m sure they are, but the fact of the matter is that people go there to get blind drunk and take pills and hook up. F that.
The Olympics were on when we were in Greece. P and I spent several evenings watching the coverage in Greek on the big screen outside some beer-serving chip shop with big fans and a bunch of old dudes in Athens. The old guys worked out we were Kiwis and got raucously supportive of our athletes when they made it on screen, clapping us on the back. On one notable day, we watched several Kiwi rowers win gold while sweating in our underwear, the refrains of God Defend New Zealand in Maori drifting out our hotel window onto the street. In Santorini I cried for Valerie Adams as she looked heartbroken in an interview after taking silver in the shotput – she said she’d felt like she’d let the nation down. She could never do that, as long as she tried her best. (Need I add subsequently the gold medallist was disqualified for drug use – but even had her win been legit, how could a silver possibly let anyone down?). While we weren’t in Olympia, we visited the original Olympic stadium in Athens and had a blast pretending to throw discus. We splashed in the ocean working on our synchronised swimming moves for way, way too long. We were disappointed not to be in London using our tickets to see the rowers and equestrian team do NZ proud, but I think it was an excellent second best.