I tried to go to sleep already tonight, but there’s no way. We’re lying in our room right now with the AC on and its 88 Fahrenheit. We know because Joylani’s travel alarm clock has a thermometer on it. When our flight landed in Athens today though, our pilot announced it was 104! I thought I sweated a lot when we hiked up Mt. Pilatus, but I’ve been sweating non-stop since we got to Greece.
From the airport, we took a city bus into town. From there we walked to our hostel in Plaka, a touristy district of Athens near the Acropolis. We were drenched in sweat from our bus ride and walk (both with our backpacks), but we quickly left our hotel to explore to see the Acropolis’ sites. Within minutes, we were staring at one of the greatest achievements of ancient civilization: the Parthenon. It was good enough to make the Seven Wonders of the World two thousand years ago and it’s still amazing. I’ve seen a lot of amazing architecture built by ancient civilizations, like the Taj Mahal or the Mayan pyramids at Tikal, but there’s something different about the Athens. It’s the history.
So much has gone down here. I studied about Athens in a million different history classes in college. Athens was at its height in every way during the middle of the 5th century BC. But the decades-long Peloponnesian War against Sparta ended with Athen’s defeat (I think around 405 BC). Athens then came under the control of Alexander, and later his generals, before Rome took control of the entire region. Then the divisions of the Roman Empire saw Athens fall under different jurisdictions for a long time. I may be a nerd, but that’s just off the top of my head- I think I just typed it because that sort of things excites me. But even beyond the political history, it’s exciting to think of the people that were here too. Tomorrow morning, we’re going to visit the Agora. Socrates questioned there. Paul evangelized there. Kind of crazy that those guys hung out within a mile of where I’m lying down typing right now. Enough about the history of Athens though.
While I wandered around the Acropolis, Joylani sat and watched Nora Jones practicing for her concert in the impressive Theater of Herodes Atticus. Afterwards, we all explored Plaka for a little while before settling down for a good Greek meal: a salad of cucumbers and tomatoes covered in olive oil, a pork gyro, and glass of the red house wine. All four of us agreed it was the best meal we’ve had in awhile. The heat is unbearable (although good training for when we’ll be India next week), but today was a great day: a new place that’s totally different from home/N. Europe, lots of history, and a good meal.