In the beginning there was Chaos. (That’s the dude’s name; get it? Greek mythology is a lesson in vocabulary, and Stephen Fry’s book Mythos drives this point home in a very entertaining way.) From chaos a plan emerged for our trip to Greece.
We board an airplane a little before midnight and ask Uranus (the sky god) for safe passage. The trip takes 9 hours and we travel 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) across the surface of Gaia (the personification of Earth). We arrive at the Athens airport in the afternoon, take a shuttle to the rental car agency, and jump into a Fiat Panda (similar to the 500). Within an hour of landing we are in downtown and checked into the AirBnB.
The basement apartment is well-suited for Hades (god of the underworld). It has a bit of a mold smell, but it’s walking distance from the sights and has a reserved parking space. This is invaluable because the streets predate automobiles, and traffic is a problem.
Parking the car is tricky because I can’t shift the manual transmission into reverse. I’m an expert at stalling, and very good at bogging the engine in too low a gear, but backing up is too advanced a skill. We consider returning the car for one with a functioning shifter, and then decide we can push the car backward if necessary. We later learn the Fiat has a collar on the gear-stick which must be lifted to move into R.
We walk through the narrow streets of the neighborhood, remark on the number of stray cats, and buy some basic rations at a local market. Jess is on a ketogenic diet so we get cheeses, cured meats, and goat yogurt. Then we head back to the studio to crash; we barely slept during the flight and there is a 7 hour timezone difference.
In the morning we eat; I have grapes that were a gift from our host (xenia is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality). We don jackets, and set off to be tourists. A half kilometer later we find ourselves at Hadrian’s Arch with a view of the Acropolis, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus at our back.
The Greek name for Athens is Athena, a goddess associated with wisdom and war. Athena was born from Zeus’ head.
A few minutes northeast is the Zappeion Megaron, which was constructed at the dawn of the Modern Olympic Games and still serves as an exhibition hall and conference center.
We walk through a neighborhood at the feet of the Acropolis (“acro” means high and “polis” means city), and then climb up Areopagus Hill, which offers excellent views.
Within just one square mile there are so many ancient ruins to see.
By 4pm we are in the car and on our way to Leonidio. It is in the region of Arcadia, which is named for Arcas (son of Callisto and Zeus). Both Arcas and Callisto were turned into bears and subsequently catasterized as Ursa Minor and Ursa Major.
Part 2 of the trip report to follow.