Marjorie in Qatar (qatar) wrote,
Marjorie in Qatar
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We're in Athens!

When I was in Spain this summer, my friend Ryan and I started talking about the stuff you need to know that's never in guidebooks: What's the polite way to summon a waiter? At what time of day do people switch from "Good day" to "Good evening"? What do you do if a restaurant is full? Do you hand storekeepers money directly or put it down on the counter? How do you say no to touts? (My inclination is always "No, thanks" in the local language, but it seems that in some languages "Thanks" implies "Yes.").

Then again, figuring these things out is part of the fun of being in vacation. I always enjoy figuring out little things that remind you of other places you've been (e.g., oh, this is a money-on-the-table culture) and the ones that seem unique to that place (e.g., in Greece your waiter brings your bill at the same time as the food, very efficient. In fact, I'd say this country has the best restaurant service I can think of).

Another unique thing about Greece, by
the way, is that we have yet to see a towel that doesn't have a Greek key design border. It's like the same towel has been following us for days.

Today's our only full day in Athens; we arrived on the ferry at 6 am, checked into our hostel (hooray for the off-season, when hotels let you check in ridiculously early), and took off for the Acropolis. They've got some cool buildings up there, even if it did give me flashbacks to my 6th grade history diorama of the Parthenon. (It's thankfully less toothpick-y in real life.)

Also highly recommended is the newly opened Acropolis Museum, a beautiful modern structure with glass floors so that the archaeological remains found when constructing the museum became part of the museum itself. The top floor is the size and orientation of the Parthenon (which you can see out the window), and the remaining friezes and so on of the Parthenon are displayed around it, between an 8x17 rectangle of minimalist metal pillars that echo the Parthenon's structure without trying to cheesily mimic it. It's beautifully done. They definitely deserve to have the Elgin marbles back.

Now we're enjoying a self-indulgent snooze before dinner and perhaps a wander out to the local planetarium for something else non-archaeological. (Poor long-suffering Justin!)

Parenthetically, I'm really really glad we came to Greece in February/March. The weather's been perfect for sightseeing, clear but not too hot. I can't imagine spending hours wandering around the Knossos or the Acropolis in the summer -- not to mention how many other tourists there'd be. So, knock on wood, this has been pretty perfect timing. I guess that's the benefit of planning your vacation so last-minute you can check the 10-day weather forecast before you book it!
Tags: greece, travel
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