Kids Arrive in Athens

Mariza & Espen arrived about an hour & a half late. They were tired, which was good since they arrived late and could go to bed soon.  We had supper at a place called “Goody’s” a fast food place.  Even with all the money I get for being in Iraq, we cannot afford (or at least I cannot tolerate) to eat at the restaurants in Marriott.  It would be costing around $50 a person.  It is expensive around here in general and it is not only the strong Euro.

I let the kids sleep late and we had the Euro tourist breakfast of bread & cheese and then headed down to see the Acropolis.  Marriott runs a shuttle bus to the downtown.  We walked up the steep path to the Acropolis.  This place is not handicapped friendly and the rocks are worn smooth, shinny and slippery but it is worth the trip.  Actually, there is not much left of the monuments on the Acropolis, but standing amid all this history and at the origins of our civilization is a special experience.  Espen and Mariza enjoyed it too and that made it a much better day for me than yesterday when I scouted it out alone – and yesterday was a good day. 

I have grown old and softer especially my feet.  I walked all day yesterday and most of the day before and on the third day my feet hurt.  Tomorrow we plan to go to Mycenae.  It is a bus trip, so I figure I will walk a bit less and the old feet will recover. 

Mariza got sick.  We don’t know why.  She ate all the same things we all did, but she threw up a little.  As I write now, she is feeling better and I hope she will be in shape tomorrow.  

The irony of trying to eat in Athens is that the gyros are not good or not available.  They just don’t have those rotating meat things I saw in Turkey or that I remember from the Greek restaurants in Madison.  I had a poor imitation of the legendary Zorba’s of Madison gyros. It was actually just little pieces of meat with the bread and sauce.  I may never again enjoy the total experience.  Last time I went to Madison, I found only one gyros place and it was run by Mexicans.  Evidently there are not enough Greek immigrants anymore and these guys were way too polite.  I recall the Zorba’s experience as something like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.  YOU! They would say and if you didn’t answer quick enough “no gyros for you.”  Well, not quite that, but the feeling was the same.  

As important as gyros is to human happiness, there is much more to the country.  I expected to enjoy Greece, but I have been pleasantly surprised so far. My disappointments are that I will not see it all.  For example, I will not go to Thermopylae.  It is not on the beaten track, even after the success of “The 300”.  As I understand it, silt and erosion has widened the pass since the time of Leonidas, so it is hard to picture the battle anyway.  Maybe it is best to keep it in the imagination.  I saw the old movie “The 300 Spartans” when I was in 5th grade and that is what started me reading about the ancient Greeks.  Forty years later I know that movie was not accurate in most details and the real Greeks were much more interesting than those in the movie, but I still acknowledge what started me down the path.  After so many changes, I guess we sort of stay the same, or more correctly I think we circle around the same places.  

I was worried that the kids would get sunburned.  I am a little tan from living in Iraq – and I have a hat – but they are still pale.  Sunblock is expensive and harder to find around here than I thought but we got some.  It cost 20 Euro or around $30.  Note to self – bring sunblock.