Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trip to Greece : Day 9, Archaeological Museum

Metro from Monastiraki to Victory station to go to the National Archaeological Museum. Metro is easy to use. Excellent collection of statues, Archaic stuff, and ancient Egyptian stuff (could be better than MET!) . 

 Dog & Cat fight in about 510 BC

  Outside of the museum
 Near the museum

Metro back to Monastiraki. On the way to the hotel, had creamy Greek frozen yogurt with honey and nuts, entered Metropole church (under renovation),bought pistachio and almond sweets for work at an patisserie since 1930 near the hotel.

Interesting mixture of different architecture style (19th century, art nouveau, and modern) on Apolonos street where the hotel is located.

Cold Jacuzzi (as is, accoriding to the hotel)and sunbathing at rooftop. Last look at Acropolis. 

Dinner. at a casual and busy Greek restaurant near Syntagma Square. Complimentary shot of Tsipouro and olives. Excellent Greek salad, very fresh tomato, cucumber, red pepper with excellent dressing.
 Around Syntagma Square. Walked to the biggest bookstore in Athens, but closed. 
 Getting Sunday paper on Saturday night.

Back to hotel, had cappuccino, Baklava and tangerine sweets from the patisserie, then packing, nap, last cigarette, and wrote journal.

Mykonos and Santorini (except Fira and Oia) Islands were mellow because it was off-season. But Athens was very much alive and didn’t seem like bankrupted except some gathering (not protest) and lots of graffiti. I expected it was eaten by foreign capitals, however, I got an impression that local business still kept going and less foreign business than expected. For example, 2 or 3 kinds of Greek beer, and Amstel and Heineken were available anywhere. Like any other cities, there were H&M. Zara, Sephora, Footlocker, Addidas and some luxury brand stores, but less Mcdonlad and Starbucks than expected.

However, I couldn't find Greek specicality such as leather goods with reasonable price and good design as a souvenir. They have lots of debt and buy foreign goods like any other city and not much to sell except tourism, agriculture and shipping., so it explains part of the reasons why they're bankrupted. According to Greek myth, Athena created olive trees and Poseidon created horses. Since gods judged that olives are more useful to humans, Athena won Athens. It seemed like Greece was already doomed to its bankruptcy from the beginning. Horses are cars and hard power, and olive means soft power. For the reasons of Greece bankruptcy, too much pension or too much wages for public sector workers and tax evasion have been mentioned, but I  also thought that hard power was not fully-progressed and soft power  has declinined. Unlike other EU countries, no Greek companies known worldwide and only a few Greek artists and intellectuals well-known internationally. Even the biggest bookstore in Athens was closed around 8:30 PM on Saturday. But still, people are very proud of themselves, especially if they know they're good, as I experienced the Santorini Tavern which serve excellent Greek dish.

Greece seemed like a very Chauvinistic society. In Athens and islands, I saw working women, but they' re much less visible than men. Working or non-working, men were happily hanging around since morning, but women were less visible. I saw women with families, but seems less girls/women and couples than it could be. However, according to my Greek friend in NY, there is no obvious sexual discrimination at workplace. Also, grand parents or cheap illegal immigrant nannies take care of kids, it's much easier to work with children than Japanese mothers. On the other hand, there were some Gypsy-like children, who played accordion and beg money in touristic areas.

Greece is a part of EU, but I saw some examples that it is not advanced as German or France. The most noticeable is its infrastructure. There are lots of utility poles, not only in islands, but also in central Athens and they hurt the views which are precious asset for their tourism. Toilet paper were non-flushable in public bathrooms or non-expensive hotels and it should be discarded in litter bins (like China). Some people in souvenir shops in Santorini and Mykonos were not talkative, but gift-wraped without asking even though those gifts are 8 olive oil soaps (1 Euro each). Their service was thorough, but relatively slow and inefficient. But of-course, an island's charm is slowness and Athens is relatively faster and people's face look more severe.  However, the business hotel we stayed in central Athens had only one elevator carrying up to 3 people. Why 3?  Second couple needs another ride!

Most of the young people related to tourism speak fluent English and older generations' English varied. Some people seemed to experience more strain of speaking secondary language than German people. Also, it was welcome to take photos of people with business smile with permission, but sometimes met strong rejection from off-guard store person and people on street. I saw how to draw a line between private and public for the people dependent on tourism and I respected it.

Overall, it was a great experience: awesome views and ruins, plenty of friendly and lively cats, kind people,  and  delicious food. Definitely, Greece is a great place to visit and made me think a lot about its past and present in our current world. I would love to go back to Myknos in September and rent an apartment and say "Kalimera" to cats each morning!