Apr 12, 2014

Greek Odyssey - Day 2

Officially, Day 2, technically, Day 1 in Greece.. After all, we lost the entire previous day and only landed up in the night... But then, as the saying goes, when on vacation, who cares, Enjoy.

Post a sumptuous or a healthy breakfast, the day was planned for quite some visits around town. The Parliament Square or the Syntagma Square as the Greeks called it, a visit to the Acropolis, the Parthenon,  the Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Athena... Good Lord.. This was to be a packed day.

A visit around town in the day time, gave a fair view of the city. Of course, it is the same as any other city, has its share of buildings, it shops, people going every where, but what did look different was the peaceful manner in which people went around. No doubt Athens, is a major city, after all, it is the Capital city of Greece, but despite being a different country, yet as one passed through the lanes, it was as if at home.

But am not talking about the city streets, it is what I encountered there. As when you enjoy, you don't keep a track of the moments, the visit to the places was surely an Eye Opener. The Parliament Square or House of Parliament, right in the middle of the city, where a few blocks down one goes shopping. Amazingly well managed, brilliantly kept clean with the highlight being the change of the Guard. 

Guard @ Parliament House
Similar to the London change of Guard, the Guards change their duty every hour, and the change is a sight to watch. What is amazing is that for one hour, the guards stand at one place, with not a movement, come rain, come shine. The change too is an event that is looked forward to, and a full 10 minute process, where one set hands off to another. What was also interesting was that the change of Guard, watching the incoming and the outgoing, is a sight that is open to all at close range. It is a pure Tourist event, where tourists come up close to the Guards (of course maintaining some distance at the change), but was seamless. 

Post this was the visit to the Acropolis, an ancient fort high up on the mountains containing the remains of several ancient buildings not only having an architectural value, but also historical. The Parthenon being one of them. Created centuries ago, where it attains significance is the various different periods that the construction went through, not only in terms of expansion, but also for repairs and the different time periods leaving their individual time stamps of their own periods. 

Another stop was the Panathenaic Stadium, the site more popularly known for its first Olympic Games. The Stadium more used to host the athletic portion of the Panathenaic games, held the 1st ever Olympic Games there in 1896. Standing there and watching a piece of history was enough to put a lump into one's throat. One could only wonder and imagine the roar of people sitting centuries ago, screaming, yelling, shouting, cheering the athletes as they competed to what was the prelude of the International Olympics.

Adrian's Arch
The other visits included a trip to the Museum, the National Library, the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, a visit back to Syntagma Square, including a nice leisurely lunch and a stroll around the city. The Evening post Dinner included a Night drive around the city, catching a glimpse of this historical cum modern city. A later trip to the club area to close off the evening with some music and relaxation too was an eye opener. Thought the Area was filled with clubs, again, very well organized giving a good feeling of safety and security. Could be more

A stark observation was the absence of large buildings, or sky scrapers, probably it was more do with where we were in the Athens, but not seeing skyscrapers, after flying from a land filled with them on every nook and corner, was a refreshing sight.

What was also interesting and wonderful, was the relaxed pace at which people moved around, probably because it was a weekend, but it had a life of enjoyment and relaxation that even in this day and age, seemed distant. Living in a fast paced world, we tend to lose out on a lot of simple pleasures in life and unfortunate that we need to go on a vacation to enjoy... Or maybe that is what vacations are for. To forget our busy life, take a short break and enjoy life, albeit for a short time. Can we not do this in our daily life? Meet friends, get out together, have a coffee, have a laugh.. A thought worth thinking about.... Until Day 3.

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