Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Critical Mom Does the Acropolis

We’re on the favorite ship of all German vacationers: “Mein Schiff 3,” or “My Ship 3.” We've already done “Mein Schiff 1,” on a trip to Norway, and we never met “Mein Schiff 2,” but we’d love to make its acquaintance sometime. 
I’ve just returned from dinner overlooking the Aegean Sea, very green at the moment, but rather turquoise at other times, and an amazingly rapid sunset, Helios dropping like a great orange lollipop behind some hills that may, if I understood our guide correctly, have been dedicated to Poseidon.We came into the port of Piraeus around four-thirty in the morning: I heard the familiar grinding of gears as the ship turns around, and then as it backed out to make room for some lesser cruise line.First, we enjoyed a detour involving the Greek Parliamentary Palace (the first king of Greece being, apparently, Bavarian) and the changing of the guard, which involves soldiers in the Greek version of Tracht doing stuff that looks like a cross between trucking and goose-stepping. They come out in these red clogs with hobnails on the bottom and black pom-poms on the top. Oh, but that is only the beginning of their fashion statement. There’s the hats: red, with long horsetails of black tassel. The beige tunics and the beige tights. And the rifles, complete with bayonets, design c. 1914. I had my picture taken with one of them, folks. Their job is to stare straight ahead, whether goose-stepping (and then executing a movement reminiscent of a passé in ballet, followed by a shuffle from tap). Then one hand stick the rifle way up in the air, accent on the bayonet, while the other extends beyond the soldier. The effect is very Walk Like an Egyptian and I rather liked it. I can do those steps for you anytime.
Then we hit fifth century Athens, complete with Acropolis, on a sunny day, temperatures in the neighborhood of 100ºF., no humidity. It was breezy, if you’d count the exhalations of Hephaestus (which were, I presume, the source of our weather).  The Parthenon, offset by skies bluer than anywhere in the world, except perhaps Vermont in the summer months, dazzled us, and sculpted columns of graceful women holding up one of the outbuildings did indeed, as our guide suggested, turn ones thoughts to Angelina Jolie. The gritty dust blew off hats, but it was worth it to me to stand where the goddess of wisdom got worshiped, through three re-buildings of her temple after earthquakes and Persians destroyed it.On our way to lunch, through neighborhoods graced with olive, lime, and lemon trees, we passed a number of restaurants and shops, whose owners, clearly more than eager to sell after the exit of Grexit, called to us. One young woman trying to lure us into her restaurant called “Where are you from?” and when one among us finally answered, “Deutschland,” she replied, “Oh, no need to be afraid!”But we didn’t stop there . . . after our 280 steps in the direction of the Acropolis, we climbed quite a few more, landing in an ivy-covered enclosure where, finally, we ate--and drank.

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