Five years. Five years since I’ve worn a dress. Five years since I’ve had my feet in a shiny new pair of girl shoes, standing next to a crazy French man in a funky pinstriped suit with a pink ribbon in his hair. Five years since we stood there next to one another, in la mairie du 18éme arrondissement in Paris, listening to some very official-looking guy who rattled on in French.
I barely spoke any French at all then, but it seems that very official-looking guy was jabbering on about wedding vows. I didn’t really understand any of it, but apparently, we got married that day.
I’ve read that the typical gift for a five-year anniversary is wood.
Fucking wood? Sure, wooden things are nice, but, um… no thank you.
Usually, on our anniversary, we’ll go away for the weekend, or pick a really nice place for dinner because Olivier & I really dig a nice quiet atmosphere where we can be alone. Also, we really, really like dinner. Ok, food in general.
This year was no different. Well, it was slightly different. We were in Greece, after all.
We woke up early, got ready & had breakfast at our hotel. We stuffed ourselves with more of the thick, creamy deliciousness of the Greek yogurt & thick, dark Greek honey. Then we were in the metro that took us closer to the Acropolis.
As it turned out, we couldn’t have picked a better day to go. March 25th is Independence Day in Greece, so all of the historical sites were free for the day. We just strolled right in without needing to get any tickets.
Olivier & I stopped to check out a few sculptures at the entrance, then made our way slowly up the southeastern slope of the Acropolis. Within a few minutes, we arrived at the Theatre of Dionysus. The cool part is, it’s not fenced off, so you can walk right in & sit on the limestone seats.
We continued on, passing ruins of the Sanctuary of Asclepius & the Stoa of Eumenes. Just before we reached the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, we of course met up with another one of these awesome Athenian dogs.
We continued on, passing more ruins until we finally reached the top of the hill. Climbing the steps, arriving at the place where an enormous statue of Athena Promachos once stood. On the north side, next to the fallen ruins of the Old Temple of Athena, stands the Erechtheion:
Which was impressive. By impressive, I mean staring slack-jawed with awe & wonder, trying not to have a total geek-gasm in front of all the other tourists.
I almost managed to keep my geeking mess to myself… until I found myself standing in front of the Parthenon. Standing there, looking up at this thing, it was one of those surreal moments where you feel kind of like you’ve been magically inserted into a movie set, or a photo in some travel guide.
One of those moments when you look up at something & feel so very small. When you see what human beings can accomplish, how long it can last… & you start to ponder just how little you’ve accomplished & just how temporary you are.
You know that feeling? It was kind of like that.
With all of the history surrounding us, all of the awe swimming around in our slack-jawed heads, we did what any two sane people would do: asked a stranger to take a photo of us being dorky tourists.
A person can geek out on something for so long before they have to move along to get their nerd on elsewhere. We took our time to make our way back down the slope, enjoying the view from the top, overlooking Athens. Once we reached the bottom, we only had to walk for a couple of minutes before arriving at the Acropolis Museum, which had also waived the entry fee for Independence Day. Score.
The museum is still quite new, having only opened in 2009. The really bitchin’ thing about this place is that an ancient Athenian neighborhood was discovered underneath the site of the museum & has been incorporated into the museum’s design. As you approach the entrance, the glass flooring lets you see the ruins of the old neighborhood below.
Inside, there are several sculptures & other artifacts from the Acropolis & visitors can watch a cool little movie explaining the history of the Parthenon from the time of its construction up to the present day. This actually pretty interesting because maybe you didn’t know, but the Parthenon has been through some serious shit – the Roman Empire, Christians, Ottomans… Venetian mortars. Serious. Shit.
But, anyway… like I was saying.
What the hell was I saying?
Oh. Right. Five years. This was still our anniversary, after all.
We had made a dinner reservation the day before at a nice place in the Plaka, which is the old part of Athens. It’s the area just under Acropolis, so it is quite touristy. But, we weren’t in the mood for off-the-beaten-path. We were all about a nice, mooshy, sappy, lovey food fest with plenty of wine & ouzo. This was just the place.
The restaurant, Ελαία, (Elaia) has a rooftop dining area & we had a view of the Erechtheion as we drank our booze & ate our food. It’s now one big blur of ouzo, salty cheese, lamb & tarama. I would provide photographic evidence of this outing, if it weren’t for the fact that all of the photos taken that night look like total shit. This is likely due to a combination of poor lighting & good ouzo.
We decided to skip dessert & instead stopped for some gelato on our way back to the hotel. We took our time, strolling around, being all tourist-like, stopping now & then to peek inside a shop. It didn’t take long before another one of those Athenian doggies came along & decided to walk along with us for several blocks before he got bored & ducked into an alley.
By the time we returned to our room at the Apollo Hotel, my feet were screaming. Calves & lower back, aching. I was sore & exhausted as though someone had kicked my ass, then stuffed me full of meat, booze & gelato.
It felt AWESOME.
But all day long, until we had finally passed out for the night, I couldn’t help but wonder what all of those structures & sculptures that I had been surrounded by all day must have looked like when the Acropolis was thriving, when it was crawling with Athenians & worshippers instead of tourists.