01 September 2010
'Let's hear it for civilisation...'Athens. Day off.
My guts are still a little gun shy but I'm definitely on the comeback trail. It's a day off for the whole crew today, so the rooftop pool bar saw some good use. Given how hard these people work it is always good to see everyone be able to kick back and fool around.
I headed out to the new Acropolis Museum and, taking the advice of a good friend of mine, began my museum tour in the cafÃ©. The place is brand spanking new and very nicely designed, including glass floors through which you can see the ancient ruins of Athens streets below (dating back a mere 2500 years). The cafÃ© was nearly empty but felt gently refined, the museum's learned atmosphere being enhanced by two people at the only other occupied table having a conversation in English about 'the argumentative strategy of Cicero€™s speeches'. Let's hear it for civilisation. The museum very enjoyable, but I decided not to trek up the hill to the actual Acropolis as the potential lack of 'facilities' was a little disconcerting for a man less than 48 hours beyond food poisoning.
In the evening I took myself out for a light dinner in 'Plaka', the old town. It's a maze of ancient streets groaning under the weight of tourism, but there's still good food to be had and the weather was perfect for sitting out. I ate, still felt fine and was looking at the moon, the illuminated Acropolis, the swaying palms, etc.; and just thinking that this was about the most perfect scene imaginable when a giant cockroach run over my hand, up my arm and frightened the living shit out of me. Well, not literally, so I guess I must now be over the Vienna food poisoning at least.
Our hotel is fronted by large marble steps, perfect for sitting on, which face onto a big public square. The hotel has a few pet dogs that lie out on the steps and always seem to be asleep. When I got back there, I joined a couple of the lads (and dogs) sitting out and chatting on this warm night. As we sat, other crew members appeared, a curious number of whom seemed to have chosen to go out by themselves tonight. Someone produced beers and it became quite the hangout, gentle, easy, very pleasant indeed. It struck me that we were following the behaviour of many generations in this part of the world. I could imagine the early Greeks hanging out in the (relative) cool of the evening after a blisteringly hot day talking about life and coming up with the idea of democracy. An entire culture grew out of the Greek evening weather, as opposed to the weather further north in Europe, from which sprang football hooliganism and binge drinking. Discuss.