And five days' worth of photos is?
Ummm.... 874 photos.
In my defense, we were in GREECE!!!! Where everything is new and amazing. Where the ancient architecture makes lovely angles. Where there's a beautiful alphabet on every street sign. Where the skies were blue and sported nary a cloud. Where my family never all smiled or kept their eyes open at the same time, necessitating fourteen shots for every final photo, and even in that final one not everyone would have their eyes open or be smiling.
In conclusion, buckle up for lots of posts with lots of photos and lots of gushing words.
The children seem happy enough for airplane adventures, so even a full 24 hours of travel and three separate airplanes and three separate security screenings didn't wear them down too much. I normally get pretty near assaulted by TSA officials every time I travel (I have a theory that every middle-aged mom they target allows them to profile 20 or so brown-skinned people while still keeping their numbers looking even), but that didn't happen nearly as much overseas--I didn't even have to take my shoes off during one screening!
Of course, round that off with the fact that we randomly had to remove all of our books for the security screening at the Indianapolis airport (do you KNOW how many books Will and I had packed?!?) but the kids got to keep their shoes on, and that we didn't have to remove our books (although I had prepared for this) at JFK but DID have to remove our tablets and the kids had to remove their shoes, and in between those we unpacked all of our stuff and repacked 90% of it, because United doesn't have free checked bags and Swiss Air does, so on our United flights we packed all of our crap into our carry-ons, along with two rolled up duffels, and then before we checked in for our Swiss Air flight we got out the duffels and switched most of our stuff so that we could take a break from being pack ponies.
You know what else Swiss Air gives you? A meal on every flight, even a two-hour one! And on our eight-hour flight we got two meals! And personal screens so that we could numb our discomfort with movies. I watched Passengers and referred to it so much in Greece that I made Matt watch it on the way back so we could talk about it together.
Also, I just need to tell you this: if you recline your airplane seat, you are a bad person, full stop. No excuses, unless the seat behind you is vacant, which you know it's not. I don't care that you can't sleep if your seat is not reclined, because you being only slightly more comfortable is not worth the misery of the person behind you. On all of my flights, the person in front of me reclined their seat from the second they were told they could until the flight attendant had to come by and make them put it up again as we were landing, and I promise you that it was hell to live with. And I am very short. Please don't be a seat recliner.
Here are the kids just before our last flight. We're about 20 hours into the journey that began the previous day at 8 am, and we still have that flight, then customs and baggage claim, then our van ride to the hotel, and then we can check in.
You can tell they're tired, but they claimed to still be having fun, and in fact, during this entire trip, they barely complained and they fought even less. It was a pleasure to take them traveling.
In that photo of Syd, she's getting her doll out of her bag to play with. Remember in the winter, when Syd worked her tush off to sell over 1,000 Girl Scout cookies? She wanted to use her cookie profits to help the Humane Society (and this summer, she IS! It's her Bronze Award project!), but she also really, really, REALLY wanted the 1,000+ prize, which had a few options, one of which was an American Girl doll. I'll tell you more about her another time, but in short, please meet Zelda, Syd's new American Girl doll.
In that photo of Will, you can see to the left an older fellow. He took approximately 40,000 photos of Syd blithely immersed in her doll, and I think even some video of her brushing her doll's hair and futzing with her outfit, etc. Syd was completely oblivious, and although it's tacky, for sure, to photograph someone without their permission, he was so clearly a tourist from an Asian-speaking country that I gave him a pass. We were about to do so much gazing about at other people's everyday lives that it didn't really bother me to spend some time being the object of another gawker's gaze.
Speaking of something to gaze at... check out the clown car that we flew to Athens in:
Apparently, Swiss Air likes to customize the livery on some of their planes.
We did a little wandering around on foot when we got to Athens later that afternoon, found sunscreen, got ourselves fed, but let's just fast-forward to the next day, after a good ten hours of sleep and a nice, big breakfast (our hotel's buffet was short the full English breakfast by the beans and the black pudding, but had a doohickey that let you fresh-squeeze your own orange juice, and real Greek yogurt is even more delicious and not as tangy as American Greek yogurt, and you're allowed to stir jam and honey into it and put walnuts on top!), when we met up with our tour group for a tour of the Acropolis.
These devices that you'll see in all of our photos look super dorky, but they're genius:
When we wear these and the connecting single earbud, our tour guide can talk to us at a normal volume, and we can hear her entire spiel at both the super-crowded outdoor sites and inside the super-quiet museums. I was ambivalent about how it was going to be, touring in a herd led by a guide, but actually, it was awesome. I always want to know all the things about everything, and tour guides both know all the things and deeply desire to tell them, as well, to you. We understood what we were looking at and why far more than if we'd toured on our own.
And here's what we were looking at!
|This is actually the view of the Acropolis from the third floor of the Acropolis Museum, which you'll see later, but it's my best shot from outside the area.|
Here's what you can see before you ascend:
|This one's not a cognate, but it's good to memorize so that you always know where the entrance is.|
|Interesting fact: if a column is completely reconstructed, it's to show you where the ceiling was and how high it was.|
Here's more of the Temple of Athena Nike:
|At this site, the original marble is the weathered brown, and the restorations are white. In other places, the marble weathers differently, though, so you can't always use that as your guide between old and new.|
|It's taking a lot longer to restore the Parthenon than it took to build it, which makes sense when you realize how many prior "restorations" are having to be repaired and redone, as well.|
|You can also see the pieces labeled and organized around it, ready to be replaced.|
|As you move around the Parthenon, you can get perspectives that aren't so busy with construction equipment.|
|Only one of them has her eyes closed, and they're all smiling!|
|Oh, look! I'm here, too!|
|I really like this photo Matt took of me: neck craned like a tourist, open-mouthed in awe, face beet red, getting myself some more water, wearing my dorky orange Whisper, the Temple of Olympian Zeus in the background.|
Here's what you can see from the Southern side of the Parthenon:
|Theatre of Dionysus, where Greek tragedy was invented|
|Temple of Olympian Zeus--we walked over there later in the day, so I'll show you more of that later.|
|another perspective of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus|
|Check out the tops of the columns, waiting to be replaced.|
|Slick as ice, I assure you, although worth it to step on the footprints of thousands of years.|
|Check out the intricacy of the reconstructions added to the original pieces. How on earth could they place these broken pieces in exactly the right spot?|
|My favorite structure of the entire trip may have been the Porch of the Caryatids, here with reconstructions so that the Caryatids can live in the Acropolis Museum. I'll show you the real Caryatids in a minute.|
After drinking our fill of the structures, we walked back through the Propylaea--
|See my two adventurers, with the Temple of Athena Nike in the background? See that slick-as-ice marble under their feet?|
--and met back up with our tour group to walk over to the Acropolis Museum. One of our fellow tourists had bought herself an ice cream; I was super jealous.
During construction of the Acropolis Museum, archaeologists had discovered settlements from the Byzantine and Roman times, so they put a glass roof over them, and you can see them throughout the ground floor of the museum:
Pictures aren't permitted in most of the Acropolis Museum, but my second favorite part was the floor dedicated to the surviving relics damaged when the Persians sacked the Acropolis during the Greco-Persian War. This was after the Battle of Thermopylae, the site of which I'll show you later! The Persians deliberately broke up all of the statuary that they could find, and when the Greeks regained the city, they simply buried their desecrated things. This was lucky, because it enabled archaeologists to discover them later and they're displayed in the museum with the damage purposefully not restored, but the pieces set up so you can see them as a whole despite the missing parts. I'm not describing it well, unfortunately--too bad I couldn't take any photos!
Here's my first favorite part of the museum, and something that we COULD take photos of:
|Here are the original Caryatids from the porch of the Erechtheion, on a raised pedestal so you can walk all round them. Lord Elgin took the sixth one, so her spot is left blank.|
|See me fangirl!|
|Many of these pieces are damaged because Elgin, even if he didn't want an entire metope or frieze, would chisel out a piece that he did want, an elegant turn of the foot, say, or an enchanting background.|
|In Greek mythology, centaurs do a lot of raping and murdering. Every time we came across a centaur sculpture, I'd sigh to myself, knowing that the kids were about to get an eyeful.|
|I love seeing my kids so enthralled.|
--petted one of the hundreds of seemingly happily feral cats of Greece--
--and walked around a little more in history before going back to our hotel for a shower and a nap.
And then we went out again and saw even more things!