Friday, July 7, 2017

Greece with Kids: Hadrian's Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Changing of the Guard

Here's the first part of Day 01 in Greece.

My dream had been to spend the afternoon in the National Archaeological Museum, especially to see the Mycenean antiquities since we were going to Ancient Mycenea the next day. But after a much-needed cool shower and a much, MUCH needed nap, it was starting to get a little late for that, so instead we decided to go back out and just wander. During our bus tour earlier that day we'd seen a couple of structures that it would be nice to walk closer to, and we hadn't been able to visit the Presidential Palace at all, on account of there'd been a protest there by the garbage workers, who were on strike--and that explains why there were huge piles of garbage all over the streets!

Also note that my guidebook warned that the National Garden, which we'd be walking through to get to the Presidential Palace, hosted a large feral cat colony, and that was the last of us sold on the hike.

We'd visited the Plaka earlier but hadn't crossed the busy street to see the Arch of Hadrian, but on this trip, we stayed on that side of the street and so got to see it up close:

For those of you playing the at-home game of orienting yourself in Athens, please note that you can see the southeast corner of the Parthenon through the Arch of Hadrian. I'm pretty proud of this shot.

Yes, this is the same Hadrian who had the wall built in Great Britain, and that's something else that I want to take the kids to see someday.

The Arch is filthy because of pollution. Poor Matt is just filthy because he's all sweaty and it's 100 degrees outside!
Here, as well, is a great spot for viewing the Temple of Olympian Zeus--remember you could see it in the distance when we were up on the Acropolis earlier?

Remember that the columns that are reconstructed are there to show you how high the ceiling was--in other words, HIGH!
We wandered on through the National Garden (although we did not see the famed feral cats, we did see a lot of interesting birds and one turtle)--

I really liked this seating that was made to look like archaeological ruins. At least, I *hope* it was seating that was just made to look like ruins...

Syd was super into taking photos for a couple of days, but then just stopped. Will brought her camera, but didn't snap a single photo. Matt didn't bring a camera. Good thing I'm so reliable about photographing ALL THE THINGS!!!
We'll get into some different landscapes later, but Athens actually looks a LOT like the San Jose area in California; everyone noted it, even the kids.
--and to the Presidential Palace. Even though I'd wanted to when we were in DC, I've never gotten around to showing the kids a changing of the guard or a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, so we had a lot to talk about and look at, as well as a lot of pigeons to chase, while we waited for the top of the hour:
Look, everyone! A trireme!!! Also, the best way to get Will to smile for photos, apparently, is to get her punch-drunk.
The Hellenic Army has a mandatory male conscription of nine months. Actually, we found that Greece has a lot of mandatory, state-run institutions and regulations, and the Greek people as a whole are expected to do a lot of things the same way. Everyone feeds their kids the same way and at the same times of day, for instance, and our tour guide never could quite wrap her head around what we meant by homeschooling, no matter how many questions she asked, because it's apparently not something that anyone would even think of doing in Greece. To be fair, Greece has excellent foreign language education, so I wouldn't dream of homeschooling there, either!
These are the Εύζωνες, or Evzones if you Anglicize it. They were first mentioned in the Iliad, although it didn't refer to these exact soldiers, who are now the Presidential Guard.

Like a typical palace guard, they have to stand stock still, although they had a commander who'd come around and fuss over them and keep the tourists back. At one point, he made them go into their little boxes for a while, I guess to shade them from the sun, although it had to have been even hotter inside them.
And at 6:00 pm on the dot (that's 11:00 am in Indiana), this happened!

On Sundays, the changing of the guard is even fancier, and I heard that there's even a military band.

One of the things that our tour guide emphasized was that in Greece, if you dig, you will find something. You'll find the remains of Byzantine civilizations, and if you dig deeper, you'll find Roman ones. Dig deeper, and you'll find Classical Greek civilizations. Deeper, and you'll find evidence of the Bronze age. It was fun, then, to see, as we walked back to our hotel a slightly different way, the excavation of these Roman baths, found when the city wanted to dig a tunnel:

The find was so important that the city moved the location of the tunnel, and covered and preserved this excavation.

And one last look at the Arch of Hadrian--

--before we headed back to the hotel. We took more cool showers, Matt got us fish and chips, and we ate sitting on our beds and watching Greek game shows on TV, with the air turned down to 20 degrees Celsius. It was heaven.

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