Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Odyssey: Acropolis

Nan at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece On Tuesday morning, Nan and I caught some breakfast at an Everest Cafe ("It's cool!") and then took a taxi down to the Acropolis. We had hoped to meet Harry and Velinda there, but they were running behind due to electrical problems at the boat. Capt. John thought there was a problem with the alternator so they were going to go find a new one.

When we arrived at the entrance to the Acropolis, we were surprised to see thousands of people already there and trudging up the steep walkway to the top. Here's a photo of Nan on the walk with the Parthenon on the hill in the background.

The Parthenon at the AcropolisThe Parthenon itself is an amazing architectural achievement considering that is about twenty-five centuries old. Its scale is based on the squares of the first three numbers, so it is four units tall and nine units wide, and the columns are nine units tall and four units between. To fool the eye and its tendency to curve perspectives, the base is curved slightly upward in the middle so that it appears to be a straight line when looked at straight on. In the same way, the columns bulge in their middles and tilt slightly inward to achieve the same effect.

Temple of the Caryatids at the AcropolisThe entire area is in a condition of continuous renovation, so there are cranes and scaffolds everywhere. We're not sure if maybe they intend to put the Parthenon back into its original condition, which was badly damaged by the invading Venetians in 1687 as well as the ravages of time. The caryatids are well preserved and represent, I think, the oldest use of statues as support columns. They are smaller than I would have thought, maybe ten feet tall. Behind them but not visible is an olive tree planted in the location where Athena herself is supposed to have planted an original one.

In the evening, we took a taxi down to the Marina Zea in Piraeus to meet up with Capt. John, Harry and Velinda, and Kevin. We did a quick chart briefing and some last-minute provisioning and then went to dinner at a local taverna featuring, what else, authentic Greek food.

We are on our way down there again this morning to cast off on our sailing adventure. We expect to pass the Temple of Poseidon on our way to a marina around the corner from Cape Sounion before heading across the Aegean for Turkey tomorrow.

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