Athens is an expensive, but beautiful city. After exploring Luxor, I got an opportunity to explore Athens. I have tried Greek food a couple of times and it was always value for money. Generous portions, fresh, and very tasty. The first time I ever tried Sword fish was at a Greek restaurant. To my disappointment, the food in Greece is overpriced, oily and not as delicious as Greek food outside Greece.
Athens is an interesting place, like any well-planned city, ancient or modern, it is built according to a grid pattern so everything is parallel to each other and you can’t get lost or stuck in nowhere. The streets in the center of Athens by the ancient sites are narrow and lined with orange trees. It was like walking around a residential hilltop. From the location where Socrates was jailed and democracy was born, walking up to the hilltop, the Parthenon is visible from a distance, which was on another hilltop. From what I had heard and the pictures seen it seemed to be an impressive construction. Remains of ancient civilizations are always worth seeing. Moreover, considering the connection between the Egyptian and Greco-Roman civilizations, Athens is an important travel destination.
From one hilltop, I went to another hilltop to explore the Parthenon and the surrounding area. It’s a pretty walk up, surrounded by remains of pillars and statues. I appreciate how great civilizations have always cultivated and encouraged expression through theatre, literature, paintings, and sports. Societies and the people which make communities, need the freedom to express themselves and to communicate with others. Theatre, literature, sports and paintings enable this flow of communication. This is because when countries get conquered by external, mightier powers, creative activities are known to break barriers in the fight to win hearts and minds.
Before going to Greece I saw a documentary on Greco-Roman influences on the Egyptian civilization and Alexander the Great. It was interesting to see the places mentioned in the documentary and it gave a context from which to observe the monuments. The remains of the Parthenon and the temple of Venus are interesting constructions, but considering they are relatively more recent than Egyptian or Indus Valley, not to mention Gandharan remains and not as elaborate, I find it hard not to be impressed by the ancient eastern civilizations. One thing I did like about Athenian sites was their hilly locations and verdant surroundings. It reminded me of the Gandharan sites of Tahkt-e-Bhai and Taxila in Pakistan. All the places had different uses in their time and place, but beautiful natural surroundings inspire many a great things such as sports and playwrites, which the ancient Greeks were known for.
When I first saw the Parthenon I couldn’t help comparing it to Karnak which was literally a never ending walk. In Athens, as I reached the hilltop where the Parthenon is located there was a group of tourist, one of them said….”oh my God I knew it was big, but I never thought it would be this big!” I thought, if you think this is big, you haven’t seen anything yet. If you want to see something big, go to Egypt. However, it is usually best to keep your thoughts to yourself. Nonetheless, The Parthenon has its own place, value and significance in history.
On a final note, as I have mentioned in an earlier entry, it is pointless to compare cultures, civilizations and societies because each is special and unique in their own way. Comparisons are good if you need to further communication and finding similarities to foster better understanding. Comparison to find differences and focusing on those, is never a good starting point because there will always be irreconcilable differences of opinion.