Contrary to what my parents may say or think………………I did take some advanced classes while in high school.

One of my favorites, was a literature class my senior year entitled “Ideas to change the world”. It focused on “Greek Mythology” of all things. We studied the author: “Homer” (Was he real? Some still argue to this day).

“Homer” was the writer of  two books studied that year.  The “Iliad” and its sequel, the “Odyssey”. 

We didn’t read the entire books. Mr. Wood (teacher) would have us read certain chapters……over and over if necessary………..and then write about what we thought “Homer” was trying to say in the book.

Difficult………..but with my imagination………..I could usually associate a Greek God w/a six pack of beer into most of my writings.  The teacher found it funny, but also very relevant.

It was my best grade that year…………only because I graded myself………but the teacher always had to buy it off………and he always did.

A lot of smart people struggled………..they could not articulate………..plain and simple.

Forward 23 years and stem cell…………Julie and I had 4 hours to see Athens.  We got in a little Zeus and Athena (The Gods are heavily referenced in “Homer’s” writings).  Plenty of time?????………right?……O’well,…still pretty interesting. Maybe someday we’ll return for some more mythology……the few sites would just have to do for now.

First stop was the Acropolis.

Hmmm...........So how are we gettig up there?......"Konetantinoe (Constantine)" to the rescue.

Hmmm...........So how are we gettig up there?......"Konetantinoe (Constantine)" to the rescue.

The taxi driver stopped and dropped us off in some bus parking lot area w/ the wheel chair.  

Hmmm…..how was this going to work? Julie and I asked ourselves. How were we going to get me and the wheelchair up there?

Enter: “Stelios”.

Stelios was an older Greek gentleman who was basically wondering the area looking for other tour guide business.  He walked over to us and was disappointed that our driver had not dropped us closer to the elevator.  He spoke excellent English and sold us on a taxi man that would take us to the elevator. The driver would then wait while we saw the Acropolis,…. take us around the city for four hours, and finally back to the hotel.

Reluctantly,…… we said yes

It worked out great.

Konetantinoe (Constantine) took us to some great sites. He spoke excellent English.  And talked with us about some of the history of the city.

Here are some pics. At the Acropolis, there is a wheelchair elevator up the side of the cliff.  Scary…….but there was no other way for me to get up there.  We meet Mike and Dennis (Other Stem Cell comrads) at the elevator and they hung out with us for awhile once we got on top.

My digital camera sucks and the important thing to remember about these pictures is:

These ruins are made of solid marble,….. You can possibly see that they are slowly restoring the Parthenon w/ new pieces of the same type of marble.  It made our driver a little mad that the scaffolding has been up now for the last twenty years.

Some old temple?

Some old temple?

Scafolding and 20 year restoration efforts on the side of the Partheon

Scafolding and 20 year restoration efforts on the side of the Partheon

 You can barely make out the new marble interlaced with the old in the above picture.

 

One End of the Partheon (cool details in the corners of the roofline)

One End of the Partheon (cool details in the corners of the roofline)

 

Next stop was the temple of Olympian Zeus – It’s hard to imagine what this temple must have looked like 2 millennia ago! The size & height will amaze you. 104 original columns – 88 are now gone and the guide was not sure where they had went?

Huge columns. Acropolis/Partheon in the background

Huge columns. Acropolis/Partheon in the background

 

Then Panathinaiko Stadium – the original modern Olympic stadium

Yes........even the stands are solid marble.

Yes........even the stands are solid marble.

 

Home of the 1896 games and then restored for the 2004 games. Used for archery and the finals of the race walk. Probably for other events too.

Home of the 1896 games and then restored for the 2004 games. Used for archery and the finals of the race walk. Probably for other events too.

 

Mt. Lycabettus (Likavitos) hill – you can see the Acropolis, Apollo’s temple, Panathinaiko (Olympic) Stadium,  Zeus’ temple. The views are spectacular.

Just a huge city......easily two to three times the size of Seattle.

Just a huge city......easily two to three times the size of Seattle.

 

Then to the parliaments buildings to see the changing of the guard.  It’s a very interesting performance that is performed every hour.

Interesting uniforms

Interesting uniforms

Red M-1 Garande?.....Nate or Dad will probably correct me.

Red M-1 Garande?.....Nate or Dad will probably correct me.

 

Some sort of gymnastics training must be required for this routine they do

Some sort of gymnastics training must be required for this routine they do

After about a 10 minute routine.......they stand guard for the next 50 mins......I guess?

After about a 10 minute routine.......they stand guard for the next 50 mins......I guess?

 

And lastly through the “Plaka”………. the neighborhood is adjacent to the Acropolis and Parthenon. Gorgeous unspoiled old buildings intermixed w/ cobbled streets, shops and monuments here and there.  It is here……..where Julie and I picked up some great gyro’s to go. It was the best Greek food we had all week.

Some old monument that spun at the base and told wind direction

Some old monument that spun at the base and told wind direction

An old jail/school/historic building?

An old jail/school/historic building?

The old neiborhood even had a Starbucks laced w/ marble of coarse

The old neiborhood even had a Starbucks laced w/ marble of coarse

 

After the Gyro’s it started to rain;….maybe someone was trying to tell us it was time to go home. Back to Seattle that is. by this time we were pretty homesick. 

 

Athens is a pretty cool city (from what we saw in 4 hours).  It has a lot of history and they have done well in trying to preserve it the best that they can.  Where we stayed in Athens was pretty much the heart of downtown. The hotel was nice but that was about it.  This, by no means, is a third world country. They have a thriving economy and a car costs just as much here as it does anywhere in the U.S.

Would I come back here to visit?

Knowing what I know now and where to go…..possibly.

For Stem Cell?……defiantly. 

You do,….what you gotta do.

Be Well

Todd

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