The Athenian Muse – A great reason to head to Athens
There’s a lady who lives in Athens, she styles herself the ‘Athenian Muse’. She creates amazing trips to out-of-the-way corners of the city. I went to meet her at the brand new Acropolis Museum. We walked around the Parthenon, which is the temple high on the hill over-looking Athens. We then walked to the National Observatory where we had a private visit and saw the astronomical clock that measures time for the city.
We had special permission to climb into the dome of the Observatory and here in the roof, a story-teller told us tales of famous gods and heroes from Greek mythology. Later we walked to an old Turkish Bath House in the Plaka district. We enjoyed a typical Greek Coffee making ritual. Every detail of the coffee-making process was explained. Coffee and cakes followed.
Later that day I was invited into a private home in a grand, but now faded part of the city. The dinner menu consisted entirely of ‘classical’ Greek dishes served on black ceramic plates from the Attica region that surrounds Athens. My fellow guests were a mixture of university lecturers, professionals and visitors to the city. The evening was convivial, vibrant, fun.
The state of the Greek economy and the financial crisis was never far from the conversation. It is difficult for people here, getting a job is almost impossible, property is tough to sell and people no longer trust the banks. This lack of confidence pervades every day and every transaction. People regard Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel as the villain, the evil princess, she is their devil incarnate.
And yet despite the economic gloom, the people I met were welcoming, charming and warm. They are proud to be Greek and they are immensely proud of their heritage. The next day I am heading north across the plains of Attica and into the mountains. My first stop will be Mount Parnassus and the mythical site of the ‘Oracle of Delphi’.
I’d like to thank my friend Belinda Geddes who travelled with me to Athens and to Matina Agiorgitis – our ‘Athenian Muse’.