This blog was written by Cyprus Fellow Sean Wright about his recent trip to Athens. It was his first time there, and it made a lasting impression on him.
This past week I got to travel to the city of Athens, Greece. The city is spectacular visually, but more importantly it has played a major role in the world’s history which is why I wanted to explore it.
Tuesday the 26th, I caught an early flight from Cyprus and arrived in the city of Athens around 11 AM. From there, I dropped my bags and was off to explore the city by myself. This is the first time I have traveled by myself, so I was a little nervous at first. That all went away when I saw the Acropolis.
This wonderful site sits on top of a hill that over looks the city, and has many structures built on it. Nothing is more grand than the Parthenon, the main building of Acropolis. This building was originally a temple for the Goddess Athena, the goddess of war and whom the city is named after. I stood there, jaw to the floor, thinking about how people could have even built this wonderful structure so long ago. How much detail was put into the carvings, the sculptures that amazingly were still intact, all of it was breathtaking. And then you start to think about all the historical influence this place has. Emperors, philosophers, artists, they all once stood where I was standing. This was a place where important wars were won and lost. This feeling of astonishment connects you to the past which I can only describe as humbling. Humble to be able to stand in a place where history was made, and where once upon a time was thought to be the center of the world.
Staying in the Acropolis, I went to check out the Theatre of Dionysus. Dionysus was the god of plays, so the people of Athens erected this 15,000 seat amphitheater in his honor.
I sat there imagining performers putting on a show, having a packed audience on the edge of their seats. Next, I went to check out the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. This place had a short life span as most of it was destroyed in a war around the 3rd Century AD. However, I felt a connection to this place because my family calls me Zeus. So here I was, at this great structure named after me. It was an honor to finally see how much the people of Athens admired me.
The next day, I went to the National Archeological Museum where I got to see many artifacts and sculptures that were all marvelous. I kept seeing these jars that had paintings on them depicting a story, a lot of them about Hercules. Every time I would see one of these, I kept thinking to myself that these images are going to come to life and start singing a story for me like in the cartoon movie Hercules. If you have never seen it, I highly recommend it. Doesn’t matter that it’s meant for children. The sculptures were amazing and the details that were put into them to depict the human body is amazing. Also, most of these sculptures were 3 times the size of me! I’m 6 foot 8 inches so I’m not small, but these things made me feel that way!
Next I went to the Acropolis Museum, where I got to learn more about the place I had seen the previous day. I learned how the columns were erected, why each building was so important, and how the respect and admiration of foreigners helped to conserve this historical landmark.
Last, but certainly not least, I got to see where the first modern day Olympics were held, at the Panathenic Stadium. The structure itself is an amazing horseshoe stadium made of only marble, which is so beautiful. With all these modern stadiums trying to out-do one another, it’s this simple and elegant stadium that is one of the most beautiful in the world. I have tremendous respect for how significant this stadium is for modern day athletics.
The stadium is where countries came together to be a part of something special. As I was looking at it, I noticed that there seemed to be an abnormal amount of people there. Little did I know that it was 100 days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and the ceremonial lighting of the torch was taking place later that day. I missed out on a pretty cool opportunity, but I can’t complain. I got to see such a beautiful city, one I couldn’t imagine visiting just a few years ago
Overall, I had such a wonderful time exploring the city of Athens. The beauty, the history, the impact on the world, this place has it all. I can now check Greece off the map of places I’ve been.
P.S. You know what I hate? When customs at the airport doesn’t stamp your passport with enough ink, leaving you with no way of telling where you’ve been. C’mon man! Those are important!