Greece, Siga (Slowly)
An excerpt from Greece where I stayed in Athens and the sticks on a work-for-lodging deal at a luxury resort in the Peloponnese Region. The full story shows what it's like in both, as well as getting multi-party scammed (useful travel insights there); ruins and steel buildings in close proximity; ordering food in a tiny restaurant by sticking your nose into pots inside the kitchen; and breathtaking beauty.
The clever accordion urchin sizing up its prey.
As for the Parthenon - it is just huge. I can only remember that feeling of sheer size twice: once when I stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the first time, and yesterday when I sat down next to Solomon Grundy on my flight from Raleigh to New York. Many of the arts and crafts that the old guys put on and in these temples now reside inside the new Acropolis Museum across the street. This museum is notable for its glass floors that allow you to see down into some of the archaeological digging, as well as the fact that it is free to enter. Nothing else in Greece, or at least in Athens, is free. Nothing.
This observation is underscored by the fact that panhandlers of every age await you outside the Acropolis. Greece's economic condition when I visited wasn't stellar, and I saw kids no older than five years playing the accordion, and people hawking clothing made "by hand” so old that they may have actually helped knock the wings off of Athena-Nike. The accordion kid asked for money when I took her picture (she got a little), and the über-aggressive witch from Snow White got me to put the cloth in my hand in a most clever way but I gave her nothing. She was not happy about it. I was to find out later just how clever and resourceful are the panhandlers of Greece – if you believe in curses the scam story later on will provide you with validation. Buying something from local vendors is a good idea. I can assure you that Greece and its people can use your business, and your charity at your discretion.
Also, I would just like to say here that no one should ever play the accordion - a musical instrument comprised of a set of bellows with keys and buttons placed randomly about its exterior that control knitting needles that poke cats mating on the interior - and certainly no one should try to play it that hasn't stopped teething yet.