Friday 23 October 2015

A guilt-free day

Waking to gurgling in the gutters meant that today would be another indoor day – and consequently an educational one, since in Athens the most obvious place to escape the rain is in a museum.
Today it was the proudly modern Acropolis Museum, tucked underneath the cliff of the real thing, with plenty of glass through which to admire both the mount and the Parthenon on top of it, and Roman foundations below the floors, discovered  when it was being built. Inside are, of course, quantities of pottery and statuary recovered from the Acropolis and dating back three-plus millennia.
Like yesterday, it was remarkable how beautiful and skilfully made everything is – the understandably glum faces of the brides on ceremonial glazed pots, for example, marking their transition from one sort of ownership to another (no photos allowed at this part of the museum, irritatingly).
Of course the main focus is the statues, reliefs and pediments rescued from the Parthenon, and the chequered history of the building itself, told well in a video presentation. No-one escapes blame for the ruined glory: Franks, Romans, Ottomans, Persians, Venetians, and of course the British – Elgin is bluntly accused of looting and stealing. 
A Greek guide telling the story of the marbles to her group got a bit teary at one point, despite presumably having recounted it over and over. She was even-handed and admitted that, despite his clumsy removal of the stonework, at least it meant they were kept together – but now is clearly the time to return them. Who pays, though?
With nothing else to do today, and the rain falling steadily, there was no question of incurring museum guilt – labels were read, nothing was missed out, everything looked at, much learned, or suddenly remembered (those white marble statues? Originally decorated with colour, which I discovered only this year supervising a Classics lesson at school. Actually, it looks pretty creepy in reality).
Natasha, incidentally, really ought to spend some time in here - then she would be able to answer questions about how they managed to pile up all that stone.

And still it rained. Prevented yesterday from getting our hilltop view over the briefly sunny city by France’s President Hollande, he inconvenienced us again today, closing the restaurant at the museum, meaning everyone converged on the café, meaning we queued for ages and ended up sitting outside on its cold balcony as he was whisked by, inside and upstairs, by a phalanx of suits, while a ridiculous number of cars lined the road and one unfortunate man had to stand on the roof. In the rain.
But at least the baked aubergine was good.

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