Thursday 22 October 2015

Lightning bolts - not confined to Poseidon

Athens can do a mean thunderstorm, when it chooses: startling lightning flash, deafening clap of thunder, torrential rain that severely inconveniences the pigeons, all that. And it keeps on! No, er, flash in the pan here. So today was for indoors, mostly.

Note to the CitySightseeing bus people: maybe don’t cover up your windows with ostensibly – yet in practice, not at all – see-through advertising that’s at best ironic and at worst (today) just plain annoying, when the open-topped upstairs is rained out and everyone’s stuck downstairs peering out through what looks like thick black nylon mesh.
But today’s focus, the National Archaeological Museum, made up for all that nonsense. In fact, it was a bit chastening, seeing the fine pottery being made and decorated 1500BC when my efforts back in 1983 or thereabouts are just humiliating, in comparison. The numbers are all a bit bamboozling for non-historians like me – I mean, up to 7000 years BC? And so well done! Whether pottery, gold jewellery, tools, weapons, statues, glass, it’s all quite remarkably well finished. Look at the fine work on this dagger handle:
The pre-historic exhibition was most amazing; but the statues, friezes and various other marble and bronze bits and pieces (they all had technical names that meant nothing to me – I’m way past museum guilt now, incidentally) were brilliant too, despite so many of those fine, straight Greek noses having been broken off. They all looked like real people, faces so similar to familiar or famous ones that it was quite distracting, trying to put a contemporary name to them.

The Ancient Greeks, though? Democracy, philosophy, drama… yes, thoroughly admirable; but they weren’t as well-behaved as all that. What about this preserved-for-immortality frieze of two young men about to instigate a dog vs cat fight? Magistrate’s court at least for that, nowadays.
Even flitting through, skipping most of the labels and drawn on almost immediately to the next shiny thing, a museum like this takes a solid chunk of time, and you can’t do more than one a day. A trip to the top of Lycabettus Hill for the view in eventual late afternoon sunshine was stymied by road closures caused by the visit of the French President, merde alors, so we ended up in a pretty little café/bar with the best beer of the trip so far: Vergina Red.

And then, of course, there were the cats to feed with last night’s leftovers – the stray dogs are all far too well-fed (if unkempt and depressed-looking, poor things). Not that the cats are starving either, by any means…

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