September 1, 2011 (continued)
Meanwhile back at the mother ship, all the smaller shuttles had managed to drop off all the other eager tourists just chomping at the bit for an Athenian Adventure. So, off we go to explore both the remnants of Ancient Greece as well as a more current Athens Experience.
As you might possibly imagine the tour guide at least attempted to set some general considerations for all of us. I can only imagine that working with tourists might be a lot like working with a slew of children in a busy classroom. In the end, as a tourist, I do consider myself a student of sorts. It’s not just an adventure but a fabulous learning experience. Generally in most circumstances it’s a really good idea to pay attention to what’s happening all around me. And while I consider myself fortunate to have Greek friends that speak English they weren’t with me on this particular tour and as I hadn’t established any real bearings I really didn’t want to get left behind. At the time, Greek, really was ελληνικά to me.
First stop was the Panathinaiko Stadium(Παναθηναϊκό στάδιο), which while at first sight didn’t appear to be an ancient architectural treasure per se but more a modern representation. But in fact it is essentially the same structure that was first constructed in 566BC. Then in 329 BC the structure was re-built to include marble seats and steps. In Greek culture it is also commonly known as Kallimarmaro (Καλλιμάρμαρο) which translates to “beautifully marbled.”
The most recent renovation took place just before the 2004 Summer Olympic Games which were hosted and celebrated in Athens, Greece.
While the original structure is reputed to have held as many as eighty-thousand spectators, this most recent renovation has capacity for a mere forty-five thousand spectators. Just imagine this is the only major stadium in the world that is crafted entirely of marble. It is constructed of white marble that comes from Mount Penteli. As I traveled around Athens and other parts of Greece I did observe that marble has survived in many unexpected areas. I would imagine that their use of marble is akin to the use of native materials in other parts of the world.
Another interesting feature of the current stadium is that the design specifications which were implemented some 2,577 years ago and have remained unchanged since that time match the current standards for athletic venues around the world. It appears that the Ancient Greeks set the standards way back then.
The Panathinaiko Stadium is located in downtown Athens not far from the National Gardens which as you may recall from part one are adjacent to both the Presidential Residence and Syntagma Square.
Our tour guide allowed us to explore the area on our own but did ask that we be back on the bus within a fairly short period of time as this particular tour was just scheduled for half a day. My Greek friends advised the half day tour for a couple of reasons. First off, the intensity of the Greek summer sun can become overwhelming during the middle part of the day. And then more of a cultural consideration is the “necessary siesta period.” I have siesta in quotes because that’s exactly how it was presented to me. And while I did not initially engage in this necessary activity there were a few days in Saronida where this necessary siesta period was in fact a blessing as it was just too hot to do anything else.
As you might imagine our departure from this venue was delayed as one of our group became lost. And our poor Shepard had to go find her. I couldn’t really be upset with the woman who got lost as I have many times had that feeling of being awestruck as the sheer enormity of it all sinks in and makes it’s impression upon me. Later when we actually get to Scotland I have a funny story to tell.
Tomorrow, after we locate the woman who got lost somewhere around the Stadium we will take a first visit over to the relatively new Archeological Museum which is nothing short of amazing.