Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Finale - Athens

Athens is not the reason I go to Greece. Not this time anyway. It's a big, bustling city that unfortunately, beyond seeing the ruins, doesn't particularly speak to me. But we went again because my Mom can't go all the way to Greece and not see the Parthenon! So we went, and we wandered the Plaka, and hit some museums. The new Acropolis Museum was an amazing tribute the the Acropolis itself, in full view from the museum. The top level replicated all the friezes and columns of the Parthenon and was the same size and alignment as the ancient temple itself. Difficult to explain, but sometimes in museums the context is lacking. You see wonderful things without a solid, tangible sense of where it came from. Not so at this museum, with the real deal always in the background and with such thoughtful design choices.

For the first time ever, I got to see the real Caryatids, up close. This made the whole trip to Athens worth it for me. Unlike the reproductions at the site that you just can't get quite close enough too, you are able to walk right up to these. I circled these ancient ladies and pondered the burden they literally bore, as well as my own sense of burden and responsibility. I looked at them from different angles, and marveled at seeing them from the back for the first time. So I stood, and sketched. I took my moment to connect with the past and the beauty of these columnic statues. I was at it for a while, when the young museum guide came up to me. Just to look and to talk. He was sweet and admiring and shared how most people just come, look, snap a photo and leave. They spend more time shooting photos than experiencing, and it all gets put on a cd labeled "Greece 2010", rarely to be looked at again. He told me about the sketches on the top floor that helped them determine how the Parthenon once looked, before looting and fires changed its appearence. Drawings made by "someone like you", he said. That made me feel like a historian, an artist, an archaeologist even. That's me, capturing my little bit of the story with my journals and sketchbooks. Mine becoming intertwined with capturing what I see around me. But isn't travel a little bit like that? Your own path converging with the paths of many. Sharing with those on the same journey, at this present moment as well as all those who came before you. People living in and seeking out this place you have been fortunate enough to set foot upon. The first time I went to Greece I felt so close and so far at the same time. How odd and comforting it is to know what is going on somewhere else, that we are all connected by this time, this moment, regardless of where we are.

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