Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The Cradle of Western Civilization

Athens, Greece – May 17, 2006

We thought about visiting the Acropolis in Athens and decided instead to spend the day in an opium den on the waterfront in Pireaus. We are seated by the proprietor, a morbidly obese albino Dutchman. In the afternoon, we stagger though the ship’s security checkpoint and back onto the boat and are greeted by the cafeteria steward Deowa, a diminutive ray of sunshine from Bali, Indonesia. Deowa engaged us in conversation early in the trip and never fails to greet us with a cheery, “Good Morning, Bob and Carol!”.


Three weeks with limited internet access has me thinking about the upcoming summer trip to Alaska. Most of it will be though parts of Canada we haven’t seen before. My ISP doesn’t cover that area as part of my monthly contract. Even in Alaska, our ISP does not have good coverage. On the other hand, the reds start running July 15th.

Today we are “at sea”, in and out or showers and sunshine. We arrive in Messina, Sicily tomorrow morning for a tour up the slopes of Etna. I’ve got some good shots of its snow covered slopes from earlier in the trip, but the cost per minute of the boat’s internet makes me reluctant to pay the price of posting any pictures on the internet. After that, we spend a few days wandering the streets of Rome and the back to Florida on the 23rd.

Our 40th anniversary was last Christmas Eve. We don’t buy presents for each other anymore. We agreed at Christmas back in Las Cruces that this trip would be to celebrate the occasion, but any excuse would have done just as well.

This is not a good time for Americans to travel in Europe. The cost of a thimbleful of espresso, for example, now averages $6. The Euro is at $1.40 and going up. This trip will cost roughly double what we have been spending on similar trips a few years ago. Our Greek tour guide yesterday feels sorry for us. She says once we were once a rich people and now we are poor like them. She hopes we can join the European Union one day. They tend to force policies of economic sanity on member nations.

Our Athens guide had an astounding passion for Athens, although she admits that it is an astonishingly ugly and depressing city of small condominiums full of cars with no parking spaces. She calls it the cradle of western civilization. Mrs. Phred and I glance at each other when she says this and shake our heads…everyone knows that Florida State University is the cradle.

We signed up for a long tour. First we go to the Temple of Poseidon south of Athens, and then have lunch and a tour of the Acropolis. Our guide tells us a long story on the bus ride involving King Minos and his wife who was stricken by a bad case of zoophilia and who fell in love with a white bull. She hid herself inside a specially built wooden cow (don’t ask for details) and the resulting offspring of this union was a minotaur who was very fond of virgins and who lived in a labyrinth. Somehow Icarus and a golden thread come into play later in the story.

Here are some pictures of Athens.

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