(ELT News)--A couple of weeks ago I had a visit from a friend who wanted to spend an energetic morning: up on the Acropolis first, and down at its new museum afterwards. It had been about 10 years since I last climbed up the ancient well worn steps and I had not seen the museum, yet, so I mentally girded myself for a morning’s exerting sightseeing, revisiting the well-loved but slightly boringly familiar, but ended up being was pleasantly surprised. The Parthenon, itself, held no new views for me, barring the cranes festooning it in restoration splendour, but the new museum was a real pleasure to visit. It was extremely well laid out, enabling the visitor to take in visual impressions of the past in excellent comfort; and there were plaster reproductions of missing parts added, so that one could really feel the full effect it must have had on the visitor a couple of millennia earlier. In fact, it gave a better overall impression than visiting the British Museum and viewing their rather cold arrangement of those items Elgin lifted a couple of centuries ago. At least the visitor is now able to view the temple decorations in their entirety and to appreciate their full beauty.
Museum entry prices were very fair, only €5, and the cafeteria was truly excellent; 3 people ate lightly for €25 (steamed vegetables, spanakopita and keftedakia). I thought this was very reasonable and the quality was excellent. You may think food an irrelevance, but if I am going to visit somewhere for a period of a few hours, I think it highly important to consider the needs of the stomach, too. After all, the mind cannot fully take in exquisite beauty while the lower regions are crying out for fuel to process one’s thoughts, can it?
My final feelings on leaving the area many hours later, were that from a tourist’s point of view everything worth viewing was to hand and within reasonable walking distance. The changes in pedestrianizing the road of Areou Pagitou are very successful and make the whole area much more attractive than ever before. It could well become a whole day’s interesting outing, now, without the need to mix dreams with reality as you jump out of the path of a passing quixotic driver! You can start by climbing the Acropolis, take a slow view of everything, letting thoughts mix with imagination; then descend, wander around the area and have a welcome coffee at some bar. Afterwards, slowly stroll round and slowly take in all the museum has to offer, not forgetting a light but satisfying lunch between your viewing slots. Then, in the late afternoon, move on to other nearby sights like Thisseion and, perhaps, finish up with a walk round Plaka, followed by dinner in a local tavern.
Yes, Greece has made an excellent job of packaging what the Acropolis area has to offer the tourist; and made viewing and appreciating it all a much more pleasant experience. My friend and I had a wonderful day.
(Original posting date 23 May 2011. Reposted 20 June 2011. Reprinted with permission from ELT News, Limejuice, May 2011)
Andrew Leech (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a former contributing editor of the Greek-American Review of New York. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, of a British father (Lt Colonel British Army) and Greek mother (Marika Calogeropoulou: ballerina, teacher & choreographer). Educated in Britain, he moved to Greece in 1971 while conducting research into the language learning strategies of young children. He returned to Britain in 1977 for postgraduate study. In 1981, he worked in Greece for the Cararigas Schools as Director of Studies before starting his own school in 1984. He also became Director of Studies and Deputy Headmaster of the prestigious St Lawrence College for an interim period. Developing a keen interest in journalism in 1990, Leech became first an internationally known educational correspondent for ELT News and, later, a diplomatic correspondent for Athens News, focusing on visiting dignitaries and heads of state. He is a longstanding member of the Society of Authors and is also a lecturer in Journalism and Communications at Deree College, Athens. For more information about Andrew Leech or to read more of his fine articles, see his brief biography at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/andrewleechbio.html or visit the archival section of HCS devoted to his works at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archiveleech.html .
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