All we are saying, is give Greece a chance Athens and I made up. We’re not exactly friends, but we’re not enemies anymore, either. I’ve agreed to put my map away a little more often and just wander, and it’s agreed to be slightly less daunting and confusing. This however does NOT apply to the people of Athens. Thanks to them, I have become an expert shover and cut-in-line-er. Here, it’s not “First come, first served”; It’s “hardest shove, first served.” If you leave one inch between you and the person in front of you in any line, this is a direct invitation to another Athenian to step right in. “Mind the Gap” at the metro station basically means, “Someone’s going to push you into the gap, so be ready to jump.” I can proudly say that I have not missed one bus or metro yet due to being shoved (although the door did close on me one time). I perked myself up on Monday (or was it Tuesday? I have no idea anymore) by getting laundry done! What a luxury. It cost me 10 euros for one load, but whatever. It’s done. Since I was stuck dowtown waiting for it, I took advantage. I strolled Plaka, the upmarket shopping street (kind of a cross between Ste-Catherine, St-Denis, St-Laurent and Crescent St in Montreal), feeling left out by all the glam shoppers and cafe-goers. Felt good to see familiar stores though (4 Zaras on one street!)…and…Starbucks!! I bought the biggest vat of latte I could get my hands on. I think it was about 300 euros. Worth every cent. Coconut seems to be big here for some reason (do they grow coconuts in Athens? Is this a big export?) and I’m addicted to these sticks of chewy coconut rolled in…well, coconut. Just what I needed, to supplement all the pastries and fried things (and I thought Greek food was all about fish and grilled veggies?? Haven’t seen either one yet). I trekked up to the Acropolis late in the day when the tour bus crowds were gone. It was a bit hard to process it all, to be honest. Here I was, looking at a building (Parthenon) that I’d seen a million times before in photos. But, in person. And with a lot more scaffolding and construction equipment around it. What I truly felt I was observing was man’s desperate struggle to hang on to the past. There is barely anything left of the original Parthenon. No paint, no ornamentation; just some ancient crumbling marble shored up with new marble, wood, cement, metal girders…every present-day material and tool man can possibly employ to try to salvage this historical monument and keep it from crumbling to the ground in a cloud of dust. I couldn’t hear myself think from all the noise of the saws, cranes, trucks, and workers. I wonder what we are truly holding on to? (I took a few touristy photos anyway and got into a bit of trouble with security over the travel gnome. Oops.) I found it more fascinating to move about the thousands of scattered and forgotten bits of marble and stone lying everywhere around the site that everyone else seemed to completely ignore. Sections of columns with inscriptions, blocks of marble with incredible carvings, reliefs, filligrees, all just lying there, available to the touch. Someone’s labour of love from eons past, discarded and stepped over countless times every day. This to me was the true work of art to behold. The Theatre of Dionisyos (sp) was also very cool, mainly because I could actually sit in it, on the very seats that they sat on, and imagine a tragedy or comedy unfolding before me on the still-existing mosaik marble floor. I think when it comes to monuments and such, I need to touch them in order to truly connect with them (you can’t get to within 50 feet of the Parthenon). It WAS refreshing to find one place on my travels that was graffiti-free. One thing many countries seem to have in common is that there is a generation who feels the need to leave their “tag” on something public. Two-thousand-year-old cistern wall? That’ll do. While Croatia was a massively social phase for me, Greece so far is proving to be very solitary. I am still jarred by the appearance and disappearance of people in and out of my life as I travel. Like so much buckshot we are packed in together for a brief time, feeding off one another’s energy….only to be blasted off in a thousand different directions, all with our own targets. Then I am alone again, with only the thoughts in my head, my tongue silent. I have met but a handful of solo travellers so far on this adventure, and only one female (Shannon from California). So far, nobody I have met is travelling for longer than 4-6 weeks, except for Javier, but he’s a legend in his own right anyway (he LITERALLY had planned NOTHING, and was travelling with the wind from day to day). I guess it makes sense, as most people have jobs/school/homes/lives to get back to. And I just keep moving on.