There are some places on the planet Earth I feel every human should visit at least once in their lives. Athens, Greece is one of these places. I don’t really need to go into the history of Western Civilization. Suffice it to say, that as you walk through the Parthenon and among the ruins on and around the Acropolis the past surrounds you, envelopes you as a palpable, living entity. The rocks have, literally, told their stories and the generations of archaeologists and historians have done their best to make that past come alive for the visitor. They’ve done a good job.
As is often the case for most of us, we don’t always have the luxury of time when visiting these great monuments and, aside from a day or two of wiggle room, we’re pretty much stuck with the conditions on the day we have. Ours was a hot, bright Aegean sunny day with at least one, but probably more like four, massive cruise ships at port. We knew about at least one by the thousands of tourist sporting their cruise ship brand strapped colorfully around their wrists. With no other real choice we fell in with the steady procession climbing the fabled trail up to the Parthenon. The ancient and worn stone steps would stand the test of time for at least a few more thousand footsteps that day, ours among them.
As we all funneled out through the last portal and onto the Acropolis hilltop, we found ourselves almost alone on one quiet corner that had been some long-ago senator’s favorite spot to sit under an olive tree on just such a day as this. The crowds parted and we were able to feel like the swarming masses had withdrawn and there was peace. We even managed a quick photo or two before an onlooker spied our revelry and decided there was room for one more small group on that quiet spot. It’s hard to stay indignant for long as the realization hits that we, too, are equally a part of that swelling mass of tourism. We are quick to beckon our fellow travelers over for what we have found to be one of the least crowded, if not serene areas.