Wednesday, March 24, 2010

. . . And Returns

Joshua and I returned from Greece on Sunday evening.

We enjoyed our trip very much—and so did my parents and so did my brother—and we were pleased that we had an opportunity to view so many of Greece’s most important and most historic attractions.

Nevertheless, our trip to Greece was not the vacation of our dreams. In fact, it may have been the most disappointing trip to Europe we have ever undertaken.

The miraculous theater at Epidaurus was the highlight of our journey. My mother wept when she saw the magnificent structure.

Our visit to Thermopylae was the low point.

The topography at Thermopylae has changed considerably since 480 B.C. The narrow valley in which Leonidas attempted to halt the massive Persian invasion of Greece no longer exists. Mountain ranges have crumbled, rivers have changed courses, and shorelines have altered over the last 2500 years. Today it is impossible to recreate in the mind’s eye the drama of 480 B.C because the present terrain is so drastically different from that extant during the seven days of the battle.

Modern multi-lane highways crisscross the Thermopylae of today. Giant concrete parking lots accommodate rows of tourist buses. Two cheesy modern monuments lend additional indignity to what should be a near-sacred site.

We were appalled.

In hindsight, it may have been a mistake for us to cram the highlights of Greece into eight days. However, in our defense, eight days were all that were available to us.

We enjoyed each other’s company, and we had a lot of fun. The weather was beautiful throughout our journey. We are, nonetheless, of no mind to return to Greece anytime soon.

Greece is a very poor country, practically primitive by American standards. The infrastructure from The Classical Era continues to rot, centuries after the nation should have implemented a serious plan to control its deterioration. The nation’s museums devoted to Greece’s cultural heritage are insufficiently maintained. The city of Athens is unattractive—unclean, disheveled, chaotic—and the country’s current efforts to preserve its cultural monuments appear to be driven largely by profit motive.

It was all very depressing.


Joshua and I now enter our busiest time of year.

Spring break now over, Josh is back at the books and soon enters his exam period.

I was thrown several complicated and extensive projects at work first thing Monday morning.

I think our fun is behind us for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment