Athens is a small city, so it takes almost no effort to wander off the main path and see the underside of the city. That underside involves copious graffiti, lots of homeless people, and a great many closed shops. I really can’t think of the last time I’ve sen anywhere so heavily graffitied – even churches are covered.
It all sits in stark contrast, of course, to the glories of the past, many of which are on display in the National Archaeological Museum. I can’t say we were blown away by the Museum – it seemed very old-fashioned, with cases full of things that are described with single lines rather than put into context. Although there are some absolutely stunning sculptures. So we were wandering about in a fairly desultory fashion when we came upon the Antikythera Mechanism section. Now we have long been fascinated by what is fundamentally a computer created by the Ancient Greeks, and so were completely thrilled to see the real thing. Even better was the fact that this one section of the Museum is both clearly presented and does provide real context. It was all very cool.
The Antikythera Mechanism also started us down a rabbit-hole of a debate about how gears worked. We sat in a cafe with a plate of loukoumades (Greek donuts) and coffee and debated using plates, saucers, and donuts as props. We continued debating as we walked back down the street towards the Acropolis. We then continued debating (because nothing was going to stop Callum) as we visited the Greek Agora. The Agora was the site of the Ancient Greek schools, so a debate there was at least appropriate – although debating with donuts is more fun. For the record, Callum eventually admitted he was not correct, much as it pained him to do so – it pained the rest of us even more to find out later that he had in fact been right.
In the afternoon Bob, Ana and Julia arrived from Spain and then Rox, Nick and Luke joined us. Much fun was had swimming and then a great meal at a cafe down the road. I don’t think Declan could smile much more widely than he did this evening.