Athens receives a pretty tough wrap. We
were warned, by both guidebooks and fellow
travelers, to get in and out of Athens as quick
as possible. They told us to see the Acropolis,
then catch the next flight or train out of the
city. It is crowded, polluted, and full of crime.

 It definitely is all of that. The streets are a
solid throng of locals and tourists, separated
only by the incessant flood of cars and
mopeds, all with drivers laying on their horn.
The sprawl of Athens is unbelievable. There
are several scenic overlook points and there is
development as far as the eye can see. With
this many people and automobiles you can bet
there is a pollution problem. The haze and
smog are constant in Athens, although on a
brief two or three day visit it is not strong
enough to be uncomfortable. As far as crime, I
am guessing that yes, it is a problem. I say
this because we were there two days and
The Acropolis in Athens
someone tried to pickpocket us. It happened in a subway station as we were taking the escalator down to our
train. Luckily for us, it seemed like it was the first time these two men had attempted a pickpocket. They came off as
really nervous and unsure of what to do. One of them tried to distract Jarrod with conversation (they asked him for
directions) while the other one eyed and moved toward his backpack. But the one talking just kept repeating the
same question, and his buddy wasn’t sure if he should proceed or not. It was obvious enough that they weren’t
interested in directions, so by the time the question was asked a second time we made our move down the
escalator to where there were more people quickly. We saw these two guys loitering about the end of the platform
while we waited for the train. Not surprisingly, they didn’t get on the train. I assume they made their way back up
the escalator to try their luck on the next couple of tourists.
  Other than that experience, we really enjoyed our time in
Athens. Despite the crowds, the Acropolis was intriguing to see
and to imagine what it was like in its heyday. I took a history
time-out while Jarrod explored the ancient Greek and Roman
agoras. If you are curious about that, ask him because I spent
my time making phone calls via Skype back in our room! We
treated ourselves to a performance of the opera “Carmen” by
the Greek National Opera in the Odeon of Herodus Atticus
amphitheatre. It was built in 161 A.D and sits right below the
Acropolis. From our seats we could look out to the mountains,
ocean, and buildings of Athens, or up to the beautifully
illuminated Acropolis. Neither of us are particular opera fans,
that just happened to be what was playing in the
amphitheatre that night. It was more about the history of the
place and the setting. In fact, we couldn’t understand a single
word that was sung. We were so oblivious to the plot that
Odeon of Herodus Atticus amphitheatre in Athens
after two and a half hours, when the performers took a break, we didn’t know if it was intermission or the
conclusion of the opera. We have added the plot of “Carmen” to our list of things to google when we have the
time. But again, just seeing a performance in the outdoor amphitheatre where (what used to take place) was fun.

 We also used some of our time in Athens to visit the U.S. Embassy. The pages in our passports are already
approaching capacity. This is because, when taking the train, every time you cross a border, regardless if you are
stopping in that country or just passing through, your passport is stamped. It is often stamped twice—once when
entering the country and once when exiting. Just looking at our train ride from Slovenia to Greece, we exited
Slovenia, passed through Croatia, Serbia, and Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, and entered Greece.  So
that is up to eight stamps. So, we went to the U.S. embassy to receive a 20-page insert into our passports.
Hopefully that will be enough for the remainder of our trip.
City Life
Oia, Santorini