Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Sunday, November 25th, 2007 Museums in Athens

Woke about 7:30 am to the sound of bells pealing nearby; we have a small and very old Greek Orthodox Church within a block of our hotel. The patron saint is Saint Catherine and this weekend they are celebrating her feast day. We have watched people dressed in their Sunday Best going in and out of the church all weekend. The bells ring and ring and ring to announce each service. We can sit in our room and hear the priest chanting their prayers we’re so close to the church. They have flags flying, flowers all over, large lights in the courtyard and many old women and beggars selling candles. The whole area of the Plaka has an air of festivity about it this weekend.

Jim is not doing well; we’ve decided that he should stay in bed this morning. I went over to check emails at Starbucks and found out about the new fire in Malibu. Then about 10 am I headed out for a twenty minute walk to St. Denis, the Roman Catholic Cathedral for Athens. There is a Latin Mass scheduled for 11 am that I’ve decided to attend. It was beautiful, reminded me of my childhood in Indiana, a High Mass and all in Latin. I told Jim I felt like I was at an opera at times because the music was so spectacular. The Soprano was of “Maria Callas” quality. I even turned on my video of my camera to tape some of the music so I could play it for Jim. The church was packed, there is a large Filipino population here in Greece and I would say fifty percent or more of the attendees this morning were Filipino. Charlie asked me about the ratio of Roman Catholics to Greek Orthodox and only five percent of the population or about 50,000 are Roman Catholic. Consequently, it’s been difficult to find a Mass to attend on our trip here in Greece. Also the reason that most of the Catholics are found on the coast and in the Islands is because that was where the Venetians and the French had an opportunity to shape the mores of the Greek people during the fifteenth century AD.

After Mass I walked back to the hotel; it’s another beautiful day with the sun shining and the sky very blue. I’ve walked by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier each way and noted that the guards are in their white uniforms again. That black outfit must have been their coat as the day I saw them in that outfit was bitter cold; that was the day we couldn’t sail to Paros because of the storms. Each and every day is a learning experience.

Jim was not as perky as I’d hoped but said he wanted to go to two museums today as tomorrow they are closed. By 1 pm we headed out the door and back to the area of the Cathedral; yes, I think I easily put in my five miles today. Our first museum was the City of Athens Museum that is housed in the former residence of Greece’s first King and Queen, King Otto and Queen Amelia. The second floor is dedicated to them and has some of the royal families’ personal furnishings and personal mementoes.

We then walked a couple of blocks over to the Numismatic Museum. We weren’t really that interested in old coins but the building that houses the Museum; the building was built by and as the personal residence of the celebrated archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Some of you may be saying, “Heinrich who?” Jim has filled in my spaces with the story about this man who was a wealthy German industrialist of the Nineteenth Century who came to Greece and Turkey to substantiate the writings of Homer in archeological digs. He discovered ancient Troy, the treasures of Mycenae and the “Golden Mask of Agamemnon”. The building was a showcase for his archeological finds and was more of a museum than a home.

We then walked back to the Plaka and had an early light dinner, followed by a short walk through the Monastiraki shopping streets before calling it a day. Jim is still reading the English newspaper that he picked up last night and I’ve been busy on the computer sorting photos and updating my journal. By the way; a fashion note: seeing lots of young woman and girls with the skin tight tights and short tunic tops…they like to wear boots with this outfit. Is this fashion coming back to haunt us? Many times the tops do not cover the hips, leaving little to the imagination.

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