Greek life

Late summer urban hikes

With the weather a little cooler – and the sea unswimmable – we are practicing yoga on our sea-facing patio (photo) and taking long urban hikes through Voula, Glyfada and Vouliagmeni.  We’ve found great parks, nice walking routes along shaded streets or the sea (watching for oil and cleanup efforts along the way).  The other day Demetri and I went into Athens and walked to Filopappo Hill, the highest of three hills just west of the Acropolis.  In ancient times it was known as the Hill of the Muses; it’s now named for a monument to Filopappos, an exiled Roman senator who settled in Athens, became an citizen and politician in the first century.  Also here is Pnyx Hill, which I’ve pictured in my head thousands of times as it’s where ancient orators and philosophers gathered to discuss politics.  These two hills, along with the Hill of Nymphs, connect together as a park with views of the Acropolis and the ancient theater, but the entire city of Athens (museums, churches, patches of green here and there, long streets stretching all the way to Piraeus) and the Aegean sea and even the Peloponnesian mountains in the distance. It was an incredibly clear day.

Hidden from sight – which I found out later – is the prison where Socrates was imprisoned and died. From Filopappos, we walked to the National Observatory, on the Hill of the Nymphs, to see Adrian Villar Rojas’ outdoor exhibition, “The Theater of Disappearance.”  The exhibition is coming to both New York and LA and we happened upon it in Athens in its final few days.  Rojas planted 26 different species of non-native plants that have taken over the entire space; creating walls of corn stalks, artichokes, pumpkin vines, bamboo and other plants.  They planted in January – totally novel for us when the ground is frozen and everything is dormant at home.  Huge pumpkins are everywhere; the plants have essentially swallowed up the statues on the observatory grounds.  There are 5ish installations around the grounds -fossils, abandoned parachutes, an astronaut uniform.  It sounds like it would be weird, but instead it’s pretty nifty and we would have never known about it had we not walked by. Then, down to Thissio and Monastiraki, grabbed a snack, bought some figs and boarded the metro home.  Sadly, our purpose of the day was a walk, so neither of us had a camera. (!)

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