This should really be a video post. A very old native Athenian at the top of the hill we were climbing becomes agitated and extremely vocal when Ellie asks for directions to Lycabettus. We can see the passion and ferocity of her expression, and she holds Ellie at attention for much too long for the simple directions we have asked for. Tina fumbles through the backpack for the video camera as I stand completely transfixed by the interaction. I am paralyzed by the unexpected intensity. Ellie nods periodically and says nothing. Her back is to me so I cannot see how she is faring with the angry words I can’t understand. I keep thinking it is about to end, but it doesn’t for a very long time. Finally, the woman dismisses us and we descend back down two blocks of the hill we have climbed. We don’t know what happened until we turn the corner and head to our destination.
But I am ahead of myself.
Today we head out to find out what is on the hill opposite the Parthenon. A metro ride…ten blocks along a busy road…and about the same number of blocks straight up, we are in range of what we are looking for…Lycabettus.
But before we can get there, we must ask no fewer than seven people if we are heading in the right direction. This incredible spot at the top of a hill, with a stunning vista, is maddeningly difficult to find. It seems bizarre that we can be climbing this long without even the slightest indication that we are heading in the right direction, but we keep getting affirmation that we are on the right track. So we continue to climb.
So, at the point we are about to begin losing oxygenated air (ok, I’m exaggerating a wee bit), Ellie asks the elderly woman we run across if we are still heading in the right direction. What we find out, as we turn the corner toward our destination after the interaction, is that the woman is completely and wildly infuriated with the government. They have paved the road to her house…which she confesses is wonderful, but they have done little else in a very long time and she is enraged. Enraged enough to monologue her displeasure to unwitting American tourists…winded and lost on the way to an elusive hilltop.
And Tina is as transfixed as I am. We did not get any of it on video. Fail.
But we did finally make it to this:
This alone was worth the climb. It is a bizarre contraption of a tram that pulls tourists up through a tunnel to the top of the mountain. It is a short ride. We have already climbed much more than this will eventually carry us. But the thing is irresistible. Come on. Can you imagine NOT getting on this thing?
But at the top…good lord, it is beautiful. We can see everything from here. A little church sits at the very top and vendors sell icons and keychains to visitors.
And this is where Meagan begins to totally drive Grant crazy.
Grant wants to look through the telescope, which costs two euros. Tina and I aren’t up for it…because it is really not the kind of place where a telescope is gonna add much to the experience frankly. But Meagan has two euros and she will give them to Grant in exchange for…a kiss on the cheek. (SPOILER ALERT: Meagan will leave after two weeks without a kiss from Grant, despite NUMEROUS attempts.)
I snap photos and try not to laugh and the silly interactions…because it is all very serious to Grant. I get some great shots. They are on Facebook, but here are a couple:
We had a much more pleasant walk back to the metro station…largely because we did not have to ask for any directions.