I had decided to go alone. I took a week off between flights, I still had to get to the States, and make a layover somewhere in Europe, so I told myself why not make a one-week stop. I booked one ticket for Athens, and the other for San Francisco from Athens.
I had heard about how special and beautiful this city is, where the remains of history are so palpable, so real. It is the place where the centuries that have passed are not in the books, manuals or under the floor of the huge, bright, modern buildings. No, here all the gods of Olympus seem so real, so present among the inhabitants, among the tourists, among the houses, in their daily activities.
I left my things in the room, got ready and went out, walking down the narrow streets, determined to return after many kilometres. The kittens on the streets, so many and so cheerful, greeted me lazy, weakened by the sunny day. The city was looking organized, although modern buildings were built in a typical Greek style, the white columns rising to the sky.
I was walking slowly through the streets full of smiling, warm people, until I forgot to stop, and the walk had become a reflex; I wanted to discover as much as possible of the ancient city, to discover the remains of such an important civilization, which changed our world as we know it today, which invented the notion of philosophy, laid the foundations of economics, art, politics.
As I was walking, I got to the famous Acropolis, the one and only. Situated up on the highest peak of Athens, the Parthenon, a temple built in 438 BC and dedicated to the goddess Athena, the protector of Greece at the time, looked out over the vast expanses of olive and orange lands. What a sight the wise and terrible goddess must have had!
I began to climb slowly, though I arrived at the entrance quite late, absorbing all the beauty and energy of the streets and of the people on the way ; at seven p.m the tourist hours were closing, I only had an hour to reach the top, but there was no way I could miss it.
After about half an hour of walking, I finally reached the top. As I was walking on the ruins of ancient buildings I felt gratitude, respect, but at the same time I felt that a sacrilege was being committed; I felt that everything that was there had to be preserved with holiness. The view was amazing; all the houses of the inhabitants of Athens and its environs were looking as if they were carefully painted on the horizon, shining in the evening sun.
Everything that remained of the old city emanated astonishing beauty, all the statues perched on the tall columns stared at us, the mortals, even thousands of years after they were there, judging our human weaknesses and flaws. Everything else in the buildings of the old city, so close to the sky, were transmitting from the Gods of Olympus the pride of being one of the most brilliant civilizations in the world.