I can honestly say that I'm not inclined to boasting. (If I were, would I know it?) Even if I were, I'd have no need for it in Athens, at least when it comes to cycling: If you ride at all, people--even other cyclists--are impressed, if they don't think you're crazy.
So I didn't have to claim that I ride up the hill of the Acropolis. I rode a bit before I arrived, mainly to try out the bike I'm renting. It's actually rather nice: a hybrid with wide 700C tires. I had never seen the brand--Ideal--before, but it's apparently sold in a few other European countries. If anything, it--or, at least, this particular bike--seems much like similar offerings from Trek or Specialized or Giant. It wouldn't surprise me if Ideal bikes were made in the same factories as those other brands.
I rode another bike just like it yesterday morning with Sappho as my guide. Both bikes came from Athens by bike, Today, though, I had the advice of Manos, the co-owner of Athens by Bike (good on all counts) and my own instincts (sometimes good) to guide me.
So I rode a bit around the Plaka, the central area of the city and home to the Acropolis as well as other well-known sites. I stopped just before noon, as most any Greek might have done, when the temperature rose noticeably. Instead of ducking into an air-conditioned building or a well-shaded cafe terrace, I took the hike up to the Acropolis and wandered among its ruins.
Contrary to what many people think, "Acropolis" refers to the site, not to any of the structures on it. And, neither the Parthenon nor any of the other buildings are the "original" monuments built there. Other things had been built there before, mainly because of its springs, which were said to be created by Poseidon himself.
I am amazed at how quickly (at least relatively speaking) the Parthenon or, for that matter, the Angkor Wat (which I visited last year) were constructed, let alone how accurate and intricate were the work that went into them, especially when one considers that the designers and builders did not have the technology we have today. The funny thing is that it took less than a decade to build but has been in one stage or another of repair or reconstruction almost since Greece gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire---nearly two centuries ago!
To be fair, it's astounding that any part of the building is still standing, given how it was used and abused, not to mention damaged (and nearly destroyed altogether) by natural and human-caused disasters. Also, I would imagine that it might be more difficult to figure out how something was conceived, created or constructed when records are sketchy, damaged or nonexistent, than it was to actually build something from scratch.
Still, I told the director of operations--who saw me riding to the site--that I might be able to help speed things up a bit. Hmm...Maybe that person believed that if I was strong or persistent, or simply crazy, enough to ride on Athens streets, I could be of help.
So, instead of doing a job that involves no heavy lifting in New York for a salary that sounds good until you have to pay New York prices, I am going to do some heavy lifting in Athens. The rents are much lower here--but so are the salaries.
All right: I made up that story about getting a job here. But, really, my time on the Acropolis--and in its museum afterward--was some of the best I've spent. And the late-day ride I took afterward was a reward, even if part of it didn't go as planned. More about that later.