Sunday, August 29, 2010

ear aches, celebrity couples and Ancient Greek Hunks


My son and me, Parthenon and bust of Man, Pius the Hunk or something, in Agora Museum. It's as if the man were still in there.
So, it was a wild ride, but I got to see the Parthenon - and I'm happy I did. It's about the scale. And it's about craftsmanship. (I know, duh, Dorothy) And I don't think pictures capture it, or replicas. You have to fill in the blanks using your imagination, but the frieze (sp?) must have been beyond spectacular to look at before Lord Elgin the Pillager destroyed it. That reconstructed bit with Dionysus, well, so beautiful.
I almost didn't get home because of this side trip to see one of the world's most famous heritage sites. Perhaps the most famous. I took the ferry to Athens, assuming I could just cancel the first leg of my trip, Mytilini to Athens, sans problemes, when I got there... And as I have had an ear infection from beginning of my trip to Greece, I was happy to avoid one plane ride. And I wanted to see the Acropolis, even though my brother said "It's just a ruin, like that old theatre in Montreal, the York, near the forum, the old Montreal Forum that is, another kind of heritage site...but I digress."
But apparently you can't. When I got to Athens I phoned my so called agent, an online agent (I will NEVER use online agents again) to be told that you can't just cancel. It's all a package and if you miss the first flight the other flights are cancelled, too. What? I mean I subscribe to Les Grands Ballets, but if I don't use a ticket, they don't cancel the other shows on me.
Anyway, I had to go to the Athens airport at four in the morning, on no sleep (indeed, I didn't sleep on the overnight ferry to Athens the night before) to book a flight back to Mytilini to take the very same plane back a few minutes later.. . in order to prevent spending thousands on a new ticket home...but between Air France and Delta I managed to avoid both of these two unpleasant scenarios and get on my Air France flight from Athens to Montreal, although the procedure seemed more complicated than mapping the human genome.(and I wasted 200 euro on that Athens-Mytilini emergency flight. A tax on spontaneity.)
As the agents were communicating in Greek, I had no idea WHY this procedure was so difficult. Anyway, I got re-issued a ticket at no charge (I hope!) and I got on the plane to Paris I had been booked on all along. And I like Air France. Nice food and booze and on the overseas leg I had the big seat where I could completely stretch out my feet. and I am tall as you can see. (What you can't see is that my feet were totally swollen, another thing that happened to me in the dry heat of Greece. (Dropsy, the syndrome was once called.) As I was waiting in the line to check in, my son, who was with me for moral support, spied an Academy Award winning actress and her family right in front of me and pointed her out. My son told me her husband was equally successful, but I didn't recognize him. My son had a brain blip from lack of sleep and couldn't remember his name. (I looked them up on IMDB and yes, the father is very busy, as they say. He's just completed a movie with arguably the two most famous actors on the planet and he got third billing.)
Nice to see a 'celebrity couple' that can live a normal life. No one recognized them, it seemed, they sat beside me on the plane. I assume most celebrities get left alone, but I'm sure people gawk.

Anyway, I had an infected ear and no medicine except vinegar drops and paracetamol, and swollen feet, and still I loved Greece. 13 days with not a cloud in the sky. (I suffer from SAD syndrome.) And the great food, and the gentle Greek wines, although I got a little tired of delicious, healthy, cheap food in the end.. Funny. Too much of a great thing. But I can see why Greece is doing so poorly economically: the sales people are so laid back. (Unlike Cairo, where my son had just been and where he had been followed miles by people trying to sell him things, or rob him.)
And I am happy I spent two hours on the Acropolis, although I (rather fittingly) have a fear of heights. Acrophobia! (Now, that's where I should have started my essay..) I paid 100 euro for a guide who gave us a Freudian tour of the site. She told me that she does this because she assumes we North Americans have all learned about Greek Myths in more cartoony terms. But, of course, she was talking to a person long converted to such ideas.
Very happy- and at the end of the day- despite my fatigue and frenzy over the ticket (try talking to people over the phone with blocked ears) we visited the New Museum, a beautiful structure filled with astounding artefacts .. (bits and pieces, my favorite being the Nike taking off her sandals (my son pointed out how her thigh muscles are visible through her gown) which I've seen in books...and awaiting the many more that belong to Greece but are in other museums like the British Museum). It's built over an archeological dig, and you walk over a glass floor, and that scared me too.. although it was intriguing. (My son told me a story about his visit to the CN tower with its glass floor, and how a huge obese man beside him jumped up and down for fun and freaked him out.)
Anyway, if the Parthenon can be said to be like the old York Theatre on St. Catherine, the Acropolis is like Montreal's Mount Royal, with the city down below all around.
And oddly, I was not at all tired during the long trip home, four hours in de Gaulle, where I could understand the language and daydream about my upcoming trip to France and Italy in the spring. I have to work out this ear issue, though. My ears are very blocked today, so it is the plane ride that does it to me.
And I got to Montreal and waited aeons for my bags, I think they were first on last out, and I was in a summer dress which was fine, as we're having a heatwave, of sorts, 29 and 30 and sunny for the rest of the week.... (I would have froze on the plane, but my seat had a blanket and a gift bag with socks and moisturizer and even a toothbrush. Very nice! And I watched A Single Man on the plane, again, for looking at him is comforting to me, and half of the Ghostwriter, but I was too blurry-minded to watch a political thriller, but Pierce Brosnan really is good in that movie, as in the Matador, a movie I just love for his wonderful peformance.)
And today, having slept about 6 hours, so that makes about 8 hours in four days, I suddenly have a small headache. It's all caught up with me. Or maybe it's my smelly animal-dander encrusted wall to wall carpet...hmm.