My leg bounced up and down in anticipation. This was it — the part of our three-week-long trip to the Mediterranean that I was the most excited for. My family and my best friend were on our way to visit the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. I sat in the very back of our rented van, squished in between my best friend and my younger brother. We excitedly discussed our favorite Greek gods, goddesses, heroes, and stories. Our books would soon be coming to life.
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I gazed out the window, feeling as if I were in a dream. I was in awe of the endless beaches, the blue sky and the even bluer sea, the visible heat that vastly differed from our home in Seattle. The van rounded a bend and Poseidon’s temple appeared. It felt appropriate for the gray columns of the sea god’s temple to be located on the shore, contrasting starkly with the intense blue backdrop. It was magical.
Soon, we arrived at our destination, the Acropolis. When we stepped out of the van, the humidity was like walking into a wall, but I was focused on other things. Hundreds of years ago, the very ground I was standing on had been the gathering place of ancient Athenians. It reminded me of a mall — an outdoor, not air-conditioned mall made mostly of crumbling marble. We stepped onto the stone paths and suddenly I was back in time, among the merchants and artisans and athletes of ancient Greece.
We made our way through the crowds, towards one of the most well-known Greek structures — the Parthenon, a temple of the Greek goddess Athena. I was overwhelmed by the diversity of languages that were being spoken. I assumed all the tourists’ conversations mirrored my family’s: either in awe of the ancient structures or complaining about the weather (my brother was certainly the latter).
We finally reached the top of the marble steps and arrived at the site of many of the ancient temples. The crowded, hot, sticky space was filled with ruins of buildings, temples, and statues. Columns depicting women dressed in robes supported a stone temple. Hundreds of years old, the ladies were still standing proudly on their pedestals, as if the reign of Greece had never ended. I was in awe of how detailed their faces and clothing were; how was it possible for stone to look so similar to fabric? Though chipped and broken, the statues held so much rich history and life and meaning. Their stone eyes had seen so many years of change.
And then — the Parthenon. A massive, ancient temple dedicated to the patron goddess of the powerful city. Cranes surrounded it, preparing it for restoration. Columns were chipped and the frieze was broken off in places, but the temple still radiated confidence and power. It was a symbol of the mark that the ancient Greeks left on the world. There were so many people wandering around, snapping pictures, pointing at the structure. I wondered if they were all as in awe as I was — they had to be, it was an amazing sight. The styrofoam and toilet paper roll model that we made in 8th grade history class didn’t even come close to comparing to the wonder and power that emanated from the ancient structure.
The Parthenon has lived a thousand lifetimes, filled with mystery and mythology. Walking through the ruins of a city with so much fascinating history was incredible. I’ll never forget how magical it felt to walk through the marble paths of the Acropolis.
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