After a few restless nights due to jet-lag, I began to put my inability to sleep to good use by convincing some of my classmates to join me on an early morning adventure. Before the sun even rose, we were navigating the slippery cobblestone roads up Philopappos Hill, past the Church of Aghios Demetrios Loumbardiaris and the Tomb of Kimon. Our objective was at the top of Philopappos Hill, where we could catch a quiet glimpse of the Parthenon sitting atop the Acropolis- which was our class’s destination for the day. As a pink haze rose above the horizon and brought light to the city of Athens, it was plain to see how the city spanned out in all directions for one distinct center- the Acropolis. The geography of the area itself highlighted the importance of the structure, but I wouldn’t know until later that day exactly how many civilizations revered this powerful hill.
Seeing the Parthenon and the Acropolis from afar that morning, I was really able to appreciate the magnitude of the ancient structure when I was up close and personal later that day. Our first stop as a class was an amazing tour of the Acropolis Museum with our all-knowing tour guide, Dora, that helped put the concepts of the Mediterranean Diet into historical context. The Acropolis Museum was really impressive, since it only contained artifacts from that one hill in the center of Athens- and it was packed! There is so much history on that one hill, that just during the process of building the museum, historians found enough relics to fill the entire entrance hall and a enough ruins to display through a glass floor underneath the building!
After learning about the rich history behind the Parthenon and Acropolis, we made our way up to the main event. After following the tide of tourists and taking some photos, I just sat down and stared at the monstrous, gorgeous, Parthenon for literally twenty minutes. Sitting there staring at this famous, ancient monument was really peaceful. Visiting this place felt less like a tourist destination and Kodak moment, and more like an opportunity to marinate in the history and significance of the place. When it was time to go, I did not want to leave that calm state. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far about the Mediterranean Lifestyle, it’s the importance of taking time to enjoy life. Whether it is slowly savoring a meal with friends and family over the course of a few hours, taking a walk to enjoy beautiful scenery and integrate exercise into your daily routine, or taking a quiet moment in front of the Parthenon, I am really loving this slower place compared to my normal hectic life.