parthenon Without a place to stay in Rome on Easter Sunday, we decided to go somewhere else. We ended up deciding on Greece. Maybe it was the beautiful Greek model Max met earlier that day who was also going to Greece to see her parents. Or perhaps Austria and Germany drained so much of my remaining funds that the drachma's exchange rate looked pretty good. Or maybe, after two straight weeks of cloudy weather in Italy, it was the native Californian need to follow the sun.
on board To get to Athens, we waited eight hours in the port town of Bari to take the single daily ferry boat over to Patras, a ride that was twenty hours long. Next was a six hour train ride from Patras - top speed 30 mph. The boredom brought us together with three New Zealanders, John, Lynette and Catherine. They were on their way to Turkey - something about wanting to celebrate their military defeat at Gallipoli. Max said what do you expect from a country where summer happens in December. Max and Lynette got into an argument about our respective countries, how Americans expected the world to follow them, our expansionist military policy was an obstacle to international relations and common ground, and how much American culture was so pervasive, so insiduous, that while growing up, the New Zealanders were as much weaned on Brady Bunch and Big Macs as we were. All Max could reply was, "So what . . . didn't you guys send over Crocodile Dundee?"
five of us After the New Zealanders explained to Max the political difference between Austrailia and New Zealand, we ended up at a taverna called the Daphni, just down the street from the hostel. When you entered the room, there was a steam table with ten or twenty entrees, all looking quite wonderful compared to the chips and soda we had on the ferry for the past 24 hours. The five of us went back to the "garden," little more than the dirt covered backyard, surrounded by packing boxes and freezers, but enlivened by a canopy of christmas lights above. We sat down, and started to order the beer. Being true New Zealanders, John and Lynette drank beer like water. We ended up drinking nearly two sixpacks a piece that night.

We started talking about world history for some reason, and came to the conclusion that all the world's ills were caused by the Spanish armadas in the 16th century. "The bastards!" John yelled in a drunken stupor, "They took over the world, crushed the opposition, and made the natives slaves of their religion." Max joined in, "Yeah, they took Florida, my home state, those bastards!" I said, "And California, and Mexico, and the Philippines too. Those bastards!" John and Lynette both raised their glasses in support, "To the bastards!" The five of us screamed at the top of our lungs, "TO THE BASTARDS!" We were making so much noise, we were asked to leave.

The next day, we went to the Acropolis, the Mecca for all architects inspired by the power and elegance of classical architecture. It was something I had been looking forward to the entire time we were on the ferry boat. I would finally come face to face with two thousand years of architectural history, looking back to the origins of everything I knew, studied, copied and learned during school. I was going to photograph, sketch, and draw everything I could on the mountain. It was to be the most significant moment of my long trip. After we arrived at the top, I left the other four to enjoy the fufillment of this life long dream. Fifteen minutes later, Max found me by the Erechtheion and said the others wanted to go get a beer. When I protested, Max said, "It's OK, you can buy a video tape at the gift store. Its great, its got pictures and everything."

Back to the Grand Tour. . . .

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june 1996