Greece - Don't Forget to Bring a Match
Posted by Rebecca Sellet
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Athens, Greece, Museums
I’m nostalgic about Greece lately. Having traveled and lived in Greece since 1986, I like to be current. For the past few weeks, I’ve scoured the media for information about Greece, her current crises, whether or not the citizens of this ancient land would vote yes or no to the Euro. Not quite as far back as ancient times, but a long time ago, I had a Greek boyfriend who told me “We Greeks, we lit the candles for the rest of the world and forgot to save one match for ourselves.” I’ve been rolling that statement over and over in my head these past few weeks and wonder, with the recent vote to stay with the Euro, if Greece has finally found a match to relight her fire. It’s an exciting time; there is a vibe, a sense that the candles could again be lit and it makes me think of one of my favorite places to visit in Athens.
An easy taxi ride from central Syntagma Square and the Tauck partner hotel, plus being one of the less visited museums of Athens, are good reasons to seek out the Agora Museum if you have a few hours to spare in Athens. Located at the edge of the Monastiraki section of the city, renowned for its flea market and shopping, the museum is situated on the site of Athens ancient “agora” or market place. Well actually, the agoras of ancient times were beyond just a market place. The agora was a gathering spot, the place where it all happened – entertainment, shopping, gossiping, teaching, learning and politics. Sort of like the modern day Internet. The treasure of the Agora Museum is a collection of “ostraca”. Ostraca are shards of pottery on which Athenians would scratch the name of a person to cast a vote to banish them from the city, usually for 10 years. It’s easy to see how “ostraca” became “ostracism” in English. After visiting the interior of the museum, I always find a shady spot outside to sit quietly and conjure the sounds and smells of the ancient agora. I think it’s important to take in the power of this place; ponder the shards under my feet and in the museum and think about the modern day Greeks and how they are casting ballots to determine their future. A future that will hopefully be well lit with plenty of candles and a good supply of matches.