Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Greece - Museums in Athens

Today has been spent exploring two of the major museums here in Athens.

The National Archaeological Museum is seriously world-class. Astounding collections of Grecian antiquities, generally well laid out and well-staffed. I was particularly taken by the Cycladic exhibitions (figurines with clear white faces like a Brancusi sculpture, and elegant ceramic vessels), the Khouros collections, and Geometric Period vases.

Exploring it took around 5 hours, so I had much less time to take in the Benaki Museum. This was once a private collection, now turned over into a semi-private museum. It's housed in a former mansion on the embassy street, and loaded with exquisitie (and sometimes tacky but bejewelled) objects and artworks from across Greece's classical and more recent history. Both sites were free (love being an Austrian! That card has saved me a day's budget in just three days so far...)

I also located the only copy of Lonely Planet's current guide to Italy this morning, so I'm feeling well-organised. The internet cafe I'm writing from is at the top of an eight-storey building without an elevator, but the desk I'm at has a stunning view out over to the Acropolis.

Last night was fun - spent it out around central Athens with dorm mates Carl (NZ), Craig (Wales), Chantelle and Pru (Aussies). We checked out the monuments illuminated, local ouzo and cheap beers, and posed ridiculously for Tourist Photo Moments.

Tomorrow is going to be spent on the boat to Santorini. This'll give me seven hours to read about Italy, admire passing islands, and generally bum around. Love it!


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