Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Athens, Greece

The Parthenon is being restored - so much of the outside walls are covered with scaffolding. Here I am with Denise and Anna our guide in front of what used to be the entrance to the Parthenon. Did you know that "acropolis" means highest mountain? So, each city in Greece has an acropolis - imagine that! Anna is a tour guide with Our Explorer, a company that provides tours in several cities/countries and in multiple languages. In addition to her native tongue, Greek, Anna is fluent in English and French. www.OurExplorer.com/tour-guide-jean-liu-1382.aspx
Among the many interesting historical, cultural, and political information shared by Anna, we all learned that the nine stripes (blue and white) on the Greek flag represent the nine syllables in the Greek works for "Freedom or Death."

An elite team of soldiers guard the tomb of the unknown soldiers at the Parliament Building (formerly the Royal Palace) in Constitution Square in Athens. Each hour, on the hour, there is a changing of the guard ceremony. Two guards are on duty at all times - 24x7. They stand motionless for the entire hour. When the change occurs, the two relief guards are escorted out by a third guard, who also escorts the previous two back "inside". The ritual is a representation of the triumph over the 400 years Greece was occupied by the Turks. The uniform "skirt" has 400 pleats. The shoes are handmade. The tuft on the shoes were used to hide weapons during battles. Participating soldiers serve for 6 months before being reassigned.

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