Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wrapping up in the day in the Platka, Athens

The Platka, in central Athens, has a lot of tourist shops and sidewalk cafes. As it was about 100F that day, I was quickly running out of steam. But I snapped away as I went. Above, the Monument of Lysikrates, the only intact choregic monument, which were built to commemorate choral and dramatic festivals. This one is from 334 BC.
A quiet Platka side street.
At the Vouli parliament building is the tomb of the unknown soldier, where one can catch the changing of the guard, which I did with the morning tour group.
Across from the Tower of the Winds, described under the previous post, is this much more modern ruin.
Facing the nearby Hadrian's Arch is this bust of the actress and politician Melina Mercouri, famous for Never on Sunday and as Minister of Culture, rallying the cry for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens, both of which she is fondly and proudly remembered for in Greece. I remember seeing the film Topkapi with my parents in its initial 1964 release and finding her very charismatic. She also played Broadway, in the musical version of Never on Sunday, retitled Illya, Darling. You can see a few numbers from the show performed on the Ed Sullivan Show by going to the site
Finally, I refreshed myself at a sidewalk cafe and was grateful to be in out of the sun for a while. I did not see one cloud, not one, for the entire nine days I was in Greece.
After melting into a shower at the hotel and changing my clothes, I went back out to the Platka and hoped to find one of the famous garden cinemas in the city. I thought I found one of them on my map, but gave up when it seemed to be too far. Then, suddenly, in the middle of the Platka, I stumbled upon the Paris. It was playing Mamma Mia, something I was not too keen on seeing, but I figured if I didn't see it here in Greece, where it was filmed (on one of the islands), where would I? So I bought a ticket and climbed the stairs to the roof. It instantly brought back memories of my childhood when my family would go to the drive-in (in fact, we saw Topkapi at the Valley Auto Theatre in Valley Station, Kentucky). The cicadas were chirping in the trees and there was a heavenly breeze and to the left was the floodlit Acropolis. There was no rake, so I had to move once so I could see something besides the person's head in front of me, and all sat on folding chairs. Everything at the Paris is in original language with subtitles. I didn't even mind the movie so much. It wasn't quite as bad as most of the reviews led me to believe.
I managed to get this timed exposure during the end titles which gives you a vague idea of what the cinema looks like. All around this outdoor cinema are hotels and apartments and the features run (like drive-ins) into the wee hours. I can't quite imagine what that's like! Free movies but no sleep, I guess.

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