Things which are okay at the Acropolis: Yanni playing a concert, people in all forms of dress, funny faces, wild dogs pissing and pooping everywhere as well as fighting each other, tour guides giving incorrect names of gods/goddesses, children crying and screaming, tons of people taking pictures in various states of dress and undress, grafitti
Things which are not okay at the Acropolis: taking a picture of yourself with a stuffed bear
It’s true. Duffy and I nearly caused an international incident. As we were entering the monument area, a woman gestured that we’d have to leave “that” behind at the check area. We had seen lots of monuments saying that you can’t bring in bags, so we started pulling out things from our backpack and preparing to leave it. Then she clarified that it wasn’t the bag…it was Duffy. No toys at the Acropolis. I was like, “But I wanted to take a picture with him. I’ve been doing it at all the major sites across Europe.” She said it wasn’t allowed. Then, confusingly, she said no flags are allowed. I tried to explain that his outfit could be removed if the checkered flag on it is a problem. Nope…no bears. And her companion at the gate seemed really unsure about this and looked almost like she wanted to let us through but the other woman was not having it. The companion said, “it’s not logical” as I was questioning the rule. Then, I looked around. The rule wasn’t posted anywhere. Tons of tourists were walking in with large bags filled with who knows what,and no one was searching the bags. I tried one more time by saying that I’d be happy to put Duffy away in our bag and not take a picture with him if that’s the concern, but that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him behind. Nope, no luck. So, I asked if I could see the rule printed somewhere, as I didn’t understand how I was supposed to follow a rule that no one mentioned in any guidebook, that wasn’t posted anywhere, and that no one else seems to be following. I said I felt like I was being targeted for being honest where so many people could be doing things that they aren’t honest about.
The woman took me to the monument office, and once again, I explained the supervisor there that I was happy to put my bear away, but that I wasn’t comfortable leaving it, and that I didn’t understand the concern. I also said that I wasn’t sure that we were understanding each other correctly, since there’s no rule posted anywhere about this, and could I please see a copy of the rules of what can and cannot be brought in. Well, this didn’t sit well at all…and the exchange got heated once they accused me of lying, when I’d been honest the whole time and I felt like they were lying by having secret rules that they only enforced with me. Then, this guy, who was like napping or something when we came in, started yelling in Greek and basically turned into the Acropolis Nazi, all like “no acropolis for you” and escorted me back out to the gate. A Greek person who was there was trying to argue on our behalf to no avail, and finally, DH and I went to the police who first confirmed that it is in fact a rule (which even they said is silly) and that we could go in if we checked our bag, with bear, in the cloakroom down the way. Now, a cloakroom with a ticket check-in was a bit more palatable than the one woman who wanted me to leave my things on an unguarded and dusty shelf…and at this point, I was like, whatever, because I didn’t even want to go anymore, but I wanted to make sure DH could go, so I relented. The cloakroom guy, amusingly, was like, you don’t need to leave this here…you can take it with you, and we were like, no, we can’t, don’t ask. 🙂
So, that is how we got a police escort into the Acropolis. Now…putting all of this aside…the Acropolis is promised but not really delivered. The Acropolis is under renovation, so you can only see it halfway because of the scaffolding. The columns that you do get to see are massive and impressive, but they’re columns. Honestly, the best parts of the Acropolis area (fair or unfair) are at the British Museum. So, you climb up a ton of stairs for very little in the end. And the rest of Athens was not enjoyable. The economic concerns are really showing. Everything is covered in grafitti (amusingly, one of the two big gangs there seem to be the frogs) and the whole place feels very unkempt. The train service is unreliable and the trains are smelly. Taxis were nice enough and we ran into no problems there, except that one guy seemed to want to tell us that we owed nothing and then didn’t want to give us change for 20 euro when we wanted to at least give him 5 euro. There are armed guards all over the place, but it still doesn’t feel very safe. It was just not pleasant really, even before we got to the acropolis. So…sad as it may make you to do so, I would say to skip Athens. See the best parts of the monuments over in London, and go to the Greek isles (which are reputed to be gorgeous) instead. And bring your bears without shame. 🙂