29 August 2011

Movies

En route from Vatican City to The Royal Marcella Hotel, Mom & I stopped at Henry Cow for a [typical, Italian] late dinner.  I had a white a.k.a. no tomato sauce pizza with added garlic chunks & ananas a.k.a. pineapple, while Mom had delicious lasagna.  Again, we ate at small patio tables that were barely big enough for the two of us… and forget about having a place to put your purse!

When we returned to the hotel room I was running a low-grade fever and had a pounding headache.  The busy day had taken its toll.  I promptly went to bed because I could not afford anymore sick days – especially since tomorrow we had non-refundable tickets to one of Italia’s “Big Three”: the Colosseum (the other two being Florence’s duomo & Pisa’s leaning tower”)

We awoke early -- according to Italian standards – and ascended to the rooftop for our free continental breakfast.  Aside from the runny eggs, everything was superb.  The food freak in me fell in love the first day with arancia rossa a.k.a. red orange juice.  It had a more bitter taste than American orange juice, almost like a grapefruit.  The fruit itself was more of a blood orange.  Like Australia – and unlike the U.S.A. -- Europe did not have an array of sweetened cereals.  In fact, the cereal and milk at the breakfast tasted gross to both Mom & me.  Still, a night of restful sleep must have been what I needed to feel better.
Since we had walked so much yesterday & from the brutal Acropolis, Mom’s knee was quite stiff and sore so we caught a city bus from Via XX Settembre.  After we validated our tickets in the yellow box (a must!), I gazed out the window.  The bus rounded a busy, tight corner when suddenly the city opened up & revealed the epic stadium’s silhouette due to the rising sun behind it.  Some call times like this “ah-ha moments”.  I refer to them as moments of truth – that instant when your imagination & reality merge.  Part of the glory of them is that they are completely unrepeatable.  Never again would I see the Colosseum again for the first time. 
As we approached the arena, I was approached by a pseudo-Spartan man probably in his mid-30s.  Clearly, he was clad in gear that was fitting for someone from the movie 300.  From the ground up his partner soldier & he were clad in Spartan gear: brown boots that were knee height; gold armor; a long, red cape; the traditional gold helmet with a pompous, red mowhawk  The only difference was he looked nothing like Leonidas a.k.a. Gerard Butler.  He told me his name was Lucca.  Instead of ripped abdominal muscles, he had a pot-belly.  Instead of a thick beard like Leonidas he had a scruffy, 5 o’clock shadow.  Instead of that passionate, madman look in his eye, Lucca looked half drunk.  He ended up asking me to get with drinks him in the evening but I gracefully declined.

Mom & I had pre-paid tickets -- an auspicious purchase considering even at 8:15 there was a long queue for tickets (then another queue to enter).  I crossed under the gigantic vomitoria a.k.a. one of the 80 entrance arches and, as corny as this sounds, felt like a Roman spectator as I walked through the dark tunnel toward the sunlight in the center.  Not far was the most significant feature in the Colosseum: its cross. 
From the center of the ellipse-shaped Colosseum, Mom & I admired the hypogeum a.k.a. underground network which was now exposed since the wooden floor had long eroded.  The floor used to be covered in sand to hide the booby traps and pulley systems used for hoisting felines up for public viewing.  I had a flashback to the movie Gladiator, where Russell Crowe walked up an underground ramp into the arena.  The only difference was – as Mom pointed out – there were two sub-terranean levels, not one.  We saw archways through archways. 

On one end of the structure a crew worked toward restoring the Colosseum’s original seating.  Although only a small section had been completed, the visual gave me an idea of the myriad of visitors that would pile into the stadium. 
In an effort to not follow the crowd, Mom & I went up the “down” stairs to the middle tier of the cavea a.k.a. seating area.  This gave us a much better view of the hypogeum and also the surrounding area.  We saw the Arco di Constantino a.k.a. Contstantine’s Arch, Arco di Tito, and Roman Forum spread out over the famed [seven] hills Roma was built upon.  Since we were higher up, it was easier to fathom the 1,920 year old building’s enormity.
There were workers on the top/third level, but it was only accessible to staff.  En route to the Roman Forum & Palatino, Mom was approached by “Tomas”.  This breathtakingly beautiful man was a replica of Achilles a.k.a. Brad Pitt from the movie Troy.  He stood 6’3”; had long, flowing blonde hair; flashed Mom a winning smile; showed off his six-pack (since he was shirtless) and great body in his man-skirt; and had golden skin.  He wanted paid for a keepsake photo with Mom… and me as a third wheel.  We declined but nonetheless he conversed with Mom.  Afterward, Tomas pointed us in the right direction, grabbed my mother’s face in his big hands, and planted a very friendly kiss on each cheek.  I got Lucca and my 50 year old mother caught the fancy of Tomas!

23 August 2011

Angels & Demons

"All who wander are not lost"
-- J.R.R. Tolkien

Buongiorno a.k.a. hello! In typical Italian (just like Greek) fashion, Mom and I awoke at 12:00 & felt renewed.  We flung open the shutters that blocked out all light and were greeted by a midday sun, blue skies and a slight breeze.  We each added a sole cushion to our tennis shoes and set off.  There were two reasons we opted to take today at a slower-than-usual pace: 1) we were still a bit exhausted and sore from yesterday’s antics (dragging luggage all over Athens/sprinting to the airport gate); 2) it was Sunday so there was a greater chance museums/gardens/shop would be closed.

From The Marcella Royal Hotel we walked past the American Embassy.  Outside a Hummer with Italian military stood watch.  The image was a stark reminder that Mom & I were only guests in this country.  Piazza Barberini was sweltering in the afternoon sun & Mom was underwhelmed by the Fontana del Tritone a.k.a. Triton’s Fountain so we turned northwest toward the legendary Spanish Steps.
We approached the Trinita dei Monti (the church perched atop the Spanish Steps) from Via Sistina.  Though we were quite a few blocks away, the narrow streets sublimely framed the obelisk that stood center stage.

Due to wearing a tank top (bare shoulders) I was not permitted to cross into the Trinita dei Monti, but from its entranceway I was able to capture a view of the city with the enormous St. Peter’s Basilica peaking in the background.  Like the bronze chariot from yesterday, everything was ornate.  The obelisk had a myriad of images etched on all four sides.  While wandering around, an Indian man handed Mom & me a rose each and said in broken English “For you ladies since you are so pretty.”  I experienced something similar to this situation in Mexico, so I did not even accept the flower.  Meanwhile, the man emphasized to Mom “a gift.”  A few steps later the man confronted Mom and made the gesture for money – he rubbed his thumb around his index & middle finger.  Mom had fallen for the tourist trap and retorted “You said it was a gift. Gifts are usually free!” 
 
We descended to Piazza di Spagna a.k.a. Spain’s square but could barely admire the fontana at the bottom since there were so many people.  This area also turned out to be the Rodeo Drive of Roma, with boutiques from Hermes (pronounced “air-mez”) to Ferrari.  About a block to the right of the fountain shaped like a ship was a tribute to St. Benedict, with beautiful sculpted angels surrounding the pedestal.  One of the things I enjoyed most about Roma, was that on almost every city block there was a new fountain, memorial, church or monument to capture one’s attention.
From there, Mom & I walked along Via del Babuino to Piazza del Popolo a.k.a. People’s Square.  The build up was similar to that of the Spanish Steps.  From the road, another proud obelisk dominated the view; again with a cross at the apex.  This obelisk was brought from Heliopolis in ancient Egypt.  Piazza del Popolo – the former site of public executions – was expansive since its northern edge was another one of the Aurelian gates into Roma.  Only when we turned around, did Mom & I notice the authoritative, twin churches.  Four, simple fountains of lions surrounded the obelisk, and the almost-dry Fontana del Nettuno a.k.a. Neptune’s Fountain and the Dea Roma fountain (with the Pincio Hill Gardens as the backdrop) faced each other on opposite ends of the piazza.  Like most things we had seen so far, there were elegant lamp posts scattered around the massive square that were shaped like the churches’ roofs.
At this point, Mom & I checked the map & debated what else to see.  We were already so far north.  Therefore, we could either walk back to the hotel area or continue northwest even further and eventually catch a bus/metro back.  We decided to press on.

We traversed the Porta del Popolo (another one of the Aurelian gates) and once again stepped outside the Eternal City’s protected center.  We stopped halfway across the Ponte Margherita to take in the Fiume Tevere a.k.a. Tiber River on this pleasant, Mediterranean day.  There were actual houseboats on the river, and Mom & I wondered who was the lucky person that got to live without a mortgage/property taxes in this expensive city?   
We followed Lungotevere Mellini which hugged the Tiber River.  Unlike Greece, there were no street kiosks and most places we passed were pubs.  Mom & I passed the most ornate church I saw in all of Italy… even the wrought iron fence was elaborate!  I couldn’t fathom how long it must have taken just to carve one of the church’s many statues.  We rounded the corner and faced Piazza dei Tribunali a.k.a. Tribunal Square.  This too was incredibly ornate.  Moreover, the building spanned the block in every direction, as far as the eye could see.  At every glance I noticed a new sculpture or indent in the marble.
A bit further Castel Sant’ Angelo dominated the skyline.  There was no mistaking this amazing fortress with an angel with uplifted arms and wings spread at its summit.  From far away, the castle sort of resembled a battleship, with its mast jutting into the blue heavens.  Created around 100 years after the birth of Christ, the fortress was grimy but still commanded the respect of everyone that walked in its shadow.  Up close, we saw the holes in the impenetrable walls for cannons & slits for bows and arrows.  Ironically, I later learned that President William McKinley’s monument, in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, U.S.A. was modeled after this mausoleum.  Looking back toward Roma's center, ten glorious angels – all with different poses – lined the Ponte Sant’ Angelo.  The entire scene was mesmerizing.
 
“Well, we already ventured this far. Why stop now?” were our thoughts.  On the other side of Castel Sant’ Angelo a young Italian stood with his amp and electric guitar, cranking out some blues.  The light-hearted, fluid sound was quite a juxtaposition compared to the stoic silence the fortress exuded.  Mom gave the guy some Euros and encouraged him to “Rock on”.  A block past the castle, Via della Conciliazione framed the largest, most prominent building: Basilica San Pietro a.k.a. St. Peter’s Basilica. We saw its domed ceiling from the Spanish Steps earlier and every morning we ate breakfast on the rooftop ristorante of our hotel we saw its apex soar above the other buildings.  We had arrived at the single structure that dominated Roma’s entire cityscape and the entranceway to the single city that dominated Catholicism: Vatican City.
Although Vatican City is the world’s smallest sovereign state, its courtyard easily dwarfed Piazza del Popolo in terms of size and grandeur.  In the center of Piazza San Pietro was another obelisk and two rotund fountains.  Rows of chairs were still set up from that [Sunday] morning’s mass.  Within the four rows of surprisingly simple colonnades (not what I expected from the epicenter of Christendom) were ornate lanterns that looked incredibly heavy.  Here Mom & I sought refuge from the grueling sun.  Like the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, each of the 140 saint statues atop the colonnade was in a unique pose; in keeping with the trend, the statues on the façade (St. Peter’s Basilica’s balcony’s front) had disparate poses too.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that Mom & I had technically crossed over into another country.  Basilica San Pietro stood like a sentinel, harboring secrets, some of the world’s most precious/oldest artifacts & Catholicism’s most holy man.  (If you are unaware of the Vatican’s hidings, I highly suggest you read -- one of my favorite books -- Angels & Demons by Dan Brown)

11 August 2011

Upward and onward

καλημέρα/Kalimera a.k.a. good morning!  Mom & I were up early because we wanted to milk Greece for all it was worth.  Instead of Athens’ Planetarium – the world’s largest digital one – we opted to tour the National Archaeological Museum.

Again, I purchased a concession ticket thanks to my very outdated college ID.  At the museum we were able to store our luggage for free.  Walking into the first gallery instantly reminded me of my art history class my freshman year of uni a.k.a. college.  In the sculpture area were many reliefs of marble and kouri a.k.a. male statues.  It was amazing to think prehistoric tools made the material look so fluid.  My favorite works in this area were the reliefs from The Acropolis (were you surprised?).  Mom & I moved on to The Bronze Age gallery where the famous Statue of Zeus/Poseidon towered over us in the center of the room.  I analyzed all 360 degrees of the statue -- something no student could do using a textbook.  One of our favorite pieces was a real bronze chariot.  The detail the Greeks put into a war vehicle was impressive. The wheels had small figurines surrounding the rim and various mythical animals -- like a griffin --decorated the entire cart.  No part of the vessel was simple.  Further into the gallery was the pottery collection that housed the well-known black & red, geometric amphorae.  As an added bonus, albeit disjoint, there was an Egyptian gallery.  It was littered with all sorts of gilded jewelry and the highlight was a sarcophagus.  The tomb looked like it was designed for a midget.  Then it dawned on me how old the sarcophagus was and how short people were in the days of old. 

Initially I was sad that we did not have enough time to see the ancient town of Delphi.  However, after seeing the Acropolis, I realized I was in infatuated with the idea of Delphi.  The Acropolis was so dismantled it was sometimes difficult to picture its magnificence.  In hindsight I probably would have been a bit disappointed with Delphi.

Mom & I arrived at Athens' airport 90 minutes prior to departure.  Again, there were rows upon rows of ticketing agents so we tried to check in at an Alitalia kiosk.  We followed all directions but, of course, there was an issue with our itinerary.  So we tried to find booth #178 and speak to an actual person.  There was no one else in line but we still zig-zagged around.  The employee told us we needed to first have our ticket.  This scuffle was beginning to madden Mom and me.  I waited with the luggage at the booth as Mom briskly walked out of sight.  After about 7 minutes, a different employee asked where I was headed.  When I responded "Rome, Italy" she remarked I needed "to hurry".  I told her the issue with the boarding passes.  The lady in green Alitalia uniform told me to step up, place my luggage on the scale, and she began typing furiously... so now I didn't need a ticket or ID!?  She also made a lengthy phone call in Italian.  When she hung up, she tagged my luggage.  I saw Mom jogging toward #178.  The lady warned us "You have to run [to the gate]."  Wonderful.  We had not even passed through security!  I tightened every strap on my backpack and began running through the crowds that milled about.  I passed -- what seemed like -- a bazillion duty free and designer shops but security was nowhere in sight.  Finally, drenched in sweat & panting I reached the queue with Mom not far behind.  I checked my watch... what was going on?  We still had 35 minutes until take-off.  Now I was pissed.  I ranted at Mom "There's no way that plane is leaving this early!"  Still, we were anxious in the security line.  I left my shoes with Mom & ran ahead to the gate, only for the cute, male boarding agent to smile sympathetically and say "We have not yet started boarding."

That airport had some major problems with communication.
Mom & I were relieved to touch down in Roma (as the locals call it) a.k.a. Rome.  Although exhausted from the heat, toting luggage all over Athens, and running a marathon to the gate, we arrived at the Marcella Royal Hotel at 18:00.  The room was exquisitely decorated with stenciled fabric on every wall and all the rails/furniture/crown molding made of wood.  We threw open the thick, dark wood shutters that almost reached the ceiling, and I immediately was spellbound.  The view from our room -- six stories up -- lived up to my mind's expectations of an Italian city's street.  I saw garden terraces, a stately building in the background, and a family preparing dinner in the flats a.k.a. apartments across the street.  Below, I heard tunes from an accordion serenading the passers-by.
We had time to kill since most retaurants did not open until 19:00 for dinner.  Mom & I meandered around the northeast corner of central Rome.  Just a block from the hotel, crammed in between the tall residential buildings, was a quaint white church with dark wood doors and orange trees in the front yard.  A few blocks further we discovered one of the fourteen ancient Aurelian gates to the Eternal City: Porta Pia.  I'm not sure where I got the notion that once I crossed the threshold out of Roma, I'd be immediately in the countryside of Lazio (the state) or falling into the Tiber River.  In actuality, the city simply continued.
Finally, dinner-time arrived.  Mom & I ate at a ristorante a.k.a. restaurant around Piazza dell'Indipendenza a.k.a. Independence Square.  Because Roma's streets are rather narrow, the matrix of tables 3 x 9 spilled onto the street and took up half of the sidewalk.  A young, handsome waiter brought us bread & two squares of butter in a basket.  We split a liter of bottled water since -- unlike in America -- it is not free in Europe.  I had a large swordfish fillet with ambrosia a.k.a. fruit salad soaked in a sweet syrup.  When we received the bill Mom was surprised to see an additional charge.  Although we did not eat all three slices of bread, we were charged for the entire food.  I maybe could have justified paying if it was a focaccia or ciabatta roll, but this was day-old, flavorless Italian bread.  We learned the hard way bread, like water, was not free.

02 August 2011

Falling... in love

"Fell in love with a girl.  Fell in love once and almost completely.  She's in love with the world."
-- The White Stripes

The main objective for Mom & I staying in Piraeus, Greece -- the largest Mediterranean hub -- was to hop on a ferry and visit the nearby Saronic Islands of Aegina (pronounced "a-eena"), Hydra (pronounced "ee-druh") and Poros.  However, being sick earlier in the week pushed our itinerary back a two days so the islands were out.

In the daylight -- with shops open, people bustling & city noise -- Piraeus wasn't as awful as I thought the night before.  It was just different than the other tourist-friendly cities I previously visited.  In fact, lodging in Piraeus then commuting via the metro to Athens saved us a considerable amount of money.

Today was the day. I had unfinished business.  Seeing the Ακρόπολις a.k.a. Acropolis from the Hilton balcony gave me ants in my pants, but I became ill and did not immediately visit the "high city" -- its literal, Greek translation.  The waiting period between day one and now (day six) only whet my curiosity.

Mom & I validated our metro tickets in the yellow boxes (a must!) and boarded the green line -- the only line that went as far southeast as Piraeus.  All the men on the train had beautiful, olive-colored skin and dark brown eyes.  As Mom & I exited the green train at Omonia (pronouned "oh-moan-yuh") I saw a red-painted train getting ready to leave so we raced across the platform.  Great timing!  We needed to take the red line to the heart of Αθήνα a.k.a. Athina/Athens (the Greek/American way of saying the city's name).  However, the next station we arrived at was Viktoria, not Akropoli.  Lesson learned: you cannot determine the line of metro based on the train's color.  We hopped a train back to Omonia but once there, saw only two trains (both of which we had traveled on).  Where was the red line hiding?  Mom asked a jolly guy who was part of the private security.  The red line was up a level up!  Mom & I were thinking of the metro like San Francisco's B.A.R.T. where all trains were unilateral. 

We ascended a story and -- as promised -- there was the red line that took us to Akropoli.  Since the red line traveled to other important sites in Athens, it was more crowded.  Mom & I shoved into the train, my purse jabbing a poor girl's side.  I felt like I was suffocating.  The air in the train was hot and quite a few people reeked of body odor.  As I exited the metro I felt sweat drip down my back and chest.  Mom & I were relieved to surface to fresh air and a wide open street lined with restaurants.

Midway through lunch (typically a Greek's first meal) a cute, brown-eyed girl with unruly hair approached the various outdoor tables playing an accordion.  I knew what she wanted but I wasn't sure my mom did.  After the little girl attempted to serenade us for another 30 seconds, she halted and straightforwardly asked Mom "Do you have money?"  We were not in Piraeus anymore Toto.  This was tourist central.

Afterward we sauntered past the Acropolis Museum.  On Dionysou Areopagitou -- which is strictly for pedestrians -- beautiful trees with yellow flowers provided a shade for our stroll.  The first thing we saw was the outside wall of the famed Odeon ampitheatre, however, it was closed off with scaffolding everywhere.  I rebounded, thinking "It's okay.  I'm not here to see you anyway."

Along Dionysou Areopagitou I finally got my glimpse of it perched on the cliffs.
Mom & I arrived at the entrance and I wanted to test Lonely Planet's reliability.  So, I handed the teller my Miami University ID (from 2005 with a picture from 2001) and asked for a concession & regular ticket.  No drama... I paid half price for my ticket!

We followed the path upward and were pleased to have an expansive view of The Theatre of Dionysus.  From the hillside we could see a compendium of marble pieces laid out on the lawn below.  They ranged in size from enormous to pebble size, but all seemed to be meticulously organized and tagged.  To me, the best pieces were the friezes from atop the Parthenon that each depicted an important historical scene.  Moreover, we now had a view of the entire interior of The Odeon of Herodes [Atticus] which we thought we would never see since the street entrance was closed.  The original wooden roof was long gone, but the stone seats still fanned out from the stage in a perfect semi-circle.  Through the remaining, incredibly thick stone arches that looked like windows I saw the entire city of Athens spread into Αττική a.k.a. Attiki/Attica (the state's name) and finally stop at the base of the mountain range.
 
The crowd's eyes were drawn outward as it looked at the remains below and the cityscape beyond, but I was instantly drawn to what laid behind me: The Temple of Athena.  I have always been infatuated with Greek mythology.  First, as a young child my favorite scene in Fantasia was Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony which was an animation short that featured many popular Greek gods.  Second, I spent the summer after third grade imagining I was a gumshoe from Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego? and typing about the Acropolis.  Last, in college I earned an A+ on a thematic unit based upon Greek culture.
Mom & I walkd further along the single path that lead upward.  Now to my right, I could better admire the dainty Temple of Athena. I loved how the structure scaled the edge of the hill; I loved how its Ionic columns and boxiness mirrored the vertical lines of the rock wall; I loved staring at its friezes; and of all the Greek deities I loved, Athena was always my favorite.  She was wise & cunning -- hence how she "won" the city of Athens; she was Zeus' golden child -- and he had a lot of kids!; she was powerful but just; she was a protector and the only other god/goddess that shared the Aegis a.k.a. shield and cloak with the mighty Zeus.
Mom & I continued along the Panathenaic Way and decided it was time to find shade.  As we descended the beautiful steps before the Προπύλαια a.k.a. Propylaia, I slipped on the slick marble and fell.  Mom screamed as I absorbed the brunt of the fall with my butt and hands.  It's no surprise I fell since the soles of my tennis shoes were covered in beige-colored dust from the walkway and the Pentelic marble was worn smooth from millions of visitors.  From then on I took baby steps.
Through the grand entranceway -- where statues of Athena used to be mounted -- the Parthenon stretched over the hilltop to our right.  Did you know its design is an optical illusion?  Although built during pre-historic times the thinkers made the foundations mildly concave & the Doric columns slightly convex to give the appearance of being straight.  Despite the ugly scaffolding and major pieces that were missing, I imagined how breath-taking the Parthenon must have been upon completion.  There used to be a wooden ceiling that was painted blue & gilded with stars; a massive 40 foot statue of Athena decorated with ivory and plated with gold; entire scenes reenacted in the metopes.
Shade is scarce on the Acropolis so Mom & I rested -- along with many other visitors -- in the shadows of the lofty columns.  We commited the 360 degree view of Attica to memory and moved on to the Erechtheion/Porch of the Caryatids.  The Caryatids' gowns were beautifully carved and I liked how this was the only temple that had [I believe unintentional] greenery.  The Erechtheion was built on the most sacred part of the Acropolis: the famed spot where Poseidon struck the ground with his trident & Athena produced the olive tree in the contest to win the city.
We descended carefully down the steps, but there was still so much slick marble/stone on the walkway Mom almost fell.  I noticed a roped off area -- quite common for the site -- but the curious cat in me needed to peek.  On the other side of the rope I sneaked down steps that lead to an underground gate.  I peered through the rustic gate and saw more stone steps leading down, again, but to a wall.  My mom -- who was on lookout duty -- hypothesized there were many underground/hidden exit routes.  I agreed.
Sunburnt and exhausted from the climbs, Mom and I wanted to see more of Athens since this was our last full day in Greece; tomorrow we embarked to Italy.  So, we wandered the shaded & tranquil paths that wove through Filopappos Hill.  The park is littered with semi-important sites such as monuments, an observatory, Greek dance theatres, a tomb, and -- our favorite -- the prison of Socrates.  The wall visitors can see used to be the third wall inside the jail and is actually part of the earth.  It felt eerie to look inside the raw stone cells and grasp the same iron bars that one of the most controversial & famous philosophers lived in until he willingly accepted his death sentence.
Mom and I returned to Piraeus and headed for the usual 21:00 dinner, where I had my best meal yet: fried pork chunks and fried balls of kefalotyri cheese (the same used in saganaki a.k.a. flambeed, fried cheese) with a side of lemon halves.  The pork was perfectly cooked and the cheese melted in my mouth leaving its salty taste linger.  Mid-meal we heard drums in the distance.  Five minutes later the drumming sound drew closer.  Mom's eyes grew wider and the other diners looked around in confusion.  Soon protestors -- many holding signs -- marched up the main street as they chanted in Greek.  A symptom of the building political tension.  Mom seemed nervous but I was proud of the Greeks.  I thought "Good for them. They're standing up for their beliefs.  I wonder why more Americans don't protest?"  Socrates, the man who believed "Let him that would move the world first move himself" would be exultant with the Greeks.