Today Liam learned the definition of the word misnomer. As in, “The Hellenic Children’s Museum is kind of a misnomer.” I think we’ve been spoiled by the American definition of the word museum. I was expecting interactive displays, brightly colored stations, maybe even some buttons to push. Violet loves buttons. But this was more like a workshop for kids to understand concepts, and because we arrived about an hour before closing, there weren’t any actual workshops in progress. Instead, we squinted at some children’s drawings in three different rooms, read a few English translated signs, and half-heartedly drew a couple of pictures. Drawing isn’t Liam’s strong-suit, so he found the whole experience pretty boring. And Violet spent her time grabbing colored pencils and markers and walking around the room with them while I walked behind her to keep her from marking on the walls. So, yeah, I wouldn’t have called this place a museum.
We did manage to salvage our day with a ride on the Athens Happy Train. I’m laughing as I read the website description. The “multi-lingual commentary in Greek and English” was basically, “Look here, the parliament building.” And you can only hop off at the Acropolis stop — the rest of the sights are just drive-bys. But what can you honestly expect for 10 Euros? (That’s 6 for adults and 4 for kids, in case you wondered.) But no matter…Liam loved it. Violet managed to hold it together for about 30 minutes, just long enough to get to the Acropolis. Then is was 30 minutes of that wonderful toddler bucking and wiggling I love so much. I’m thinking if we do this again with visitors, we can just hop off at the Acropolis and see the Parthenon.
Wednesday morning, before it got too hot, I decided to take the kids over to Attica Park, which I’d found recommended in my Athens4Kids book. (Incidentally, I must have gotten the last published copy. I only paid about five bucks for it, and now it’s selling for a whopping $115 used. Sheesh.) It promised paved trails and a playground, and I’ve been looking for a good place for Liam to practice his balance bike. Interestingly, it’s way up on this craggy hill that we always see when we’re driving to our house.
But, again, I found we were getting tripped up on the American standards for a public park. I have to remind myself that the economy here ain’t so great, so keeping up the play ground equipment is probably not high on the priority list. There’s a certain amount of neglect and dilapidation you have to get used to. But you know it’s bad when your kid calls you over to ask you if it’s actually safe to cross the wooden bridge. I tested it…yeah, it wasn’t safe. One whole plank was missing, and one side of the railing wobbled as you went across. But after pecking around a bit we found another area with not-broken-to-pieces playground equipment. Scrawled with graffiti on every surface, but serviceable.
From what I could see, this place used to be kept up well. There were these huge pillars for sun shades over a round, stair-steppy amphitheater area. But the sun shades were long gone, and the paint was peeling. The trails were pitted and gravely, and Liam found them mostly too hilly to feel comfortable practicing his balance. And there were the stray dogs to contend with. Not menacing, mind you, but Liam has grown incredibly fearful of dogs this year, so I had to deal with constant freak-outs about the dogs wandering around. Plus, it was pushing 90 when we left, so we had a slow, whiny walk up the hill to the car. Sadly, another bust. I’ve heard from some other moms about some nicer parks I’ll have to try later in the fall when it’s cooler.