The first stop of my Greek holiday is the British Museum. Yes, the one that is in the heart of London, England.
This stop in London came about because I wanted a more useful stopover if I had to have one on my way to Athens. My other choices were 2-5 hours in other airports that would mean just time wasted waiting for connecting flight. In addition, I would land in Athens just hours before midnight and thus have to add a night stay in Athens with no useful time for sightseeing. This itinerary through London gives me 8 hours in the afternoon, which gives me enough time to have a look at the city instead of being confined to the airport. My arrival time in Athens would be 04:00, which I can handily use to store my luggage for free at the hostel and then go find a spot for sunrise without incurring hotel expense.
It wasn’t until I started reading more about Greece did I realize that London hosts some prized Greek antiquity in the British Museum. Thus my 8 hours in London suddenly became a very wise choice.
The docent explained that Lord Elgin saved these marbles from being neglected by the Ottoman rulers further. Greek people on the other hand want these back in their brand new Acropolis Museum now they have attained the knowledge and facilities to host their heritage. Read more about the debate starting with this Wikipedia entry.
I am quite impressed that the ancient sculptors carved even the back side of the pediment – the side that would not be seen by any visitor if they had stayed in their intended places atop the Parthenon 2500 years later.
It a shame that I didn’t have more time to see more of the museum, for I wasted about an hour trying to find in vain an airport lounge that would store my luggage (for free) while I take a side trip into the city. As it turned out that I probably would have gotten into a lot of trouble if I had tried to exit the airport without my luggage. Apparently not many people take advantage of their connection time as I do. The border control agent asked a lot of questions even though I had all my things with me – something about 2 weeks holiday with only a carry-on backpack and a small messenger bag for camera and documents.
Back to the index page for my travel in Greece series.