Parthenon Pinball Wizard

When you think of Athens, there is a fair chance that your mind will wander, fairly directly, to pictures of great architecture beneath stark blue skies.

You might picture a buzzing square and a crowded café. You’d be remiss not to dream up visions of blue seas and white villas, or of ancient ruins from the roots of democracy. All of this would be logical, and understanding, and most certainly true.

However, you would probably be forgiven for thinking me crazy for saying that the first memory that comes to mind of Athens is pinball.

Don’t get me wrong, all of those other parts of the city well up out of my memory at any given moment, but pinball is always there because I never expected it myself!

We’d risen early in the day to beat both the heat and the crowds, succeeding in only one of the two. There appears to be no way to get up before the great ball of flame in Greece. The crowds on the other hand can be defeated if you can see your way clear to one less beer the night before. So it was we scaled the rise towards the Parthenon before 8am to be at the front of the line when the ticket office opened. We spent an hour making our way through the most iconic of outlooks above the city watching the temperature rise and the crowds assemble. We even caught the ceremonial raising of the flag. By 9am though, the people and the heat had arrived, so we made our way down to street level and prepared to explore our way back to the airconditioned room. We had barely stepped out of the museum when my eyes caught a peculiar sign.

It was small, but unmistakable: Pinball Museum!

I’ve always enjoyed a game of pinball, but not being quite of the vintage of the game’s heyday, it’s always been a passing fancy. There was no way I was going to miss this weird gem though and I strode ahead of Linh and her parents mumbling something about needing to take a look.

Within minutes we had stepped in to the museum and I decided that this was too good to miss. Not only was entry cheap (maybe only 10 or 12 Euro from memory) I could have a beer, and what game of pinball is not improved by a beer, even if it was just after nine in the morning. Linh and her folks made themselves comfortable in the air conditioning as I took a look, and was I ever surprised when I realized that this was a modern museum, because it was completely hands on! That’s right, The Athens Pinball Museum has over 100 machines, the vast majority of which are operational and games are included in the cover charge!

So it was that I spent an hour and a half touring pinball machines of the past century completely unhindered by other patrons who were all sweating their way around the history of Athens. I was quite happy living in the future, however non-pinball lovers will only wait so long, and there was a lot of history to explore…


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