ATHENS, GREECE—Iowa State sophomore Dylan Schumacher trudged pathetically past some of the most wondrous achievements of ancient Mediterranean civilization Tuesday, all but unaware of the magnificent cultural splendor surrounding him on all sides.
"Greece is, like, so awesome," said the oblivious Schumacher, who is ironically considering a history major. "Last night me and a couple dudes from Florida that I met checked out this awesome discothéque, and I swear this one chick was totally giving me the eye."
Schumacher, looking laughably generic in Teva sandals, a pair of corduroy shorts from The Gap, and a matching North Face windbreaker and backpack, is spending his summer traveling through Greece, Italy and France as part of an effort on the part of his parents, Ames-area dentists Duane and Sheila Schumacher, to help the young student "broaden his mind." So far, reports indicate, he has visited several McDonald's restaurants in the downtown Athens area and has enjoyed many afternoons lounging by his hotel's pool.
Schumacher came within a few feet of the Roman Forum, built as an extension of the famed Agora by Julius Caesar and Augustus during the Pax Romana, passing through its main entrance, the relatively intact Gate of Athena Archegetis, while searching for a public restroom after consuming an extra-large café mocha at a nearby Starbucks. Later that day, reports indicate, he and some friends hiked up the footpath to the Acropolis, the heart of the first great city-state of Ancient Greece, a structure that has remained more or less intact for well over 2,000 years. There, he enjoyed several relaxing hours basking in the Mediterranean sunshine and listening to the CD Follow The Leader, the latest release by his favorite band Korn, which he purchased from a street vendor on the famous pedestrian walkway known as the Odhós Kidhathinéon using "real Greek money."
"It's so fascinating to be in a totally different culture," Schumacher said of his trip to the Acropolis. "I talked to this one guy, and, can you believe it? It turns out he never even heard of Korn."
"Yet, despite our different cultural backgrounds," he added, "we were still able to communicate, and he told me about this awesome sports bar downtown where they have this virtual-reality game. I can't wait to check that out."
While visiting the Acropolis, Schumacher purchased a pair of Oakley sunglasses at the Parthenon. The first great building created in Pericles' renovation of the ancient site in approximately 437 B.C., the Parthenon was designed by the architect Iktinos as part of a sanctuary for the cult of Athena, a fact Schumacher finds "kind of boring." At the Propylaia and Temple of Athena Nike—which feature some of the greatest works of the sculptor Pheidas—Schumacher bought some sunblocker and a T-shirt reading "Ouzo Power." He also purchased a hot dog within a few dozen feet of the Erechtheion.
"It was a pretty good hot dog," Schumacher said, "but I've got to admit it wasn't the same as you'd get in America. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some, but that's what the whole traveling-in-Europe thing is about: learning valuable lessons you can't experience anywhere else."
Schumacher, whose parents are providing him with several thousand dollars per week for the summer trip, reportedly plans to take in the nightlife of Rome next, a city he says is "bound to have a ton of killer bars." Before leaving Greece, however, he plans to spend "at least a couple of days" on the islands of the Aegean Sea, where he's heard that "they have these topless beaches where the chicks totally walk around with their tits showing."