Published: March 26th 2006March 26th 2006
Thessaloniki was okay, but with the dreary day, exhaustion of carrying around my bag all over, and overdoing it with the desserts (thus, not feeling so hot... in addition to trying to kick the remnants of a cold), my expectations of Athens had kind of dimmed.
This morning, I peaked outside and found crystal-clear blue skies... not a cloud ANYWHERE! :) And the weather was about around 60 degrees (this was about 8 AM). That was a good start.
I took a taxi to the subway and then set out for the Accropolis. I exited the subway and after about 50 yards I caught the first glimpse of it on a hill way above me... and it kind of took my breath away (and, believe me, I'm not in to artificially building this kind of stuff up like a travel agency). And, of course, it only got better from there. I toured it, climbed up on top of the the Areopagus, visited the Agora, and hiked up to the Pnyx. All of it was great. The Pnyx has a lot of hiking around it, both wooded areas and areas overlooking the city (and full of flowering bushes, poppies, yellow
flowers, and lots of butterflies and honey bees). Around the Pnyx I sat down (overlooking Athens), took off my shirt, and soaked up the sun for a little while... it was amazing. Also, while the Acropolis (amazing as it is) was jam-packed with tourists, there were very few people out and about around the Pnyx... which got me wondering how, with 5 million people around here, could the place not be jam packed on a Sunday?
Near the Acropolis was a walkway crowded with people... so I went to check it out. At first I thought it was just a tourist trap (and, it kind of is), but it was a market. And, oh my, it was unique. The markets in Hong Kong seemed very commercialised and cheap, with lots of similar mass-produced stuff (indeed, it was difficult to find the unique things). However, here there was nice furniture, dishes, Greak Orthodox pictures and metal objects (don't know what else to call them), and all sorts of unique Greek stuff. It was like they were selling away the Greek grandparents stuff... and maybe they are, who knows? At any rate, it was very interesting (since I'm backpacking, I didn't
buy anything, though). Also, probably in five to ten years, I think they will sell out of all of that stuff and will switch to then it will probably be predominantly mass produced... I don't see how it can go any other way.
From there, I took the subway out to the oceanfront. Where I got to first, there wasn't any ocean, but there were people on sailboats out and about and it was well worth the view. I walked along for awhile and found a huge, trendy cafe. One of the things Greeks do is have coffee/drinks in the middle of the day for about two hours... which makes for a lot of really trendy, packed cafes all over the place. I went in, got a bite to eat, read some Irish history, wrote in my journal, and then headed out. Oh, and I got a chocolate milkshake (one of my favorites)... and the cafe didn't disappoint. :) http://www.nai.gr
Went from there and walk along an area that is line with restaurants right on the water; when I say that, I mean the one side of the restaurant is open and if you walk out of it
you'll fall in the water. This was around 4 PM and almost all of them were packed. I walked up some hills into a few neighborhoods and then back down on the other side to go to a beach. The beach was interesting... lots of great, multi-colered rounded stones... I picked up a few small ones to bring back. The water was cold and I rolled up my jeans and waded along the shoreline. One guy, in a speedo and very hairy, was out swimming while what looked like his wife and one of her friends smoked and watched.
Then I got lost in some neighborhoods and ended way up on a hill overlooking another part of the city. Once again, it sometimes does pay off to get lost. I also saw plenty of stray cats and dogs. Oh, and the residential architecture here is beautiful. Last night I had seen some more of the concrete, very squared off buildings so typical in Serbia and around here and was kind of disappointed. But today I saw a different side... soft colors, intricate rails, facing the ocean... overall good design...
Then I found the the "net Mania" internet cafe
and have been here for a few hours chatting with my family, posting pictures, and updating the travel blog. I was finally able to upload photos to my photo website:
Today was wonderful, and I heavily thank God for that. Not that He changed the weather or anything, but it seems to me this is the day He wanted me here... like He picked it out. While yesterday was dreary, it set up a tremendously wonderful day for me in Athens.
There are more photos below