Published: August 7th 2012July 26th 2012
As we only had 2 days in Athens, we ( read Fiona) had researched a 2 day itinerary that wasn't too busy and included food and snack breaks. The first activity was to watch the changing of the guard in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier near Sintagma Square. This happens every hour on the hour, but Toby still wanted us to walk 10000 steps every day so we started at the hotel and walked to Sintagma Square.
As we walked we passed a couple of historic buildings and then popped in to the coin museum. We weren't overly interested in the coins, but the building had been a private residence and had amazing restored mosaic floors and frescoes. It was a pleasant reprieve from the heat with the temperature well over 35 by 10 in the morning.
By the time we reached the square we were dehydrated and exhausted. Harriet was beginning to feel dizzy and sick which seemed to be a combination of the heat and a bit of jet lag. She soon revived after a coke and we finally got to see the changing of the guard.
The guards seemed to be wearing
a lot of clothes for a hot summers day and it is hardly surprising that they have to change every hour. Their clothes were very different from any other guards we had seen- they were wearing tights and shoes with Pom poms. The changeover was something different too - they walked in a strange way , reminiscent of Monthy Python, shaking their Pom poms.
We walked through the royal gardens, saw the Zappo Palace, Roman Baths and then the original modern Olympic Games stadium. The first games were held there in 1896 and the marathon eneded there at the 2004 games.We spent some time looking at the temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch before finding a cafe in Plaka. The streets here were small and quaint and lined with tourist shops. Toby got his first snow globe of the trip. There weren't any available in Indonesia, but no doubt there will be more before we get home. The cafe was nice enough but the service was appalling. It was quite surprising because Athens is not busy for the height of the season so we expected to be courted for our Euros. We tried our first freddocino, but it wasn't
a knock out and skulled a bottle of water. Armed with another, we walked up the hill to the Acropolis museum.
The museum is relatively new and houses all the treasures and marbles for the acropolis - except of course the ones that Elgar took to the UK. It's probably time for them to be given back. The best part of the museum is the actual size display of the Parthenon on the top floor with the marble freezes and statues displayed as they would have been in the real thing. You can look out the windows across to the Parthenon at the same time. Harriet and Fiona thought it absolutely hilarious when an American tourist came up the stairs, saw the Parthenon through the window and exclaimed "oh like is that really it?" we weren't sure where she had been all day as it is perfectly visible from all parts of the town!
The walk up to the acropolis and around it was gruelling due to the temperature, but definitely worth it. It is amazing to be standing looking at structures that have been around so long. Some of the ruins are really just piles of rubble
and others are quite intact and obvious what they were for. We also went to Mars Hill and thought about Paul standing there preaching the Gospel nearly 2000 years ago.
An enterprising man was selling frozen bottles of water - well worth the €1 they cost.The agora was closed for the afternoon so we made a detour to try European gelato. Toby had done the research and we had an address for a store reputedly the best in Athens. We almost missed it, but Harriet can track gelato down as well as any blood hound and its a good job that she did. It set a high bench mark for rest of the stores we will visit. We all scored it 7/10
We swam in the hotel pool, but it was packed with other guests and not very enjoyable. The view however was fantastic over the rooftops of Athens to the Acropolis.We dined at another Lonely Planet recommended restaurant called Kriti, which means Crete. Toby and Harriet thought the stuffed tomatoes were amazing, the cheese balls were divine and (not Harriet) the raki (Cretian fire water) was lovely. So fully satisfied we ended another day.
There are more photos below