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May 18th 2011
Published: May 29th 2011
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Delphi to Athens

Tuesday 3rd May 2011

Drive from Delphi to Athens initially in the mountains then dropping to the plain before joining the Thessaloniki - Athens motorway. The instructions to find Athens Camping were good the traffic however was very heavy and a little like wacky races. At one point we nearly collided witha mobile forest aka a small pickup vastly overloaded with plants that decided to move lanes without warning - there could have been an international green incident but thankfully it was narrowly avoided. Driving here is an interesting experience it appears speed limits and road markings a purely advisory rather than a legal requirement - double whites seem to be a challenge to overtake preferably at the crest of a hill on a blind bend.

Wednesday 4th May 2011

Bus to the main railway station where we jump on the metro to Syntagma square in time for the hourly changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. The Evzones, members of the Proedriki Froura (Presidential Guard), an elite ceremonial unit guard the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion.
The unit is famous around the world for its unique traditional uniform, which has evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts who fought the Ottoman occupation of Greece.
The most visible item of this uniform is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment.
From here a short walk through the national gardens to the temple of Olympian Zeus which it turns out was actually completed by the Romans.
Close by the triumphal arch erected in honour of the emperor Hadrian a benefactor of the city of Athens.
Lunch in the Plaka the oldest part of the city in the shadow of the Acropolis - much improved (?) well cleaner anyway than on my last visit 30 years before.
On to the excellent new Acropolis Museum which set the scene magnificently with its video presentation and superb display of artefacts.
Then onward and upward to the star of the show the Acropolis itself and the Parthenon. Even Max was persuaded to ascend - one cannot visit Athens and not do so.
By now the boys were Athenised and we made the return trip home for supper tired but happy. A day to remember for years to come.

Thursday 5th May 2011

Max and the boys decided that they had seen enough of Athens and as today's weather looked a bit 'iffy' would stay on site and concentrate on other scholarly activities.
I meanwhile still had sights to see and an old friend to look up.
Back in Athens I made my way to Omonia square and called an old college friend to see if he was free during the day to meet for a beer. As luck would have it he was and we arranged to meet later in the afternoon. I then made my way to the central meat market which was an interesting contrast to the sanitised supermarkets we buy our meat from.
Then on to Monastiraki Square and 'Souvalaki Row' home to a string of restaurants that serve sausage shaped skewered meat - grilled, spicy and tasty - yum. Having filled up on to the ancient Greek Agora via the Athens flea market. The Agora was the heart of ancient Athens the hub of all commercial, political and social life for 800 years. Here Socrates, Plato and Aristotle hung out. St Paul talked religion here in 49 AD and from here Athens was governed and democracy born.
From here I return to Monastiraki just in time before the heavens open, not to worry the next journey is by the very efficient Athens tube system to the suburbs and a meeting with an old college friend - Vaggelis Moustakas. It is interesting for us both to discover how we have both fared in the 30 plus years since Salford University and we are pleased to find the answer is - generally well. After enjoying Vaggelis's hospitality and meeting his lovely family it is time to return to site and mine.

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