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Published: June 24th 2014
Day 5 Athens, Greece
We spent our 5th day in Athens. After waking and looking outside, we could see we were in the port. From our deck we noticed the city was 360 degrees around us. I had hoped we would be able to see the Acropolis, but just couldn’t find it.
As we discovered upon leaving on the excursion bus, Athens was actually 30 minutes away. It wasn’t very far as the crow flies, but the streets from the port to the city and to the site were narrow and crowded. People everywhere. Scooters were dodging in and out of traffic. I kept thinking I was glad I wasn’t driving that bus! Living in Farmington, MO does have the luxury of no traffic jams or congestion.
Our first stop was the NEW Museum of the Acropolis. It is located right at the foot of the hill. When excavating for the museum, they found ruins that had been built upon centuries ago. To preserve them, the present day architects put the museum on poles above the remnants of the old village they found. The elevated sidewalks and floors of the museum are
made of a see-through material. You could see the archaeologists working below.
There are a few buildings left on the acropolis. The building most people associate with Athens and the ancient Greeks is the Parthenon. Unfortunately it is not in good shape. In fact, the building that is there is the second version of the Parthenon. The first was destroyed by the Persians during a siege of the city. The citizens of Athens voted to rebuild in the 5th century B.C.. The present day version was partially destroyed when the Turks occupied the building. The occupiers kept their stash of gunpowder inside the building. In the process of of fighting, a bomb was set off in the Parthenon, causing explosions that toppled the roof and destroyed many of the columns.
It is good news to see the Athenians rebuilding this great monument and at the same time preserving what they can from polluted rain.
The new museum is wonderful….full of sunlight. They have found parts of the first Parthenon buried at the site! Visitors can see the remnants from that period, still covered with the brilliant colors used to decorate the
facade. Many other parts of the present day Parthenon have been looted in the past and sent to museums all over Europe.
Walking up the hill to the buildings isn’t as strenuous as we thought it would be, and is well worth the effort. The view is breathtaking. You can see the city stretched out in all directions, ruins atop other hills, the remains of other ancient Greek buildings in parks below as well as theaters and the sea.
Our second stop was the Plaka district in downtown Athens. The Plaka district includes Syntagma Square, the Greek Parliament, shops, restaurants, The Metropolitan Greek Orthodox Cathedral, as well as some ancient sites. We walked past a McDonald’s and enjoyed a late lunch at a family owned restaurant. I’m not sure what we had, but it was good. We both ordered specific sodas and were served things completely different, but they were cold and wet.
We were really happy to get away from the crowds and back to our ship! We showered and dressed up for formal night. We had our pictures taken and enjoyed dinner with a very fun couple from Belgium.
We tried new things…the food is just wonderful. My favorites tonight were chicken liver parfait and corn soup. I know they sound odd, but were so good. The waiters kept filling up our champaign glasses. Needless to say, we left the formal dining room pretty happy.
As I mentioned in the last post, we do not have wireless on the ship, so I will put this blog on my jump drive, and upload it from the i-Lounge along with some pictures without captions. I will add captions when I have better access to internet. We have a “sea day” today (the ship will not have any stops), so we will relax, watch some shows, a glass-blowing exhibition and play some blackjack in the casino.
Wednesday, we will dock in Valetta (Malta)….a tiny independent island country between Sicily and Libya.
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