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Published: July 21st 2016
AcropolisDay 178 Thursday 14th July 2016 – Larnaca to Athens
The non scaffold end of the Parthenon
We have a 1.00pm flight today so it is a nice easy start to the day, we had breakfast in the apartment and then packed and got a taxi at 10.30am to the airport. As we arrived we saw three dogs entering the airport and at first glance we thought sniffer dogs then looked at the people with them and they were tourist. It turned out they were dogs from the Nicosia Dog Shelter going to new homes, they were being put into cages in the terminal for their flights, first time we have seen dogs lining up for a flight.
This is a quick flight to Athens only 1.5 hours making sure we got stamped in, we have been to Athens twice before once to the old airport and the other time the new airport when it had not long opened and neither time did we go through any customs or security and were never stamped in to the country. Things have changed and we had to queue up for entry and stamping into the country. We are now in a EU
Entry via the Propylaea
Shengen area so we have to keep track of the days as we only have 90 days as Australians and we have more countries to visit which are all in this region.
Taxi ride – all I am going to say is we hate taxi drivers but the Metro was on strike today and the airport notice boards said there were no trains to and from the airport. Had been warned that Athens taxi drivers are the worst in the world, and they are, even when they are born in Australia.
The hotel is in a nice area, well if you want to go to a XXX sex cinema, as there are three across from our hotel, did not realise these still existed with the access to internet porn but yes they do although not too many people seem to be going in. The hotel is actually in a good location and an easy walk to the Plaka and the sites.
We walked around reacquainting ourselves with the local area and stopping for a meal at a café in the Plaka area. Day 179
Us and the Parthenon
July 2016 – Athens
Walked uphill to the Acropolis which stands proudly above Athens, unfortunately no one at the top including us looked very regal it is 38 degrees today and everyone is hot and sweaty. People were all trying to stick to the shade while we lined up for 30 minutes to get tickets to go in. A guide walked along the line trying to drum up business it is 20 euro to get in or 30 euro for a Four Day pass which gets you into other sites (only once for each), and the guide was 25 euros per person. She claimed that if you went with her you would get tickets straight away and start the tour immediately. Two people behind us took up the offer and guess who we meet at the entry gate 20 minutes later, yes “immediately” after she wrangled more tourist into the group.
It is amazing site and great to see again and immerse yourself in the history with the buildings dating back to the 5th
century BC. Part of the Parthenon is still in scaffold and probably always will be as continuing restorations
Temple Of Olympian Zeus
Temple columns and Acropolis in background
go on and on and on. In some ways the Parthenon maybe the world’s largest and heaviest jigsaw puzzle. The building is not only incredible for its age and size but is an absolute architectural marvel with lots of subtle touches to trick the eye. The floor of the Parthenon is arched upwards in the middle, the columns have bulges near the base and they all lean slightly inwards, all imperfections to make the building look perfect. We could have stayed here all day just marveling at it all but the heat and the swarms of people soon had us moving, last time we were here we had a film camera and only took 40 photos, today with two digital cameras we took over 200; how time changes. We did a few circuits of the buildings and then headed down the Southern slope past the Theatre of Dionysus Eleutherus and more ruins to the new Acropolis Museum. This new museum is built over an archaeological site and the walkway to the entrance is a glass floor with a large open area so you can look down at the ancient Athenian neighbourhood. This glass floor extends into the museum and then
Temple of Athena Nike
as you go to the upper levels there are huge glass walls so you can see the Acropolis as you look at the statues and marble reliefs that came from there. On the top level you find the Parthenon Gallery the frieze depicts the Panathenaic procession in sequence as it would have been on the building. There is quite a lot of plaster copies in place while Greece waits and hopes for the originals “the Elgin Marbles” to be returned from the British Museum. This museum has a spectacular layout and is truly worth the 5 Euros admission.
After walking around the museum for a couple of hours we stopped for a cold drink and then back to the hotel to cool down before dinner. Day 180 Saturday 16th July 2016 – Athens
A little cooler today with gentle breeze making walking around a lot more enjoyable. It is more ruins today with the first stop being The Library of Hadrian built in AD 132-134 at the entrance there is a wall with columns against it and if you look on the right hand side
you can see the remains of a fresco on the Library’s façade from a church built here in the 12th
century. Behind the façade on the left hand side is a tiny museum (room) with a statue of Nike with one foot on the earth, there is no sign so if you go have a look for it. There is not much left so like a lot of archaeological sites you need to look at the floor plans and descriptions and then use your imagination.
Next to the Roman Agora to see the octagonal Tower of the Winds built by the astronomer Andronikos, it had multiple functions. It originally had a weather vane on the roof which is long gone, inside was a water clock which was operated by water running down from the Acropolis and etched on the outer walls are the rays of sun dials below carvings of depicting the different winds. Also on the site are the original public latrines for the ancient shoppers visiting the workshops and storerooms.
Last lot of ruins is the huge site of the Ancient Agora with a museum incorporated into the modern replica of the
Part of the marble frieze from the Parthenon
Stoa of Attalos, we wandered through the ruins of where democracy started and up the hill to the well preserved 5th
century BC Temple of Hephaistos. It is amazing roaming over all these incredible sites imagining the history that happened here and all those historic figures that wandered the streets. Saw a documentary years ago about how in the 1950’s teams of archaeologists descended on Athens and with an unforgiving zeal went about tearing down the modern town to get to the old. Thankfully they did eventually stop otherwise the fabulous area of the Plaka wouldn’t be here and ultimately you do need to balance the old with the new. Today everywhere you go in Athens you can sit in a café and sip a coffee and overlook some amazing ancient sites.
Did not want to get too ruined so stopped and got a cold smoothie and wandered over to The Poet Sandal Makers shop so I could buy another pair of sandals, I still have the pair I brought 14 years ago from Stavros Melissinos. Then onto the flea market to see if we could find a shop we saw last time that had a light
exactly like the one we had up in our old house which we described as a punchbowl with lambs’ tongues coming out and yes it is still there 14 years later. Out of curiosity we enquired about the price to be told it was only 1,000 euros and they could arrange shipping, no wonder it is still there. Only a few years back we brought another light we think was made by the same company just different design for AUD$200. If we come back here again in another 10-15 years we will visit the light again because it will still be there.
Had a nice meal just down the road from the hotel which is near the fish markets so you need to make sure you are sitting up wind at the end of the day in this heat. Day 181 Sunday 17th July 2016 – Athens
Being Sunday we decided to join all the other tourists for the changing of the guards at the Parliament building, out of the mouth of babes a little boy of about 4 years old in front of us
Ancient ruins beneath the museum
turned with a confused look and said “Mommy they are wearing dresses” guess he has already seen too many G.I. Joe movies. Can’t get enough of those ruins so from here we moved onto Hadrian’s Gate and into Olympian Zeus which was one of the largest temples in the ancient world although now only 16 of the original 104 huge columns are standing but it is still pretty impressive.
Then it was onto the Dead Centre of town the Kerameikos this area used to be a bit dodgy and last time we were here there was a group of teens with rap music dancing on the bonnets of cars. Now road has been replaced by a paved walk way to help preserve the area and it has a museum on site with the best pieces found here. The Kerameikos was the old town cemetery and it was placed just outside the city gates, and people would place their grand headstones by the road so that travellers as they passed could see what a great person you once were, or perhaps smile and think “thank God Spiro is dead”. There isn’t much left of the once grand city
Sex video shops and our hotel
gates or of the rest of the adjoining buildings, so you need a great imagination, but thankfully things are sign posted.
Wandered back through the Plaka area window shopping and people watching, stopping for an afternoon snack at a Gyros Takeaway. Slowly made our way back to the hotel for a rest and freshen up before going to a little bohemian café in the back streets for a beer and then onto the outdoor restaurant near the markets. It was sort of funny being back here at first but we are now getting into the swing of things and are starting to love the place. After reading all the doom and gloom about the austerity measures here we expected the city to be a real mess but it actually looks and feels more prosperous than when we were here last time which was just before the Olympics. Only been here 3 days but it feels like this city has a new energy about itself and is on the move.
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