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Published: July 24th 2016
Day 182 Monday 18th July 2016 – Athens
Our hotel does not offer a laundry service but gave us directions to a laundromat which was roughly in the direction of our destination today the National Archaeological Museum. We decided not to take our dirty clothes for a walk just in case we could not find it or it was too expensive, we eventually found it and it was cheap, great we will air our dirty laundry tomorrow. Next door to the Laundromat is a Refugee service centre and there was a queue of about twenty men going into it, and this has been the only sign of the refugees in this city that we have seen. We actually expected to see lots of refugees on the streets here begging but we have only seen local Greeks begging and no more than you would see in any city of the world including Sydney.
Walked onto the museum to immerse ourselves in more history and revisiting some of our favourite pieces from last visit. The museum is huge and we spent over three hours walking around saying hello to Poseidon, Pan and a few Roman
Side 190mm gun turret
Emperors. Scott was again overwhelmed by the amazing broken pottery but the museum does have some beautiful intact and complete pieces (only a little superglue used) that he did stop and look at them (briefly).
The Jockey of Artemision is still the most amazing bronze statue, it is of a boy riding a horse, it was made about 150-140 BC and was lost in shipwreck which actually saved it. In ancient times bronze statues were frequently melted down to create new works and for the raw material but because this went to the bottom of the sea in ancient times and was not rediscovered till the 20th
century it was saved for us to see today. The other piece is the Varvakeion Athena carved in marble about 200-250AD, it is actually a copy of a statue 12 times larger that was erected in the Parthenon in 438BC. Last time we were here she was tucked in a dead end corridor looking a little forgotten but now is a star. Also here was the Antikythera mechanism which is an ancient analogue computer
that is still baffling scientist, historians, Erich von Däniken and everyone else after finding it 100 years
ago on the bottom of the Med. The museum is filled with many alternative recreations of this complex mechanism that is thought to be some kind of astronomical clock, but the final verdict is still to be determined. It is estimated to be have been built in 150BC (but maybe older) and what it is meant to measure is beyond belief – an incredible piece of an ancient mystery.
After all that history looking for basic necessities took over, we need new toothbrushes an easy thing to find – right – wrong, well the right ones. We are getting a little precious as we get older and need soft toothbrushes and all the small supermarkets only have medium which are too hard. I saw a chemist and was directed upstairs found them and the shop assistant ran over and grabbed them from me, since she was there I confirmed that they were soft. I asked three times how much they were and was ignored then she went to the computer entered in the details and still did not tell me how much, she proceeded to write out a number on a slip of pink paper and ordered
National Archaeological Museum
The Antikythera Ephebe - great eyes
me downstairs with it, while the 2 toothbrushes went into a dumbwaiter, downstairs I was ordered over to the cashier. Finally, I thought I will get them then people pushed in front of me with prescriptions and their life stories, with me wanting to scream “can I just pay for 2 damn toothbrushes”. Scott looked on with amusement before I finally screwed up the paper and walked out, he said “you lasted longer than I would of”, so still no new toothbrushes. But I got a refresher course in needless bureaucracy and frustration.
For dinner we headed down to Monastraki Square and found a restaurant that looked pretty new. Over a couple of pre dinner beers they gave us a free entrée of cooked Chorizo and then at the end of the night they shouted us another couple of beers and a large plate of watermelon, ended up being a great choice. Day 183 Tuesday 19th July 2016 – Athens
Scott writing the blog today because Shelley is just so overcome with excitement about the day’s events. The day started with the usual crap breakfast which is
buttered stale toast and coffee and then it was off on the Athens public transport. This city has everything that moves on wheels and is really well served with Train, Metro, Trams, electric trolley buses and ordinary buses. I don’t think we have ever been in a city with so many choices, when not on strike. Today we started with the Metro and we picked up a ticket for 4.50 euros that allows us to travel all day on any type of public transport, so it was good value. We travelled for about twenty minutes till we got the Neo Faliro station where we changed to the tramway for another ten minutes till we arrived at the Georgios Averof museum.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a bit of a Naval Nut (or maybe just a nut) so always on the lookout for a good piece of Naval History and they don’t come any better than the world’s only existing Armoured Cruiser. The Georgios Averof was built for the Greek Navy in 1911 by Italy and was named after a Greek millionaire that paid for a third of the construction costs. Armoured Cruisers are a
class of warship that by the time of the construction of the Georgios Averof were falling into the obsolete category, (a bit like grooming horses to do battle against tanks) bigger than a cruiser, but nowhere near as big as a Dreadnought. The Averof may have been one of the last to be built and during the first world war lots of these types of boats were sunk so that they soon disappeared from the navies of the world. The Averof had a couple of successful naval battles with the Ottoman navy just prior to the First World War, but otherwise sat out the big one. In the Second World War she sailed to Egypt and escaped the Nazi occupation of Greece and then did convoy duty with the British navy in the Indian ocean. She continued to serve with the Greek Navy into the 1950’s before becoming a museum ship in 1983.
What makes this ship such an amazing museum piece is that she is pretty much as she was in 1911. The coal fired triple expansion engines are still there, the beautiful antique wooden cabins for the captain and officers are in original condition, even
National Archaeological Museum
Jockey of Artemision- Detail is amazing
the old voice pipe communication system from the bridge is there. We wandered over the ship for over two hours even getting down into the magazine area to see how they moved the ammunition. A few areas were off limits like the masts and engine room (due to a recent accident with a tourist) but otherwise we could wander at our leisure. As you can imagine after two hours of crawling all over this boat and me gushing endlessly, Shelley was just about ready to jump over board and swim to shore, so we had to go.
To head home we decided to get the tram all the way which took 45 minutes stopping at 20 stations along the way, a slower way but we got to see a bit more of Athens. Dinner was once again down near Monastiraki Square where we got a huge feed and a couple of free beers, shots of Ouzo and a plate of Watermelon; Greek generosity can sometimes be a complete surprise. Day 184 Wednesday 20th July 2016 – Athens
Went to bed last night feeling fairly exhausted and we
Shelley channelling Cher
closed the external shutters on our window, to cut out some of the outside light, this did such a great job that it also hid the sun in the morning and we slept through to 9am in our dark cave of a room. Hadn’t expected to sleep in so late but I guess our bodies needed it. Decided to skip breakfast at our hotel because basically it was only coffee for me, and then headed down to the laundromat and dropped off our huge bag of clothing. Cannot wait till tomorrow when I can wear something fresh other than 3 day old underwear – just kidding, sort of.
From here we headed down to Syntagma Square stopping at a coffee shop for a bite to eat and a coffee. Marching on from here we headed uphill to Lykavitos Hill to catch the Funicular up to the top. I love Funiculars but I have yet to catch one from the bottom of a hill, they always seem to start at the halfway point and this one starts perhaps a little higher with lots and lots of stairs which wasn’t helping my dodgy knee. Yes old man Maberley has
Side 190mm turret
done himself another injury, which is caused by and continually made worse by skating on all the marble footpaths of Athens. On our walk we went through some of the more wealthier areas of Athens, although I must admit we haven’t as yet been through any poor areas.
Got to the Funicular and discovered that the Greeks have discovered a way of taking the “Fun” out of funicular by only running it every 30 minutes (sort of) and then packing people on like the Metro. The Funicular actually runs up inside a tunnel as well so there is no view and is perhaps the shortest one we have ever travelled on. Got to the top of Lykavitos Hill and it was blowing an absolute gale, but we had some great views over Athens. Didn’t linger too long on the top as it was filled with expensive restaurants but just got the next trip back and then walked onto the flea market souvenir area. Picked up a great smoothie that was Banana, Chocolate, Greek Yoghurt and honey, absolute divine. Somehow later we ended up in an area we have called the bohemian area as it is filled with
Looking from the bow
lots of trendy bars (yes we are oldies using that term) and had a couple of beers. By this stage it was 6 and our laundry was ready so we picked that up before going for a cheap eat near our hotel. Tomorrow we are leaving Athens and I know we just about say this every time but we are both Sad to move on. Had been worried about the economic effects on this country and city but have seen very little signs of it, and in fact the place looks better than when we were here in 2002. Don’t know a lot about our next destination but sometimes it is nice to jump in blind.
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