Athens 22 to 25 June 2013

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June 25th 2013
Published: June 27th 2013
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Athens 22 to 25 June 2013

After a 5 hour ferry trip on the fast Sea Jet from Santorini, we arrived in Rafina (the smaller port of Athens) to find our Camper safe and sound. We paid 96 euros for 8 days of parking fees and in another hour we arrived at Camping Athens where we stayed for 3 nights.

Athens has been populated for 7000 years so it’s a city of mixed standards. Unfortunately there is graffiti everywhere. The traffic is frantic on work days but we also experienced better traffic on Sunday and the public holiday on Monday.

All 3 days we were in Athens it was 35-38 degrees and ‘cooled’ down to 23 at night. It’s reasonably dry heat. We hung our wet clothes out at night and they were bone-dry in the morning.

On the Monday we caught a bus and then the efficient Metro into Plaka, the old city and to see the Acropolis. We were pretty excited about seeing an ancient city that we had wanted to see since childhood. What a site! Almost from every vantage-point around this area you can see the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Theater of Herodes Atticus, the Theater of Dionysos, and the Caryatids all on top of the Acropolis Rock which was an easily defended site. It has been used for nearly 5000 years.

Once through the gates after paying 12 euro each (which gave us access to all parts of the sight), we sited the Theater of Herodes Atticus which continues to have performances held as the acoustics are fantastic we are told. We then walked onto the Beule Gate which was the 1st entrance to the Acropolis and then through The Propylais which was built in 437-432 BC to form the new entrance. There was also the Temple of Athena Nike which was the temple of victory.

The Parthenon which is the most over-powering building of the site was extraordinary in size, design and structure. To stand by it was awesome. And to think that since 1975 access to all the temples had been banned until recent years. There was a lot of scaffolding on a number of structures, including the Parthenon so it was good to see restoration was alive and well.

The Greeks et al used to build temples, statues and structures to celebrate victories, success. Individuals also showered these as gifts to the leaders any anyone else they wished to reward. The larger the statue, this showed the more money they had available to pay for the work to be done.

After walking around the site for about 3 hours in the piercing heat, and as we were satisfied we had seen all the history of the site we found a café at the entrance gate and had fresh orange juice – beautiful.

We also visited the New Acropolis Museum the day before (Sunday). This is built over an archeological site and much of the ground floor is made of partially reinforced glass so that we could see the 4th century BC ruins under foot. In total the area of the Museum is 25,000 square meters of which 14,000 square metres is exhibition space. In this museum is stored gifts and offerings such as jewelry, figurines and female protomes (busts) symbolizing fertility. There was a large section on Goddess Athena and all the gifts that were showered on her over the years.

There is a Parthenon Gallery, a rectangular, solid concrete core which was built to the same dimensions and orientation as the Parthenon. It was especially designed to display the entire temple freeze. Very smart!

We also visited the Archaeological Museum which is north of the city. This was opened in 1891 and bought together antiquities that had previously been stored all over the city. During WW2 the museum’s priceless items were buried to protect them from possible damage. It took over 50 years to reopen.

High points of the museum were the bronze ‘Horse with the little Jockey’ and ‘Poseidon’. The Archailc kouroi were also very impressive. There was also a collection of 6th and 5th century ceramics with red and black figure vases, and some vases that dated back as far as 1000 BC. Wow!!

As it was so hot, we kept finding cafes etc for relief from the heat but the Greeks know how to serve icey cold beers. We have certainly enjoyed their Greek Salads also. For a quick meal gyros are the way to go. These are a small version of kebabs. Slovaki has also become one of our favourite quick meals. We visited one café that had misty water coming from overhead pipes, to try and make it more comfortable for the clients.

The next startling building we visited was the Stoa of Attalos which was a part of the city of Ancient Agora. This was rebuilt in 1950 on the original foundations of 159 BC. It houses all the finds from the excavations from Angora. One of the most interesting exhibits is the klepsydra, a water clock that was used for timing plaintiffs’ speeches. Its and early version of an egg timer in many ways. There was also a large bronze shield as well as little terracotta toys.

On the second full day in Athens, we had a good look around Plaka with its shop and restaurant lined walkways. We also visited the very old Monastiraki Markets which was part of Plaka. Here we saw a heap of antiques. There was everything yo9u wanted and didn’t want or need. You could have stayed for hours if you loved poking around. Those of you who know me well, I don’t ‘poke’ all that well but I did have an interesting walk around.

At about 2.00pm that day we decided to go back to the Motor home and in the cool, do some blogging etc and then go back into the city to see the lights. This is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Athans looks far better at night, particularly the Acropolis and its Parthenon. Just beautiful. We walked up on top of the large rock, Areos Pagos. What a spectacular view. We had missed the actual sunset but the glow in the sky was beautiful. We watched the city lights slowly come on as well as the flood-lighting of the Acropolis. It was absolutely stunning. It was also a beautiful balmy night with a slight breeze. There was also a Greek couple who were having their wedding photos taken in front of the Acropolis. I didn’t think she would ever finish!! However, I must admit, it would be a perfect spot to have wedding photos done.

After checking all our Greek reference books and the “must see” list in Athens, we were satisfied that everything was ticked. Oh, we are so lucky to have seen all this. These 2 days were another 2 special days. We decided that it wasn’t worth going into the new CBD of Athens, even though public transport was very efficient but traffic was bumber-to-bumper.

That night we prepared to leave Athens the next morning. In the evening we went for a beautiful walk in the breeze before going to bed.

On Wednesday, 25 June before Departing Athens, we decided to get our fridge looked at again. We still weren’t happy with it, even though we understood that the fridge was fighting a competitive battle with the hot Athern’s climate, we found a Fiat Hymer motor home service yard and they weaved their magic. All is well. We knew we had another 3 months of hot weather so it was better to be safe that sorry.

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