Athens - Day 2

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September 9th 2013
Published: November 10th 2017
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Parthenon (Parthenonas)Parthenon (Parthenonas)Parthenon (Parthenonas)

One very happy DAT
So today was the day I was really going to start my European adventure. I was up early after a very good nights sleep (Jetlag, pft!) Over breakfast I worked out the PT system and figured I could catch a train from the nearest train station, swap lines and at the next station and I'd come up at the Acropolis museum. All was good till I got to the station. Monastiraki station doesn't look like much from ground level but it is a myriad of escalators and corridors below. And as if traveling in a country where you don't speak the language is not a big enough challenge, try traveling where you cant even read the language. All the signs are in Cyrillic. The Greeks being the nice people they are print the English version below the Cyrillic so dumb tourists like myself can figure it out....eventually!

The acropolis is actually walking distance from Plaka, where I am staying. But the hill it is on is so huge I didn't think I'd make it up there. Turns out the train, while easier, only takes you part of the way. I still had quite a climb when I got there. Not that I minded. Climbing the southern slope saw the Theater of Dionysus and the proplyon I snapped so many photos Auntie Rhonda would be proud. The climb was taxing for an old accountant like me but well worth the effort. The only time I got really worried was as I entered the gate, the pathway was quite narrow and anyone who has seen me react to heights will understand my trepidation. The Parthenon was magnificent. It is amazing to stand at the entrance and imagine the how busy it must have been 2 millennia ago when people came to worship there. Restorative works are being completed on it so there was quite a bit of scaffolding around. I had to laugh when I heard a wolf whistle from the workman on top of the scaffolding (not at me) & they yelled out something in Greek. Somethings are universal it seems. Especially considering there were five or six guys up there, two of them were working, the others were standing around watching the crowds

On the way down I visited the Ancient Agora. This was the heart of Athens back in the day. The place where Socrates wandered around in bare feet asking his questions and challenging everything. On hearing some of the stories I came to the conclusion he was the original crazy guy on the tram. The agora was both a place of worship and of trade & commerce. This is where the senate was, the birthplace of democracy, now lying in ruins. And I couldn't help but see the similarity to our current incarnation of the Greek invention. Three buildings remain intact inside the agora. The church of the holy apostles, which must have had a very small congregation because it was more like a shrine than a church. Th Stoa of Atallos, which has been fully restored by the American society of archeology. As much as I hate to admit it they have done a great job, it is impressive. But my favorite was the Hephastion. An ancient temple dedicated to the god of fire, still mainly intact. I so wanted to walk through the pillars and see the altar I glimpsed inside. But alas it was all cordoned off and I could only walk around the outside cursing tourists who have to touch everything and steal their own mementos from these ancient sites forcing the caretakers to shield them from the rest of us.

Leaving the agora I decided to walk to the acropolis museum. It was around 11 by this time and I kinda got a bit lost. Half an hour walk up hill with a quick rest stop when I saw a WC sign. (Absolutely chugging down the water) and I finally found it... Looks impressive but I couldn't tell you about because its closed on Mondays.... How rude!

So I wandered back down the hill in the direction I hoped was toward the Temple of Zeus. I made to a little restaurant district and then lunch sounded really good :-) Another souvalaki later and I was off to the Temple. Turns out I was on the right path. There is not much left of Zeus' temple, about a dozen columns, but what is there is impressive. The columns are massive. It took several centuries to build the temple....apparently they had several budget cuts.

From the temple I was on a mission to find an electronics store. One of the few things I forgot to pack, was my ipad charger. So after 1/2 hour of walking in the wrong direction, I stopped to buy a bottle of water and thought it might be good idea to ask a local for directions. Turns out I was a ten minute walk from my desired location. I was all walked out by this stage so I decided to take a bus. I used the Haynes theory of stay on the bus till it stops going in the direction you want to go. It worked, I made it to the town centre. I managed to buy a sync/charge cord that I thought I could use with my iphone charger, I was wrong but more on that later. Upon leaving the store I decided I would be lazy and cab it back to my hotel, I knew it was only a short trip but my feet were all worn out by this stage. Apparently its not only Melbourne cabbies who won't take a small fare. So I had to catch a bus. Unfortunately the Haynes theory didn't work quite as well this time. I ended up back at the temple of Zeus and my sense of direction is so out of whack (Wow, I really do get jetlag) I had no idea how to get home. I found a cabbie at the temple entrance who was willing to take the short fare....or so I thought. He took me all over the place (which was fine because we'd already agreed a price) gave me a brief history lesson and insisted I see the Panathenic stadium. I couldn't complain about the trip but he was more interested in selling his services as a tour guide than cabbie. I get up to my room, shower (to revive my tired body) and go to use the sync cord I had purchased....doesn't work! So after cursing myself for several minutes I decided to ask the front desk where I could find another electronic store. They directed me back to the same store, which as it turns out is only four blocks from my hotel. No wonder the first cabbie said no!

After dinner I decided to visit the Roman Agora, my trusty Lonely planet guide said it was open until 8 - they lied. It was most definitely closed. However I could still take a few happy snaps through the fence. Worked out quite nicely though. There is a tavern across the lane way which has tables & chairs lined up next to the agora. The waiter suggested I stop for a drink, I thought that was a marvellous idea! As I sat down to write this diary I got to see the sunset over the agora entrance. It was beautiful. Then an acoustic band started playing traditional Greek music. Sitting there enjoying a quiet beer, listening to local tunes and watching a beautiful sunset, was definitely a life is good moment.


11th September 2013

Haynes' other theory " Not lost, just not sure of location"
12th September 2013

lol, well, you've now endured your introduction to directional confusion, and this has prepared you well for when you hit Venice. It's lovely getting lost because you see lots of new things that would escape you if you stuck to the normal t
ourist routes.Love your humourous irony, keep up the blog, I'm enjoying it. xx

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