Kalimera from Athens!
For those that don’t know, my friend Angela invited me once again on a TAG-ALONG. Her annual conference is here this week and while she spends her days working out of an office at the Athens Hilton, I get to stay with her in her beautiful hotel room with Acropolis views, eat and drink in the Executive Lounge as much as I’d like, and do all the touristy things I can fit into 5 days. I know, I know! I’m NOT kidding you. Last year’s TAG-ALONG was Rome and I had a blast so I know I’m in for a treat.
We arrived in Athens about 9:15AM and were met by the hotel driver, Dimitri. Transporter 2.0! We looked raggedy after the 9 1/2 hour flight but he was a sight for older, tired eyes. The landscape reminded me of Arizona (another Angela TAG-ALONG opportunity I took advantage of a couple of years ago) in that everything looked dry and colorless, except for the glimpses of the blue Aegean Sea. In 30 minutes, we were at the Hilton.
After showering, Ang headed to her office for the week and I went to find the metro
station just a short walk from the hotel. What a difference from the NYC subway! It was clean, bright, and displayed archaeological finds that were discovered in that very area while building the metro. My first stop was the Parliment House in Syntagma Square where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded by the Evzones, an elite regiment in traditional dress. Like the soldiers at Arlington standing guard at the American equivalent, I wondered if you had to be at least 6 feet tall for this duty because these guys were quite imposing in stature and it was just mesmerizing to watch their coordinated march.
After, I walked and walked. I came across the tiniest Greek Orthodox church, Church of Panagia Kapnikarea. It was suffocating on the inside so I didn’t mind the “no photos” sign but it was very sweet and authentic. Nearby, the ruins of what was Emperor Hadrians Library, 132 AD. My first meal in Greece? A gyro and Greek beer, of course! DElicious and cheap, a winning combination.
My next planned stop was the National Archeological Museum. I love museums on my own! (You can put bookstores and clothes shopping on that list,
too) I spent 90 minutes viewing articles that were sometimes over 2500 years old. It’s easy to fall into the narrow mindset that everything began with what you know, but there is no better mental adjustment than seeing these antiquities in person, right? From the beginning of time, artists have been creating, and people have traveled to marvel at their creations.
Next on my itinerary, Mount Lycabettus. After a hike up a very steep road, you can board a cable car that takes you up a limestone hill, 300 meters above sea level. The 360 views of Athens are stupendous! If I hadn't been so exhausted, I would have tried to view the sunset from there. Instead, I headed back to the hotel’s rooftop bar and got some apps and a glass of wine. I was able to view the sunset from our balcony before I called it a night. Sorry I missed our call, Mark!
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