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Published: October 28th 2014
ATHENS, SUNDAY 26.10.13.
Overcast in the morning, clearing to blue sky in the afternoon and a cold evening.
Today we walked through the marvellous gardens opposite our hotel. Very mature trees, a mixture of tropical and temperate plants. Came upon the Zappio, a large convention centre, many years old, with a charming interior. Wandered onto the 60,000 seat stadium, built for the first games of the modern era, at the end of the 18th century, and the arena which saw the conclusion of the 2004 Olympics Marathon.
Afterwards we visited the exceptional Acropolis Museum, housing relics recovered from the continuing excavation of the Acropolis site. Many pieces dating back to 460 BC. The sculptures were exceptional in their detail. Zeus, his daughter Athena, and other gods- Hermes, Nike,et al, were marvellous in their fluidness. Many Greek Gods commemorate Fertility, and phallic symbols are on display in ancient sculpture, on fridge magnets and mediocre tourist paintings.
The weather is quite cool, and the short haircut I gave myself before departure means that I am noticing the cold. We wandered around the Plaka, the initial Athens settlement, a mix of attractive and tackiness, very poor
tourist junk and a variety of cafés. Wandered through the flea markets, which were crowded with people and cars, but quite interesting.
We reassessed our opinion of Athens, and can now say that it is more appealing than our first impressions.
ATHENS, MONDAY 27.10.13. Cool and Overcast
Today we watched the changing of the guard at the Greek Parliament. The soldiers change guard every hour, interesting to watch. The guards wear thick white leggings and shoes with large pom-poms on the nose of the shoe. When they march, done in slow motion, they raise each leg to waist height, from floor to waist and back takes about 5 seconds. Very unusual. I wonder how quickly they move in an emergency!
Tomorrow is Independence Day, and the street will be closed to general traffic and access to the metro beneath will also be closed. The police are illusive on detail!
We visited the Acropolis, an awe inspiring site perched above Athens. We trooped up with 3000 of our closest friends, to observe the ruins and views. The Parthenon, the temple of Athena, is the most striking building, and the one
seen in most travel photos, looks brilliant, even though it has been undergoing renovation in the modern era for the past 30+ years. Worked out that the Greeks don't want to finish the work, as the Euro dollars will then dry up, much better to have a continuing state of repair required. No matter, it was marvellous to see.
Later walked back through the Agora, a large park below the Acropolis containing other ruins of various mythological gods.
Ate a chicken gyros for lunch, much like a Doner Kebab, but also stuffed with French fries. Very tasty and satisfying.
Wandered the upmarket area, near to Syntagma Square. Very charming, full of coffee houses and boutiques. Surprisingly reminded us of parts of Paris.
Sought out dinner of an average meal in a charming looking restaurant. Later wine at at trendy wine bar, we ordered Syrah( Shiraz we believe), however very light but more drinkable than other Greek wines we have sampled.
SANTORINI, TUESDAY 28 OCTOBER, 2014.
We were up early today at 6am for an early start to the airport. Our flight to Santorini didn't depart until 10.20, but with
the indecision regarding the operation of the syntagma metro station and the closure of the airport bus we wanted to give ourselves some travel leeway, we also wanted to enjoy the delicious hotel breakfast! As it turned out the Metro was operational, so our concerns were misplaced.
The flight to Santorini was 40 minutes. Our hotel is located with a view over the caldera and ocean. It is truly a superb view and met all our expectations. I believe this to be one of the best views I have experienced.
In port there were 4 large cruise ships anchored in the harbour, their guests being ferried to the shore, then risen to the town level either by donkey or chairlift. The queue to descend was 300 metres long. Why would you do it to yourself ? Our hotel keeper was telling us in peak summer season, there is often ten large cruise ships in port, with up to 18,000 ship tourists on shore, clogging the walkways, toilets and shops. Queuing to ascend or descend to the port taking up to 4 hours total. Mass tourism gone mad. Hopefully the GC won't experience such mayhem.
The other interesting
info was that in the winter off season, up to 20,000 Chinese tourists visit the island, surprising to our hotelier, as she said many hotels, shops and cafés were closed. The other matter of interest was that BOOKING.COM charges the hotelier a minimum 20% commission on the hotel charge paid by the customer booking. What a business!!
The weather has turned cool to cold, so we are now wearing our warmest gear, AND still feeling cold. We are concerned about travels further north.
Tonight ate Cretan Dakos, a stale bread roll, the size of a small football, topped with grated tomato and feta, and baked hard. We must have been Cretans to order it. Not again! The balance meal was reasonable.
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