Thursday, August 23, 2012

Athens, Greece

Our next stop was Athens.  We had originally booked an excursion here through the ship, but then decided to do our own tour via a Rick Steve’s book, and it ended up being much cheaper in the long run, and probably a little more exciting.

There are dogs EVERYWHERE in Athens.  We literally saw them everywhere, and I think a good portion of them were strays.  After seeing a couple, I finally started taking pictures of them all.  They were laying all over the ruins also and I only saw medium to large dogs, no small ones.



We weren’t entirely sure where we were going so we just took off walking.  We passed quite a few offers for taxi rides and open bus tours, but wanted to do it on our own, although I slightly regretted that later when we were walking up hill and it was 100 degrees outside.








Downtown Athens is like any other big city, except it kind of felt dirty than some have, and it was also challenging not having “normal” letters to read.  We had no clue what we were looking at.  In the rest of Europe you can pretty easily “read” what the words are, even if you have no clue what they mean.  In Greece, that’s not so much the case, so it was a lot of guessing and asking for help.


We eventually found our way to the metro station, but then had no clue which train to take since we couldn’t read the schedule.  I think we just got on one and then started looking at the stops we were passing and figured out we were on the right one.

We headed in the direction we thought we were supposed to go once we got out of the train station and almost immediately started seeing ancient ruins.  I have no clue what many of these are, but they were neat to walk around in and it was weird to see super old things next to much newer things also.  And there was lots of graffiti in the area also, but some of it was more like artwork than graffiti.


So we could see where we wanted to go, but it was literally up a cliff and we had no clue how to get around it.  I was getting pretty tired of walking up hill and I was hot which equals me getting pissy.  We ended up going up what we thought was the right way, only to ask people coming down if it was the right way and they said no.  So then we went back down and went a different way for 5ish minutes and discovered that was the wrong way too.  Not the best part of the trip for sure, but we eventually figured it out.


And the view from closer to the top was worth it.


We weren’t on any tour, but Mark had his nose stuck in the Rick Steve’s book the entire time we were on the Acropolis.  So I don’t know much of the history, but here’s what I do know.  It is REALLY odd to see such old things surrounded by a huge, fairly modern city.  And the Acropolis is WAY up on a hill and I have no clue how they got all the materials up there to built it.


This is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.  You couldn’t go down in it, but it looks like they still put on shows in it.  It was build by Atticus in 161 AD as a tribute to his wife.


Here is another view from closer to the top of the Acropolis, on the left, and then how much further we still had to go up once we got through the main gate (Propylaea), on the right.


The Parthenon was amazing.  It was started in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC and it is the temple dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena.


The details, again, of the Parthenon, were amazing.  I just don’t know how they had the tools available to make sculptures like they did way back in BC.  The thing below is called the pediment, and originally they depicted stories, but all that remains today is the one statue.  There used to be many more to his right when the roof was still on the building.


To give you an idea of just how big this place actually was, the bottom of each of those pillars behind us are almost 6 ft wide.


And to give you an idea of just how far up we were, this is the view looking away from the Parthenon.


This is the Erechtheion, which is another temple.


This was the view between the Erechtheion and the main gate.  It could be foundations from the old temple of Athena.


Athens was interesting because it very much had a “big city” feel, but then randomly dispersed throughout it were ancient ruins.  Like this old gate.  Looks really out of place when you zoom out and see that there’s actually an 8 lane road going around it.


And right on the other side of that gate, there is a fenced off area that contains even more ruins.


We walked up the street a ways from the gate and other ruins, to find this big whole dug in to the sidewalk.  It was between the road and a large park.  I’m fairly certain that they could find things like this all over underneath Athens.  The city is just brimming with history.


Parts of the city – the quieter parts away from lots of traffic and noise – reminded me of Italy.  Especially when we saw all of the flowers.


We wandered around a bit more and passed through some more ruins on our way back to the metro.  I love that you can go up and touch these, and walk on them. 



I’m glad we had the chance to see Athens, although I’m not sure I’m in a big rush to go back.  It was neat, but there are many other places I’d rather spend my time.  But as long as I’m with my Mark, I guess I don’t really care where we are.


Our next, and final stop, was Olympia!


Athens Private Taxi and Minibus Tours said...

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Unknown said...

I am so jealous! I took an architecture class in college and we spent a great deal of time on Greece. A few tidbits that I remember about the Parthenon: The base is curved downwards the closer you get to the corners so that when you see it from farther away the base look flat rather than curved. Also, the corner pillars are closer to the pillars next to them because seeing them from a distance they then appear to be the same distance apart, otherwise they would seem like they were sticking out there in the middle of nowhere. There's also something about the pillars shapes themselves...but I don't remember exactly what. I loved learning about all of their architecture and just how thoughtful and smart they were then! Didn't know if you knew that stuff but thought I'd share anyway! Thanks for posting!