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Athens and the Acropolis

(written by Dave)

It is really hard to know what to write about today.  We basically visited the Acropolis and a few nearby sites.  All of these sites are very well documented on the internet so there is little that I can write that will add much to their story.  I took lots of photos and culled it down to “just” 18.  I hope they add a little to what you might find in Wikipedia.

We started the day with brekkie in the hotel – it was average.  What the hotel lacked in the food department, they more than made up for in the customer service department.  I heard that they might help booking ferry tickets.  Well, not only help, they called to sort out the options, booked our tickets of choice and processed the payment – all for no charge over the internet price.  Wow, that was great.  Next we told them we were going catch the train into the city and they offered the hotel’s free shuttle to the train station.  We thought great and headed upstairs to gather our gear.  When we returned to the lobby, the free shuttle was no longer available so the receptionist said she would call a cab and the hotel would pay the fee to the station – wow, what service.  Full marks to the Phidias Hotel in Pireaus.

We easily caught the train to the city.  On the walk up to the Acropolis we stopped for coffee (I tried a Greek coffee – not as good as I thought it would have been – sticking with macchiatos from now on).  It was already getting warm with both of us wishing for shorts and striping to short sleeves.

First up, the Acropolis.  The temples here are all over 2000 years old.  They are all in various states of restoration and there are lots of visitors to the site.  Having said that, it was pretty easy to get a clean photo and if you timed waves of school kids, actually also not feel too overwhelmed.  It is pretty special to walk around a site that you know has held significant importance to the people of Greece for over 2000 years.  And to think that they built all of this by hand so long ago.  Again, I hope the photos help add some perspective.

The biggest building on the Acropolis is the Parthenon.  You’ll find many pictures of it that look a lot more complete than mine do.  It turns out that restoration work in the 1800s and 1930s just about killed the building.  They used lots of iron supports and joints back then that are now rusting and causing more problems than they fixed.  They have torn down a great deal of the building (and others as well) and are now in the process of fixing them the way they were built 2000 years ago.  While we didn’t get to see the full glory of the buildings, we did get to watch a couple crews working on the site.  Cranes and power tools make it all faster today but there is still a lot that gets done by hand.  When they will finish is anyone’s guess.

We visited a couple other sites of note in the afternoon.  Namely the Temple of Zeus, the Ancient Agora and Keramikos (an area where pottery shops existed).  At some point you really do get “old stuff made of rock” fatigue.  Around almost every corner there is another 2000 year old site with a plaque.  Both of us stopped reading everything and my camera battery ran out long before we scratched the surface of what there is to see.

I’d hate to be a builder or developer here as there would always be some “old stuff” just below the surface that runs the risk of stopping your entire project.  It really is a case of prioritization for the government as they would never have all the money needed to restore everything.  With the current financial crisis, I’m sure that many sites will get no attention for years.

I don’t mean for any of this to sound negative.  It was a great day.  We were both absolutely amazed at what we saw.  The scale of these places never comes out when looking at them in books.

So, we are now set for our route to Turkey.  We have ferry tickets for Chios, Greece on Friday night, then an early Saturday morning sail for Cesme, Turkey.  We still have two more days here in Athens to take things in before we worry about another ferry ride but we are starting to look more in detail at out route in Turkey.  Nancy, being the planner on team LWOP, is feverishly searching the internet for anything and everything that will make the trip go smoother.  I am happy to report that she’s already noted that tap water in Turkey (like Greece) is generally safe in the bigger cities.

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5 responses to “Athens and the Acropolis

  1. Hi! Love the pictures and sights of Athens, including the old Greek Woman. Do you have a criteria for determining the difference between Old Woman or Old Lady!? I’m marking all the cities on my map! The Blazers lost last night. Boo Hoo!

  2. Great pics! The city looks humungous! Is it hard to find your way around??? So far, I have to say Italy has my vote for where I want to tour next, Greece looks rather populated and barren…

    • Trains are super easy from the port town of Pireaus to Athens central. Other than that, I have no clue! I met a commuting cyclist today who says it is really easy to ride in, but he is used to it. It is big, 7.6 million, I think. Andthere doesn’t appear to be much in the way of tall buildings. Meaning the city seems to stretch into the distance forever.

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  3. Lovely photos, I think my favorite is your “Acropolis spare parts.” I lived in Athens off and on for 3 years and these are very nostalgic for me 🙂 I still live in Greece but far from Athens. Enjoy Turkey!!

  4. Athens holds special memories for us too! Dave is very familiar with the path you have travelled since his Dad is from Selianitika (close to Aigion). Keep an eye out of Stavropouli!

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