Athens Day 2

Exploring the Ruins of Athens

Our main goal for today was to see all of the ruins! We got up early and headed to one of the smaller sites to buy the combination ticket to all of the archeological sites. (This way we knew we would be able to skip the long ticket-buying queue at the Acropolis.)

At this first site, we got to see the Temple of Zeus, the ruins of an old Roman Bath (which wasn't anywhere near as preserved as what we had seen in Bath, England), and Hadrian's arch. From one spot, we could see the Acropolis towering above the arch.

From here, we headed up toward the Acropolis to make sure that we would beat the cruise ship tours, which typically show up around 10am. (10 years ago, I was one of the cruise ship tour people visiting the Acropolis with my mom. We did just fine with the crowds then, but we figured that the less crowds the better.)

First, we came across two theatres - one of which is still used as a concert venue.

As soon as we got to the top of the hill and the main part of the Acropolis, we were confronted by a relatively small but still decent crowd of fellow tourists. Once we made it through the initial bottleneck, though, we found that it wasn't too busy.

I got some photos of some of the ruins at the entrance - which included this precariously balanced looking column - before we headed to one of the edges to look at the city below.

Even though we were there pretty early, it was still quite hot! Dylan and Cole found a bench where they could beat the heat for a bit. They clearly are wondering why I am bothering to take a photo of them here though...

Here's my pics of the Parthenon, which is arguably the biggest attraction of the Acropolis. Some sections of it were completely covered in scaffolding. Something that I found kind of interesting is that people were actually operating cranes and working on the reconstruction while we were there.

Here's Norm's photo of me, Dylan, and Cole with the Parthenon background. Thanks, Norm!

Although the Parthenon is quite impressive, my favorite building in the Acropolis is this one, the Erechtheion.

After seeing all the buildings here, we took a couple more minutes to enjoy the views below before heading down from the main part of the hill.

On the way down, we walked by the cave just below the Acropolis and the site of an old well.

We also adventured over and up to a big rock adjacent to the Acropolis. It was really sunny, but we got to look back at the Acropolis from here.

My favorite views of the day, though, were from a really tall hill that was a little further away. We had noticed the hill when we were at the Acropolis because it has a monument on top. It was a pretty steep walk to get up to the top, but it didn't take too long. And the path had some fun designs in it!

From here, we could see that the Acropolis was now pretty packed with people, who looked about the size of ants from the distance we were at.

Besides the monument on this hill, we also got to see some carved out areas of rocks, one of which is thought to maybe have been where Socrates was held prisoner.

After walking back down the hill, we stopped at a bakery for a quick snack. Dylan and I got mini cheese and spinach pies. Yum!

Our last big archeological site of the day was the where the ancient Agora had been located. Here, we saw some more statue and building ruins.

This site also had an old church and a reconstructed building that functioned as a mini museum. Here we saw some more statue ruins and an ancient potty training seat, which I found pretty funny.

This building also had a second story which provided some good views looking out over the city.

Cole got some good pics here, too!

Lunch

At this point, our small snack was wearing off, so we decided to stop and get some more food. Dylan and I got a Greek salad and some tzaziki to share. I also tried a Greek coffee, which I thought was quite good.

The National Archeological Museum

Having seen all of the major archeological sites, we decided to round out our day of ancient Greek exploration with a trip to the National Archeological Museum.

Here, we got to see a lot of the statues, pottery, and other artefacts that were excavated from the sites that we had been visiting - and many other sites throughout Greece.

Some of the stuff we saw was interesting because it was beautiful...or weird looking. But Dylan and I also had a really fun time picking out all of the things that we had learned about in the Greek Archeology class that we took at UCLA. (It was the one class that we got to take together in college, and it turns out to have been a good one!)

Here're some of the stone statues we saw...

These are really old, Cycladic ones...

And here are two of the famous bronze ones that we recognized.

Most of the bronze statues just have holes where the eyes should be. But the museum had a set of eyes that originally went in a statue on display. They were a little creepy-looking but also interesting.

These were some of my favorite pottery designs... an octopus vase and a hedgehog bowl!

There were a lot of intricate gold pieces, most famously the mask of Agememnon.

There weren't a lot of murals in the museum, but the ones that they did have were ones that Dylan and I had learned about.

Something unexpected in one of the exhibits was a set of tablets that contained perfume descriptions. The museum had recreated three of the perfumes based on the descriptions and had them available to smell. So we got to smell what ancient Greek perfume smelled like!

Gardens and Olympic Stadium

Post museum, we were all feeling our feet and legs, but there was still a lot of day left, and we were not willing to quit. So we continued our adventuring en route to see the Olympic Stadium.

On the way, we walked through a park where we saw a bunch of animals!

And here we are at the stadium! This is the stadium that was built for the first modern Olympic games in the late 1800s. (It was built on the site where the ancient Olympic games were held.)

Dinner and Dessert

At this point, we felt that we had seen all of the major tourist attractions in Athens - and all in one day!

After stopping back at our apartment for a bit, we went to a well-rated restaurant that Dylan had found online. I got a stuffed tomato and pepper that were delicious! Norm and Cole had stewed beef (I think) over rice, which they said was really good. And Dylan liked his kebab. He has been sampling kebabs at pretty much every restaurant that we have been to. And I have done some sampling off of his plates. I can confirm that Greek kebabs are quite delicious - especially since they go well with tomatoes!

We also couldn't resist getting a little more gelato from DaVinci's. I got the Greek yogurt flavor this time and was really happy with my choice. It was soooo good!

On the short walk up to our apartment, we came across a concert being held at the ruin site closest to where we were staying. It seems really nice that they are able to use the sites as venues like this.