Monday, July 4, 2011

Wrap-up of Greece with Athens!

After some amazing times in Chania, Crete, Santorini, we finally were off to Athens - home of the Parthenon and other amazing ruins!

At the Parthenon
Actually, before we boarded the ferry to Athens, we went to a winery in Santorini - Santos Wine.  Turns out Santorini is home to dessert wines - Vinsanto is actually from the phrase "vino di Santorini."  Not a bad view for a winery...

Winery view
Once in Athens it started to get a bit dark so we just grabbed dinner and walked along the amazing new (or, new since 2002) walkway at the base of the acropolis.  The ruins on top of the acropolis are well lit at night so that you are still able to enjoy it all in the dark - fun for those in our group who have not seen it before and even more fun to see it the second time around.  The original theater is still actually a place where concerts are held so we got to hear a bit of music, which was a lot of fun.

We headed to bed a bit early in order to rest up for the big touring day!  Nick and I woke up bright and early to be ready for our pick up in order to make our 8:30am half-day tour of Athens.  Our tour comprised of a bus ride that went all around the city, showing us the sites while explaining the history of the area.  We did go by the Parliament building where the protests have been occurring, but at the time it was mostly signs and a few tents pitched in the square out front.   With all the unrest going on in the country, we were really lucky not to be that affected by the political unrest!

Once the bus portion of the trip was completed we headed out on foot to the top of the acropolis where our guided tour continued.  Even though I had seen the Acropolis before, it is still so amazing and impressive.  To think how long ago this all was built and the scale of all of it is amazing.

The Erechtheum columns are actually replicas, and all but one of the originals is in the new Acropolis Museum in Athens.  Once the tour was over, we were given about an hour to wander around and take pictures of all the amazing aspects of the Acropolis area.

At the look-out point of the Acropolis you can see Zeus' temple, Hadrian's Arch and the Olympic Stadium,  all of which are so impressive from up above.  Looking out and seeing so many structures that have been around longer than America was a country is a bit humbling.

Zeus's Temple and the Olympic Stadium
After exploring the Acropolis we climbed the Christian Rock (the Pope among other famous Christians spoke up on top of the rock), which had an amazing view back up at the acropolis...

On the Rock!
The rock also provided amazing views of the Roman Agora, which has the Temple of Hephaestus - it still even has its wooden roof in certain areas!

Hephaestus' Temple
After we finished with the Acropolis we met up with our tour guide again and headed to the New Acropolis Museum, which houses the amazing artifacts of the Acropolis - Greece's answers to the British Museum.  While no pictures are allowed on the inside, the outside provides plenty of picture opportunities.  Because virtually of all of Athens is built on top of ruins, the new museum was built above an archeological dig site that dates back to 300 or 400 BC.  Even cooler, the have made the walkway out of plexiglass, which allows you to see through to the amazing site underneath.

Mosaic from Byzantine's
Here's more of the dig.  The pillars support the entire museum and are built to withstand an earthquake that measures a 10.0 on the Richter scale.

The tour guide then lead us around the museum teaching us about the various time periods of pieces they found throughout the many digs.  Compared to the original museum at the top of the Acropolis, or really many other museums, this one is incredible.  They have done an amazing job with the space and have built it so that each piece can be closely examined by the visitors.  Most impressive was the number of Greeks at the museum - this is not just a tourist destination!  Unfortunately, certain pieces (quite a few, actually) are still at other museums, such as the British Museum or the Louvre, but in time we can hope that they are returned because the Greeks and their new Museum are more than ready to receive it. 

Our tour concluded around 1:30, so we headed to the Plaka to do a little shopping and grab some food.  Then we stumbled upon the flea market and found a lot of fun things that were way too large to fit into a suitcase (maybe next time!)  However, at this point we wanted to head back to see the Roman Agora, but we were unfortunately on the wrong side of the fence.  We had to walk basically back to where we started to find the entrance to the Agora.  Not going to lie - at this point I was getting pretty evidenced by the picture.

Not a seat, we were told by the guard.  Oops!
From the Agora, we got another fantastic view of the Acropolis - another thing in Greece that never gets old.

The Acropolis from the Agora
In the Agora, we got a close up of the Temple of Hephaestus, which is even more impressive in person...


Through the Temple
After wandering around Athens for the day I was super tired and really did not have the energy to do any more museum seeing.  Instead, we relaxed in our hotel room and then grabbed a bottle of wine and headed to the hotel's roof deck to have a pre-dinner drink and enjoy the view!

View from the Roof Deck
Needless to say we more than enjoyed our glass of wine!  Once we were set, we headed down to the Plaka to Psaras to enjoy our last meal in Greece.  There we indulged in an amazing mussel appetizer, which was one of the best things we had in Greece.  The tomato sauce and melted feta in this dish was so good that we mopped up every last bit with bread.

For our main courses, I decided to finally order some fish (I went to town on the fish this evening) so Erica and I both ordered the fresh red snapper special.   It was plucked right out the restaurants fish tank and grilled whole.  Then our server brought the amazing looking cooked fish right out to the table and filleted it table-side.

Grilled red snapper!
The filleting was very impressive - literally, with only a few moves and a pair of spoons the fish was plated for the both of us!

Filleted red snapper
One note about fresh fish though: turns out it is priced per kilo, and this turned out to be a bit pricey of a meal - $45 USD each for Erica and I!  However, it was a real treat to have.  After dinner we wandered back through the Plaka and grabbed some gelato (another last for the trip) and a Mythos (the bud light of Greece).  The Plaka was packed with loads of people just enjoying the night.

On Tuesday, Erica and Mike had to be picked up super early for their 8:00am flight, but Nick and I had a bit of time in the morning to get in a few more tourist sites in Athens.  Since it was so close to our hotel, we headed for an up-close and personal view of Zeus's Temple.  This temple once had 104 columns but only 16 remain on the site, 15 of them still standing. 

Zeus's Temple
These columns are so high and somehow are standing without much support - not sure how they do it!  However, seems like I have some super strength cause I had a bit of an accident with one of the columns....

Didn't mean to!
Although we had been in Greece for 10 days, I could not believe we had to head home already.  I felt like I could have stayed for another 10 days and seen so much more.  I cannot say how much I recommend Greece to people as a fantastic vacation destination.  You really can see so many different types of places throughout the country.  We only visited four different spots on our trip but each had their own amazing aspects.  My favorite had to be Santorini, especially our volcano excursion.

Even still, Athens and the Acropolis are something you have to see to believe.  There really is nothing like it in the world.  Each ruin has been well preserved and is being cleaned and fixed up even still.  If you are given the opportunity to go, you need to take it because it is an amazing place.


  1. You guys fit so much in! It really looks like an incredible trip.

  2. the agora was one of my favorite spots to relax in athens. that entire city is an amazing place.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...