Athens

After lovely sea breezes and spending our time jumping in and out of the pool in Crete, Athens felt unbearably hot. Plus two summers in England (where 74° F is hot) has made it harder for us to adapt to 100° weather. With all that though, I was still excited to see so much history, even if we only had 48 hours in Athens.IMG_2127We started out by getting a solid foundation of Ancient Greek history and art at the National Archeological Museum.IMG_1906 We learned (or re-learned – I know I learned all of this in Humanities 201 back at University) about different periods of Greek art, saw the Mask of Agamemnon, plenty of busts, lots of vases, Aphrodite & Pan, Kore and Kouros (below), Posidon (or Zeus, depending on whether he’s supposed to be holding a trident or lightening bolt), and a little family that was also listening to the Rick Steves audio guide, like us!Athens CollageDaughter (thankfully) slept through the whole museum giving us the chance to focus on what we were seeing and woke up minutes before the end. So as we left we pointed out what we thought she would be most interested in – a horse (neigh!) and some pigeons outside (entertaining in any country).IMG_1924IMG_1935 We’ve found we get more out of old ruins if we get a guide, so before we left home we booked a walking tour for the city and the Acropolis for our second day in Athens. You guys. THE Acropolis. THE Parthenon. Ahh world history. The tour started in the city and ended at the Acropolis. So before we could get our fill of ancient Greece we saw Syntagma Square and the changing of the guard. IMG_1983The [400] pleats in their skirts represent the 400 years under Turkish oppressive rule and could be used to hide weapons.  The poufs on the shoes also can conceal a knife. Makes their unusual (to our societal views) uniform much more intimidating don’t you think?
A view of the much anticipated Acropolis from the Temple of Zeus.
IMG_1954I’ve been quizzing Derek on the 3 types of column capitals (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian) for ages, and I’m happy to report after this trip – he can now identify them! Come to find out I would always just ask him and had never actually identified them, so he was just guessing.   Oops! I also think it got to be a bit of a joke so he would deliberately say the wrong answer, because let’s face it – Big D (as my dad calls him) knows an absurd amount of trivia. Below, are some Corinthian capitals topping the massively tall columns of the Temple of Zeus.
IMG_1959Before we headed up to the Acropolis we stopped and got some delightfully refreshing authentic Greek yogurt. Oh. my. creamy. We even tried yogurt made from sheep’s milk. It had a little bit of a feta-esque tang and was so thick it could have been a pudding. A perfect refreshment before we hiked up the hill.
IMG_2018I was really exciting to be on the Acropolis and see the Parthenon, but by the time we got there we were feeling worn out from the sun. Daughter was also totally over it. ha!
IMG_2040 IMG_2049I was really looking forward to seeing the caryatids, even though we found out while we were on the Acropolis that all of the ones here are replicas – five of them are in the Acropolis museum and one is in The British Museum.
IMG_2027I did expect them to be a little bit bigger. Perhaps if we had been able to get closer I would have realized how tall they are, but alas, we obeyed the rules and didn’t jump any fences just to match expectations.
IMG_2037We spent as much time on the Acropolis as our dehydrated bodies would allow after our tour ended (how did we deplete all that water we were carrying so quickly??), although it was a internal struggle between soaking up as much history as we could and the physical need to soak up some H2O.
On our way down Derek ran to the top of Mars Hill, where the apostle Paul taught the Greeks.
IMG_2065After a lunch and lots of water we walked to the Ancient Agora, where Socrates and Plato would have lectured and bartered, where regular citizens would have voted and been called to jury duty, and where everyone did their shopping.
IMG_2096The Stoa of Attalos (a covered walkway and now museum) has been restored, so we spent some time there (shade + air conditioned museum + drinking fountains = heaven).
IMG_2084Did you notice she’s not touching the ground?! Funny girl.IMG_2081The columns are deliberately not fluted from part of the way down to provide optimal comfort while leaning. Clever, right? Gotta hand it to those Greeks!
IMG_2092While we were up on the Acropolis we could see the Agora and the intact (!) Temple of Hephaestus, so I made sure we dragged our tired bodies up the hill from the rest of the Agora to see the temple.
IMG_2015While we were up behind the temple there we saw a turtle, which I’m pretty sure made Daughter’s day! She’s totally into animal noises, so I was a little sad I don’t have a noise to teach her for turtles. Any ideas?
IMG_2116In front of the temple we had a nice view of the Stoa and the rest of the Agora.
IMG_2112For how intact the temple is, I was kind of hoping we could go inside (at least) or that some of the interior would be restored, but neither was the case. It still is pretty amazing to think of how long that building has lasted.
After finishing our tour of the Agora, we walked to a few other sites like the Tower of the Four Winds (first photo in post) and Hadrian’s Library, before getting an ice lolly and wandering around some shopping areas. That evening we had a lovely last Greek meal of hummus, pita, olives, moussaka, and yet another plate of gyro meat. It was a great one to end the trip. After dinner we put Daughter to bed and cooled off on our hotel balcony.
IMG_2135The next day we walked around the Plaka, but before too long had to head out to catch our flight home.IMG_2034 Overall, Greece was wonderful. On the rainy and cloudy days we have here I know I’ll wish for some of that sunshine and heat, regardless of how stifling it was at the time!

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3 thoughts on “Athens

  1. Pingback: Sunday Talk: “Norway Travelogue: I’m a Mormon (Arendal)” | Highlighting Mormon WordPress Bloggers

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