Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 2 in Athens, the Acropolis & Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum, the Agora & other Ancient Ruins in Athens

Today started early, I forced myself out of bed around 7:15 am, I set my alarm to go off at 7 am, but I ignored it, I was tired, not ready to get up.  I had made plans with another hostel mate to go to the Acropolis early, before the heat and the crowds.  We were both up by 7:30 am, had breakfast and left the hostel, around 8 am is my guess.  We were surprised to see quite a few people already headed for the Acropolis as we turned down the main street, heading for the entrance, we guessed, they must have gotten off a tour bus.

We encountered several more tour groups as we approached the entrance to the Acropolis, most standing around the tour guide listening to instructions.  We saw the entrance, found the ticket booth, got in line and waited to buy a ticket.  The self-service ticket booths were not working, we had to wait in line, it was long but not as long as it was later in the day. We arrived at the Acropolis at just the right time.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus Amphitheater at the Acropolis 
We were expecting a hike up to the Parthenon, surprisingly it was a rather short walk, not every steep, took only a few minutes.  From Athens the Acropolis appears to be atop a high hill, towering over the city, in reality, does not take long to walk up to the Parthenon and other ruins.  Hiking the last 30 minutes to the Mount Vesuvius crater was much more strenuous than the short walk to the Acropolis. There were small crowds all the way to the Parthenon.  When we reached the Parthenon there were people posing for pictures, but the crowd was not too bad, we arrived early enough to beat the rush. 

Me in front of the Parthenon 
After we saw the Acropolis we went to the Ancient Agora of Athens.  We saw a lot of headless Greek Statues at the Agora, temples with pillars, I cannot remember the names of everything I saw today, information overload.  In some ways, seeing the Greek ruins reminded me of what I saw in Pompeii, I had to imagine what things looked like at that time.  When I read the comments on what I was looking at, I often wondered, how did they know this was a supposed to be a vase or whatever the object was named.

Lynnae at the Temple of Hephaetus in the Agora of Athens
After the Agora we walked to the Temple of Olympia Zues, passing under Hadian's Arch on our way there.  There are only a few columns left standing, as with many of the Greek ruins, one had toppled over, we were left to imagine what these grand structures once looked like, what Athens once looked like in the days when these structures were built.  The entrance fee to the Acropolis includes entrance to the Agora of Athens.  We walked into the Agora of Athens without anyone asking for our ticket, my  hostel mate walked through the entrance to the Temple of Zeus without showing her ticket, I was stopped and asked to  show my ticket on my way in.  I showed my ticket, the man stamped it, and I proceeded to the Temple of Zeus ruins.

Lynnae at Arch of Hadrian
We walked to Syntagma Square,  Athens' main square, after the Temple of Zeus, it was only about five minutes away.  Today was a hot day in Athens, we were ready for a break after spending several hours in the heat this morning.  We walked to Parliament to watch the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier.  We thought we were early, but shortly after we arrived, a member of Greek's military started barking orders to the crowd, "Get behind the white line", he interrupted a man and his son taking pictures  not of us seemed to realize what was going on, the soldier just seemed angry.  Then the guards started moving, we had timed it perfectly for the changing of the guard.

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
We ate lunch after the changing of the guard, then bought Greek frozen yogurt, the best frozen yogurt I have had in my life.  I ordered the small with strawberries and honey, as soon as I tasted it, I wished I had ordered a larger size, I will buy another cup tomorrow.  After lunch we went to the Acropolis Museum, we were pretty tired from the heat, was nice to get into an air-conditioned museum.  The museum is filled with sculptures and carvings from the Acropolis.  We were both tired and did not spend much time there, we did a quick walk through and watched a few minutes of a film.  We went back to the hostel, a new hostel mate from New Zealand arrived and we talked to our Irish hostel mate.

I met up with the retiree from Mesa, Arizona for dinner and to talk about Istanbul.  Greece's transit system is a mess, the best option is to  fly to Istanbul.  As much as I would like to save a few dollars, taking the bus would take almost a day, be exhausting and probably uncomfortable.  The retiree found a one-way ticket to Istanbul for 125 Euros, I booked the same flight.  I leave at 10 am Saturday morning, my plan is to spend 2 nights in Istanbul, then head back towards Western Europe through Sofia, Bulgaria.  I  am thinking about going to Poland, but none of my travel plans are set in stone now.  

My hostel mates are all sleep, its 12:30 am Athens time, I am still on Western European time, have not adjusted.  Our hostel room is warm, we left the windows open tonight but there is a lot of outside noise, hopefully I can sleep through it and get a few hours of sleep.

Day 2 in Athens Photo Album

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