After catching our tender boat back to the Star Princess from the isle of Mykonos, we set sail for Athens, Greece and the port of Piraeus. Athens, and the country of Greece for that matter, was going through changes at this time. We were, in fact, in Athens on the day they elected their new Prime Minister.
We didn’t have a ton of time to spend in Athens so we decided to do a “Hop-on, Hop-off” bus tour which took us into the heart of Athens. Along the route our open air double decker bus had us ducking to try to avoid all the gorgeous orange trees. We were warned, however, not to eat the oranges because of the pollutants in the city. I loved the sight of narrow streets lined with orange trees on either side – it was just a shame you weren’t allowed to eat them!
We decided to stay on the bus for the entire circuit and then hop off at the Acropolis. Throughout the tour we saw the streets of Piraeus, Parliament (and the Greek version of the SWAT team on every corner!), the Panathenaic Stadium, the University, and of course the Parthenon and Acropolis! We decided being in Athens meant a visit to the Parthenon, so off the bus we went to start climbing the Acropolis.
Half way there we met a Greek lady who was providing private tours, so we decided to follow her around to learn about this World Heritage Site. I was surprised to see so many different elements to this site. It was now obvious that a lot of this history was left out of our high school history classes! From the entrance we walked up a large pathway that trails above the Theatre of Dionysus Eleutherus and the Sanctuary of Asclepius and leads you to the large stone steps beneath the small Temple of Athena Nike. As we walked through the structure signifying the entrance to the site, we were greeted by the sight of temples, carvings, and construction. The Old temple of Athena (now demolished) and the Erechtheion were to the left and the Parthenon was to the right. I could not get over the amount of detail carved in to the Erechtheion or the size of the columns on the Parthenon. As in most heritage sites, most of the Parthenon was covered in scaffolding, however we were still able to appreciate the history and significance of this temple!
Before saying goodbye to our tour guide I asked her why there were so many stray dogs running around the site. We had a lovely pup trailing us whenever we went who seemed to know the guide well. Unfortunately her answer was sad on many levels – families in Greece are struggling to feed their families, let alone pets, so many pets have been abandoned on the streets. This story broke my heart.
After a few hours exploring the Acropolis with our buddy Rover (as I nicknamed him) we headed down towards a nice park that eventually lead to the Acropolis Museum. This museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings from the Acropolis. Inside we found hundreds of original sculptures, including the original carvings above the entrances to the temples. There were floors and floors of stone to observe, but the thing that interested my carpenter husband the most was the size of the columns! Haha
This building was actually constructed on top of an archeological site which is still being excavated. The ground floor is actually sitting on top of piles strategically placed so as not to interrupt the site below. Glass floors were installed in many areas to observe the work being preformed beneath our feet. Such a unique thing to watch!
We decided to have lunch in the cafe before catching the bus back to Piraeus. We know that we missed hundreds of sites in Athens, but that just gives us the excuse to return, right?
Peace, Love, Temples and Construction Sites,