I'm running out of cool ideas for titles...
07.01.2014 - 07.04.2014 95 °F
After leaving my mom in Munich, I flew to Athens, Greece to meet up with Alex again. After we separated in Italy he went on to do Eastern Europe for a little over a month: Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey and some other places I can't remember…
Day 1: Acropolis, Acropolis Museum & Lykavittos Hill
Today we decided just to conquer the Acropolis. We started with the Acropolis Museum which displays some of the surviving treasures. The museum is relatively new and the architecture is amazing. They have glass on the floors to show the subterranean ruins that they found below. Also great views of the Acropolis!
We saw the 5 original Caryatids - famous maiden columns that held up the porch of the Erechtheion (the 6th one is in the British Museum)
(Alex asked me to take a picture of him and "his girls" - he thought that was funny -__- )
The museum also has the reconstruction of the friezes that would be on the top of the Parthenon. The west one depicts Athena and Poseidon in contest for the city's patronage. The story is that the gods of Olympus said the city should be named after the deity with the most valuable legacy for mortals. Athena produced an olive tree while Poseidon produced salt water. Athena won and the city was named after her.
The east frieze shows Athena's birth from Zeus' head…I don't really get that one…
Afterwards we went up to the Acropolis.
The Acropolis was always the most important center of the city as it is the highest place. But in 11th century BC, the people became to erect buildings for their patron goddess Athena. The Parthenon used to have a 12 meter high statue of Athena inside.
The temple is 8 columns by 17 and is well preserved considering it was "blown up" in the 17th century.
Also atop the Acropolis is the Erechtheion. This temple is built in the spot where Poseidon and Athena both created their gifts to the city. Today, there are plaster casts of the caryatids holding the porch (Because the real ones are in the museum)
At the end of the day we took a furnicular to the top of Lykavittos hill to watch the sunset. It was really nice because we had a great view of the Acropolis, which we saw during the day, and the sun going down around Athens.
Day 2: Benaki Museum, Theatre Dionysis & Temple of Olympian Zeus
On Thursdays the Benaki Museum is free for everyone so we figured this would be a nice start. It is not one of the museums that are considered a "must-see" but it was definitely pretty cool (and free so we had nothing to lose!). The museum has some of the ancient jewelry, pottery, and ceremonial pieces. It then goes through the years until Greece's independence from the Ottoman empire.
Sidenote: In Munich, just 2 days before, I learned that Bavaria helped Greece in their revolution and the museum shows some art work about the alliance. So far on the trip every country I went to bordered or had some relation with the country I was in previously (Italy to France, France to Spain, France to Switzerland, Germany to Austria), so I was really glad when the connections continued with Germany to Greece!
We then went back to the Acropolis area to see the Theatre of Dionysos. A 6th-century-BC theatre, this place used to have productions of philosophers like Sophocles.
You can see some of the marble thrones for dignitaries and priests (like the one I'm sitting on in the picture!)
Lastly, we saw the Temple of Olympian Zeus. (The ticket to get into the Acropolis gets you into all these sites for 3 days!). This temple was the largest temple in Greece and took 700 years to build! It's estimated that there were 174 Corinthian columns, but only 15 remain.
The fallen column that is broken into slices was due to a gale in 1852 (I didn't know before, but a gale is a really strong wind!)
That night Alex and I had dinner with his cousin and wife, who happened to be in town for a wedding at the same time! We got to see some nice views of the Acropolis at night afterwards too!
Day 3: Roman & Ancient Agora, Ferry to Mykonos
On our 3rd day, we completed the last two sites on our list: The Roman and Ancient Agora. The Roman Agora was built in the 2nd half of the 1st century BC in order to transfer the commercial center from the Ancient Agora.
The tower in the picture below is the Tower of the Winds. It was a sundial, weather vane, water clock, and compass.
The Ancient Agora, on the other hand, started around the 6th century BC. It was the center for social and religious activities, commerce, and athletic contests.
This is the Stoa of Attalos. It was destroyed in 267 AD but rebuilt by the American School of Archaeology in the 1950s...that's why it looks so new!
The best-preserved Doric temple in Greece is in the Ancient Agora atop a hill - The Temple of Hephaestus. The reason it is so best preserved is because in AD 1300 it was converted into a Church.
The area we stayed in was Monastiraki...I liked that area a lot because it has Athen's biggest flea market (found tons of souvenirs!) and has a lot of good food in the area.
Speaking about food...so far it was great! We had:
1) Pork and chicken gyro meat, the plate will usually come with tzatziki sauce and tomatoes and onions
2) Stuffed peppers and tomatoes - usually with rice and herbs
3) Moussaka - they layer eggplant with meat and then topped with a sauce and cheese. I usually don't like eggplant but the cheese and meat helped It's like their version of a lasagna!
4) Gyro in Pita - it has the gyro meat with tomatoes, red onions, a different sauce depending if its chicken or pork, and...FRENCH FRIES
5) And my favorite, Greek Salad. When I was a kid I would make salads that only contained tomatoes, cheese and croutons - no lettuce. Well, Greek salad is like made just for me. It's full of fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions, a block of feta cheese, and oil & vinegar...perfect
After our sightseeing, we headed to the port for our first ferry of our trip to the party island of Mykonos.
Sidenote: Don't go to Athens in July! It's too hot to sightsee and most of the sites are outdoors!