Saturday, July 28, 2012

Athens, and home...

Who doesn't want to go to Athens, the cradle of democracy, the home of western civilization?  This was our port of disembarkation, and because we were gone for 2 weeks, we could only spend one night there...but it was going to be a jammed full day and night of sights and food!  After collecting our passports, and saying good bye to fellow travelers, we boarded a bus for a morning tour of the city, that included a stop at the Acropolis.  
Some views of Piraeus, our port.


Our first stop was the Acropolis Museum, which is a new museum at the base of the site.  As you enter, the walkway is plexi glass, so you can see the the dig below...very impressive.

We had walked from our bus to the museum...I looked around, and there it was, the Parthenon...I had one of those gasp moments...could I really be here?

Wikipedia image of the Acropolis
Just a little history, the Acropolis is a giant rock that protrudes upward in the middle of Athens.  The ancient Athenians built their fortress atop, like 1000 years BC, for protection from the Persians and whomever else wanted to sack them.  And about the Persians, today there are no mosques in Athens or southern Greece.  Our guide, an archaeologist named Athenesia, told us that there are a few in Northern Greece.  Any Muslims living in southern Greece practice their religion at home.  Just an interesting fact.
The museum is worth every moment spent inside.  The bottom floor is antiquities that are thousands of years old.  Some models of the Acropolis

I took these photos before being told photography was not allowed....oops...these were wedding vases, used to carry water for washing a bride.  They are at least 2000 years old. 

The next floor had statuary,
Google image
including 5 of the original statues that stood at the Temple of Diane.  The sixth statue, along with hundreds of feet of relief work that adorned the Parthenon, are in a London museum. 
Google image
They were sold by a Greek politician to a British business man, who wanted them for a home he was building, for some $25,000, in the early 1900s.  He in turn, sold them to the London museum.  Greece wants all of it back.  I don't blame them.  Back to the statues, they are mostly goddesses, and the anatomy was so perfect, so beautiful, even the backs were carefully sculpted.  Their togas draped perfectly...not a detail was without perfection.  No modern tools, thousands of years old...amazing.  Most of the Greek mountains are marble, and the marble used at the Acropolis came from a specific mountain.  Today, this mountain's marble can be used only in restoration of the Acropolis monuments.
The top floor is a recreation of the Parthenon....with all 136(?) columns (in metal) , and the relief work that Greece still has.  The wall behind our guide shows how all the relief work would look.

The original reliefs are yellowed from age.  While we were there, they were using a laser/ultrasonic cleaning device on one of the Diane statues.  The white marble is restoration work, using marble from the specific mountain.

We left the museum, and started the big hill climb...

And our reward.  Most of the crowd was right here, in front of the Parthenon.  The footing was very rocky, very slippery, lots of marble (original).  Glad I had on my tennis shoes.  
The Parthenon.

The columns taper as they rise, and the steps angle outward, for drainage.


An ancient theater...sorry, don't know its' name.  The Museum is in the background.

Ruins, ruins, everywhere...and I don't know anything about them.  Greece, Athens, is definitely on the re do list.


I do know that this temple can be photographed from only this spot!

This is the Temple of Diane, with the women's heads precariously holding up the roof.  Made me think of the line in My Big Fat Greek Wedding...the man is the head of the household, but it's the woman's neck that turns the head.  Something like that.

As we walked down, we could see the Agora.  Also, a large Greek Orthodox Church. 

Back on the bus, we drove through streets, with ornamental orange trees.  Our guide told us that Greek protesters use them to throw at the police.  We were there just after the elections, when Greece elected a president who wants to stay in the Euro union, and repay their debt.  When someone asked her how they got into such financial trouble, she said that the previous government allowed the rich to not pay taxes...hmmm...sort of sounds familiar.

 The modern Olympic Stadium.

After we checked in at our hotel, Robert and I went exploring and to find some lunch.  Our resident travel agent gave us the name of a restaurant, so off we went.  Again incredible food, delicious local wine.  We were amazed by how good the fresh vegetables were, and we were told that it's because the minerals from the mountains wash down into the fields, and that they give special taste to the vegetables.  I believe it.  Robert is still lamenting the no longer available Greek yogurt.
As we walked back to our hotel, we stumbled upon the garment district...I saw silk fabric for 3-4 euros per meter.  No, I didn't buy any.

After a brief respite, we hooked up with Bob and Chris, and went to another recommended restaurant for dinner.  I've been trying to recreate a smoked eggplant dish, I've wrapped it in foil, and roasted on the grill, not enough smoke taste...tonight, I am going to actually put the eggplant on an open flame...wish me luck.
Chris and Bob at dinner.

The day is winding down...our plane leaves in the morning.  A few more beautiful sights.
The Acropolis at night.

 Parliament Square, site of our hotel.

The moon rising over the Parliament House, with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We had an uneventful trip home, cleared customs in Philadelphia (Greek word!), arrived in LA at 8:30 pm, home to Bakersfield by midnight.  This was the trip of a lifetime, and we're appreciative that we were able to make the journey.  Hope you've enjoyed my travel blog.
And p.s., when I have time, I will reload the pictures that I accidentally deleted.


  1. http://patches.typepad.comJuly 28, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    I thoughly enjoyed them Patty. I certainly understand the time it took you to write about your trip. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading them Suzanne. I have a new respect for what you do weekly!