May 19, 2019

Day 3 and our fullest day in Athens

During our free tour yesterday Alex mentioned that today, Saturday the 18th was National Museum Day and all the museums would be free. However that meant being in line to see the Acropolis before 8AM.  We were there and here we are going up the multiple slippery marble steps.  I actually wore my runners for this one.  Not only did we visit the Acropolis but also the new acropolis Museum which you will see later in this post.  Between us we saved 60Euro/90.00CAD.  I have to add that I believe that all those who arrived in tour groups likely were charged the full price and the tour company might have made a good profit that day.

One of the many views from the top. Athens is a huge city of 5.6 million citizens.

We had just missed the raising of the flag.  On April 27th, 1941, the Nazi German army entered the Greek capital of Athens, signaling the end of Greek military resistance which began with a valiant struggle against Mussolini’s Italians in October 1940. They ordered one of the evzones, the elite soldiers of the Greek army who are the guardians of the flag which flies over the Acropolis, to remove it. The soldier obeys, then wraps himself in the blue and white flag and leaps from the walls of the ancient fortress to his death.  The soldier was protecting the flag of Greece.  To this day every night the flag is lowered and the Anthem is sung and every morning the flag is raised and a soldier steps to the edge and shouts out over the city “Good morning Athens, good morning to each of you”.  Never again will a soldier die because a flag was left unprotected, this is why the flag is raised & lowered each day in Athens over the Acropolis.  We had just missed the raising of the flag but were able to see the soldiers leaving.  My photo.

The white parts are from the ongoing restorations. At the moment there is a crane on site. An explosion caused by a bombardment in 1687 crumpled the Parthenon into ruins.  The monument was restored during 1900 to 1930 with the use of iron reinforced concrete and iron clamps which subsequently corroded and expanded producing serious damaged to the marble and led to serious structural problems.  In 1981 these restoration interventions began.  I fear that this will be a constant project.  My photo.

Standing in front of the Porch of the Maidens, part of The Erechtheion, an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Taken by me of course.

The real statues of the Maidens are in the museum and we will see them later.

Poppies among pieces of the fallen Parthenon. Photo by me.

The views are breathtaking in every direction.  Hadrian’s Arch is almost dead center and to the right is what is left of his opulent temple.

This photo is special at it was taken by a lovely Indian woman. Her and three friends who had graduated as architects back in the day were having a reunion vacation. She lives in Canada, the others in Germany, France and India. What a perfect place for the architects to visit.

Pretty good selfie.

We left just after 9:30 and the crowds were huge and growing by the minute.

The Acropolis Museum covers a total of 25,000 square meters/269,097.8 square feet.  It was opened in 2009.  The base of the museum is supported by more than 100 concrete pillars so that it appears to be floating over the site’s archeological excavation.  You can see the excavation as you walk towards the museum and even inside the museum as many of the floors are clear glass so you can see the ancient construction. A new exhibit is currently being worked on so that visitors will be able to walk on the ancient roads and stroll along the remains of ancient homes, baths and workshops, etc. in order to feel the presence of those that lived here over 2000 years ago.  It is already amazing that we are already able to see so much.

The museum is four stories and thanks to a tip from one of our servers the night before, we started with the best at the top.  The Parthenon Gallery was built to the same dimensions and orientation as the Parthenon.  It was specifically designed to receive and display the entire temple frieze. As you can see the transparent glass walls allow us to see the breathtaking view of the Acropolis, the surrounding hills and the modern city of Athens, all that while being inside and looking at the artifacts.  Impossible to find the words other than stunning and so very special.

Once we toured the four sides we moved down to the other levels. Here are the original five maidens ( 2 on the right ).  The sixth maiden is in the British Museum and they are very reluctant to return it.  A space remains for her eventual return.

Once we left we walked to the Plaka to find a place for a very late breakfast at noon.  By now we had both changed shoes and my back was sore.  Time to sit, eat, relax a bit and plan our next move.  This and the next five shots were taken by me.

We eventually were ready to move on and check out more of the Plaka before moving to the Syntagma area and checked out some flea market type shopping areas.  Expensive pricing to our minds.

Somehow our meandering got us to the famous Monastiraki Square.  This area was even busier than anywhere we have been to date. Please take note of the tall building in the center.  On the second level down from the top you can see a bit of red which is an A, as in A is for Athens.  More on that later.  We eventually  staggered ( well I did, I was totally done ) out the area and headed towards home.

I needed some energy so we stopped to share a salad and some wine.  Somehow I made it home where Colin had a nap while I worked on that last post with more wine to propel me.

Shortly after 7:30 PM we took a taxi to that tall building, A is for Athens. We were here to see the sunset and the lights come on at the Acropolis.  Sadly they said we needed a reservation.  I countered with the story that a local ( our tour guide Alex ) said that they did not take reservations.  We already had decided to come here based on my research and I should have followed my gut and called.  Long story short I talked us into being allowed to come up to the roof top viewing area as long as we stood.  Fine by us.  We ordered a drink and had not taken more than two small sips ( expensive wine ) when we were offered a table to sit at.  Someone had left.  Perfect.  I did feel badly for the two other couples who left as they had no reservation.  I never take no for an answer.

Photo by Colin.

We made quick friends with those around us.  We even got free nuts, really good ones.  The wait staff whom we befriended later told us that they thought this was the best place in all of Athens to see what we were here to see.  I want to say that life doesn’t get any better but it turns out that it does. Photo by me.

Bit by bit the lights started to come on.

Photo by me.

We stayed and visited with our new friends for a bit and then it was time to move on and find some dinner. It just wasn’t coming together as we walked the nearby streets.  Not many restaurants in the area appealed to us as there were few patrons inside.  We looked for a cab to get back to our street with all the wonderful restaurants.  We walked and walked and no taxis.  Finally one came by and he chatted non stop about his visits to Canada, etc. Thanks for the ride, we got out and where the heck were we.  He dropped us off at least a dozen blocks away.  We did make it back and first thing I said to our girl who recognized us from a few nights ago, was wine ASAP.  Colin had pasta, I had the eggplant and treated myself to the 4.5 Euro dish of overpriced tsatsiki ,but I just had to taste it because it was actually made here in Greece.  So very rich and garlicky.  It was our latest meal ever and @ 11;45PM I could not eat much.  It all came home for lunch the next day. Photo by me.

Colin fell asleep on the sofa, insisting on staying up with me as I wrote my blog.  Eventually I made him go to bed and I finally joined him at 2AM.  I love writing my blog and sharing our photos and my thoughts.  Sometime I just wish it didn’t take so long but there is no way I am going to compromise what I want to share and say.  And as this is a six week trip I can’t save it for tomorrow.  Besides I am writing this for myself as well as for you.  I hope that you are enjoying the story and the photos.




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10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Day 3 and our fullest day in Athens”

  1. Wow, you guys sure packed in a full day – great deal on the free sites. Make sure to have some rest time!

  2. Don & Kathy McKelvay says:

    And all of your blog readers as so very fortunate that you share all your fabulous trips with us. Efaristo.

  3. Sally says:

    I am really enjoying your trip. That picture of you and Colin should be framed. Thank you for all your work on your blog. This is as close as I’ll get to Greece.

  4. Kelly says:

    Love the Acropolis pictures at night. Your research does pay off.
    All the food pictures look so interesting.
    And the pictures of you and Colin are all good.

  5. Envy, pure envy. We saw a documentary about the Acropolis museum. Your pics are the best and it looks like you’re having fun.

  6. George Yates says:

    What and interesting day, but those late nights would sure not work for us, Thanks for the great pictures and sharing the history with us.

  7. And we thank you for your words and pictures. All your planning has paid off-you are seeing sights that others will miss for lack of a plan. Protest as you must, but I feel badly for you composing as Colin naps.

  8. Dolores says:

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!!

  9. Kathryn Tycho says:

    Another great day in Greece! Like the way you talked yourself up to the roof, sometimes things are just meant to be.

  10. Ann says:

    I really am enjoying your trip. We were in Athens a couple years ago, so it has been fun to revisit through your eyes. Pretty sure we had lunch in the area of your apartment. Thanks so much for taking the time to write the blog and share all of the fabulous photos.

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