We started out the morning with a trip to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. What an amazing site! It’s amazing to stand next to something that has been in that spot in some shape or form for the last 2,500ish years. We learned about the history of the whole Acropolis area and about the Parthenon itself, as well as details about the UNESCO efforts to preserve the site. There was some scaffolding up and work going on as part of a 21-stage process to repair damage not only done by pollution and erosion, but by previous preservation efforts in the 1800s and early 1900s. Good thing we were there first thing in the morning… The Weather Channel predicted mid-70s for this week… Today topped out at close to 100. We both nearly melted!
After visiting the Acropolis, we also toured the new Acropolis Museum. If I had judged the museum by its facade, I don’t think I would have put it on the list had it not been part of our guided tour. However, once we walked down and got to see some of the archeological work exposed around the museum and then actually walked inside the museum, I was so glad we went. Tim said he thinks it was one of the best museums he’s ever seen. All the artifacts in the museum came from the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the surrounding “neighborhood.” A stunning truth we learned on our tour is that 60% of the existing Acropolis artifacts, particularly parts of the marble exterior of the Parthenon, are actually held at The British Museum. It seems Greece has been trying since the 1980s to get these pieces back, but have been unsuccessful so far. These artifacts ended up there in the first place because a wealthy British man came over during the Turkish occupation of Greece and paid the Turks to allow him to first create casts of the exterior pieces, and then to just take them outright to decorate his home. He had a team of people take crowbars and break them off the sides of the Parthenon. Tim and I were both ready to sign a petition to get them back to Greece. 🙂
Part of our morning tour also included a drive around the city with some facts thrown in. Most of what she covered we heard yesterday, though we were able to get out and have take pictures at the original Olympic Stadium track that was expanded for use in the first modern Olympic Games in the 1890s.
We also saw even more graffiti… Athens has a CRAZY amount of graffiti. There are hardly any buildings unmarked by graffiti, some areas worse than others. Even beautiful buildings, including national buildings, have been defaced. Tim and I wondered what kind of team they had to clean up all the graffiti before the 2004 Olympics, because surely they would not have allowed their city to be so defaced for the whole world to see. It really is crazy how much of it there is.
After the tour, Tim and I decided to take the second part of the “hop-on, hop-off” tour we didn’t do yesterday. This one took us to the port of Athens, so we got our first up-close look at the docks and the bay that opens into the Mediterranean sea. I may have slept for a portion of this tour, though. 😉
After the tour, we caught a bus to the market area of Athens and had a look around. We got a little lost when we decided to walk back instead of taking the bus. Our sense of direction was pretty good, but we took a few unnecessary turns. We were often rewarded for our unnecessary turns by random Byzantine churches, one of which we unknowingly took illegal photos in. We didn’t see the “no photos” sign until we were leaving. Whoops! No wonder some people were giving us the stink eye.
Once we finally found our way back, we got ice cream #2, cleaned up and got ready for a dinner at Lycabettus Hill, the tallest point in Athens.
Dinner was a bit ridiculous for two bird-like eaters such as we are. We both agreed it was a good thing we ate a light lunch. Dinner STARTED with Greek salad, mussels (a whole pile that made us think of Kevin and his pail of mussels in St. Maarten), and squid risotto. We both had chicken for a main course, and they brought a dessert of cinnamon cake and ice cream (Tim took one for the team and ate half of my cake). Add wine, and we were ready to roll down the hill after. The view was amazing, though, and the breeze was perfect after such a hot day, and the company was delightful. We wondered what 19-year-old Tim who pulled into Pireas port would have thought if he knew that 14 years later he would be having such a dinner with his whiney girlfriend who had become his wife. Neither of us could have dreamed such a thing!
Another early morning tomorrow for a full day tour in Delphi! We are both looking forward to sleeping in one of these days! We’re, as I’ve said a few times, sucking the marrow out of life!
P.s. For the Smiths: Check out what Tim and I saw today! Memories of Bali!