Athens: many archeological excavations

Athens Travel Blog

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Our first day in Athens. We don’t get up too early and we go to the top floor to have our breakfast at 09:00. We have only 30 minutes left for breakfast, but we don’t rush. In this hotel the food is not typically Greek, because we can choose between two different types of cheese, bacon and then there are eggs (cooked, omelet) with sausages and bacon. This is finally something else than always chocolate paste and marmalade. Enjoy it. We have a great view onto the Acropolis. It’s a pity it is all surrounded scaffolding and that is not a pretty sight. It looks like (and in fact is) a building site at broad daylight. Today we have the “rock”-day. We’re going to visit a lot of monuments from old Greek and Roman history. We don’t really have a planning; we’ll see where we get throughout the day. Really the Greek way. Our first stop is the ancient agora. If you hear agora, you imagine a big square and nothing else, but apparently there is a lot more to it than only a market square. We walk to it: here in Athens everything is at walking distance from the hotel. The man at the counter says it’s better and cheaper to have a ticket for several monuments. This costs 12 Euro per person, but we can visit almost everything with it. Tomorrow we’re going to see the Acropolis and now we have the choice between the Greek Agora, the Roman Agora, the temple of the Olympic Zeus, Kerameikos and the Temple of Dionyssos. We start with the Greek Agora. Ruling over the agora is the Temple of Hephaestus. This is already very impressive: meters high above the ground are the walls, the pillars. Then we get our first piece of rain, so we look for shelter and stay there. After a few moments we can continue our visit. Very impressive are also the statues of the giants: some low pillars with mega-statues on them. Also on the agora the channels for drainage are visible and a few remains of other smaller temples. Of the stoa there is only a small portion of the pillars that remain. From the agora a main road leads towards the Acropolis, but we’ll save this for tomorrow. Now we visit the museum that is here on the agora premises.  Close to the stoa of Attalos, which has been completely re-erected and now serves as museum. Also here we find famous potsherds, famous by the ostracism. When the civilians wanted, that someone got banned, they had to write the names on the potsherds. The person, who received the most votes, got banned. After the agora we go to our next stop. We now receive our second portion of rain. The Temple of the Olympic Zeus is next. Right in the middle of the city, next to the Arch of Hadrian, which we see first. Again this is a really overwhelming feeling we have, when we see the temple. It’s really unbelievable how all people can have done this in the past. We have a little break and check, what we want to do next. First we go and see the stadium and then we go and have something to eat. We can’t really visit the stadium: you can’t miss it, but you can’t go on the stadium ground. This was the spot, where the first Olympics took place. We walk through the city through the park to the Plaka, a bunch of alleys and small streets and we’re looking for a nice restaurant. We think we’ve found it and sit down. We have a Greek salad and meatballs, nice, but the service is not really friendly. We were used to a different kind of hospitality on Crete. What can you expect: Athens a real metropolis. We pay (16 Euro) and go to see the guards at the grave of the Unknown Soldier. Always there is a lousy tourist that ruins the clothing of the soldiers. We only take a picture and leave to our last stop of the day: The Roman Agora. To find your way around is pretty easy with the map we got at the hotel. I would have thought it would be more difficult. The Roman agora is different than the Greek. There is a building that serves as clock tower and at the same time as entrance gate to the agora. With respect the agora is oriented towards the Greek. Also we find remains of a fountain and a lot of pillars that are up or already broken down. We’re busy a while already and are feeling a bit tired. So we take the map and try to find the shortest way to the hotel to take a nap. We rest a bit from 17:00 until 18:00. Then we’re getting ready for diner. We have looked in Trotter and the other guides if and where there is a good restaurant in this neighborhood. At “Mezedopolio Naxos” we find what we need. We order half of liter retsina, salted sardines, a cabbage salad and carrots with mayonnaise, backed mushrooms and mussels saganaki. We eat it all with bread and it tastes magnificent. We’ve had enough, but we don’t feel we have had too much. That’s very nice. On our way back we buy another 2 bottles of retsina and cigars at a kiosk and have a drink on our balcony. From the balcony we have a side view at the Acropolis. The drawback of this hotel is that it is located very close to a very busy road. Once you’re inside you can’t hear a thing anymore. Today on TV there is the finale of the Champion’s League, so we watch TV and then go to sleep. Tomorrow we need to get up early, as we want to be at the Acropolis as one of the first visitors.

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photo by: Johnpro