Athens: Day 1 - Intro to Greece and the National Museum

Athens Travel Blog

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Athens from Lakovittos' Hill.
Greece is a beautiful landscape of olive groves and mountains, dotted with ruins that are older than most places in the world.   The Lonely Planet sums up the climate as "generally has mild wet winters and hot dry summers. Winter temperatures can be severe in the mountains and even Athens can get viciously cold."  It also states that "Winter is pretty much a dead loss outside the major cities as most of the tourist infrastructure goes into hibernation from the middle of October till the beginning of April."  THIS IS NOT TRUE FOR THE MAINLAND!  Nearly everything was open (except rock climbing at Meteora) AND there were almost no tourists.  Probably, because they were scared away by this statement the Lonely Planet made.
Athens with the Attica Mountains in the background.
  The islands do become very deserted, but this can be nice at times and a few things are still open.

Lizzie and I as good experienced travelers did our research and came prepared; being in Greece in January, we brought rain and snow gear.  Lots and lots of gortex, fleece, and good sturdy rain boots.  Well, apparently, Greece didn't get the weather memo this year that it was supposed to be 50 and raining and then snowing in Macedonian because we fly into Athens and it was 75 degrees F and sunny.  EVERY DAY of the trip was sunny and in the 70s!!  We didn't have a t-shirt among us.  Not that we complained - we had the run of the place, no tourists and beautiful weather.  Imagine walking through the runs of Delphi, it's warm and sunny, a light breeze is blowing and you have the place all to yourselves.
  Absolutely unheard of!

Athens was a slightly different story - it's a big, busy city and one place that tourist do stop in January.  The difference between Athens and the rest of Greece is night and day, so I highly recommend getting a car at the aiport and driving to a few other places in Greece, even places that are close by.  You can do Athens in about two days.  On our first Day in Athens we visited the National Archaeology Museum.

National Archaeology Museum

For the National Archaeology Museum of Greece it wasn't as large as I thought it would be.  The National Museum has everything from the progression of Greek statues (Archaic to Classical), the progression of greek pottery style, ancient Greek weaponry and armour, Greek chariots, tons of Grave stelae, the progression of Greek writing (including the earliest Linear B tablets), lots of Corinthian helmets (which are my favourite), and most importantly, the items Heinrich Schliemann (same man who found Troy) discovered at Grave Circle A at Mycenae (tons of beautifully worked gold objects, lots of swords, gold funerary masks, bronze daggers, wall paintings, bowls and cups, vases and it just goes on and on).
Gorgeous gold long sword handle that depicts two lions. It was found at Grave Circle A, Mycenae.


Shopping at the Market

After the Museum, Lizzie and I went market shopping with 3 key words: Ef-khari-sto (Thank you), O-hi (No), and Ne (Yes).  Those three little words and a lot of gestures enabled us to by all sorts of foods.  In Greece you can sample foods before you buy them.  It is the land of 'try-me's!  We purchased an assortment of dates, figs, feta, oranges, yogurt and honey.  Little did we know that this would be the start of our obession with Greek yogurt with honey on top.  Greek yogurt tastes nothing like any other yogurt in the world.  It is rich, thick, decadent and absolutely sinful with a little bit of honey.  Needless to say we ate a ton.
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Athens from Lakovittos Hill.
Athens from Lakovittos' Hill.
Athens with the Attica Mountains i…
Athens with the Attica Mountains …
Gorgeous gold long sword handle th…
Gorgeous gold long sword handle t…
Lykavittos Hill.
Lykavittos Hill.
Most of Athens streets are tiny an…
Most of Athens streets are tiny a…
Linear B tablets from Mycenae.  Fi…
Linear B tablets from Mycenae. F…
Early vase.
Early vase.
Archaic statue.
Archaic statue.
Sphinx.
Sphinx.
Zeus.
Zeus.
Bronze work from a Greek chariot.
Bronze work from a Greek chariot.
Corinthian Helmet.
Corinthian Helmet.
Theatre mask.
Theatre mask.
Agamemnons gold funerary mask a…
"Agamemnon's gold funerary mask" …
Sword sheath inlaid with gold.
Sword sheath inlaid with gold.
So many intact swords!  From Grace…
So many intact swords! From Grac…
Cyclades statue.
Cyclades statue.
Athens
photo by: Johnpro