Athens Travel Blog› entry 16 of 44 › view all entries
After a week of sailing the sea, we arrived in Piraeus, the port of Athens. We docked very early in the morning and were herded off the boat with a smile. I did enjoy the cruise ship, but it was nice to me on our own again, and do what we wanted to do. That being said, we still had 2 nights in a hotel in Athens and a 1/2 day city tour in this tour package.
Although there was a representative of the tour company at the dock, we were forced to wait about half an hour for the driver to show up to take us to the hotel. We had a neat drive through the port town, and as we entered Athens, the driver pointed out the Acropolis to us.
We arrived at the nice hotel we were staying at, which was a little north of the hotel but very close to the Acropolis. We dropped off our things and headed out the door and ventured up the street to the Athens Archaeological Museum.
I won't go into detail about what we saw there because, quite frankly, it's a bunch of statues. Really neat statues, but statues none the less. The museum also did a good job of telling us the history of the area, which is something I always love to know. When we were done with the museum, we got information on a supermarket close to the hotel, and headed there to buy lunch.
We took our lunch down a street lined with ships to the National Gardens which was right next to the Parliament building. We found a bench, said a prayer, and divvied up the food (I got more because I like to eat!). We even made some new bird friends, although I think they were just using us for the food. When we were finished eating, we continued our walk through the gardens, just seeing what there was to see. We wanted to head south and find the old Olympic stadium, but we ended up exiting the gardens right in front of the Presidential Palace.
Our quest to find the Olympic stadium took us down a few busy streets before finally reaching our destination. This stadium was the first one used in the modern Olympic games, back in 1896. It was only fitting that the games recommence in Greece, where they began thousands of years before. This stadium was also the ending point of the marathon run in the 2004 Olympic Games. The stadium was built on the site of Panathinaiko Stadium, an ancient stadium used in the Panathenaic Games. It was designed out of marble (which is so common in Greece that it's cheaper than wood) and expanded from a capacity of 50,000 to the 80,000 that it holds today.
With my curiousity getting the better of me, we walked from Panathinaiko Stadium to Hadrian's Arch, which was commissioned by Hadrian in 132 AD. The arch once spanned distance of a main road to the city, and was erected in Brandenburg Gate style as a victory monument. There are two inscriptions on the arch, one naming Theseus the founder of Athens, and the other side naming Hadrian the same thing.
Our walk around the Acropolis took us to the rocky formation known as Mars Hill, which is where it is said that any Athenian could rule the city for a day. On this spot, anyone could voice their opinions about the way the city was run without fear of retribution. It was on this hill that St. Paul gave his "Unknown God" speech found in the book of Acts.
As the sun went down on our first day in Athens, we explored the area known as the Plaka, famous for it's shops and restaurants. Going off a recommendation, we found a small not-so-touristy area with a few small Greek restaurants. We went inside and had Souvlaki and rice and bread. Mmmm was it good! We began to wonder, though, what we were going to do about laundry - it was almost time for a wash and the hotel was charging over 100 euros. What to do, what to do...
It turned out even the laundromats were expensive - and had very limited hours on Saturday. So, we took an hour and literally hand washed all the clothes we had - except what we were wearing. We hung them throughout the room and let them dry overnight.