Athens!

Athens Travel Blog

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Zeus or Poseidon? No one knows

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.

National Gardens - eating lunch!
  How neat it was to finally see it in person!  I immediately got excited about seeing it the following day.  We had to stop for some gas, and we were told by the cab driver that there had been a shortage of diesel due to a strike.  Knowing that we were renting a car in a few days, I asked if it had affected unleaded, but he said no.  I noticed that the gas station workers fill up your tank for you, and so I asked if we had to tip them.  He said that they do not get tipped, so that was good to know as well.

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.

Panathinaiko Stadium - site of 1896 Olympics
  We went to buy tickets and saw a sign about a "tourist appreciation weekend".  It went on to say that all the sites in Athens were free for the weekend we were there!  (Today was a Friday).  I asked if the weekend in Athens started on Friday, and the guy at the ticket counter gave me a look and said no.  We paid for the tickets this one time and headed into the 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.

The Athens Acropolis
  We had some Greek language lessons on the cruise ship, so we got to practice here.  I was able to order exactly how much turkey we wanted from the lady behind the counter, and so I felt good about that!

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.

Hadrian's Arch
  There, we saw two guards doing a funny march which I guess helped them protect the president.  I am not sure!

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.

View of Athens from Mars Hill

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.

National Gardens
  Mars Hill offers beautiful views of Athens from all directions.

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.

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Zeus or Poseidon?  No one knows
Zeus or Poseidon? No one knows
National Gardens - eating lunch!
National Gardens - eating lunch!
Panathinaiko Stadium - site of 189…
Panathinaiko Stadium - site of 18…
The Athens Acropolis
The Athens Acropolis
Hadrians Arch
Hadrian's Arch
View of Athens from Mars Hill
View of Athens from Mars Hill
National Gardens
National Gardens
In front of the Presidential Palace
In front of the Presidential Palace
Athens Archaeological Museum
Athens Archaeological Museum
National Gardens
National Gardens
Panathinaiko Stadium - site of 189…
Panathinaiko Stadium - site of 18…
Athens Acropolis
Athens Acropolis
Athens Exhibition Hall
Athens Exhibition Hall
Athens Acropolis
Athens Acropolis
Inside the Athens Archaeological M…
Inside the Athens Archaeological …
Inside the Athens Archaeological M…
Inside the Athens Archaeological …
Inside the Athens Archaeological M…
Inside the Athens Archaeological …
Inside the Athens Archaeological M…
Inside the Athens Archaeological …
Inside the Athens Archaeological M…
Inside the Athens Archaeological …
Athens
Athens
Ermou Street in Athens
Ermou Street in Athens
Parliament Building
Parliament Building
Acropolis from Mars Hill
Acropolis from Mars Hill
Mars Hill
Mars Hill
View of Athens from Mars Hill
View of Athens from Mars Hill
The Philopappos Monument
The Philopappos Monument
A church in Athens
A church in Athens
These guys are guarding the Presid…
These guys are guarding the Presi…
Athens
Athens
Me at Mars Hill
Me at Mars Hill
Athens
photo by: Johnpro