Athens Day 2
Athens Travel Blog› entry 17 of 44 › view all entries
Our second day in Athens started early. We showered up, ate our breakfast and rushed down to the lobby to wait for the bus that would take us on our 1/2 day city tour. The bus, of course, was 30 minutes late. Once again, we were driven from hotel to hotel only to end up at a destination we could have walked to in 10 minutes from our hotel, where we had to wait for our guide and another bus. Finally, we were on our way. Our first stop - Panathinaiko Stadium! What? Man, we've already been there...
But we didn't stay for long this time. We were quite rushed in a "get off the bus, take a photo, and get back on frenzy". I was actually glad we went there on our own the day before so we could enjoy it.
Our next and last stop on this tour was the Acropolis itself. Since the "tourist appreciation weekend" had started, all the sites were free, so we could come and go as we pleased.
Currently, the site is undergoing a clean up effort from the pollution that existed in Athens in the 1940's. The industry that once boomed in the city caused near irrepairable damage to these ancient buildings. The scaffolding you will see in the pictures is an attempt to clean them back up.
The Erechtheum, next to the Parthenon, is dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erechthonius. It is known for it's porch of maidens, six caryatids as the support columns. These maidens are the replicas of the originals, which are housed in the site's museum to be opened in 2009.
There are also two theatres on the site, the Dionysos theatre, which is in ruins today, and the Herodeion, which was built by Heroditus to honor his late wife. This theatre has been rebuilt in modern times and is sometimes used for events.
The entire site was full of people when we were there, which really took away from the overall feel of the place. There were several cruise ships in the harbor, but I reasoned that they would all be gone the next day, and decided to come back here.
Choosing not to let the bus take us back to our hotel at mid day, we walked from the Acropolis over to the ancient agora. It was here that the great minds of Athens would meet and discuss politics, philosophy, and whatever else they wanted.
Next, we headed east - toward Lykavittos Hill, which is now the highest point in Athens (it was the Acropolis when the city was smaller) which I was sure would offer amazing views of the city.
Taking a slight detour, we found the Hertz rental car place that we would be picking up our car in a few days. Since we had to be there at 8 AM, I didn't want to have to get up extra early in case we couldn't find it. We began our "hike" up the mountain and eventually reached the point where we had to take the cable car to reach the top. I expected it to be cheap, but it turned out to be 6 euro for a round trip ticket - and all there was at the top was a small church and a restaurant! It must be a really good church, that's all I can say.
The slow-moving cable car reached the top of the hill and we were greeted with strong winds and chilly air, which we expected. The views up there were indeed incredible - you could see all the way to Piraeus and the Aegean Sea and to the mountains in the other directions. The Acropolis stood out clear as day with the city sprawled around it. What a sight to see!
When we had our fill, we took the cable car back down and just spent some time walking through the city. We found ourselves back in the Plaka as some rain started falling down. Smelling the good food, we both got take away gyros (I ended up going back for seconds) and checked out the shops. Our night ended back at Mars Hill, where we could see the city lit up around us; the Acropolis the glowing beacon in the center of it all.