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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Athens and Patras, July 12 - 16

Greece. The land of Trojan horses, Greek fire, Alexander, the Golden Age, and all things Bosian. We flew into Athens and took the bus to Syntagma Square, finally walking to our hostel appropriately named, Zeus Hostel. It was really a good hostel with many young people and it's placed rather excellently. Nearby is Monastiraki Square (one of the main squares by the Acropolis), from where you can shop around in one of the hundreds of late night shops, have a seat at a cafe overlooking the Acropolis, or have a drink at one of the local bars. The first thing you think when you arrive is that it is a typical capital city that happens to house 4.6 million Greeks, has no discernable traffic system (the bus lane runs opposite the flow of traffic, crossing lights will tell you to walk after waiting for three minutes, then switch back two seconds after you start crossing the street, and people on mopeds will run you over if they can), and the streets are overrun with peddlers. But then you walk down Athinas towards Monastiraki Square, pass the butchers' market, and look up. You see the Parthenon atop the Acropolis and you kind of don't know what to say. It's not that high up and not in pristine condition, but you know it's awesome.

So you can get to the Acropolis by wandering around the perimeter until you find one of the entrances. The entrance fee is 12 euro and that gets you into the Acropolis (which houses the Parthenon, the Theater of Dionysus, and the Temple of Athena Nike among other things), the Ancient Agora, Keramikos, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It's a couple hours hiking around, so bring plenty of water, otherwise you'll be shelling out big bucks in the heat and humidity. Seriously, every single dog in Athens was passed out lying in the shade or in the middle of street. They were all so dead. Also, expect to get a tan because it's sunny almost all the time. That is, except for the one hour of torrential downpour that flooded the streets when Allison and I were headed to the beach. Luckily, though, it cleared up. I'm rambling now, but before we get to the pictures, let me just mention that there's so much road rage and just generally Greeks arguing. Wherever you go, in the stores, at tellers, in the streets, Greeks will find a way to argue with each other. But that's a cross-cultural thing. Andiamos!


Here's a shot from the Areios Pagos right near the Acropolis on the first night. It's really just a rocky ledge where people go to check out the view of Athens and have some wine or beer. The Acropolis and most ruins are lit up quite nicely at night, so you can see some of the talking heads in this photo.


The next day we hit up the Acropolis and started out at the Theater of Dionysus. It was so sunny and hot that day, which made the white stone and everything around so bright. The upper half was gone, but you can tell it would've been pretty sweet to check out a show there.


Here's a shot a little above the Theater of Dionysus. It's some Greeks restoring parts of the monuments at the Acropolis. Workng in the sun is hard business, let me tell you.


And from atop the Acropolis, you can see another people not so far off, Mount Lycabettus. There's a picture below of the view after we hiked up there at night. There's a small chapel on the top, which is what you are looking at. Mount Lycabettus is higher than the Acropolis, but the view from the Acropolis isn't too shabby. Definitely a must see if you're in Athens. But bring your own water! Buckets of it. Also, do not get caught in the rain there because once you're in, there's absolutely no shelter.


Here's a shot of Allison and me at the back of the Parthenon by a tall Greek flag post.


And if you swing around and check out the otherside, here's what you see.


Here's the front of the Parthenon. Pretty cool to see, but it makes you think of how much more intense it would be to have seen it when it was intact. Getting those huge stones up the hill would have been ridiculous. They've been restoring the Acropolis for decades and have really gotten nowhere.


After getting our fill of the Acropolis and the museum that they have up there, we headed over to the Panathenaic Stadium. The track was black and it was a pretty sweet stadium, laid out like an ancient Greek theater.


Right nearby is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was really just a wide open space with very few remaining columns. But I guess it's pretty picturesque with the sun in the background. I need a camera that can take good photos with the sun, though.


Still at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Allison's a column! Check out the one behind that fell over like a stack of dominos.


The next day, we hit the nearest beach by tram. It started to rain, but dried up quickly. Here's a game that I played with Panagiotis in Stuttgart. He said that in Cyprus, he and his friends played everyday for a couple hours. The far guy was a pro at the this game. And check out those speedos!


So he's another shot of Allison passed out at the beach. But at least this time she wasn't sleeping at the beach in her jacket.


We also saw the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Parliament at Syntagma Square. This was the show at noon, but if you get there on a Sunday, they are supposed to have different outfits. They had some crazy leg kicks going on and all the guards were naturally big dudes. There are two guards and they change on the hour and march to different spots around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and keep watch. Pretty solemn guys.


They stand by their post for about 15 minutes and people can take pictures with them, but don't stand too close, sit on the steps, or get too close to the tomb. The guards will slam their rifles on the ground, indicating that you should step back. Though they don't move, there is a third guard not in the same national uniform who will come and get you. He also whistles and salutes the tomb, which lets the guards know what time it is and he also fixes their uniforms when they have to keep still.


Here's a shot of the Acropolis at night from Mount Lycabettus. It's pretty sweet in that many of the important landmarks are lit up at night and you can see most everything from the summit.


Allison and I got someone to take a picture of us sitting on the ledge. What's going on?


Close up of our legs! The Acropolis is that tiny blurry thing in the background. Trippy.


Finally, there was also a restaurant or two at the top, which I'm assuming is pretty pricey. But hey, you get to look over the entire city while you chow down on some great Greek food. They don't really have doners, but souvlaki is the Greek doner and it also comes from a meatstick.

After spending four nights in Greece, we headed on a six-hour slow train ride to Patras to catch a 14-hour Blue Star (Superfast Ferries) Ferry to Bari to catch a six-hour train ride to Rome. But it was all good because we got to Bari with an eight-hour layover because all the trains to Rome were booked. And it was a Sunday, which means everything was closed. However, there was a fastfood place by the main station that had big 2-for-1 sandwiches for three euro. Plus a large sprite. Fluids!

The ferry was 30 euro and we got to chill at booths on an enclosed deck; no rooms. But it worked out all right and the ferry was more like a cruise ship with a casino, decent restaurants, and television rooms. I didn't a pool, though. The price was kind of steep, but it's high season, meaning there's a 20 euro surcharge. So if you get to Greece and want to hope over to Italy, do it during the low season and it's only ten euro. There's a picture or two from the boat, but I'll tell you about it in my next post about Rome. Arrivederci.

2 Comments:

  • At 27 July, 2005 00:15, Anonymous Chase said…

    Whoooooohoooooo!!!

    Allison is lookin good in a bikini!

    Adam you lucky guy.

     
  • At 27 July, 2005 06:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It looks like you guys are having an awesome time! I can hardly wait to see the rest of your pictures and get the "behind the scenes" comments.
    Liz

     

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