Friday, August 8, 2014

Athens, Greece

Our tour that day was a private tour with a group we had met via Private Greece Tours
Here is what they say we will do:  We start the tour by visiting the so called “sacred rock”, the Acropolis. Here you will see the Parthenon that was dedicated to goddess Athena (Parthenos)- An unesco World Heritage Site, Propylea, the monumental entrance to the sacred area, the temple of Athena Nike which was dedicated to Athena-Nike (Victory) the Erechtheion with its famous female figures-statues the Caryatides or Maidens dedicated to both goddess Athena and god Poseidon.  The Odeum of Herodus Atticus and the ruins of the first theatre in the whole world the Theatre of  Dionysus and finally the Areopagus (Mars Hill).

 Just a word of warning a cute couple on our tour share had this stuffed animal that they would take a picture of at various sites. They were asked to remove all pictures from their camera. Apparently it's a big deal to have any symbols or mascots photographed anywhere in this area. Fair warning! (But 1 picture survived!)

We will proceed to the Temple of Olympian Zeus (visit)

and then to Panathenaic or Kallimarmaro Stadium which hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 (short visit).
 There was an antique car show at the stadium as well!
 We will drive by the Prime Minister’s Residence (Maximou Mansion), the former Royal Palace, today the Presidential Mansion and the House of Parliament
with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (short stop so as to watch the changing of the guards).

 (The guy in the light blue shirt acted like a pick pocket. A very bold one at that. He would watch people walk up looking at their purses/pockets. He wouldn't step forward for a better view, etc.)

We continue our tour by driving up to the highest point of Athens, the Lycabettus Hill (the best 360 degree panoramic view of Athens). Plaka (stone-paved narrow streets, traditional Greek tavernas -best gyros- antique and souvenir stores) and the Tower of the Winds. (Below: View of the hill from the Parthenon and then the view of the Parthenon from Lycabettus Hill)

From Lycabettus Hill we’ll proceed to the oldest and most picturesque neighbourhood of Athens,
 After lunch in Plaka we’ll drive through the city centre to the area of the  Flea Market (street bazaar, antique stores) where we’ll visit the Ancient Agora (the political, financial and commercial centre of ancient Athens).  There we’ll see the temple of Hephaistos, known also as Theseum (best preserved ancient temple in Greece) and the Stoa of Attalos (an ancient shopping centre) which was restored in the fifties by the American Archaeological School.  It is a peaceful and inspiring site and especially in Spring when everything is in full bloom one’s spirit lifts!

 We enjoyed lunching here, especially the Mythos beer. Some in our group wanted to skip this but we took a vote. I'm glad we went.

Our tour will be completed with our visit to the National Archaeological Museum, the biggest museum in Greece with one of the most extensive and important archaeological collections in the world.  It houses, among other important exhibits, the frescoes of the island of Santorini and the prehistoric golden collection of Mycenae with the famous mask of Agamemnon.
(My camera died!)
This ended up costing 33 euro pp. It was a great deal and cool way to spend the day.
Some shots of interest:

We had a packed day!
Some advice- Stay close to the Agora. A few of us meandered off the beaten path looking at things for sale and found we had strayed a bit too far. Watch for pick pockets, especially when there is something distracting. The guy at the guard change was bold & would not leave. Try to get a pastry from a stand like what is above!).
Back to the ship- exhausted!

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