[prev] [next]
[home] [index]

Travel Journal



"Today was clear and sunny, a remarkable change from the last two days of gloom. We took advantage of the improved weather by heading to the Acropolis bright and early.

The Acropolis is really very badly signposted -- I have no idea how one would go about finding the entrance without a guidebook. We did find the path leading there pretty quickly, and were pleasantly surprised by the gentleness of the slope, since it's a pretty long way up. Once we got to the actual entrance and bought tickets, we were approached by a guide and decided to hire her. I'm not sure we really got much out of it; most of what she told us we either already knew, or wasn't all that relevant (she has this notion that human civilization developed in China and spread out from there). We did learn that the Greeks used wooden posts to hold the blocks in their building in alignment, instead of the lead used later by the Romans. She also explained that the Nike Temple is currently disassembled so they can replace all of the iron and other metal holding it together with titanium.

Because of the extensive conservation work being done at the site, all of the buildings were closed to visitors, but it was terrific anyway. I very much enjoyed the on-site museum, and it was especially interesting to see the remaining paint on some of the sculptures. There were two serpents with very different scale patterns that had particularly extensive color- I think they were 2500 years old!

We got reprimanded by one of the guards for taking a picture of Rick in front of the Parthenon -- she seemed to think it was disrespectful. We also saw some other folks get reprimanded for taking pictures of their travel companions with the sculptures inside the museum. And there was a constant refrain of ,"no flash, please" within the museum. (None of these rules were posted anywhere, as far as I could tell. I would have been very amused to see a sign, "no stuffed animals in photographs of the Parthenon, please!")

Our next stop after the Acropolis was the Ancient Agora, where we particularly enjoyed the museum and the Temple of Hephaestus, which had been lit beautifully in the morning on our way up to the Acropolis.

After we had lunch at a nearbly restaurant, we realized that it was too late to go see much of anything else in Athens -- almost all of the museums close sometime between 2:30 and 4:00, although a few reopen again in the evening. We headed back to the hotel and relaxed for a while, before heading back out shortly before 5 to see the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Roman Stadium. We were too late to enter the grounds of the temple, but it was quite easily visible from the street, and we'd also seen it from the Acropolis earlier in the day. There's very little left of it except a few columns, but it was once the largest temple in Greece. The most impressive thing about it is actually the column lying on the ground -- it blew down in a storm in 1852!

The roman stadium, which was completely restored in 1895 for the 1896 Olympic Games, was very impressive, and there's something particularly neat about having stood in the original Olympic Stadium in Olympia and then in the first Olympic Stadium of the modern games in Athens.

Our final sightseeing stop in Athens was the Centre of Folk Arts & Traditions, one of the few museums open. It contains an extensive collection of beautiful embroidery and lace, along with other household items and displays on traditional production methods. The center seems to have a mission of continuing these traditions-- there was some kind of group meeting upstairs, and a display of contemporary embroidery and metal bowls.

For our last night in Athens, we headed to a restaurant recommended by the hotel, which was quite good, and then enjoyed a romantic walk back to the hotel with the Acropolis peeking through the trees ahead of us."



[prev] [next]
[home] [index]