Day 17 (October 22, 2011)   Athens: Acropolis and Plaka


Map of Athens

   The whole day is going to be spent on visiting Athens. The first place would be Archaeological Museum, which visit I missed when being here in 2007. Then we will drive to Acropolis, passing by Temple of Olympic Zeus too.

   The spots marked at Athens map are:

 0- Chic Hotel
 1- Acropolis
 2- Archaeological Museum
 3- Temple of Olympian Zeus
 4- Parliament


   Today I’m going to show Athens to my parents in 2 hours. Eva will join us at lunch time.

   After breakfast we leave the hotel around 9:30 to take the underground from Omonia to Akropolis stations. This last one is a place to visit by itself as it looks like a hall of an archaeological museum. We’re not going to visit the real one today .
Akropolis uderground station
   The idea is going to the Temple of Olympic Zeus first and buying the multi-site ticket there by 12€. We do that indeed after passing besides Arch of Hadrian, still outside, and accessing to the area. There are just a few of the original columns, but they’re as magnificent as per imagine the stunning size that temple had in times of yore.

   Another highlight of this place is the fantastic views of Acropolis, which seems to watch the whole city from the top of its pedestal.

Acropolis from Temple of ZeusTemple of Olimpian Zeus

   We walk back our way from the metro station for taking the avenue which is going to drive us to the Acropolis, but the stores on it become a big obstacle as my mother must go into all of them and check everything.

   We take ice creams while waiting for her as temperature is appropriate for it. It’s not as hot as in summer, but sun is doing its job on a clear sky like this.

   While walking along the avenue, following a path between trees we meet the entrance to Odeon of Herodes Atticus. When I first came to Athens in 2007, I only could see this magnificent theater from above, at Acropolis entrance. We walk in front of it and then take the way up to that entrance to Acropolis I mentioned where we get those known views .

Por el Odeón de Herodes ÁticoOdeón de Herodes Ático

   Once in the complex, after using the ticket we already purchased on the first temple, we follow the stairs up to the top of Acropolis, where Parthenon, in its eternal restoration works, and Erechtheum, with its famous caryatids, are waiting for us.

Entrada a la AcrópolisErecteión

PartenónSaliendo de la Acrópolis

   In our way out of Acropolis, I avoid the path to ancient Agora to go directly to Plaka where we must meet my wife, just in Monastiraki Square. The streets are picturesque, steep and narrow, and we take pleasure in them as we’re on time.

Paseando por PlakaÁgora romana

   Once all together, we take our time on souvenirs stores around Roman Agora and Hadrian’s library. They’re sealing replicas of any kind of classic Greek sculptures and statues.

   In the meantime Eva was waiting for us, she got some advice about where going to lunch. I remember there are a lot of restaurants on this area but it seems that, just by taking some streets apart of the touristic places, we can lunch better and cheaper. So we follow an alley which drives us to a little square where we choose one of the tables of a restaurant for lunching. The place’s name is Oraia Penteli.

   The woman there speaks Spanish and we all four order Mousaka. I’ve convinced my parents and wife when talking about how crazy I was about recalling the place of eating authentic Greek Mousaka, which taste I still remember from my previous visit .

Calle Ermou   When we all taste the contents of the big plate we’ve been served we are all grateful of such a big portion. Delicious!

   While waiting for desserts, a child with a small guitar comes to sing a song which lyrics we cannot understand, but it must be so sad that touches us and makes him earn his donation.

   We walk to Sytagma Square for helping to our digestion. We go throughout Ermou Street between fancy shops and street food. This street is full of life Calle Ermouand the walk is very gentle.

   While we’re approaching to Parliament building, in front of which is performed a curious change of guard every hour o’clock, we notice something unusual on the entrance of the luxury hotels of that zone: the white marbled stairs are damaged on some areas. Some of them look as if the marble was taken off by the bites of a big monster, and others look completely nude of marble. Then come to mind the tv images from news about the protests in Athens because of the social cutbacks.

   Those images were from this spot and the stones demonstrators threw to police came from somewhere. Wow!

   We go across the street to get the Unknown Soldier tomb and the two sentry boxes with the guards. We’re in a quarter to 18:00, we mustn’t wait for long. There a plenty of doves in this place too.

   When we get the time, by the street appears the officer with the two replacement guards (they’re called Evzones) and while they’re performing their march with their typical feet moves which don’t seem to belong to military men, the laughs are heart from spectators, but because of another reason. From the beginning of the ceremony, two dogs were playing in the street and around the guards, without distracting them, but giving the sensation something could happen. And just when it seemed they were leaving to play somewhere else, one of them come back just for taking the flowers from the Unknown Soldier tomb and run away with them. Are these for its girlfriend?.

Parlamento de AtenasCambio de guardia en Atenas

   On picture at left the dog can be seen in the middle of the ceremony. Eva and I were already seen this guard change, but what we don’t think they did that time is, once the change is over, keep the guards standing in front of their booths, motionless, and the officer who managed the ceremony shout to the tourists it’s time for photos with them with two rules: one by one and don't touching them.

   Well, as we’re tourists indeed, we take the invitation and get the pictures as souvenir.

   A little of walk more and we get the hotel, where we’re going to rest until tomorrow. We need to wake up early for last time in this incredible travel which is about to finish .