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Thursday, 4 October 2012


We’ve had an absolutely brilliant day. We knew we wanted to get to The Acropolis and The Parthenon and all we had to do was work out how?
We left the port terminal quite early to be met with the usual line of taxis. Peter asked how much, the taxi controller was only really selling taxi tours of 5 hrs, so he directed us to the bus. We found our way to the bus stop, and one of the guys waiting helped us identify the 049 to Omonia. The bus arrived; we followed everyone else by getting on the bus and then sitting down. No paying for a ticket?
It takes 30 minutes to get to Omonia, and in that time, we worked out that there was no money changing hands, but some people seemed to have tickets when they got on board though not everyone. We worked out that what we should have done was buy the ticket before getting on the bus. There was probably a booth near the stop. As it happens we got off in Athens, and (I’m whispering now), we didn’t pay. We couldn’t see how to be honest. Peter, like the true Yorkshireman he isn’t, but should be, was delighted. I felt a bit guilty though.
We had a bit of a potter through Athens on the way to our target and came across the most amazing meat market ever. Definitely the place to get your roast, or chops or offal. I have never seen so many butchers in my life, never mind all in one place. Their stalls lined a massive rectangle, the inside of which was an equally abundant fish market. Absolutely astounding. We really couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
We continued our meander until we finally reached the one thing both Peter and I had been waiting for........The Parthenon. And guess what? It was covered in scaffolding and cranes! A bit of a let down really. We enjoyed what we could, and made our way back down the hill to Athens, and that’s when we discovered we’d got a bonus prize. There’s a gate that leads into the Agora grounds (we can’t remember if it said gardens of Agora, or city or Agora), the lady at the gate said “tickets please”, and we learnt that our tickets for the Acropolis would allow us into these grounds. They turned out to be fascinating and more than made up for the less than perfect views of the Parthenon.  We saw so much, I’ll leave the pictures to explain.

On the way up the hill to the Acropolis entrance, we looked down on the amazing Theatre of Dionysus, heavily restored as can be seen by the white marble, but the backdrop to the stage is the original setting. Awesome.

Within the Acropolis
Propylaea – the entrance to the area of temples.

The Parthenon with scaffolding, dedicated to the Goddess Athena and where Athens gets its name.

The Erechtheion, dedicated to Athena, Poseidon and several other gods and goddesses. 

Within the Agora Grounds 

The Church of the Holy Apostles and Stoa Ol Attalos.  The Stoa has been rebuilt with as per the original, and houses many statues, reliefs, pottery and artefacts from Athens’ history; we just had to show our Acropolis tickets to go inside the museum part.

Hephaistos Temple. Because so much of the original temple exists, without scaffolding, we really liked this one. 

And who would have thought the Romans would have had an impact on ancient Athens? This statue is of Emperor Hadrian 117-138 AD, you can even make out on his breast plate Romulus and Remus suckling on the wolf.

We really enjoyed Agora. I am so glad I suggested to Peter that we” go through the gate and head for that temple”. 

And after all that mythology and history, we back into the present day with a little retail therapy in the flea market. We needed to get back to the ship of course, and this time chose to travel by taxi. Driving in Athens and Piraeus is completely mad. I wouldn’t do it. Our taxi driver was friendly and entertaining without speaking a word of English. He managed to convey that he thought every other driver on the road was crazy and in particular the motorcyclists. We agreed. They appeared on all sides, from all directions, with little care for safety and many without helmets. We passed an accident where the motorcyclist was on the floor, and there was a very big dent in the car. Hopefully the rider will be OK. The other sad thing we noticed was the graffiti. Extensive and ugly, it made the cities look rough. A real shame.

We got back to the ship with an hour to spare which we spent taking advantage of the free wi-fi in the port terminal booking my flights back to England etc.

As I’m typing this, I want to do it all again. It was a brilliant day, and I would recommend it to anyone, especially if they ever finish putting the Parthenon back together again and get rid of that scaffolding.
We’ve a sea day tomorrow, but it’s going to be much more interesting than usual because we will be travelling first through the Dardanelles Straight in the morning, and then past Istanbul through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea early evening. I’m really looking forward to it.

1 comment:

  1. dionysus place looked fascinating, you can imagine the sound carrying naturally to everyone in there. The other buildings looked fantastic,,,just wish the builders would finish what they started (grin)

    Its dead good you away on a cruise Ihope they arent workin Peter to death :)