Saturday, October 31, 2015

Being in the birthplace of democracy

One of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years, and the earliest human presence around the 11th–7th millennium BC, Athens was an interesting place for us to explore last week when we stopped there on day 10 of our cruise programme. The birthplace of democracy, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis, and we cruised into Piraeus on Wednesday morning with plans for another big day of exploration. We got off the ship and walked around to the bus area where we purchased "Hop on, hop off" passes for the day. Our first stop - The Acropolis.

Sitting high on the rocky hill above the city, the Parthenon is the most famous monument up here. Constructed between 447 and 438 BC it was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of the city of Athens and goddess of wisdom.

On the north side of the Erechtheum is the porch of the Caryatids, which was what we saw from the direction we came.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the southwest slope.

The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a major open-air theatre and one of the earliest preserved in Athens. The theatre was dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine and the patron of drama.

Every piece lying around in this area is numbered so the conservation team can track and try to fit the pieces. Its like a huge work in progress jigsaw puzzle.

We walked the perimeter, admiring the view as we wandered through the hill of the Nymphs.

After being fully satisfied with being here we were back on the bus and on the hunt for souvlaki.

We got off in a nice central area, and walked around until we found a place we liked. The souvlaki, wow, they were so tasty.

We wandered around a bit more, and Kien chased pigeons in the square with the Parthenon on the hill is the distance.

We stopped for some further refreshments since we had about a couple of hours left before the all aboard deadline. We found a really comfortable restaurant where they had good wifi and hung out there for an hour. Whilst there a little gipsy girl came up to us and played a few bars on a small accordion. She puts her hand out and says, "give me money!". We were so shocked by her directness we did give her some change.

We stayed there for a while, and then realised it was only 1 hour until the cutoff time for all aboard. We quickly ran and waited for our bus, and after getting on we realised that there is no way we will be able to get back to the ship on time. I confirmed the timing with the bus driver, and when we were at the next stop I asked him to talk to a taxi driver for me about timings for a ride to port and cost. Taxi driver said he could get us there in 10 minutes for 20 euro, so we went for the deal. Weaving around traffic jams and belting down the highway at a somewhat hair-raising speeds, the driver did get us to port on time. Phew!


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