1 May 2022
On the way to the start of our city tour (self guided).
We see a glimpse of the Acropolis we'll visit later in the day. Since tomorrow is a holiday (May Day Monday), we'll be touring the city and two ancient monument sites in one day - oh boy.
Some well done graffiti - maybe commissioned in this case.
Passing through the May Day celebrating crowd - being in a place we really shouldn't be in these turbulent times - but we made our way quickly by and nothing happened. Greece's Parliament building is in the background.
Well worn streets of marble - okay today, but we would find out how slick they can be in rain tomorrow.
Readable street names on the corners of buildings - you even get to try to pick up some Greek with the language matched with the English version. Tim still said "it's all Greek to me".
Church of Kapnikarea - classic 11th century Byzantine.
Well preserved mosaic. We're presuming original, but cleaned up and maybe recolored.
Statue memorial to a Greek Orthodox priest who gained fame by standing up to Nazi oppression of Jewish peoples during WWII.
Church of Agios Eleftherios - newer than earlier viewed one at late 12th century. There were interesting incidences of reused ancient Greek structural stones incorporated into its construction - you can see some it on either side of the arched door.
The city is old and sprawling, and still recovering from its recent financial crisis (2009-2017), but we saw nicely remodeled and being remodeled structures everywhere we walked (albeit a tiny slice of the city in the central district).
The tour continues - "Orange cone with restaurant fronts" - "Tourists shopping the tourist's stores".
We noticed a purposeful, maybe too visible, organization of trash collection points - far better than piles of trash in some other European cities - look there's even recycle bins in the typical blue colored dumpsters. The city we saw was reasonably clean and tidy.
We stumble upon a sub-street level spot of preserved ancient ruins. All the "modern" buildings around are likely built upon structures from 1,000-2,000 years ago and maybe older.
A view of a calm empty wide boulevard on the middle day of a three- day weekend - it'll be different come Tuesday.
Ruins being made less-ruined.
These rings of sesame bread (Koulouri Thessalonikis) are sold everywhere - to the tourists, and to the locals.
Believe it or not, the Rick Steve's tour then took us along narrow pathways through villas hanging onto the lower slopes of the Acropolis plateau.
Tower of the Winds - 1st century B.C. - a combo weather vane, clock, and astrology guide.
Tim's first Greek souvlaki sampling - not the shaved Gyro meat, but tasty skewer chunks in an otherwise Gyro-looking assembly. And finding a handy eating place, alongside other souvlaki eaters and pigeons waiting for some dropped souvlaki.
Then we found more interesting market stuff, near the tourist stores, but offering what appeared to be authentic flea market goods.
Then we finished the walking tour, and entered the first of two ticket-requiring, extensive preserved ruins - the first is the Agora - Rick Steves says "the real heart of ancient Athens".
This mall had become just a ragged foundation, but was reconstructed in the 1950s by the American School of Classical Studies. It hosts many articles and statues found nearby, but now presented here protected from the elements.
An original temple in ruined state, but still reasonably preserved, and nearby churches and mosques from later times. The grounds of Agora had become "overrun" by later peoples in the subsequent centuries until the land was purchased by those that removed the housing, excavated, conserved and rediscovered the original Greek grounds.
Model of the Agora in its heyday. Yeah, much of it is gone from ancient invasions - all the sacking and looting and destroying - or otherwise taken away by builders over the centuries to make "new" structures.
The Acropolis, the second ancient complex we'll visit today, looming above us, still touring within the Agora grounds.
Cool Corinthian column top, or capitol - its column parts either strewn around nearby or carted off to become part of some later construction.
Making our way to the Temple of Hephaistos - started in 450 B.C.
And here it is!
Some column parts appear to be "jittering" out of center - apparently from various earthquakes over the centuries.
Ahh, we still have that climb to the top of the Acropolis, and the mighty Parthenon, coming better into view.
Yeah, yeah, way up there we must go...oy vay.
Finishing up at the Agora - remains of a wall hastily constructed after 267 AD in a last stand scenario as Roman Athens succumbed to foreign invaders and marauders.
We found a convenient pit-stop restaurant along the way as we climbed up to the Acropolis. A perfect offering to get us through the last tour of the day - a Greek salad (not the kind you might find in Peoria, this time of year we think the tomatoes here would taste much much fresher) and fresh caught and fried squid.
Still hanging in there - we made it to the beginning of the Acropolis tour.
Amphitheater. Odeon of Herodes Atticus, built 161 A.D. Mostly a venue where music was enjoyed - originally had a roof covering and seated 5,000. They still hold concerts here - Yanni played here.
Mars Hill - a lower hill just outside the Acropolis - showing the urban setting for all this ancient stuff.
At the final gateway to the top of the Acropolis. Gerri is examining the left overs of the original staircase.
Finally, after all the long views from below - there she is, the Parthenon, bigger than life (and certainly looming larger than a tiny Mona Lisa painting in a tiny frame). If you miss all the other worthwhile stuff in a visit to Athens, just seeing this in person would be reason enough to make the trip.
Remaining pediment sculpture - we will be seeing more remnants preserved within the Acropolis Museum on Tuesday.
The Porch of the Caryatids - another object seen by most everybody in photos at some point - here they be! Of course the maiden statues are reproductions, as the originals were removed away from the weathering elements - we will see them also in the museum tour.
Big Greek flag, at a nice viewpoint at the far end of the Acropolis.
Other than tour guides, there's hardly any staff-like people to be seen - but there are a smattering of whistle wielding over-watchers tasked with keeping people from falling to their death, going where they could damage stuff, or otherwise doing disrespectful things. We only saw them doing the "falling to their death" prevention whistles. Note the woman in red hat and blue jeans, she was a bit busy here with goofy tourists being goofs.
A high view of earlier seen ruins and an ancient athletes' stadium peeking around the hill. Notice the fallen column, it fell during a wind storm in 1852.
"Tourists doing tourist stuff". We happened to be seated just behind, so this picture I took just kinda happened. They then overheard Gerri reading from our tour-book and had questions. We found out the mother (from India) is now living in Philadelphia and the daughter lives in Sacramento. They were interested in finding Mars Hill, so we became temporary tour guides and took them there.
Oh feet, so tired.
View of surviving ceiling/roof vaults on a temple adjacent to the Parthenon.
On Mars Hill, photo taken by our new friends. A long day is nearly complete.
A last look down onto the Agora, with the restored, circa 1950s, mall and old church in front.
Now it's dinner time - we came across a casual come-as-you-are place on the way back to lodging - and decided to just drop in and get it over with - it turned out pretty good with grilled octopus, sardines, chicken with rice (we shared the octopus, but not the others), and bread with taziki and table red wine.