Thursday, May 22, 2008

Athens, Part I

Eva and I woke up bright and early this morning to start our official first day of touring Greece. We headed to the Acropolis, one Greece's most recognizable sights. Our first stop was the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Originally made with 104 columns, only 16 now remain but the sight is still stunning:
We felt like tiny ants below the massive structures. It is the biggest temple in Greece.
Next we checked out the Hadrian's Arch. On one side of the arch, it reads, "This is Athens, the city of Theseus." However, the immodest Hadrian added, "This is the city of Hadrian, not Theseus," on the other side.
The actual enclosure of the Acropolis is situated high on a hill in the middle of the city. Near the Acropolis we saw Odeion of Herodeus Atticus, which is a theater built in 161 AD that is still in use today. Inside was the Propylaea (the grand entrance), the famous Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion, which was built where Athena planted the first olive tree in Athens, thus claiming the city as her namesake.

The Proylaea, the Erechteion, and the Parthenon:

After the Acropolis, we used our student discount-purchased multi pass ticket (only 6 euros for 6 sights!) to also get into the Ancient Agora to see the ruins of the public center for life in ancient Athens.

We had lunch at the Rough Guide recommended Skholiarhio. We chose the special which involved picking our choice of mezedes (appetizers) from a long tray (we chose cucumber/tomato/feta salad and a fava bean hummus-like paste) and was accompanied by bread, choice of beverage (we tried Mythos, a Greek beer) and dessert (Halvas - a sweetmeat of sesame). We really enjoyed our meal and the waiters took a liking to us, even bringing a second helping of Halvas (which we ate even though we were too full and didn't particularly enjoy it the first time).
After lunch we trekked to the Archaeological Museum only to find it was still observing "winter" hours and had actually close at 2:45pm. Bummer. Good thing we're coming back to Greece for one more day on our way home.
Instead of learning about ancient Greek archaeology, we spent the afternoon getting sunburned, purchasing a $20US bottle of sunscreen (!), and price-shopping for our rental car for our road trip tomorrow. We finally settled on a 2007 Hyundai Accent from Axon Car and Van Rental that cost us a reasonable (at least we think, compared to the 600+ quotes other places gave us) 253 euro for six days and unlimited mileage, plus the added bonus of getting picked up and dropped off and a waiver of the 600 euro deductible. We think we did our research and picked the right company, but I guess we really won't know until we're on the road.
We're off to Nafplio and Olympia tomorrow!

No comments: