Greece Part I – Athens

Ahhh, the long awaited Greece photos. I do realize that I promised them a while ago, but things have been rather busy. The wedding is in 2 weeks!! I should be sewing wedding bunting as I type this, but after the 100+ yards that I sewed over the past couple of days, my foot is actually tired. I should also be making myself a healthy, wedding dress friendly lunch, but there’s a repair man in my kitchen fixing a giant hole in the ceiling where the drywall and insulation dropped after a plumbing leak, so I can’t do that either.

So lets rewind to mid January when Ad and I were in Greece. We started out with a couple nights in Athens followed by a few nights on the island of Rhodes, a few nights on the island of Tilos, and then a few more nights on Rhodes before returning home. Ad and I were talking yesterday about how much trust you have to have in your fellow humans when you travel. Things could always go horribly wrong. You could get lost, or lose your wallet, or break a leg in a country were you don’t speak the language. You have to trust that human beings are basically good, and that someone will help get you out of your mess. When we arrived in Athens, we just barely caught the train which took us downtown to our apartment. We jumped on, hoping it was the right one, but we weren’t sure because it was pitch black and we couldn’t even tell if we were moving in the right direction. So we hemmed and hawed, and looked at signs in Greek, and panicked a little, and then I got teary eyed because I was so tired, and then we asked a man if we were on the right train and he kindly told us that we were. Whew! We also had to trust that the young man we were renting the apartment from was going to meet us at the train station, walk us to the apartment in the dark, and then not cut us up and eat us once we got inside. He did, he did, and he didn’t. He was a lovely person, who was so helpful and so eager for us to have a good time in his city. We trusted him. And he came through for us! People almost always do.

So Athens is first…

We stayed in an apartment that we rented through airbnb, near a trendy part of town. Here is our building…

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and the view from our balcony of the street and the neighbor’s rooftop garden…

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And a shot of the living room in our apartment, complete with male model. Just kidding. That’s Ad. I’m totally marrying him.

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It was only a 10 minute walk up hill from our apartment to the Acropolis. They very astutely have a lemonade stand and snack bar at the top of the hill, which we took advantage of.

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And here is the Parthenon! As you can see, they’re doing some work on it. In the photos, you’ll notice that the new parts of the re-construction are light colored, almost white. The other darker rock is all original. I always assumed that the buildings on the Acropolis were plain stone, but I learned at the new Acropolis Museum (which is very well done) that parts of them were originally very vibrantly colored.

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There are cats everywhere in Greece, include the Parthenon. Also located on the Acropolis is the Temple of Athena, which we learned (again courtesy of the Acropolis Museum) was actually considered more important than the Parthenon, so was decorated more intricately. In the first picture below, you can see the smaller Temple of Athena to the right of the Parthenon. I love the beautiful statues of women (called caryatids) located on one side of the temple – The Porch of the Maidens. The originals statues are kept in the Acropolis Museum, away from the elements, although one is in the British Museum after being taken by Lord Elgin in 1801 to decorate his home. Sneaky Lord Elgin. Shame on him. The ones shown below are convincing reproductions.

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The whole experience, thinking of who walked on these same stones and brushed up against these walls and what their lives must have been like, was enough to give me chills over and over again. Could they even have imagined how lasting their stamp would be? Surely they didn’t expect people to travel from all around the world (in airplanes, no less!), just to see what they built and where they worshiped. It’s really pretty amazing to think about. Will anything we’re building today last for so long or remain so important to an entire culture? Time will tell, although we won’t be here find out!

Enough rambling. You came here to see pictures. The Acropolis is a high hill in the middle of Athens, so you get some really beautiful views. The newer areas of Athens really aren’t very pretty and the city itself feels a little dirty, but from up high it sparkles.

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Walking around in downtown Athens is quite the experience. There are older traditional sections of the city that remain fairly intact. At other times, you’re in a more modern area, but will spot a Byzantine church stuck in among the newer buildings. We wandered around the flea market, which was mostly tacky tourist shops, with a few stalls selling actual vintage things thrown in. Do you see how much black everyone is wearing? I don’t own much black, I prefer color, and I stuck out like a sore thumb in my pink sweater on the day we wandered around Athens.

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There are some serious benefits to visiting Athens in the off season. The last time I was there it was March, and the Acropolis was packed. At that time, we were unable to get close enough to see much of anything or take any decent pictures. But this time, in January, it was perfect. Just a few other tourists roaming around, but not what you could call a crowd at all. The weather felt positively balmy to us, but that’s not surprising since we had left behind a foot or so of snow in Wisconsin. Still, the locals thought we were crazy for visiting in January.

So you’ve seen the sites from the few days we spent in Athens! I’ll begin working on a post about Rhodes next, but I can’t make promises as to when it will be done. The wedding is coming fast and then I should probably begin job hunting. Ugh. Adulthood. Must begin saving for my next vacation!

4 thoughts on “Greece Part I – Athens

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