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Europe 2011: Day 09 (Greece 07): May 21

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Waking up relatively early we headed down to grab some complimentary breakfast provided by Athens Studios. First up, a 5€ walking tour around some of the sights also provided by Athens Backpackers. A lot of dogs in Athens, tagged, but abandoned?

After our guide mistakes ‘Toronto’ for ‘Hong Kong’, we walk a couple minutes to the first sight, the ‘Temple of Zeus’. His description was very educational but I was only able to remember parts of it 😛 such as… 144(?) columns, 2m diameters, and took about 700 years to finish by a number of different rulers. The one to finish it, as well as a number of other monuments was Hadrian.

In front of the temple was a gate also built by Hadrian, separating the Romans and the Ancient Greek districts.

After the gate, we headed towards the Panatheniac Stadium, an open-air stadium that is still used annually as the finish line of a marathon to honor the victory of a battle over a Persian army (?). The soldier, after such an intense battle against the odds, ran back to town to announce the victory then fell dead. The stadium was rebuilt a couple times but always in full marble, comfortably seating approx 50000.

Walking through the ‘National’ Garden, where ‘bad’ things happen at night, we make our way to a parliament building, where there is a memorial for fallen Greek soldiers. There is a relief sculpture to represent all the soldiers in all the battles that were lost or unrecognizable. Here, there stands 2 guards, although rotating every hour, the ‘changing of the guards’ is 11am on Sunday.

We made our way towards other historical sites, ancient market places, churches, through the busy flea market, until we reached the Odeon and Parthenon.

The Odeon is an open-air ‘theatre’ for musical performances. It is located pretty much beside the hill that precedes the Parthenon. It is currently being rebuilt to open to the public as a tourist attraction and most likely, performances.

The Acropolis is built on a naturally superior area, high up, surrounded by valleys. Originally built as a fortress, the Parthenon has had several ‘versions’ built on the same spot. The Acropolis area consists of a number of other buildings such as the Temple of Nike, the Erechtion, etc. At a time, a victorious army had attacked and stolen several pieces of the Parthenon and then selling them to the British History Museum, where they still currently reside. Still being pursued, the Greek people are requesting that the pieces be returned. At this point, after explaining more things, our tour has ended. Since we’re already up here, we decide to actually venture into the Acropolis.

Needless to say, we didn’t learn too much after that. Several parts of the Parthenon were being restored so there is a lot of scaffolding everywhere, although enough area is clear for a decent picture. And we got a lot of pictures. And they were clear on the no climbing, so Mike didn’t have as much fun.

We headed back to the Flea Market for some food and wandered around for souvenirs, whee. After a break back at our hostel, we ventured towards Lykavittos Church, up on a high hill, to watch the sunset.

Taking the subway, we got off at Evangelismos, the station closest, and using our directions of ‘Up’, we walked uphill. Hoping to encounter a cable car station, we ended up walking up several flights of stairs into a side road that connected to a winding path that led to the Church. Finally reaching the top, another wedding had concluded, the bride and groom taking some final photos by the belltower with setting sun.

After the sun set, we grabbed some dessert 😛 and went back to the hostel for the night. The Parthenon is always lit up at night, closing to the public at 7, offering a nice view for all the surrounding residents.

A section of the Parthenon

A small belltower at the top of a hill, Lykavittos Church

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