9/12/2006

Greece Holiday 2006-Athens

For summer holiday Redington, Vicki, and I went to Greece. Redington and I had a great interest in visiting because of our interest in Ancient Greece. Having read about the 300 Spartans, the Persian war, and the Peloponnesian war we wanted to visit Thermopolyae, Athens, Pireas, Salamis, and Delphi. We also managed to get a mix of beach time in for Vicki.

We flew to Athens where we rented a car. Arriving late at night with a Hotel booked in central Athens looked like little trouble especially with Vicki along, the intrepid international traveler. Alas we learned the trouble with Greece is their alphabet is so different that every street name looks like some calculus or physics formula. Navigation was impossible especially on poorly lit streets and after a couple of hours of driving and asking questions we finally paid a taxi driver to follow him to our hotel.

We arrived exhausted and hungry at about 1:00AM. Fortunately they were still serving food on the roof-top restaurant. There we ate dinner with Acropolis lit in front of us under clear night skies .

Navigating the next morning was easier after a good night's sleep and the bright light of day. We walked from our hotel in the Omonia district to the Acropolis.


First glimpse of Acropolis from the road

The streets leading to the Acropolis were full of vendors selling tourist trinkets. I suppose this has been true for the last couple of hundred years. Here we also see a Greek orthodox church in the foreground. These were present in vast numbers in Greece and many new ones had been built. As we moved toward the Acropolis we found ourselves at the West gate of the Agora which is the market area of Athens. This gate was built by the Romans however.


The Western gate to the Agora built by the Romans

The streets got very narrow and steep as we climbed up the lower slopes of the Acropolis. Here were many normal flats and apartments with restaurants and shops.


Steep climb to Acropolis

Finally we gain enough elevation to see out over modern Athens. This is the area referred to as Attica. Modern Athens so dwarfs ancient Athens that is was hard to believe such a small city could hold sway over so much of Ancient Greece.


Modern Athens extends in the distance


The ancient Agora of Athens with the Temple of Apollo

After buying our tickets and checking our bags we entered the Propylae which is the entrance gate to the Acropolis. This small mesa was the center of Athenian life and when during the Peloponnesian wars Pericles opened the gates to those living in the the Agora and Attica and invited them to live on the Acropolis while the marauding Spartans burned their farms and wrecked their orchards in an attempt to provoke Athens to come out and fight. Pericles counseled the Athenians to stay safely behind their walls.


Propylea

We walked around the Acropolis which is a hugely impressive building. It has been undergoing restoration as can be seen by the scaffolding. The building is the more impressive as it is built of stone and uses columns and beams without arches, hence it is crowded with columns as the stone beams are support in tension and cannot span a very great gap between columns.

West wall of the Acropolis

Here the Erechtheum a most unusual temple with maidens supporting the roof of a portico. These are replicas with most of the originals scattered to various museums such as the British Museum.

Erechtheum and caryatids guarding the tomb

Walking down into the Agora through some olive trees we can see the temple of Apollo. It appears here almost as it would have seemed in Ancient Greece.

Temple of Apollo in the Agora (marketplace)

Here I pause for lunch and consult a map for what to see next. Redington too this picture. It was a hot day and very crowded in the shaded restaurants that line the streets near the ancient Agora.

Map Reading over Lunch

After a day at the Acropolis we headed back to the hotel and our car. We would next drive out towards Delphi. We would pass through Attica and Boetia through the city of Thiva (Thebes) one of the traditional enemy city stats of Athens in Boetia, passed Platea a rare ally in the area up towards Delphi.

No comments: