Wednesday, April 04, 2018


Having had to postpone our planned visit to India due to the flu we looked around for an opportunity to get away somewhere we'd not been before but directly from one of the two local international airports.  We settled on a trip to Athens with EasyJet.

Our first day in the city was the half marathon and a number of different distance fun runs too, so we woke up to the noise of pounding music and loud commentary from the speaker stacks along the main road and therefore right outside our hotel. 

Luckily for the runners it was cool and overcast and actually had rain forecast!   We set out to start exploring the city and headed first to the nearby Temple of Zeus.   Athens is low-rise (4 storeys being the typically height of city buildings) with some open spaces, typically surrounding amazingly old structure and ruins.  The Temple of Zeus is no exception.

It's a magnificent structure, many thousands of years old and in fact led to one of my abiding memories of the trip as adjacent to the remains of the temple are the ruins of some Roman baths, built there so the guests could look upon the much older temple, and there we were two thousand years after the baths had been occupied looking at them both in turn.   I wonder what the next two thousand years will bring...

The city is dotted with architectural ruins and often they are stumbled upon by chance, as this well preserved Roman bath was when the city was excavating to extend the metro line:

One thing we didn't like about Athens is the ubiquitous graffiti.  It really spoils the place.   Historic buildings, shops, homes, etc., are all covered.   Some people have resorted to putting up sheet metal in front of their properties to take the paint.  It makes the whole place look ragged and rough, as you can see here in what i assume is the abandoned site of the former Museum of Archaeology:

We visited the new museum, a must, and managed to time it to miss the day's rain, before heading out to a decent veggie restaurant a few blocks from our hotel.

The next day was glorious, lovely and warm, sunny and very pleasant at 18c with a feels-like 22c, much better than the -2c to 2c we'd left at home.

The National Greek Parliament looked rather splendid:

We chose the day, a Monday morning, to head to the Acropolis, assuming it would be quieter first thing.   We were very lucky as anything after 10am looks insanely busy.   We had to queue behind about 10 people, later on it was hundreds.  We chose to access the site via the Temple entrance, taking in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the ascent:

On the hilltop the path narrows as you enter the main site, and as well as the Parthenon which is under constant repair and maintenance there's also a Temple of Athena overlooking the city:

Pretty much any archaeological site in Athens has its historical debris, such as here at the Ancient Agora of Athens:

We really enjoyed exploring the history of the city and walking up a nearby hill to get further views of the Acropolis and Parthenon.

Tuesday was our last full day in the city, we started by exploring some of the sculptures and monuments in the old city:

As well as the more impressive churches, of which there are many very old and quite new:

We spent the later part of the morning ascending Athens' highest hill, taking in the impressive views across the city on another lovely Spring day:

Before exploring further.  In the late afternoon we drank beer on the hotel rooftop and watched the setting sun cast the city orange in its fading light:

We were impressed with our short visit to Athens, it's kind of a must-do for people interested in travel i think.   It's also whet our appetite to explore this country more, particularly the mountains such as Mount Olympus, etc.


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