Sunday, July 24, 2011

Athens I

I’m missing half my photos from Athens, so can’t show you pictures of the protests happening outside of parliament when I was there, nor the huge number of police piling out of riot vans and lining the grounds, but I can show you millions of shots of the Acropolis and other ancient ruins strewn through the city.


Athens was challenging. The heat, tourists, locals, were all hard work. I can’t pin down whether I like it or not.

So we caught the Metro from the airport into town, fairly straightforward, and after a little bit of directional-confusion ended up at Hotel Tony near the Acropolis. Tony (who ran the hotel) seemed rather puzzled when it came to our booking and managed a rather bullshit excuse of his son having double booked another Gay from Airlie into the room we were supposed to have. Luckily Nana is so prepared and had printed out all her email correspondence with him, plus the confirmation and credit card details she had given. Therewith, we were taken up to the smallest twin room I’ve slept in (including the ones in the orphanages in Nepal.) Suffice to say, we weren’t impressed. But! It was in a great location, and Tony was very friendly and helpful when it came to the local area. He sent us on our way for a late dinner and a much needed jug of wine. Unfortunately I discovered that after heaving a big suitcase each through the station change on our way in, my wallet had been picked from my satchel and there started our introduction to Athens.


So the next morning we got up early to visit the police station and start our two days of siteseeing.We wandered down the street and came to the brand-spanking new Acropolis Museum. No photos allowed inside, but it is a fantastic resource. It holds every artefact found ion the Acropolis from the Bronze Age right through to Byzantine Greece. (That hadn’t been looted by earlier British excavators.) There are replicas of artefacts that are elsewhere in the world, and it was a wonderful – if not overwhelming- collection. The museum was fairly busy, but early morning is definitely the way to go. I think we managed to spend most of the day here, and got up early to go to the actual Acropolis the next morning.

They are in the process of restoring the Parthenon. Pretty incredible. The whole area was fairly surreal – it was about 10am, with that “it’s going to be a stinking hot day feel” to the morning, and on the hillside amongst the birds, the dust, stray dogs and olive trees, were five hundred tourists.

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The above columns are roof supports at the gate – you can see the new white marble next to the thousand-year old original pieces. There were stray dogs everywhere taking a nap, and once again I took too many photos to be able to decide which ones to show you!

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My favourite was the Erectheum, North of the Parthenon. Here is where I wish I’d written this earlier so I can remember all the details, but there are a number of karyai statues. Thinking about it actually, I reckon it would be good to go to the museum after seeing the Acropolis, so you actually know what you’re looking at.

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From top left clockwise: Nana; the Parthenon; the gate in the background with blocks of rubble/pieces of the Parthenon waiting to be sorted; The Temple of Nike; the gate from the outside with the hundreds of tourists waiting to get in; and strewn ruins overlooking Athens.

I can’t tell you much that you can’t find out on the internet (due to my brain being a well-wrung sponge these days) but it was pretty cool. (Well, boiling hot actually, so take a hat, sunglasses, good walking shoes, sunblock, don’t worry about looking like a dippy tourist.) OR! Actually, dress like this – the Japanese are awesome tourists.



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