08 July 2007

Athens

July 3, 2007
Piraues
& Athens, Greece

We weren’t quite refreshed at 7:30, but we go up. We were docked in the port city of Piraeus. It’s where one goes if one is to enter Athens by sea. I don’t know a whole lot about Piraeus. Supposedly it has its own charms. We were just using it to get to Athens. As soon as we got off the boat, we were swarmed by taxi drivers offering to take us all around town for the absolute best prices. But we had already decided to take the train into Athens.

We did however take a taxi to the train station. The driver was very helpful in telling us where we needed to get off and what we all we needed to do. It costs € ,80 each to get on and just a few moments later, we walked out of train station and saw the Acropolis in the background. Unfortunately it was very high up on a hillside, and the sun was blazing.

We didn’t really know which way to go, so we just headed up. Pretty soon we banded with other tourists who were just heading up as well. We found one sign with an arrow spray painted on it and we followed it, as it was the only direction we had. The looming Acropolis became bigger and the crowds got larger.

We were pretty close to the entrance when we spotted the Areopagus Hill, or Ἄρειος Πάγος. It’s situated between three other hills and was the place where the Areopagus Council met to discuss cases of murder, sacrilege, and arson. Today it’s a fantastic lookout point over Athens.


It's also a safety hazard. Those rocks are slippery. I'm not sure what kind of rock it is, but it's been slicked by hundreds of years of footsteps. We slipped a few times, but thankfully there were no major falls. After our stop, we went back to the main attraction: The Acropolis.

The Acropolis of Athens is made up of several buildings. The entrance is the Propylaia. In Greek that's Προπυλαια. Seriously, who created this language. The Propylaia is at the top of more very slippery steps.

It's also under construction. Back in 1909, it was restored. Restoration was complete in 1917 but soon after that, oxidation problems were observed. So in 2002, they started another restoration project.



The centerpiece (for us anyway) was the Parthenon, or Παρθενών. It's the temple built to Athena in the 5th century BC. It replaced another temple destroyed by the Persians. The Parthenon has all sorts of architectural significance that escapes me. Honestly, I just feel humbled to have stood in a place that has had historical significance for thousands of years. And there I am, just standing there. Thank you Jesse for not taking the picture when I was actually ready.



After seeing the Parthenon, we took a break. It was very, very warm that day. Actually, it was downright hot unless you were in the shade. People in the shade were treated to an occasional, refreshing breeze. It was so hot, Jesse's knees and ankles were sweating. And personal space ceased to exist as dozens of people crammed under the few trees that were there.



As the Acropolis was built on a hill, there are great views of the city. This is Athens. I think it looks crowded in parts and sparse in other. There's a temple on that hill. It's one of the three we spotted from the Areopagus but I do not know which.

Like I said, it was hot. On the way in, we saw a frozen lemonade stand. On the way out, we made a beeline right for it. While Jesse was buying, I was at a kiosk next door, buying stamps. I then found a spot in the shade where my sweat stains were less likely to be noticed.

If you're ever at the Acropolis, and you see a frozen lemonade stand, burn it down. The so called lemonade was disgusting. It tasted like some sort of cleaning product. It was just gross. And on top of that, they were 5 euros each! That is about $8 for a cup of yellow windshield wiper fluid. It was revolting and the absolute worst part of Athens. Naturally we got over it, and we went on.