We had just a day in Athens and wanted to see everything. I met my friend in the lobby of our hotel – we were staying at the Syngrou Fix hotel which is a ten minute walk from the first archaeological site – Temple of Olympian Zeus. This is a huge area with only some pillars still erect.
A bit further down is Hadrian’s Arch – officially the entrance of Athens in ancient times. To our left, we saw the bust of the great Melina Merkouri – actress and later politician – the receptionist told us to look out for that and that is where we turned and walked up along the paved road of Dionysiou Areopagytou which took us to the entrance of the Acropolis. All along this paved road, there were stalls with people selling souvenirs and corn on the cob. In winter, they also roast chestnuts.
The whole archaeological site is just out of this world. There are a number of structures still standing – the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is still in use to this day. As a matter of fact great musicians perform there during the Greek Summer Festival.
Then there is the Erechthion with the statues of the maidens acting as pillars – a magnificent sight. We walked up the marble stairs to the Parthenon – the temple built in honor of the goddess Athena – the patron goddess of the city. Restoration work is an ongoing thing – but we were lucky that most of the scaffolding had been removed. I couldn’t get enough of the site – I could feel the energy and the magic in my bones!!!
The view of the city from the top of the hill was unbelievable! A piece of advice to all planning to visit Athens is to pack very comfortable shoes – anti-slip too as the marble can be very slippery. Also, make sure to visit early in the morning before the tour buses start dropping off loads of tourists.
We finally walked down to the Acropolis Museum. This is the new museum built in 2009 and is definitely worth spending a couple of hours at least. It is built over an ancient villa and the glass floor allows visitors to have a view of the villa’s remains. The tour of the museum was out of this world and all the time, through the glass windows, we had a view of the ancient site of the Acropolis. We ended our visit to the museum with an aromatic cup of Greek coffee and a piece of baklava served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
Having consumed so many calories, we decided to take a walk down through the Plaka – the oldest part of Athens. We walked down the stairs of Mnisikleous street and ended up walking along Andrianou street with all the souvenir stores on either side of it. We bought quite a lot of kombologia – worry beads – we thought they’d make an excellent gift for our friends at home and didn’t take up too much space either. We got lost – something easily done as you will see that the one street winds up into another. Somehow, we ended up at the Flea Market!!! Well, it’s true what they say about, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” You can find just about everything you can think of there.
Walking for so long, we worked up an appetite … again and that’s when we decided to sit at one of the taverns in Plaka and try some traditional souvlaki. Yummy!!!
Tired but extremely satisfied and with a full tummy, we headed for our hotel and our comfortable beds. We had to catch an early flight to the island of Santorini in the morning. Thank goodness the Metro station was just a stone’s throw away and the ride to the airport was only about 40 minutes. I must say, the Metro in Athens is one of the cleanest and safest I have ever visited.