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mistybleu Athens - A travel report by Amanda
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Athens,  Greece - flag Greece -  Attikí
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mistybleu's travel reports

Athens a mythological city?

  19 votes
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There are few places in the world that you feel extremely special and privileged to visit; where you’ve dreamt of forever what it would be like to walk along the pathway, nearing its walls or feeling the cool stone under your finger tips.

The Acropolis and the Parthenon
The Acropolis and the Parthenon
I’d spent time planning my trip, researched the finite details and then felt the exhilaration as I sat on the aircraft. I felt my heart stop as I took off and I knew that in an hour or 2, my childhood dreams would be realised.

Another city break, where the main aim was to see the main sights and taste the flavour of Athens. I chose to go off season which guaranteed quite streets and cooler temperatures. Now Greek mythology meant something different to me.

In the centre of Athens the Acropolis Hill that dominated my view; a sight which has been the symbol of Athens for centuries. Locally known as the Sacred Rock, it connects the ancient civilisation to modern times and every visitor must make a pilgrimage as it beckons them.

The main attraction is the white marbled Parthenon which was dedicated to the goddess Athena. However there are other temples to explore on the site. There is also a museum that housed a statue of Athena, which gives a great insight to the historical site.

At the base of the hill is the Odeio of Herodes Atticus that was built in 161AD. Syntagma Square is the centre of Athens, and is only second to Omonion Square, the two being focal points of the city. The Houses of Parliament (formally a palace for King Otto) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are located there. You can also see the famous changing of the guards with their unique marching style.

You know how things never turn out the way you planned them; the day I mounted the stairs and entered the gates, snow had fallen, (a rare occurrence), I was lucky enough to experience it. Well I’m not so sure it was luck, as the day was so cold, I couldn't feel my fingers or toes; my face went numb with the fierce wind so I bearly spent an hour there.

Just to get warm I ended up in MacDonalds where I had my first Greek lesson. While tucking into a lamb burger (on a pita bread, with mint and yoghurt dressing), I got chatting with some locals; it was quite funny.

Favourite spots:
The Temple of Athena Nike
The Temple of Athena Nike
There are three temples on the limestone mesa of the Sacred Rock or Acropolis: the Parthenon, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike (located beyond the Propylaea). The Propyaea is the sacred entrance, built to commemorate the victories of the Greeks over the Persians.

The Parthenon was more of an art gallery with many sculptures; it was a temple built on the ruins of an earlier temple to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. It’s a massive structure, 228 by 100 feet wide and when seen up close it takes your breath away as it dates back to 420 BC.

The ruins are being restored after it being damages and almost all of the sculptures are long gone, except for a golden and ivory statue of Athena.

The Erechtheion is a special temple as it has a stunning Caryatid Porch, sometimes referred to as the Porch of the Maidens. An example of this in St Pancras Church in Euston.

The temple of Athena Nike was the first temple on the site, built in the Ionic style.

What's really great:
The Byzantine Museum
The Byzantine Museum
Watching the soldiers march, with their exaggerated strides; it's highly comical, but it's traditional.

The National Archaeological Museum was extremely interesting. It is the largest and most important museum in Athens as it links ancient Greece. There is a wonderful bronze statue completed in 1928 of Poseidon that for decades was debated on whether it was Zeus or Poseidon.

Located in the Hall of Mycenaean Antiquities is the mask of Agamemnon – it is actually thought to be the mask of a king who died 3 centuries before Agamemnon but it makes interesting veiwing. This is a great museum and deserves two visits as there is so much to see.

Once the home of the Duchesse de Plaisance, the Byzantine Museum has the riches collection of Byzantine icons in the world. The building opposite houses the ceperate churches from different periods, early Christian, Byzantine and post Byzantine – some seem very baroque; but a great experience.

The Zappieion Megaron
The Zappieion Megaron
The Athens Cathedral: the metropolis was erected between 1842-1862.

The Old Metropolis Cathedral: this little church was built in the 12th Century.

Plaka: a stone paved part of Athens with narrow streets. It is very picturesque and has some lovely neo-classical coloured houses. It has also been described a labyrinth and wonderful to explore.

The Olympieion – the Temple of Olympian Zeus was founded by Devcalion one of the mythical ancestors.

The Arch of Hadrian – was built to honour Hadrian and made of marble.

The Zappeion – a small park between the national garden and the Olympieion. The Zappieion Megaron is actually a congress and exhibition hall.

Panathenaikon Stadium is a very impressive stadium built of white marble in the shape of a horse shoe.

If you are into buildings, the University, Academy and National Library are wonderful examples of Grecian buildings, they were built by the Hansen Brothers – Swedes living in Athens.

The Marching Soldier
The Marching Soldier
I stayed at the Grecotel Hotel in Athens; there was nothing special about the hotel, although I arrived about 4am and they allowed me to stay and only charged me for one night. I called ahead to confirm this, but I was travelling off season, so I suppose they were a lot more lenient. Had it been in the height of the summer, I’m sure they would have charged two nights.

It is a very (metro) station about 5 minutes away. It was also reasonably priced hotel and very pleasant.

Athens travelogue picture
One of the best views of the Acropolis and the whole city is from Lycavittos Hill. There is a funicular from the corner of Artistippou and Ploutarchou Street which takes approximately 10 minutes to the top. It's a great watch the sun go down in on of the restaurants.

The Greeks prides themselves in fresh ingredients and the food is truly wonderful; nothing says Greece than a Greek salad with lashings of virgin olive oil; there are others but you get the drift.

There are many restaurants in the heart of Athens and usually they have someone outside enticing you in, some with entertainment, but the one I entered weren't that good, even finding cockroaches scurrying around. I left quickly.

My favourite restaurant was Vynos, (see my travel tip), this was a lovely restaurant located in the Plaka district, I believe with views of the Acropolis, with dining inside and out. They served wonderful seafood and the best calamari I’ve eaten in years.

Other recommendations:
Statue of Poseidon
Statue of Poseidon
A day trip out of the heart of Athens, allowing to escape the smog, is fantastic; going down to the coast or relaxing on one of the many Greek islands is very pleasurable.

Locally there is Vravron; it's still considered part of Attica but has a lovely archaeological site with green fields and vast vineyards framed by mountains but is on the coast.

Also there is Sounion. The temple of Poseidon is located there and the temple stands 60m above sea level on the edge of a cliff face. The views are breathtaking from there.


Published on Thursday July 20th, 2006

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Mon, Aug 14 2006 - 09:42 PM rating by eirekay

I always enjoy your reports! I love ther personal details - makes the reports so special!


Sun, Jul 30 2006 - 11:33 PM rating by frenchfrog

Slpendid report, reminds me of the good time I had there, vety good infos provided.

Sat, Jul 29 2006 - 10:33 AM rating by st.vincent

McDonalds in Athens!! how could you? Still I guess when it's fereezing cold anywhere will do to warm up. Nice report.

Wed, Jul 26 2006 - 12:48 AM rating by downundergal

Your report bought back good memories and was well written but I thought the pictures let it down a little.

Sat, Jul 22 2006 - 03:18 AM rating by davidx

I've read so much on Athens tha I really wondered how much I wanted to read this. I should have known any report from you is well worth reading.

Sat, Jul 22 2006 - 01:10 AM rating by mamielle

Very interresting report with many informations

Fri, Jul 21 2006 - 07:10 AM rating by marianne

Good overview of the most important sights.

Fri, Jul 21 2006 - 05:52 AM rating by rangutan

Great! There were surprisingly only 5 other reports on Athens to date and this is a different personal one with other details, moods and views.

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