Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 30: Athens and the Acropolis

We arrived in Greece early this morning and immigration was on board by 0630.  Greece will be the first county (besides Canada) where we actually get get a passport stamp.  This was a highlight for many people but also meant it took customs longer than usual to clear the ship.  We had the usual diplomatic briefing which repeated a lot of the economic and political issues that were discussed in the pre-port.  After we cleared I went with a few people to walk around Piraeus a little bit.  Besides obviously being a port city, Piraeus is a district of Athens.  As we discovered, there's really not much to do or see in Piraeus.  It is somewhat interesting to walk around but is one of those port areas that might not be a good idea to hang around in after dark.  Supposedly the iced coffee here is really good (among other foods) so I got some when we ran across a coffee house in Piraeus.  The guy didn't speak English very well so I have no idea whether I ended up with what I intended to get but it was pretty good nonetheless.  Eventually we made the way back to the ship to meet the tour going to the Acropolis.

The tour hit some major Athens sites before dropping us off near the Acropolis.  We saw the Panathinaikon Stadium which was used for the 1887 and 2004 Olympics.  There are quite a few newer sports complexes and renovated buildings left over from Athens 2004.  We saw many of the smaller stadiums but didn't get a chance to see the main one.  That'll hopefully be another day.  We stopped by the Greek Parliament building across from the National Garden which is near the city center and also saw an interesting Tomb for the Unknown Solider.  Close by is the University of Athens which has a lot of neat neoclassicist buildings from the mid 1800s.  The parts we saw were really beautiful, it would be fun to walk around a bit if classes were in session.  We later walked by Hadrian's Arch which leads to the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

The latter half of the afternoon was spent walking around the Acropolis region.  It's quite a hike (especially in 100+ temps) which made me glad I'm used to dryer heat from growing up in the desert.  We had a guided tour up to the actual Acropolis including the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Erectheion, and Propylea.  Much of the Acropolis has been (or is in the process of being) reconstructed but it's still very interesting to see a lot of the original Greek work.  A small group of us "signed out" of the tour when it was done and decided to do a little more on our own.  We hiked down the hill an alternate way that went through the Theatre of Dionysus.  The theatre is where original premieres of Greek classics by Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes actually took place.  As much as I hate to admit it, HumTut sure helped "culture" me a bit so it was really neat to understand a lot of the history.  We made our way to the new (only open a year) Acropolis Museum which houses most of the original sculptures and works found on the Acropolis.  There's actually a larger political reason for the new museum that has to do with getting some stuff back from Britain, but we won't go into that now.  After spending a few hours and grabbing a quick bite in the museum (great little casserole thing with spinach, feta, and herbs) we ventured out into the Plaka region of Athens to walk around a bit.  We eventually made it to the Metro station and back to Piraeus for the trek to the ship.

After a bit of rest I went out with Daniel to walk around Piraeus again and find some dinner.  We found a place and I had a bake thing with zucchini and feta.  Good and an interesting texture.  That's all for now, off the the Saronic Islands tomorrow.

1 comment:

Stutelberg Family said...

When Weezie and I were in Athens we raced around the track at the stadium...I hate to admit it but she won! I could take her now (never mind that she is 5 months prego)...she has always had a better finishing kick than me! :) Have fun! Sounds like you are doing great. Mo and Po are getting excited to see you!