Today was our big walking tour of Athens. Jay was still feeling sick, but he agreed to take some DayQuil so he started out feeling up to seeing the sights. Today was also the day we start taking our malaria pills as prophylaxis for when we get into Africa. We are calling it “Malaria Monday” so we remember to take our malaria pills every week. We ate a quick breakfast that we had packed the night before, popped our malaria pills, and headed out.
Our first stop was the temple of Zeus. We bought a pass here that allowed us to go into many of the ruins throughout the city without waiting in line for tickets at every stop. The temple of Zeus was the first set of Greek ruins we had seen, so they were very cool. However, there were a lot more ruins we would see through the day.
Next we headed to the Panathinakon Stadium which was originally built in the 6th century BC for the Panatheaic Games and was then redone by Herodes Atticus entirely out of marble. This stadium remains the only stadium in the world made entirely out of marble. Our passes didn’t allow us in here, but we were able to see the stadium from outside the gates.
The next stop was Zappeion Congress Hall. We weren’t allowed to go in because they had just painted the doors, but we snapped a couple quick photos. There was a lovely row of orange trees lining the side of the building as well.
We also wanted to see The Parliament building, so we took a stroll through the National Gardens and popped out on the other side.
This was great timing because the Changing of the Guard was happening. These Greek guards are called Evzones and they are members of the Presidential Guard outside of the Hellenic Parliament. They guard the grave of the unknown soldier. Their dress includes a pleated kilt, hat with a tassel and shoes with big balls on the toes. They did an elaborate march with kicks, toe points, and leg holds which was interesting to watch. I would have found it funny if it wasn’t such a serious ritual they were performing.
The highlight of the day was the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis. We climbed our way up the mountain and saw many many more ruins. You can see the Parthenon from almost anywhere in Athens, so it was awesome to see it up close.
The only drawback was that it was incredibly crowded. I think we hit the “before lunch” rush.
The stones leading up to the Parthenon were also very worn after so many years of walking that they were actually slick. So, I had to use my “advanced walking” skills and be carful not to fall on my butt.
After seeing all of the structures on top of the Acropolis, we got some pictures of the city and headed back down.
The city with its many houses and buildings encircles the Acropolis/Parthenon which makes an interesting juxtaposition of modern and ancient times.
By this time, Jay was feeling pretty crummy from his cold and needed to recharge, so we went and got some gyros for lunch. Then we headed to the Ancient Agora which was more ruins. But this place also had a long building with some artifacts nicely displayed inside.
Jay still wasn’t feeling good after his second dose of DayQuil, so he headed back to the room to take a nap. I headed out on my own to see the remainder of the sights that our tickets allowed us into. Navigating without my phone’s GPS is difficult for me, but Jay oriented me to the paper map, labeled all the places I was going, and put a big “x” for our AirB&B. After a quick check to see if I knew where I was going, Jay sent me off and he headed back to get some sleep. It did take me a couple of tries to find each of the three places I was going to, but I made it to all of them. The first was Keramikos which was the sight of an ancient cemetery and had many funerary relics. It was also the potters’ quarter of the city and is where the word “ceramic” comes from.
I also looked at Hadrian’s library and the Roman Agora which by this time were all just starting to look like the same ruins.
So, after completing the tour of the ruins, I headed back to our AirB&B. Jay was still asleep, so I took a shower after walking more than 12 miles and headed back out to get some food for dinner. I ended up with olives, bread, and cheese. We also had some cherries and oranges that we had bought earlier in the day.
When Jay woke up around 7:30pm, we commenced with our plan to hike up Filopappou Hill and watch the sunset. Although our original plan was to get some beers and dinner to take to the top, our timing just didn’t allow it. Jay actually got a bloody nose right before we left and it bled off and on until we got back. He just couldn’t catch a break. But, we watched the sunset and then headed back to pack our bags and get ready for an early ferry tomorrow to Santorini.