15 In Archaeology + History/ Art + Museums/ Culture/ Greece/ Travel

Athens, Greece

Athens was a city that I was really looking forward to going to.  After going to Rome and seeing all of these ancient ruins, mixed in with amazing architecture, fountains on every corner I had really high expectations for Athens.  I was at first really disappointed as we drove through crazy, busy streets with really modern, simple architecture and graffiti EVERYWHERE.  My first impression was Ah, typical big city.

The first thing I did, of course, was climb to the top of the acropolis and look down over Athens.  This was a really awesome experience.  The climb is a pretty easy hike, the only problem is the slick, slick, slick marble steps leading up to it.  The path on the way up is surrounded by olive trees which is perfect because according to the myth that’s how Athena got to be the goddess of Athens- she gave the gift of the olive tree.   The ruins have been excellently preserved by archaeologists, and they’ve done some reconstructing which, I didn’t know how I felt about that, but they made it so you could very easily tell what was reconstructed by leaving it a bright white color.  When a lot of people think of the acropolis, they only think of the Parthenon, but there is a lot more up there.  If fact, my favorite part of the acropolis was probably the Theatre of Herodes Atticus.  Another one I really enjoyed was the Erechtheum, which has the Porch of Caryatids.  Even though the ones up there are replicas, they still look majestic and so beautiful.

Theatre at Herodes Atticus

Theatre at Herodes Atticus

Porch of the Caryatids

Porch of the Caryatids

Acropolis Basking in the Sunlight

Acropolis Basking in the Sunlight

After leaving the acropolis, I did a bit more site-seeing.  I went to the Olympic Stadium, that held the first modern Olympic Games, where I saw a spectacular view of the acropolis perfectly illuminated by the sun.  I saw the remaining columns of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, some of the older buildings and then I went down into the flea market and antique area which was filled with a bunch of tourist/souvenir vendors when you were in the Plaka, but if you went down towards the less touristy area there were a lot of really cool shops.  I met a really sweet man named Nic who owned one of the shops I went to.  He left his daughter in charge while walked me to the nearest bank and while he walked me there he pointed out great places to eat, where to watch out for pick-pockets and taught me some conversational Greek.  He was very sweet and gave me his card and told me to call if I had any problems.  In fact, everyone I met in Athens was insanely polite!

Modern Olympic Stadium

Modern Olympic Stadium

I went to the Athens Cathedral, which was under a lot of construction and restorations, but you can tell how beautiful it is.  I met the priest of this church and he was very polite and pointed out some different aspects of the church.  When I told him he had a beautiful church he smirked in replied, “Not yet, but soon.”  Inside there was a lot of scaffolding blocking some mosaics and some plastic protecting things from other restoration work, but every detail of what was uncovered was exquisite.

Priest of Athens Cathedral

Priest of Athens Cathedral

Athens Cathedral

Athens Cathedral

Beauty Through the Construction- Athens Cathedral

Beauty Through the Construction- Athens Cathedral

Athens Cathedral

Athens Cathedral

Athens Cathedral

Athens Cathedral

Later that afternoon I met my archnemesis: Mousaka!  The description I read in the menu wasn’t quite how I would describe what was placed before me.  It didn’t look very yummy, and to me it tasted a bit like dirt with maybe a dash of nutmeg and meat.  Really, all around I wasn’t a huge fan of Greek food as far as entrees go.  However, I did love tzatziki, greek yogurt with honey, taramosalata, the fresh squeezed orange juice that was so thick and rich, and don’t get me started on the olive oil.

Another thing I love to do in European capitals is watch the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Greece definitely did not disappoint.  Their changing ceremony was so beautiful and sacred.  I love the intensity that they express because it just conveys their genuine respect- something that I think a lot of people don’t have.

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

The New Acropolis Museum was a really amazing museum.  As someone who is studying archaeology I thought it gave a better understanding of how these remains and works of art were preserved so that people can view them.  First of all, the museum was built on stilts with all glass floors so that you can see current excavations that archaeologists are doing underneath the museum.  Second, they did a really amazing job of organizing things so you can see where they came from along with what time period they were from.  Lastly, they do restorations on the original Cayatids that were removed from the porch in the museum while on display.  They do a blanket around it to shield onlookers eyes from the lasers, but they have a live video of the restorations playing!  What an amazing way to make patrons to museums see the work that goes into it.

Walking Down Into the City

Walking Down Into the City

IMG_4804

Ruins From an Ancient Roman Forum

Ruins From an Ancient Roman Forum

Hadrian's Library

Hadrian’s Library

Band Playing in a Turkish Restaurant

Band Playing in a Turkish Restaurant

The New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum

Getting Excited about Archaeology

Getting Excited about Archaeology

Sunset over the Sea.

Sunset over the Sea.

So, the moral of my story of Athens is the same thing my mom told me since I was a kid- Don’t judge a book by its cover.  There were so many more things to see in Athens that I hope to get to do someday, but I’m really glad Athens showed me how unique and awesome it is.

For more posts and travel articles I find interesting ‘like’ the For the Love of Wanderlust page on Facebook. Simply click HERE.

You Might Also Like

15 Comments

  • Reply
    Andrew Petcher
    May 17, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Good post. I have been to Athens several times on route to the islands. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the moussaka, I know I usually do. As for the new museum I liked it but thought the anti Elgin thing was a touch overdone. I’m not an Elgin fan but it seems silly to me to be so offensive to UK visitors.

    • Reply
      ashleypaige4
      May 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks for reading. I did enjoy- It was just very different then I expected. What Islands are your favorites to visit?

    • Reply
      ashleypaige4
      May 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      I originally read this comment wrong. I did not enjoy moussaka at all, but the waiter told me it’s much better when the eggplant is actually in season. I really hadn’t heard anything about the Elgin issue, so thanks for telling me. I can definitely see how that would offend UK visitors.

  • Reply
    Andrew Petcher
    May 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I like islands without airports – Amorgos, Sifnos, Milos, Folegandros and Ios. What about you?

    • Reply
      ashleypaige4
      May 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      I only went to two islands Poros and Aegina. I loved them both, I spent most of my time in Greece going through the Peloponnese.

  • Reply
    Wanderlust Wednesday- The ABC’s of Travel « For the Love of Wanderlust
    April 12, 2012 at 9:47 am

    […] do not remember what it was called, but I had a Turkish beer at a restaurant in Athens that was very […]

  • Reply
    The People You Meet While Traveling « For the Love of Wanderlust
    November 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    […] from Athens warned us about pick-pockets, where to avoid and gave us tips on where to eat and shop.  We were […]

  • Reply
    Somewhere Saturday- The Changing of the Guard in Athens | For the Love of Wanderlust
    August 25, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    […] week’s Somewhere Saturday is from Athens, Greece. I had the pleasure of seeing the changing of the guard at Athen’s Tomb of the Unknown […]

  • Reply
    Somewhere Saturday- Porch of the Caryatids | For the Love of Wanderlust
    May 31, 2014 at 11:08 am

    […] While visiting Athens, the Acropolis was, of course, a must-see.  When you think of the Acropolis you really only think of the Parthenon (or at least, that’s what I thought of) but there is so much more to it than that, and the Porch of the Caryatids was my favorite!  Archaeologists have done a really great job preserving and recreating these monuments, and even though these statues aren’t the originals, there is still something so beautiful about these statues and I can just picture the people of Ancient Greece up here.  The original statues are in the New Acropolis Museum (although when I was there they were being restored by lasers).  I hope to see the originals someday, though. […]

  • Reply
    Surya Bhattacharya
    May 31, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Just came here from your ‘Somewhere Saturday’ post. Amazing pictures 🙂 Greece has been on my bucket list for so long! I went to Thessaloniki for a day, and LOVED it. It was so Europe, yet so chaotic it reminded me a lot of India!

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      June 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you so much! I didn’t get to visit Thessaloniki- but there’s always next time. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Reply
    Somewhere Saturday- The Acropolis: Athens, Greece | For the Love of Wanderlust
    August 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    […] Athens, Greece is the cradle of Western Civilization- philosophy, mathematics, democracy and even more!  The word ‘acropolis’ means upper city, and there are many different acropolis’s in Greece, but the Acropolis of Athens is the most popular.  The Parthenon is the most popular building up there, but there is so much more to see. It’s truly an incredible place to visit when exploring Athens. […]

  • Reply
    Wanderlust Wednesday- The ABC's of Travel - For the Love of Wanderlust
    December 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    […] do not remember what it was called, but I had a Turkish beer at a restaurant in Athens that was very […]

  • Reply
    How to Be More In the Moment While Traveling - FortheLoveofWanderlust
    February 4, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    […] who live here. One of my favorite locals I’ve ever met was this man, Nik. He owned a store in Athens, and I stuck up a conversation with him about his store and his city, and we ended up having a […]

  • Reply
    The People You Meet While Traveling - For the Love of Wanderlust
    April 20, 2015 at 5:46 am

    […] from Athens warned us about pick-pockets, where to avoid and gave us tips on where to eat and shop.  We were […]

  • Join the Conversation!

    %d bloggers like this: