I spent our day at sea sleeping, working out, reading, and eating. It was a relaxing day which was good because we had to wake up at 6 30 to get ready for our tour of Athens. We decided to take a cruise Excursion, so we were placed on bus number 7 along with around 40 plus other cruisers. The bus took us through the port town of Piraeus, which is actually the 3rd largest city in all of Greece. Then we reached Athens which has a population of over 4 million. On the bus, we passed by some of the most famous buildings and areas in the center of the city before making our way uphill to go see the Acropolis. These buildings on a rock overlooking Athens, including the Parthenon, are what really gives Athens such an impressive image.
Our tour guide stopped a great many times on the way up the hill; and often she stopped in places with no scenery to provide commentary and history about the Acropolis. She had to do this because the place was overflowing with tourists. However, listening to her drone on and on started to require a great deal of patience from me after about the first 15 minutes. Once we were at the top of the hill, an old man in our group slipped and fell and got injured. Then, our tour guide had to deal with that whole situation, so my mom and I ditched the tour group for a bit to wander around the Acropolis and observe the Parthenon from every side.
What became immediately obvious to me was how little of the original building was left in tact. The British museum in London has the majority of the Metopes from the friezes; and the Acropolis Museum in Athens has almost every other original decorative piece of the building. Even the foundations and the columns have been reinforced with modern building techniques. So although the Acropolis is a very impressive example of ancient architecture, it also is not quite what it appears to be. In fact, I doubt it would be even close to as impressive as it is today if historians and architects hadn’t begun working with it in the early 1900s. Nevertheless, I am glad that we got to see it as well as the gorgeous view over the city of Athens from atop the large rock.
After spending 2 hours at the Acropolis, our tour bus made a quick 10 minute stop at the stadium in Athens which is famous as the site of the first modern Olympic Games. That was pretty neat to see, but we didn’t stay long, soon we were off to the Placa; the old town. We had a little under 3 hours of free time in the Placa. My mom and I first got some lunch because we were hungry. We enjoyed dolmades, fried cheese, and lamb souvlaki with tziki, sitting in the shade. Then we went shopping for some little souvenirs and trinkets in the hundreds of shops. After eating and shopping, we checked out the archaeological site around the Temple of Zeus. The main feature of that site is obviously the temple, but excavations have revealed the remains of old homes and Roman baths in the same area. We also got to see Hadrian’s Arch, and our tour bus picked us up from there to go back to the ship. 7 hours in Athens was just enough time to see the main attractions there without getting bored for a second. However, if you only get one chance to see ancient ruins, my vote still goes to Rome over Athens. Even so, it was pretty cool to be in the city where the Olympic torch always begins its voyage and where the marathon first originated.