Wednesday, October 30, 2013

{Athens}

This trip was spent running from city to city so it was perfect to have a little break at the beginning in Athens.  We met up with Scott and Heidi (and the rest of the family), squished as much clothing as possible into our suitcases so we didn’t have to pay the hefty extra baggage fee on Easy Jet and started our journey from Rome to Athens.  Chad and Jenni flew out earlier in the day and found their way around the city and metro stations by our hotel.  It’s was obvious (and sad) to see what has happened to Greece because of their economy crashing and everyone wanting more and more from the government.  A scary sight of what can happen to our country if we continue in the direction we are headed.  Most of the businesses are vacant, locked up for good and covered by graffiti.

It was the perfect time to travel.  Fewer tourists, perfect weather and cheaper flights and cruises.  We got to Athens airport and found a car that could fit all of us.  Our driver kept saying how our hotel was in a very scary location and to be cautious walking around outside.  We couldn’t stop laughing since Scott booked this hotel without any input from the rest of us.  We were nervous getting out of our taxi and shocked to see Chad and Jenni walking around the corner after a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.  Jenni said the next neighborhood over was really scary but it seemed to be safe by our hotel.

There were some positives to our scary neighborhood hotel -- rooftop pool with amazing views of Athens and the Acropolis.  




Chad and Jenni wanted to take us to this great little spot for gyros and greek salads for dinner.  The gyros were yummy and only cost 1 euro ($1.30).  This is when where we found out Chad is Greek and at one with his people.  One of my favorite things about Greece is the food.  I’m not a big pizza and pasta fan so after only one day in Rome, I was ready for a change.
 Yes, those are french fries inside the gyro. Delicious!

When we first started planning this trip, I was most excited to go to Athens and back to the Acropolis and Parthenon.  I went to Athens when I was 7 years old and was anxious to go back and see what I could remember from that trip, besides feeding and holding pigeons and catching frogs. 



My brother, Chad,  had this great idea of reenacting our picture from Athens.  35 years later.  Wish I still had those awesome tube socks with footprints on the top and tennis dress (and those legs!).


We toured all around Athens.  Starting at the Acropolis--an ancient fortress on a high rocky hill above the city that has buildings that were constructed in the 5th century BC-- with our tour guide and personal photographer, Kula.  I remembered the Parthenon from 35 years ago but didn’t remember all of the stairs that it took to get to the top of the Acropolis.  I also remembered being able to walk inside and touch the columns.  Our tour guide, Kula, confirmed this memory and said it’s just been these past few decades that they've stopped letting tourists inside the temples.

As we walked up the hill towards the Parthenon, we were able to get a great view of the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus.  This theater could seat 17,000 spectators.




When we came to the top of the stairs, the Temple of Athena Nike was on one side and the Erechtheum was on the other side.  This ancient Greek temple was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.  The entire temple is on a slope and built entirely of marble.

Kula did some crazy moves to get this picture and lots of “excuse me, excuse me” to other tourists who were getting in the way of our personal picture. On a side note, Blake was also transformed into a huge Greek God on top of Acropolis.


We finally made our way to the Parthenon,  a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.  It is considered the most important surviving building of Greece and one of the worlds’ greatest cultural monuments.  We saw a lot of ruins on our trip but I think this was my favorite just because of the memories of seeing it for the first time as a child and being able to return and see it again.




I have way too many close up pictures from this trip thanks to the timer camera app on my phone.  


We walked back down all of the stairs and made our way over to Mars Hill.  This is where it is said that the Apostle Paul gave his sermon.  After seeing all of the idolatry, temples and statues built up to Greek gods, he preached to the Athenians.  He taught “you shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself any carved image. . .”  His sermon had 3 main points.  1.  The power of God and that  His power “made the world and everything in it” (Rom 1:20).  2.  The omnipresence of God. “He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28).  3.  God’s plan is that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:27).



We sat on top of Mars Hill and looked around the city and up at the buildings on top of the Acropolis as we listened to Scott read Paul’s words from the New Testament.  It was definitely a highlight of the trip.


video

We made our way through ancient Agora and stopped to strike a STATUE pose (this used to be our favorite thing to do on our European vacations back when we were teenagers) until we got the whistle blown on us and had to get down before we were thrown out.


The Temple of Hephaestus can be seen from the Acropolis.  It is just a short walk from the acropolis to Agora where this temple sits on a hill.  It is one one of the few temples with the roof still intact.  It was built around the same time as the Parthenon and used as a Greek Orthodox church from 700 AD to 1821.  

We did a little shopping in Plaka and learned more about the charms and key chains we were seeing in every shop that looked like an eye.  Made to fight off the evil eye.  And of course we had to purchase lots of these lucky charms to take home to our loved ones.  Mia wore her “lucky bracelet” to school the first day after we got home and came home disappointed.  “This bracelet isn’t lucky.  The whole class had to do time out for not listening during story time."


Gavin and Scott were able to have a race on the track inside the original Olympic Stadium, Panathenaic Stadium.  It looks like Gavin may have had a little bit of a false start but they both somehow ended up taking 1st place.





video



Next we made our way to the Temple of Olympian Zeus.  This is the view of the temple from the Acropolis.  Construction began in the 6th century BC but was not completed for almost 700 years.  


This temple was the largest in Ancient Greece (even larger than the Parthenon).  Today only 15 of the 104 massive columns remain standing.  The 16th column was blown over in a severe windstorm more than 150 years ago and was left where it fell.



The Arch of Hadrian is right in front of the Temple of Zeus.  The gate separated the old city from the new city.  The side facing the Acropolis says “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus.”  The other side, facing the temple says “This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus.”  You can see the acropolis through the arch.

Very few Athenians spoke English which made for interesting conversations.  Gavin and Scott only added to the confusion as they switched between English and Spanish while talking to the locals.   And who knows what Gavin was doing when we were trying to speak with our cab driver, who only knew a few words in English, and was asking us what “holiday” meant in America (since we use the word vacation instead of holiday for a trip).  Gavin, in all seriousness,  looked at the taxi driver and said, "Christmas is coming.  The goose is getting fat. Please do put a penny in the old man’s hat.  If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.  If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!”  

The best was when we stopped in a bakery for breakfast and nothing was in English.  We decided to be adventurous and all get something different and try our luck.  Scott asked the worker if there was cheese inside as he pointed to something.  She hesitantly nodded her head.  He took a bite and found a hot dog inside, he yelled “HOT DOG!”  The worker laughed and said, “Yes!  That’s it!”




We had a few hours the next day before we had to get on the cruise ship and spent the morning at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens which I liked for the first 60 minutes then I sat on a bench while the rest of the group explored every room.  Heidi wasn’t able to join us since she stayed back at the hotel to take care of some scheduling back home (even though it was 1 in the morning in the states).  She missed out on a lot of great picture opportunities. 


We got back to the hotel and gathered all of our belongings and started the 20 minute journey to the metro station.   Walking through Athens, pulling our luggage behind us.  In an area where we were warned to not carry backpacks or purses.  




video


It was time to say good bye to Athens as we made our way down the metro to the pier to board our ship!



Next Stop, Mykonos . . . 

3 comments:

Jen Stewart said...

Fabulous! But I must tell you that "crazy Kula" was our tour guide at the Acropolis. Yolanda came at our next "stoppa". :) I am loving reading about our trip and can't wait to see what I did next!

DKAZ said...

Awseome pictures...all 99 of them! Looks like a great trip.

heather said...

DKAZ
Oh you just wait. We are only 2 days in to the thousands of pictures. It just gets better from here!