Tag Archives: Athens

Beginnings

5 Jan

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

At the start of a new year, it seems appropriate to think of where we came from – or rather where the cradle of western civilization was developed.  On our last day in Athens we went to see the ruins of the ancient agora – the marketplace that existed thousands of years ago.

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The agora is situated with hills surrounding it, monuments and temples perched above.

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We wandered through the “streets” wondering at whose feet may have walked on the stones, then peered into one of the most ancient churches that exist in Europe.  That would have been the beginning of something else.

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If stones could talk – what would they say about that time?

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This post is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning.  To see how others illustrated it, click the link.

How do you define a beginning?

Taking a taxi in Athens

15 Oct

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in September and October of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

We debated if we wanted the hotels on this trip to help us with airport transfers.  In Crete and Santorini we did, just to make things easier because the airports looked very small but for Athens we decided to just wait for a taxi at the airport.

Taxis were plentiful and some of them were even Mercedes – very posh.  Li had done research and there should be a flat fee of 35 Euros that you pay for any trip from or to the airport from the center of the city.  During our four rides to and from – we never paid 35 Euros.  We had four taxi rides because the first and last days of our vacation were spent in Athens.

The Mercedes taxis made us think about Greece’s economic melt-down.  A country that can spend that much on a taxi must be very well off.  We wondered if all the cars had been purchased in full or people were still trying to pay down loans.

Despite the large sign by the taxi stand, no taxi driver admitted that was the correct price.  The first driver tried to charge us 39 Euros which we eventually paid after the hotel refused to help us negotiate.  The second driver charged us 40 Euros – after insisting there was an “electronic booking fee” because the hotel had called a taxi for us.  Funny how the hotel never mentioned the fee?

Coming back to Athens we were nervous waiting in the taxi line at the airport again.  We didn’t know what would happen or how much money they would ask for.  The third driver took the cake – he said that we should pay 49 Euros.  He kept giving us tips as he drove us into the city center and I think he was trying to butter us up with a very high taxi bill.  We finally paid 40 Euros – claiming we had no more money.

Before the final taxi ride to the airport I tentatively asked the bellman how much he thought it would cost.  He said – 38 Euros – all taxis from here to the airport are 38.  I told him that we hadn’t paid that amount before.  He said he would speak to the driver.

The last driver was a woman – she charged us 38 Euros.  We were relieved – but we never did pay the stated price of 35 Euros.

I don’t know why it is so acceptable to rip tourists off in Athens.  It created the only bad taste in our mouth we had from a beautiful city.  If I were to go again I would arrange hotel transfers.  I may pay a little more money but I would know the price before and not have to worry about the drivers.

Has anyone else visited there and had the same thing happen or were we just really unlucky?  Any taxi stories?  Please share yours.

Athens Day 1 – after the Parthenon

13 Oct

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in September and October of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

After viewing the Parthenon we headed behind it to the other temple – the one originally with the pillars that we saw in the museum – the temple of Nike.

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These pillars are replicas - the real ones are in the museum

These pillars are replicas – the real ones are in the museum

We made an effort this trip to get more photos together.

We made an effort this trip to get more photos together.

Under the techni-color blue skies, we headed down the hill with the intention of viewing the Ancient Agora as well as another marketplace.

A view from over the fence of the Roman Agora

A view from over the fence of the Roman Agora

Since it was so late though, they had closed for the day (at 2:30!) and we continued down until we found a restaurant perched behind the temples.  We settled in for our first Greek salad, stuffed tomatoes and spinach pie.

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Stuffed tomatoes - a vegetarian lunch

Stuffed tomatoes – a vegetarian lunch

Stomachs full we wandered back to the hotel enjoying the narrow streets of the Plaka neighborhood.

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Hadrian's arch

Hadrian’s arch

We happened upon Hadrian’s arch in the distance and then sneaked into the temple of Zeus just before closing time.  The timing worked perfectly.

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We then hurried back to the hotel so that we could head to the airport and continue our adventure in Crete.  The first day of our trip was a success.

Have you ever stumbled across a great restaurant by happenstance?  Eating when traveling can be hit and miss and so much depends on the atmosphere in addition to the food.  Where did you find a hidden gem?

Athens – Day 1 anticipation

10 Oct

We woke up early on our first full day in Greece because of the five hour time difference from Shanghai.  After eating a quick breakfast at the hotel (where we experienced our first Greek yogurt and honey) we headed out with the goal of seeing as many major sites as we could before we flew out that evening for Crete.

The hotel had been chosen because it was within walking distance of the Acropolis so we headed first to the Acropolis Museum at the base of the hill.  The museum is built over the remains of a long lost town and there are clear tiles at different points overlooking the archeological site which you can see beneath your feet.  A sign by the  door said that hopefully in the near future tourists will be able to walk those same ancient streets with the ruins.

Walking "above" the ancient streets

Walking “above” the ancient streets

As a museum, it is a streamlined building with spectacular views.  Some of the important statues from the Acropolis have been relocated to the museum to protect them from the elements.  There was also an informational video playing that gave us a sense of what had been – the buildings and temples before the wars and conquistadors that ruined them.  It was a good introduction to the general area.

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Posing with the reconstruction of the frieze on the top of the Parthenon

Posing with the reconstruction of the frieze on the top of the Parthenon

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The back of the pillars gracing the smaller temple.  I love the braids.

The back of the pillars gracing the smaller temple. I love the braids.

From the outdoor café of the museum - with the Parthenon as back drop

From the outdoor café of the museum – with the Parthenon as back drop

After the museum we then purchased our tickets and started the long climb up to the top of the Acropolis.

Theater of Dionysis

Theater of Dionysis

The sun was beating down, but we took the time to enjoy each site.  There were theaters and temples and about halfway up, the most beautiful music coming from around the bend.

Heading up - what these stones have seen!

Heading up – what these stones have seen!

A postcard perfect view

A postcard perfect view

We slowly approached and then realized that a musical group was doing a dress rehearsal in the recreated theater ahead.  The acoustics were stellar, even though the group was over a hundred feet below the amplification was perfect.  We must have spent 20 minutes there – listening, enjoying, absorbing.  It was magical.

The top of the theater, musicians were far, far below

After rousing ourselves, we then approached the Acropolis itself.  It’s huge – meant to inspire awe and the entrance itself is stunning.  We took many shots trying to capture the beauty that was there.

Climbing up

Climbing up

The pillars are so big - truly not on human scale

The pillars are so big – truly not on human scale

And then finally, we were there.

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Our trip to Greece was starting really well.  We had only been there slightly over twelve hours and already seen so much.  After taking a break in the shade we moved out to continue exploring.

Sometimes trips really hit it out of the park – this one started with a bang.  Have you had a trip like that before?

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