Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Athens, Greece: Mother's Day in the Acropolis

Synopsis: My dad and I want to do something nice for my mom for Mother's Day. How about a trip to Athens? My dad's friend, Ted, from New York is going to fly out and hang out with us too.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Land in Athens in the late afternoon and a few minutes later, Ted lands too. We all meet up with the private driver that we hired to take us to our apartment. The driver is very entertaining and gives us a brief introduction to Greece and the culture. He drops us off at our apartment and we go up to check it out.

The apartment sleeps 10 people, though we are only 4. It is a really nice place and the owners take great pride in presentation and hospitality, as we have a welcome basket on the table with goodies, a map, a discount booklet, and a bottle of ouzo in the fridge.

We walk out into the town to check out the surroundings, and stop for a gyro. It is 1,50€ for a gyro and drink! Wow, I could eat here all day! And it was a pretty decent gyro.

Thoughts: Ah, the weather here is amazing. It is a pretty lively place so far and our apartment seems to be in a great location, walking distance to food and shops, and most of the major monuments. I'm saying "yassas" (hello) to everyone I see.

Dad and I photobombing the photo of our driver

Ted and I leaving the airport

The neighborhood where we stayed

Ouzo in the fridge

loungin' in the living room

Amazing balcony 

Great view of the Acropolis of Athens

Dynamic duo!

Yassas to my gyro

a church in our neighborhood that looked nice

Day 2: Head out and walk about 2km to the Panathenaic Stadium, where many of the first Olympic Games were held. We decide not to do the tour, since we will have to wait over 30 minutes for the next one. So we walk over to Ethnikos Kipos park and as we are walking I hear two girls speaking french. I stop to ask them how they are doing and we end up having a conversation, and come to find out they are students in Brussels, where I live. I exchange info with them so we can link up in Brussels and then we continue on to the Zappeion. After that, we go through the park to see some ruins, including the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. It isn't free, so we make sure we see every single ruin and take as many photos as possible.

After seeing the ruins, we walk through the Hadrian Arch and head to get some food. Once we eat, we go into the Acropolis museum and do a tour. At the end of the tour, in the cafe area, there is a terrace, which makes for an excellent photo op with the Acropolis in the near distance.

From there, we head back to the park and find ourselves at the Parliament. We watch the changing of the guard before heading out for dinner, and then back to the apartment.

Thoughts: Everywhere I go I meet new and interesting people! This is why it is nice to speak multiple languages, and why I plan to learn a few more. Ted has his super zoom auto focus professional camera and he is getting some good shots.

Ted fine tuning his camera as we head down to the sites

Panathenaic Stadium: where naked dudes used to do the Olympics

There are statues all over Ethnikos Kipos Park

In front of the Zappeion

at the Temple of the Olympian Zeus

We always have such a good time together

From the second floor in the museum, with the Parthenon in the background 

Selfie with the Acropolis

Ted with the Royal Guard at the Parliament

Day 3: It's Mother's Day and my dad and I wake up early and go get some food from the store. We come back and prepare a Mother's Day feast to fuel the odyssey we will go on today, to the top of the Acropolis of Athens. My dad and I cooked, so Ted gets to do the dishes.

We set out on our journey, beautiful weather and eager for adventure. So, we reach the base of the Acropolis and can't find the escalator. Only 150 steps to the top, we got this! 6 days later... just kidding. As we approach the Propylaea, main gate of the Acropolis, there are crowds of people doing tours, walking around, and snapping photos.

We go through the gate and the Parthenon, under reconstruction, is the first thing we see. The architecture is massive and impressive. To the side you can see the Erechtheum, a smaller temple dedicated to Poseidon and Athena. On the other side, down the hill, you can see the Theatre of Dionysus. A lot of it has been reconstructed, so its easy to get an idea of what is used to look like.

We walk around the Parthenon to the back side and there is a viewing platform, so you can see the entire city of Athens, and even out to the sea. It is an amazing view and all I have is my dinky Samsung Galaxy S cellphone with no zoom and mediocre photo quality, so I have to hope my memory of this will suffice, or that Ted gets some good shots.

We spend several hours there, and as we exit we grab some cold water and ice cream to cool us off. We walk back through the Ethnikos Kipos park, on our way to grab some food and then head back to the apartment.

Thoughts: Some things just need to be seen in person, and the Acropolis is one of them. Pictures just don't convey the awe and wonder that overtakes you when you see such an amazing structure, older than your entire country, and yet stood the test of time. The amount of effort and creativity that went into these old structures is really evident, and imagine that they did all that with a chisel and hammer!

Mother's Day breakfast that would make Athena proud

Theatre of Dionysus

Approaching the Propylaea

Behold Athens in all of its glory

Hellas and I

Dad photobombing our lovely photo in front of the Parthenon

Dad exiting the Acropolis

Day 4: Today we take the hop on/off bus around the city. We've seen most of the monuments, so now we just get an overview of everything. After the first tour, we jump on the second bus line that takes us down to Pireas.

Thoughts: Today was pretty chill and we are just finishing up all the things we didn't do the first 3 days.

Riding the bus all day in the sun can wear you out

Port of Pireas

Day 5: Flight back to home.

Thoughts: Greece is gonna miss me... don't worry, I'll be back!

Final Thoughts: Greece just started having economic issues and it is apparent, as there are many apartments for rent/sale and the prices at the restaurants and cafes are alarmingly low. Or maybe that is just normal? Anyway, my mother absolutely loved her present and we all got to benefit from it as well. Finally, to visit one of the oldest civilizations and one of the most impacting on modern day Europe. Now I just need to visit Rome, Egypt, and the Far East.

Location: Athens, Greece


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