Countless islands in the sea below with small villages dotted on each bay was the view from my window seat looking down into the Aegean on route from Larnaca to Athens, it also helped keep my mind off the bumps and jerks our Airbus was going through. My mind wondered to the WW2 bombers being knocked around from exploding shells but am sure ours was nothing like as bad plus there were no Germans firing bombs at us, or were there?…..
If you are still wondering; no there were no German shells, it was all fantasy under the stress of turbulence. We got there in one piece but I so hate it when people clap on landing, apart from that all went smoothly from there on. After our stint in Cyprus where we felt perfectly at home in my mum’s Larnaca flat we were looking forward to visiting Athens. Being on the move again was familiar and a bit like back to work, unlike Cyprus we now have to plan our every move, strategise and execute to make things happen and no time to waste.
Our apartment was as promised with a view of the Parthenon in a funky area of town just outside the tourist trampled areas of Plaka and Psiri. We didn’t waste much time as there is much to see just in walking distance, but here is the trap; distances might be short but there are many lane-ways and hills in Athens.
Above, Likavitos hill and Malene after a day’s trek
We promised ourselves we would not do another 8 hour marathon, but we are not good learners, each day we staggered home gasping for a drink, feet aching and a camera bulging with photos. Tried to get Malene to do Likavitos hill twice but she wouldn’t have a bar-of-it.
Athens has been done so many times by so many and shown in so many magazines that it’s pointless for me to list all the sites, but we did them all and my now-smelly sandals are testament to that.
Am guessing most people visit the sites not so much to see as to do some fantasy-time-travel, like mingle with the robed Athenians in the Agora, make a legal judgment on some case on Areios Pagos rock, watch the destruction of the Persian army in the narrows of Salamis seated high on the Acropolis or declare Brexit from the speakers podium at the Pnika (Pnyx)
Yes, because without the Pnika, Brexit would just not have happened! Democracy and majority voting started on this bit of chiseled rock where Athenians stood to speak their minds and decide on how things were done; like build the Parthenon, or use city funds to make more ships, or who to vote in to office or better still whom to ostracise (send packing) for having done a bad job of running the place etc. That last one could come in handy in today’s world.
Museum in the old Agora, how they ostracised politicians who they thought were not up to the job
We trod the flagstones of Athens and enjoyed the changing of the guards at the unknown soldier’s memorial.
Climbed the Acropolis and marveled at the structures and could not help but compare it to other historical sites we’ve seen on our travels.
The level of sophistication and development here leaves the rest well behind and am not just comparing it to the Broad Arrow Tavern outside Kalgoorlie-Boulder down-under, we’ve seen lots of marvels on our travels but what the Athenians put together that long ago was outstanding, so is the beer at the BAT, enough said.
Today Athens is looking tired and neglected, graffiti in plague proportions cover every inch of wall and it’s clear no effort is made to remove it.
In some areas stylish graffiti has added some colour but can’t say the same of the nicer more traditional areas. The lack of funds today is clearly evident affecting many aspects of Athens and the Athenians are aware of it, but with no funds it will take time to heal.
One evening we caught up with old friends of Malene’s, Daniella and her husband Vasillis at a very cool rooftop bar “360”, it was a great catch-up, never stopped chatting, snacked, had lots of nice Greek wine and philosophized like in the old days sitting looking across to the lit-up Acropolis, now that is how you do it in Athens!!
Good night from Athens, tomorrow we are off to Nafplion for the start of a two week tour of the Greek mainland.