We arrived in Athens, Greece on June 24th on the overnight ferry from Kos. We got there about 10:30 am giving us most of the day to explore. We also had the full next day for sightseeing before moving on to Copenhagen. Our first adventure upon getting off the ferry was finding the Metro to be able to get to the city center and our hostel. After wandering around for a while we finally found a bus stop and asked the driver how to get to the Metro. She was incredibly friendly and helpful and told us to get on the bus even though we didn’t have tickets and she told us when we arrived at the Metro station. Her helpfulness and kindness were characteristic of almost all of the Greeks we met, just very nice, amicable people, a true pleasure to be around.
Once we got to our hostel and checked in, our first destination was the National Archaeological Museum. First though, we got some lunch at a Gyro place and needless to say, being the home of the Gyro, it was really good and really cheap. The museum was filled with all kinds of artifacts and artwork from prehistory through Classical Greece and the Roman period. It was a good way to start out as it gave us some background and history on the sites we would be visiting the next day. The highlight for me was seeing the “Antikythera Mechanism“, which is an intricate bronze machine used for astronomical calculations that was retrieved from the wreck of a ship. It is said by some to be the first computer and I’ve been reading about it since I was a kid, so it was really neat to see it up close and in person. We finished up the day with dinner at a restaurant with a great view of the Parthenon. It was delicious Greek fare including Souvlaki and when we tried to leave, the gave us a free dessert of chocolate cake and some desert wine spiced with cinnamon and orange.
The next day, we started out in the Ancient Agora. This is the center of the ancient city located right below the Acropolis. The number of ruins here, some in very good shape like the Temple of Hephaestus, are really incredible. Walking around there it doesn’t take much effort to picture it full of ancient Greeks conducting business, philosophy, and democracy. From there, we went up to the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon, theatre, etc. After that we split up for a bit and I walked down to the Arch of Hadrien and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is one of the largest of the ancient archaological sites in Athens. Next, I went to Syntagma Square where the parliament is located and watched the changing of the guards there. It is quite a sight to see with the guards doing an intricate dance every hour with very distinctive attire including little pom-poms on the ends of their shoes. Their uniforms apparently take from different areas and eras of Greece and the kilt they wear stretches back perhaps 4,000 years to the time of the Minoans. We finished the day with a delicious dinner at a place in the Psirri district that had live traditional Greek music and another free dessert at the end of watermelon and cherries.
Athens was a great city and I highly reccomend it to anyone. Not only is it full of so much history and archaeological sites, but it is full of the friendliest and vibrant people you will meet anywhere. Pictures below and stay tuned for our final overseas stop of Copenhagen, Denmark.