Up in time to dive into the centre for breakfast. Banana milk shake was followed by pancakes for someone. I had a green smoothie … aren’t I sanctimonious! I’d bought M a super cheap slow cooker (all of £10 with a 2 year warranty … how do they do that!?, so we headed to the supermarket to fill Maddy’s fridge with food for the week and for the slow cooker. We were cutting it just OK for my flight, but then hit a motorway closure … oops… I arrived at the airport with only an hour to spare. Not only was I scanned, but my ruck sack was pulled for inspection. I had electric cables and plugs for the motorhome, as well as all those food items. I’m trying to keep cool and not tell the chap hurry up, as he pulled out cornflower and icing sugar … fortunately for me, he was off on his break in 3 mins so he did not even use his drug/explosive dust swab. A fast walk through the airport and I made the gate, just with time to buy a bottle of water and a coffee.
At Athens airport I picked up a hire car, which we had booked as we had anticipated our Friend Alison coming to see us tomorrow. Sadly she has had to postpone her trip to us as she is awaiting a heart procedure.
Being with Maddy was very emotional … whilst we talk and text a lot, it is not the same as a good hug and hanging out with her. I will see her next in May.
972- Tuesday 30th January: Athens Walking Tour
Car driving in central Athens is – “interesting”…… nobody bothers about lanes or speed restrictions – and the motorbikes/scooters come from all sides!!! But, as we have driven our previous motorhome in central Palermo in the rush hour – Athens by car is a doddle… We even managed to find free on road parking each day we drove in. As we’d given ourselves lots of time I ingested an omelette special in a restaurant next to where we parked the car. The owner gave us his business card so we could find our way back … kind. Actually K spicks a Save on our location in maps.me so we can route our way back, but it would have been ungracious to explain that.
Our guided walking tour – with Michael (Masters degree in Classics) was a lovely 2 hours – with excellent local information and anecdotes. If any local politician or leader took too much power – he was ‘ostracised’ – hence the origin of the word. Only the true born Athenians (6,000) could vote – the other 40,000 were lesser citizens! If that applied in UK, not many people would have the franchise! When we later met Carol and Mike their tour was over 3 hours and so much more informative … ho hum.
The photos below tell the story…
973- Wednesday 31st January: Acropolis
Our motorhome convoy moved to a wild S of Athens. Soupful lunch in Jez – and off to Athens again – I walked around the Acropolis Museum and then the actual site itself. Very impressive – but we have been truly spoiled by the Greco-Roman remains in Sicily and Italy… Then – a K-phone app guided walking tour to see more local sites.
Views from Areopagus, where youths hang out with a beer at night.
There is the Acropolis, a couple of other hills and a massive urban sprawl … thankfully very few high rises.
Acropolis Museum: Alexander the Great.
James came out of the museum and caught me red handed … oreo and milk chocolate flavour. Yummy. Note the new Maddy boots.
View up to the Acropolis. Only the Temple of Athena Nike 426bc has been restored fully so far.
Propylaia – the enormous entrance.
The Parthenon was covered in scaffolding and plastic sheets when I visited it 30+ years ago … got to see a bit more this time. They have only just replaced the crane inside that had been in service all this time.
J mastering a selfie 🙂
Hadrian’s Arch AD131 – positioned to deliberately mark the boundary between the ancient Greek city and the new Athens of Hadrian. Two inscriptions read “This is the ancient city of Theseus” and on the other side, “This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus”, just in case Athenians were not sure!
The Temple of Olympian Zeus. Was the largest in Greece. It started in 6BC, but not completed for 650 years .. a bit like the slow Acropolis rebuilding programme!
Panathaenic (Olympic) Stadium in the site of the original stadium 330BC. It was reconstructed for gladiatorial contests in Hadrian’s time, then in AD144. In 1896 it had a major reconstruction in time for the first modern Olympic Games. It seats 60,000. In 2004 it was used for Archery and the end of the Marathon.
The Royal Palace was completed in 1842, destroyed by fire in 1909 and used as the Parliament building since 1935 … very plain compared to the English Houses of Parliament, about to undergo it’s own £40b (+) renovation. I tried to stand next to the elite guard for my pic … he stamped his gun on the ground and an ordinary army officer came and told me to move off the step. Carol was told on her walking tour that they only stamp their guns if they are threatened … was he concerned about me or Oscar? The tomb of the unknown soldier is behind me.
And without me.
Byron being crowned by Greece. Carol and Mike were told Byron was having his hair combed!
974- Thursday 1st January: Agora and Meeting Up
Athens Camping was our next stop – to hook up again with Carol and Mike (we met them at Ionian Camping at Christmas). Athens centre again – so far we’ve managed free on street parking – lucky… K walked around the Agora – and then later we walked through the old town – narrow market streets and very touristy. We had a date with Mike and Carol for an early supper – walked it off back to our Astra and back up the A8 to the campsite.
Walk through the park and stumbled on Socrates Prison. The holes in the wall were where wooden building were attached to the rock. During WW2, the caves were cemented up concealing museum artefacts.
The Agora … the Greek Forum equivalent, where all the business took place. This is the Stoa … shops now a timeline museum.
Pan … just amazing quality.
A Kleroteria – an allotment machine to see who was to be called for jury duty. People inserted their bronze name tags into the slots, into the top were poured black or white balls. By means of a crank handle the balls were released selecting an entire row for jury service.
Ostracism – intende to protect the city from aspirants to despotic power. Voters scribbled ‘candidates’ names on pottery shards and these were then counted. The ‘winner’ was then ostracised from the city for 10 years.
Ancient Athens Weights and Measures. Financial transactions were supervised by the Agora (Greek Council). These are official vessels for dry goods.
Lead tokens for issuing pieces of armour. The images are representations for helmets, breastplate, shields etc. Middle 3BC.
These vessels have a hole in the top to measure the water and one at the bottom … when the water has emptied, the orator has to stop speaking. I think some teachers could have done with this!
View from the Temple Hephaisteion of the Stoa and the Acropolis.
Temple Hephaisteion 449BC and the best preserved in all Greece … it’s roof is still intact, but you can’t go in.
The security at the Temple took this … nice chap.
Tourist tat in lots of the old streets.
Late lunch/early supper with Carol and Mike.
975- Friday 2nd February: Acropolis 2, Benaki Museum and Central Market
We had planned to high tail out of Athens, but felt we ought to give it another shot. Oscar is an impediment. Being 21kgs, he is too heavy to go in a bag (not that he would entertain this), so the Metro is out. Our only option for visiting the metropolis is to drive in. Given the traffic and erratic parking, a motorhome is a no go. So it sort of made sense to do another day whilst we had the car. There is free camper parking S of the Acropolis, but we worry about being a newish van in a city … we were broken into in Copenhagen. So … another day it was.
Drove in with C and M – they wandered through the Acropolis – Oscar and I sat and braved the wild dogs. Note: most of the wild dogs in Greece have been quite friendly … these were NOT. One attacked our boy. Bastard. The nice man in the cafe came out to call the dogs off. Almost forgave him his prices … €7.00 for a coffee and Twix – extortionate but – tourist prices – I wonder how much it would be in high summer?
Separately, we went into the Benaki Museum – we’re close to being ‘museumed’ out…..and ‘cityfied’ out… Choice over Archaeological Museum as would take 3-5 hours each and we’ve had enough of being in a city. Central Market for meat and veg … stagger back to car with a good load in our back pack and shopping bag.
Earlier back to the campsite than planned as early start next day … our Bristol based Adria dealer has sadly gone bust (we really liked the people that ran it and worked there, so we are very sad for them), so we booked the only Greek Adria dealer to look at front seat at 10.00 tomorrow. It ‘complains’ and grinds when we swivel it. Not sure if it is a warranty issue or not, but since UK Adria dealers will not take on warranty work for another dealer … we may have to pay and labour rates are cheaper here.
K made more haute cuisine soup and prepped a beef stew for the next day.
Evening drinkies at chez M and C – and early abed…..
Theatre of Herodes.
From the Acropolis you can see the Olympic Stadium, Hardian’s Arch and Temple of Olympian Zeus.
And now inside the Benaki Museum … a private collection.
Marble Cycladic female figures 2300-2200BC. Inspired later artist such as Van Gogh.
Bronze folding mirror showing Aphrodite and Eros. 280BC. Perhaps a bit heavy for a handbag, but amazingly constructed.
Lord Byron’s portable desk, pistols and portrait.
The table where King Othon signed the Greek Constitution in 1844. The actual manuscript and Othon’s pen.
Part of the university. Strangely a statue of Gladstone in front. Wonder if some wag of a student was posing a maths sum?
The Central Market … great food and great prices … I had to buy some meat from this chap since he’d obligingly posed. We just had to lug it 1.8km back to the car!