Please forgive me for not knowing all of the historical names of places in Athens. I tried to listen, I promise, but my mind would wander to other things, like, "why is that guy peeing on the sidewalk in the middle of the day on a busy street," or, "I wonder if I just briefly touch that painting in this art museum if anyone would notice,".... stuff like that.
My first impressions of Athens:
- the people are VERY proud of hosting the 2004 Olympics here. Our taxi driver both to and from the airport made us crane our necks to see the stadium. You can tell they really enjoyed having their city on display.
- It's dry. The dirt was already cracked as if they hadn't had rain for months.
- It's modern. In fact, I would dare to say that it's more cosmopolitan than Rome. And (shhh....), I enjoyed it more than Rome.
- They allow people to smoke in their airport. Upon leaving to return to Sicily, we filled out an airport comment card in which I left the following critique. To preface this statement, you have to know that the Greeks seem to be very energy conscience. The escalators don't move unless they sense motion, the lights are dimmed, etc. We basically said that we find it ironic that they work so hard on energy conservation, but don't seem to care about smoke in public places, or allowing non-smokers to breathe in second hand smoke. I think we ended with something like, "Thank you for shortening my life span." Take that! There was a blank to leave your name, but Token thought that might get us on some sort of 'do not allow to fly' list, so I left it blank. I kinda wish I hadn't, though. I want to know what they'd say in response.
- They don't flush their toilet paper down. There's a bin for toilet paper next to the john. Um. Ew, is all I have to say about that.
- There's a ton of traffic, but we never had any problem crossing the street at crosswalks or anything.
We flew out of Catania on Tuesday morning, arrived in Rome for a short layover, and were quickly on our last flight to Athens. We landed in Athens, commented on how much warmer it was there than in Sicily, and got a taxi to our hotel, the Athens Gate, which was located right in front of the Temple of Zeus and really close to the Parthenon. Take it away, Wikipedia:
"The Temple of Zeus at Olympia, built in 470-456 BC, was the ancient Greek Temple in Olympia Greece dedicated to the chief of the gods, Zeus. It was the very model of the fully-developed classical Greek temple of the Doric order. The temple stood in the most famous sanctuary of Greece, which had been dedicated to local and Pan-Hellenic deities and had probably been established towards the end of the Mycenaean period. The Altis, the enclosure with its sacred grove open-air altars and the tumulus of Pelops, was first formed during the tenth and ninth centuries BCE, when the cult of Zeus joined the established cult of Hera."
Don't ya feel smarter now?
This picture was from the balcony of our hotel's rooftop bar and restaurant.
The first day we were in Athens, we explored a little bit around the hotel, but not before stops at two of our favorite places...
Hard Rock Cafe (The Haystack Chicken Salad tastes the same no matter what country you're in. It's amazing, actually!)
Once fully stuffed and caffeinated, we headed to do a little bit of exploring. It was starting to get a little dark, so we didn't do much, but went to the cute, quaint little town of Plaka and wandered the streets. A shop owner gave me a keychain with the eye of good luck on it, to wish good luck for the baby. Yep, I'm definitely showing now. No doubt about it!
Here are some of the things we saw before we called it a day...
(I don't remember what this is called. Some kind of entrance for Zeus, maybe? Or, maybe I made that up? I don't know.)
We tried to go in to see the ancient stuff, but they were closed for the evening. Not to worry, though - we'd be back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning! Err... make that Token would be bright-eyed, bushy tailed. :p
After we found out that this was closed, we went back to our hotel (literally across the street) and Token got a beer on top of the roof. The view of the Acropolis was really pretty cool from the roof, although you can't really tell in this picture.