13 August 2023

Chilling in Athens

I've been very lucky with the weather. A couple of weeks ago we all read about the inferno that was southern Europe and I was dreading the ordeal.

That all changed last week, just in time for my sailing trip, and the relatively mild temperatures are continuing now. I didn't even need the air conditioning in my hotel room last night. Perfect conditions for a relaxing few days.

On Day2, I took a 90-minute bus tour of the city to get a feel for its layout and to decide what I would visit – and what I'd avoid.

The Acropolis Museum was opened to display the artefacts from the rock in a safe, protective environment. The marble friezes are displayed in the same configuration as they were in the Parthenon.

Some of the panels are originals, the others plaster casts of the originals that, according to the prominently displayed notices, are "currently located at the British museum in London." (Or the Louvre, in some cases.)

The Old Royal Palace now houses the Parliament of Greece. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is in front of the palace, guarded by the Evzones of the Presidential Guard in their pleated skirts and bobble-toed boots. The guard is changed every hour in a ritual of high kicks and stamping.
Changing the guard

The Panathenaic Stadium was built in ancient times, renovated on many occasions, and was the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

Hadrian's Arch

Named after the Roman emperor, but historians are not sure why.

The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is one of the oldest in Athens, in the middle of a busy commercial district. An old lady who entered just after me kissed several icons and made the sign of the cross (backwards) at each one.

Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

On Day 3 I went for lunch by the sea. The restaurant that had been recommended to me was full of loud backpackers, so I retreated to a more sedate venue next door.

I spent the evening sampling ouzo in a rooftop bar, souvlaki in a tiny family-run dive, and wine in a hopping downtown bar.

I'm taking the train to Thessaloniki on Sunday morning.

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