Athens. The capital of Greece. The Birthplace of Democracy and Western Civilization. Also, the home of Olympic, a rich city of Philosophy and arts.
Acropolis is the icon of Athens.
Well, what is Acropolis?
The Acropolis of Athens is the ancient city of Athens. The existence of the city goes back to the fourth Millenium BC! (BEFORE CHRIST) Holy other of God that’s really old. The dinosaur walked on Earth when exactly?
Does the name Acropolis has a meaning?
The origin of the Name Acropolis came from Greek “ἄκρον” (Pronunciation: Akron). Which means “Highest Point” or “Extremity”. And “πόλις“(Pronunciation: Polis) Which means “City”. So, Acropolis is an ancient city on the highest proximity of Athens on top of Rocky Areopagus Hill. And one of its main buildings “Parthenon” is one of the main icons of Greece. Like, Statue Of Liberty of New York. Or Eiffel Tower of Paris. Which can be seen from almost any part of Athens main city.
Our purpose here is of course to visit the most famous and important archeological sites in the world. Including Acropolis. Of course. We were without a doubt, very much excited about the trip to Athens. And rightfully so. Also, it was a refreshing change as well. Because, we have been travelling around Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy by Train for the last 2 months. And now finally we took an Aeroplane as our form of transportation. We, of course, paid for the plane seats. Because our Interrail pass didn’t include Air travel.
FIRST AIR TRAVEL IN 2 MONTHS
There was no issue from the airport in Naples to the Airport of Athens. Instead of using public transportation because we were arriving late, we took an expansive taxi ride to the centre of Athens. For the first time, we actually arrived in advance. Like 40 minutes in advance! We picked up our luggage pretty quickly and went to the taxi area. Quick note: it’s a fixed rate for a taxi ride from Athens airport. 36 Euro for day time and 54 Euros for night time (at the time of writing this blog). We had a fantastic conversation with our taxi driver who gave us a few tips. We shared some stories. And he dropped us off where we needed.
Our host of the apartment was efficient, keeping in touch all the way because we were arriving after the checking time and that she has to be there to give us the keys. She was waiting for us at the front gate of the apartment building. Fluent in English. She gave us a warm welcome. It was amazing for the fact that she also explained to us things that need some extra attention.
So, nothing was a surprise to us. We really appreciate this kind of attitude. Unlike many other hotels or apartments, where we find something that doesn’t work and we found out on our own. So far so good. By the time it was more than 10 pm and weren’t hungry much. Although, we bought some Greek pasta and a bottle of water from the airport just in case. The apartment had everything we needed. The bed was firm and comfortable. Off to a very good start.
We started our day with magnificent weather. It’s Saturday. It’s the weekend. Crowd and noises were expected. But, Athens seems 50 percent calmer than Rome. And we were in the middle of the town. Our first mission of the day was to go for grocery shopping to buy our breakfast, lunch and dinner. Luckily the supermarket was only 3 minutes away from our apartment. After a healthy home-cooked early lunch, we started our day. Destination? The Acropolis of Athens!
Did I already mention it was a glorious day?
Could not get over it. Even better, our destination was about 18 minutes on foot. Provided we don’t get lost and our GPS function properly. Traffic as well seemed calm. And there were orange trees full of oranges almost everywhere. Eventually, we reached the bottom of the Areopagus hill. Which is situated at the North West of the Acropolis. Surrounding of the hill was simply Devine. More we go up, more we could see a beautiful Arial view of Athens. Once we reached just before the ticket gate of Acropolis, from the open part of the Areopagus hill we could see a clear view of the Acropolis in one side on the top. And on the other side, the view of Athens at the bottom. Where we could also see the Ancient Agora of Athens. The hill was full of different trees. Notably beautiful olive trees and may wildflowers peeking through the rocks.
Tickets for the Acropolis.
Umm. We paid too much! Let me elaborate. Tickets for Acropolis is 20 Euro per person for one day.
And Package ticket is 30 euro per person. Which gives you 5 days of unlimited access to all the UNESCO world heritage sites of Athens. So, of course, we took the package deal. So that we could do Acropolis and the little bit around one day. And the next day, the rest. Perfect planning. However!
The next day we found out that Every 1st Sunday from 1st of Nov to 31st March is free to access for all.
We were on Saturday the 1st of February. Next day was on Sunday the 2nd. So, we paid the package price where we could just pay for the Acropolis for Saturday. And Sunday we could visit the rest for free. The person at the counter didn’t inform us anything. Otherwise, we could change our minds and could save about 20 euros easily. (10 Euro each).
Anyway, we entered finally into the Acropolis. I could write and explain every single part of these magnificent sites. With the help of explanation on-site and Google search of course. But that could be boring and the blog will turn into a long history lesson I think. Also, there are many online resources, books and documentaries are available if you are interested. So, images with a short description would be a more appropriate approach I assume. Just like the Pompeii Blog. It was a bright sunny day. So our cameras were struggling a little with the dynamic range. But boy oh boy!!! This place is a photography gold mine. 18 degrees temperature with a cold breeze. Yes, please! We took every advantage to spend our time there.
After that, we stopped for a refreshing Greek beer next to the site. The owner gave us some homemade marinated olive pickles as a snack. Which were delicious. I, unfortunately, forgot the name of it. Then we walked about 15 something minutes to another site. Where there was a Big Gate like a monument. Which called Hadrian’s Arch. Which was built to honour the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Which was standing Next to the Site of Olympion: Temple Of Zeus. Where we went by using our tickets purchased from Acropolis.
From here to our apartment, there was the National Park and Parliament house. So, we walked through the park. It was beautiful. Relaxing. Full of different herbs and trees. There were turtles roaming around freely. Funny. A great place for nature Lovers, Fitness workout and beautiful picnic spot for friends and family.
THE NATIONAL GARDEN OF AHTENS
Change of Guards ceremony in Athens, Greece.
Our taxi driver from the airport who told us that there is a “Change of Guards” ceremony happens every hour. Inform of the tomb of the unknown Fallen Soldiers. We were there right on time for the changing ceremony. The presidential guards wear very colourful unique uniforms. Reminded us about similar Change of Guards ceremony in Rome. Of course, each has their own reasons and history behind it.
Our next days started a bit late in the afternoon.
After lunch, we took a nice walk till one of the busiest yet nicest location of Athens. It’s called Monastiraki. It’s an area with a lot of little and big shops for Greek souvenirs, clothing, ice cream shops and cafes. Not far from here, we have Ancient Agora of Athens. Which was visible yesterday from the top of Acropolis and Areopagus Hill. We were peaking through those shops to see if there were anything that could interest us. As a matter of fact, I was personally looking for the Crown of Greek gods. So that we could dress up as gods. And we did. Seriously.
We walked passed the Hadrian’s Library. Where a bunch of people were singing songs. Which was nice to see. Not sure about the type of music they were playing though. We planned to visit The Ancient Agora of Athens first. Then visit Hadrian’s Library on the way back.
There is a train line right next to the Site of Ancient Agora of Athens. Almost it’s appeared to be inside the site. As a matter of fact, it is. And the construction work did cause a lot of damage some of the historical monuments within the site.
At the entry gate, just when we were about to show our tickets that we purchased yesterday, we were told that it wasn’t necessary. Because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article that, Every 1st Sunday 1st of Nov to 31 March is free for everyone. We didn’t know. Now we know. And so do you. It’s ok. Glad to help.
Agora OF ATHENS. What is it?
Inside the site, it was the quite green, garden-like environment. Not many people. Many monuments within the site are ruins now. Upon the top of the hill, there was the Temple of Hephaestus. Which is a Greek temple, as old as the rest? But still standing well.
Another notably interesting place in the side was the Museum of Agora. Literally right next to the train line. The museum was full of old Archeological findings and statues. But that place can be inconvenient 8f a large group of tourists visit at once.
After finishing our tour, we visited Hadrian’s Library. Named after Roman Emperor Hadrian (not Greek). Within the site there were,
a tetraconch (5th century AD) (the three Piller)
a three-aisled basilica (7th century), and
a simple cathedral (12th century), which was the first cathedral of the city, known as Megali Panagia.
There were not many people. But, it was sad to see that some people not following the rules, Not respecting the lines. Just for the sake of some photos to put in social media. There are always some people, who ruin it for the rest of us right?
Our next stop was the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. A typical Greek Orthodox Cathedral with a big square at the front. This was built with the marbles of 72 demolished church and took about 20 years to build. We didn’t stay there for long out of respect for the prayers. It’s a holy place. Right behind the Cathedral, there was a mini church. Given the characteristics of Athens, this mini church was of course very old. The name is Little Mitropoli, in English.
Then we walked through the Plaka Quarter. Well, if you ever visited the villages in Greek islands. Or seen some images of the villages online, then the design of the Plaka Quarter will remind you of these. This area happens to be within the proximity of the Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Hadrian’s arch, Olympian: temple of Zeus and the National Park. The oldest house of Athens happens to be inside the area too. In fact yesterday we took this very route to go to the Acropolis.
We needed some sugar treat after this long walk. Stopped for an Ice cream break next to the Choragic Monument of Lydicrates which was essentially an old circular monument.
The icecreams were delicious. We 2 scoops of 2 different flavours each and took a walk through the National Garden. Interestingly enough, there were few more animal (Birds, Frogs, Coats, Rabbits and Turtles) preservation area which we missed yesterday. I picked up the orange on the way back. Which later turned out to be extra sour.
Anyway, finally. We finished with Athens. And wow that was a lot of histories that we saw and learned. Just like Rome, Athens was PACKED with monuments and histories. And the city itself is beautiful. People are really nice and simple. The Greek language reminded of Math and Statistics classes I never liked.
GUESS WHERE IS THE NEXT STOP……..
And next very early morning, we are off to a Greek Mediterranean Island. Via ferry. The 3rd form of transportation on this trip. Which unfortunately was not as well covered with our interrail pass. Yes, to have 30% off as written, you should have a previous journey by ferry between Italy and Greeve, otherwise, you can not have it. That sucked. Interrail Global Pass turning out to be more an expensive and less useful option. More on that, later. The trip is not done yet.