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We arrived in Athens at lunchtime on Friday and surprisingly the roads were not crazy busy as I had been told, or is it that I’m so used to driving here that I don’t notice any more?? Athens camping is where we are staying and it’s only the fact that is 6 km’s from the centre that we are here, as the site is very basic and does not even have a swimming pool. [The things we must endure in pursuit of adventure] We had a quiet afternoon in the campgrounds preparing for the day ahead. Caught up with the washing and later walked up the road to do some shopping. Thanks Helen C. for the shopping trolley, we didn’t know we would use it as much as we have. Generally we are not fond of the big cities but as we are so close to Athens we decided it would seem crazy not to go and have a look. It has been warm here 34 deg. C for the last few days and the thought of traipsing around in the heat has not been appealing.
In the morning we prepared ourselves for the visit with sunscreen, water and we even took the Koala along with us for a photo opportunity. The bus stop is right outside the campground and we bought our tickets from the reception desk. After a 15 minute ride on the bus we were at the metro station where we took the train to the Acropolis station. We bought our entry ticket for 12€ which included other sites as well and started the adventure. The climb to the top was relatively quiet and we though we may have beaten the crowds but alas no, when we reach the Parthenon it was tourist mayhem and in many places the attendants had to urge the crowd to move on as they were blocking stairways and walkways.
The Koala Denied??
I thought it would be a great place for the koala to make an appearance and started to put on the suit with Jenny ready with the camera when I heard a whistle then “NO NO NO NO “ . An attendant had come over me and said “it was not permitted”. To which I said “what to take a picture in a koala suit”. She said “it is a sacred site”. To which I said “why is that”. “It is our culture and the site is sacred” she replied. Again I asked why it is sacred and another male attendant told me I would have to go and ask at the main desk. Which meant that they didn’t know. If it is such a sacred site why do they sell tickets and allow millions of people to climb all over it like ants on a hill?? Then they told me that they would take away the bag and I would have to pick it up at the exit. As there are 4 entry and exit points and I was not sure where it was to go I replied that I would not put the suit on but I would also not give them the backpack. I think they realized by the tone of my voice and the death stare I gave them that taking the bag would not be an option and they backed down and said I could keep the backpack. So no pictures of the Koala. But a very embarrassed Jenny standing by.
The rest of the morning we spent admiring the view, taking appropriate photos and wandering around the old stones of other sites. It was a warm day and as it was lunchtime we were in need of a sit, cool drink and some sustenance. We left the Agora and after looking at a menu at one of the cafes which charged 7€ for a Hamburger and 6€ for a Frappe we decided to walk further away from the tourist streets to find a local café or taverna. We didn’t have to walk far and we found a nice leafy street with a few small places and although the bar didn’t sell food decided we needed a cold drink more. We made our order then Ewout suggested we buy a snack from the bakery a few doors away and after making sure it was ok to have it where we were sitting we were able to enjoy the ambience, have a really cold drink and something to eat.
After refreshment we wandered over to the Keramikis which is a very old cemetery and visited the Museum which had some very interesting statues and artefacts that were dug up when doing some excavation works. What amazed me was that some of the statues had been used to fill in parts of the roadway of the sacred way and you can see on a couple the wheel marks etched into them from wagons that would have been pulled along it.
We then made our way through the busy streets of the Plaka, with lots of tourist shops, clothes retailers and Cafes and restaurants. We wandered quite a while trying to find another couple of Museums that were listed on our tickets but ended up giving those up and found our way to the remains of the Temple of Zeus and finally the home of the first modern Olympic games, the Panathenaic stadium.
We enjoyed having a look through this with the commentary provided by a hand held audio guide and it brought to life the stadiums history. Worn out now from all the sightseeing and the 9 hours of wandering around in the heat we caught the metro and bus back to camping Athens for a snack dinner and a quiet evening watching some tv.