Europe Day 13 – The Ancient Greeks

The breakfast this morning was as bad as the room and the noise, it wasn’t a very substantial breakfast and basically consisted of a slice of some sort of sponge loaf and a glass of orange juice.

Temple of Nike

To start the day off properly we headed to the Acropolis so we could take some photographs of the world famous Parthenon. It’s an amazing experience to see the Parthenon, temple of Nike et al in person and seeing them was something I’d wanted to do for a long time. As impressive as they were the view was spoilt by scaffolding surrounding much of them. The whole experience was also in part spoilt by them not liking people stopping to take photographs – they want the crowds to be moving at all times – but for the most part we did choose to ignore them as we were there to take pictures. At the top there is also a museum but that had been closed since July 2007 due to them opening a new one down in the city which was supposed to be far better. What was really annoying by that though was the new museum was not yet open, and did not open until a month (almost to the day) since we were there which meant we missed out on seeing a lot of the artifacts.

The Parthenon

However, due to being herded around like that we did somehow manage to miss whatever was on the east slopes, and we managed to exit the Acropolis without realising it there was not way to get back round to it without paying the entrance fee again. It was really great to see the Parthenon and the Temple of Nike – they’re iconic remnants of an ancient time now long gone when the Greeks built fantastic structures which were so amazing that they have been imitated since. From the Acropolis you can look down upon the city of Greece and see how different it is today though there are other signs of it’s history you can see from there such as the Temple of the Olympian Zeus.

Temple of the Olympian Zeus

So, after leaving the Acropolis we headed off in search of Hadrian’s Arch, named after the same Roman Emperor as Hadrian’s Wall in England, and the nearby Temple of the Olympian Zeus. There is a small entrance fee to get in to the grounds where the temple is, but if you’ve got the multiple site ticket from the Acropolis then this is one of the sites included.

Inside you can get some fantastic shots of Greek columns and long shots of the Parthenon and the Acropolis though you wouldn’t really need a great deal of time here as it is predominantly just some examples of Greek temple columns which you can’t get very close to.

After a quick sandwich in Syntagma Square we went off in search of Ancient Agora. We knew the rough direction to go in and that it was some sort of old market place, and as usual we wondered around through very “untouristy” areas until we somehow stumbled upon it. Considering our collective sense of direction it is a wonder we were ever able to find anything in any of these cities, it just seemed to be pure luck.

The Roman Agora

Inside the site of the Ancient Agora, another site included on the Acropolis ticket, you can wander around some basic gardens and relax. At one end there is a small museum with examples of pottery and other relics found at this site and they do actually allow you to photograph inside here as long as you do not use a flash. At the other end and raised above what was once a bustling market place is the Temple of Hephaestus, the Greek God of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans and volcanoes.

Temple of Hephaestus

We decided our next stop would be Hadrian’s Library as that was another excavation site that was included in our tickets. It was a fair search looking for it considering how close to the ancient Agora it is, but we did stumble upon the Roman Agora along the way. On passing the Roman Agora we decided we could see everything there from the roadside and didn’t bother going in as it looked to be a very poor site with very little remaining. Unfortunately the same was true of Hadrian’s Library although there were a few worthwhile photographs to be taken there.

As the day started to draw to a close we went in search of the Museum of Archaeology. Unfortunately due to the lateness of our visit it seemed pointless going in due to there only being 30 minutes left and it meant the entry fee was not worthwhile. It was a difficult decision, but we moved on without having seen inside the museum.

For our final stop of the day we took a number of trains to get to the port of Piraeus so we could visit the naval museum. Unfortunately we had no map of the area which meant we had to wander aimlessly in search of the museum. We assumed it would be somewhere along the coastline as I assumed it was most likely housed in a former dry dock if they were going to have boats inside. Having seen both the naval museum and the metro station on Google Maps I now realise that they were a mile apart which when you’ve got no idea of the direction or distance you need to cover to find somewhere it can be an impossible task. We had to give up, and we returned to the metro station to return back to Syntagma Square.

We had previously thought there were a number of restaurants at the square, however upon closer inspection it only looked like there were two and I didn’t like the selection of courses available so we headed, upon my recommendation, back in the direction of the Acropolis as I’d remembered seeing a few restaurants that morning when we were buying souvenirs. The food wasn’t bad, but my friend ordered a side salad for his meal which never arrived. Despite this they did still try to charge him for it, and after a brief discussion the waiter had agreed that he’d made a mistake and changed the bill.

The Acropolis at Night

To end the day I went up onto the roof of the hotel and set up my camera for some night photography in hope that I might get at least one good night shot of the Acropolis. Unfortunately they didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped – but it was nice to see the way the Parthenon was lit up at night.

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