Veni Vini Amori We came. We saw. We loved!
  • Day66

    Athens - Last night

    November 3, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We made the most of our last night in Athens with dinner at Heliaia, with the amazing view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon lit up against the inky black sky. It was an amazing setting and the food was delicious. Except for a couple of odd meals, we have been very lucky to enjoy so many amazing dishes on our trip. It is great to experience other cultures and to try their food, something I am getting better at doing.

    Of course, we had a couple of cats join us for dinner, it wouldn’t be a meal in Athens if you didn’t have a cat or two sat at your feet.

    We even got to experience a Greek Halloween parade which was very much in the Day of the Dead fashion. It wound its way throughout the Plaka district and was pretty cool to see.

    We ended the night with a gelato from Davinici Gelato. We have walked past this shop every day we have been here and had yet to try one. The shop is such a delight to the senses, with so much to look at, and such delicious smells, and so many choices to make... the gelato was worth the wait and the indecision!! It was so creamy and flavoursome. A very enjoyable treat to end our last night in Athens.
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  • Day66

    Tower of Winds, Athens

    November 3, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Opposite the Gate of Medrese is the site of an ancient octagonal weather station named for the eight Greek gods of wind. Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes or the Tower of Winds, is an octagonal Pentelic marble clock tower in the Roman Agora and is considered the world's first meteorological station.

    We walked past this every day while exploring Athens and finally decided we should have a look inside. I'm glad we did.

    The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane. It was supposedly built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus around 50 BC, but according to other sources, might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the forum. In summer of 2014, the Athens Ephorate of Antiquities began cleaning and conserving the structure; restoration work was completed in 2016.

    The octagonal structure was made almost entirely out of Pentelic marble, the same kind used for the Parthenon, which is rare to find in any structures other than temples. Built to measure time, it is also known as a horologion, meaning timepiece.

    Each of its eight sides faces a point on the compass, and features a frieze depicting each of the eight ancient Greek wind gods, giving the tower its name. Beneath the friezes are eight vertical sundials where the shadow was cast on hour lines that, while faint, are still visible today. The building was originally topped with a bronze weather vane depicting the Greek Messenger of the Sea Triton, his hand pointing in the direction from which the wind was blowing.

    The interior of the structure contained a complicated internal water clock, which was driven by water flowing down from a large well under the Acropolis. This was essential for use on cloudy days or at night when the sundials were ineffective.

    Once again it is amazing to see a structure built so long ago and even better to see that the people of Athens take the restoration of these sites very seriously.
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  • Day65

    The Acropolis - Athens (take two)

    November 2, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We had a very cruisy day today, just exploring the streets surrounding where we are staying. We probably should branch out and explore more of Athens, but we are just happy winding down from our amazing trip. We also made the most of the sunny weather and revisited the Acropolis to photograph it against the brilliant blue sky. I didn’t want to pay another €20 entrance fee so I relaxed outside and people watched while Brad went back in with the camera. He did take some great photos of the Parthenon and surrounding structures.Read more

  • Day64

    Around Athens - part 2

    November 1, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    We had to change some of our plans due to Brad’s vertigo and ended up staying in Athens for six nights instead of the planned four. Because we were unable to extend our original booking we had to stay elsewhere for our first two nights and today we were moving to our original booking. With check out times and check in times to consider we spent the morning exploring the area behind our accommodation. It is very interesting to see the different sides of Athens and we enjoyed our morning stroll. We came across the local fish market, which is always interesting to see and photograph, found a few more churches which we didn’t go into (shock, surprise), and discovered some lovely eating places that we wish we had found on our first day.

    While waiting to check into our apartment we decided to try the local waffles with banana and Nutella and we have to say it was very sweet and really not as enjoyable as we thought it would be. It looked good though. We were joined for brunch by a family of cats and they did enjoy some of the ice-cream from our plates.

    We finally got to check into our apartment for the last four nights of our trip and we were very impressed. Considering the entrance was a battered door covered in graffiti in the middle of the markets we were a bit unsure as to what to expect. I think the thing that surprised me the most, besides the weird mannequin at the top of the steps, was the shower situation. Basically, the toilet was in the shower area and I wasn’t impressed, until I had my first shower that is. Best shower of the whole trip, great pressure and warm water – perfect. Our apartment is wonderful and one of the best we have stayed in when it comes to amenities and location. It is a great place to enjoy our last four days before we make the trip home.
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  • Day63

    Around Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We spent the rest of the day exploring some of the other areas of Athens, admiring some of the colourful stalls, the graffiti art, the vibrant streets and patting many of cats of the town. There are cats everywhere and while some looked a bit manky, some looked very well looked after. We even saw one the locals feeding a bunch of strays on a construction site and it was good to see the people cared about the cats.

    It was an easy town to walk around and spend the afternoon. We enjoyed relaxing with some drinks and snacks, we are loving the snacks we get with our drinks, sat in a tree covered café chatting with the waiters and waitresses. Our waitress’s boyfriend actually lived in Australia and she ended up calling him and putting him on the phone to Brad while she went off and served some other tables. Very odd but also very funny. We had another great day in Athens.
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  • Day63

    Arch of Hadrian, Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Next stop for the day was the Arch of Hadrian and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The Arch of Hadrian is most commonly known in Greek as Hadrian’s Gate and is a monumental gateway resembling a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the centre of Athens to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It is believed that the arch was built to celebrate the arrival of the roman Emperor Hadrian on the occasion of the dedication of the nearby temple, completed in 131 or 132 AD.

    Not far from the Arch is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, a colossal ruined temple that was dedicated to Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC but it was not completed until the 2nd century AD, 650 years after the project had begun. During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world. The temple’s glory was short lived, as it fell into disuse after being pillaged in the 3rd century AD. It was never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter.

    Because we had already visited the Acropolis and seen the amazing structures there, we decided we didn’t need to go into the site and instead checked it out through the fence. Even from a distance the size of the temple pillars, upright and scattered on the ground was very impressive. Once again we were left questioning how on earth these mammoth structures were constructed.
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  • Day63

    Little Metropolis, Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Next to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens is the Church of Theotokos Gorgoepikoos and Ayios Eleytherios, also known as the Little Metropolis, which is so much easier to say. Built on top of the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Eileithyia, the date of construction has been debated over the years with it being anywhere from the 9th century to the 13th century. Either way it is a very old building.

    And a very small one, especially compared to other historic structures. At just 7.6 metres long and 12.2 metres wide, it was built exclusively of reused marble spolia, with undecorated pieces up to the height of the windows, and a total of ninety sculptures above that. Its interior was originally decorated entirely with frescoes, but only one of these survives today, an image of the Panagia over the entrance apse. I loved the simplicity of this building as there is a real sense of its history seeping from the stonework.
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  • Day63

    Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We had a very easy day today and we are enjoying this time to relax after our very vigorous holiday. First up today was a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. Construction began in 1842 using marble from 72 demolished churches and it was finally completed twenty years later, measuring 40m long, 20m wide and 24m high. Inside are the tombs of two saints killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Ottoman period.

    We were in fact quite lucky to be able to see the inside and outside of this church as it had been covered in scaffolding for almost 20 years for renovations. Badly damaged from two earthquakes and the passage of time scaffolding was erected in 1999 so as to hold up some of the sections of the building. It was eventually closed in 2009 with the intent of it being closed for one year only while restoration took place. That one year stretched to many and it wasn’t until 2016 it was finally revealed, scaffold free and fully restored.

    Its very elaborate interior, with every surface opulently decorated, is at odds to the stark and simplistic lines of the exterior. There is just so much to look at and admire.
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  • Day62

    Plaka, Athens

    October 30, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    The Plaka district is built on top of the old residential area of ancient Athens and is known as the "Neighbourhood to the Gods" due to its proximity to the Acropolis and many archaeological sites. The Plaka area has a real mix to it, some streets have quite elegant buildings that are well looked after, and other streets have run downs buildings covered in graffiti. Some of the walls on some of the buildings have been built from pieces from older building, recycling their decorative pieces to create interesting walls and laneways. It does appear to be quite decorate here – even the bars on the windows have a bit of decoration.

    We stopped at one of the tree-canopied covered cafes for lunch where we enjoyed a traditional Greek meal of Souvlaki with pita and tzatziki. It was very surprising that it was served with chips as we hadn’t had any so far on our trip but the salad was very welcomed as I had been missing that.

    One thing about the area is that no matter where you are, if you look up you can see the Acropolis atop the hill with the large Greek flag flying proudly overlooking the city. It is a pretty impressive sight. It was a wonderful first day in Athens which we finished with a stroll back down to Monastiraki Square for another Greek dinner. It is a bustling, vibrant area to enjoy the evening.
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  • Day62

    Plaka Markets, Athens

    October 30, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through the Plaka markets and the Plaka district. One thing I love here compared to Italy is the amount of greenery and shade. There are plants everywhere, spilling over balconies, hanging off fences, lining the cobblestone laneways, it has a very inviting and lush feel. There are so many restaurants and cafes nestled amongst the trees, spilling onto the surrounding stairs and lanes, it has a great vibe.

    Some of the items on display in the market did make us do a double take with the most surprising one being the racks of wooden penises of all sizes and colours. We weren’t sure what the significance is to Athens so we asked one of the vendors. She told us they just sold well so no reason other than they are a novelty gift that makes money. The other thing that freaked us out every time we walked through the market was the “Children of the Corn” mannequins. Very creepy.

    I did love a lot of the shop displays and I loved the colours and vibrancy of the market. Even though there is a lot of tourist tatt for sale, there were also some very authentic and nice pieces to be found.
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