Joined March 2017 Message
  • Day13

    The main event, The Accropolis

    October 4, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    The Acropolis and the Parthenon. Wow. Amazing. Breathtaking.

    The Parthenon is considered by many, particularly the Greeks to be the symbol of ancient Greece and the birthplace of democracy. I can now see why. This monumental structure was built in 9 years from 447BC - 438BC although decoration continued through to 432BC. It was designed as a temple for the goddess Athena, the patron of Athens.

    It is believed the Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena that was destroyed in the Persian Invasion. As was Athenian custom the temple also doubled as the city treasury. Sometime in the 6th Century AD the temple was converted into Christian church. In the 1460s after the Ottoman conquest it was converted to a mosque. In 1687 the building was severely damaged as a of result of fighting between the Ottomans and the Venetians. In the early 1800s a significant amount of the sculptures were removed from the temple and sold into private collections. The Greek government has actively been trying to repatriate this artwork. Given that some of these pieces have been in the British Museum since 1816 I think they have no chance. But I hope I am wrong.

    The Parthenon is currently partially covered by scaffolding, initially I was disappointed to have an obstructed view. However, I overheard a guide talking about the painstaking restoration operation and how without it this monument would completely collapse. In a nutshell, they locate a marble stone slab that is structurally unsound, measure it's dimensions and create a concrete replica. The replica replaces the marble and then they find local marble of the same colour to replace the broken slab. The marble is prepared using a mixture of traditional and modern techniques to ensure that in time new and old marble will blend and she together. The new marble replaces the concrete slab once it is prepared.

    But the Acropolis is home to more than just the Parthenon. It has beautiful 360° degree views of the city. I also liked the temple dedicated to Nike and there was plenty more on the slopes of the Acropolis. The highlights for me were the Theatre of Dionysus, Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the cave on the south-eastern slope.

    After being in Greece for a number of days we were yet to try souvlaki, we had been recommended to try Thanasis Souvlaki in Monasteraki. To be frank this was the most disappointing meal of the trip to date. It was tough, unflavoured, chewy meat and there was minimal sauce leaving us with a very boring and tasteless souvlaki.

    We finished the night A for Athens, a roof top bar in Monasteraki. It has amazing views of the Acropolis and lovely (but pricey) cocktails. A perfect to finish a big day. Despite the price this place is worth a visit.
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  • Day13

    Ruins of Ancient Greece

    October 4, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We continued our mega tourist day with a walk though the Ancient Agora. The word agora means public space and this space is huge; we could of easily spent an entire day in this space. The space was originally a residential and burial area but by the early 6th Century BC it was redesigned into a public space. This space has been continually excavated by archaeologists since 1931. However it had been previously excavated over the years dating back to 1859. So as you can imagine there is a lot to be seen.

    The Stoa of Attalos, a trade centre and commercial hub built in approximately 150BC has been restored and now houses an museum focusing on Athenian Democracy. We skipped this however given the lack of signage in the grounds if I was to visit again I might start here to get a better understanding of the area.

    The highlight for me was Temple of Hephaestus which was constructed between 449 - 415BC and is the best preserved building from this time period. While not as grand as the Parthenon, it's completeness gives you an idea of the grandness of ancient Athenian architecture. The building is so well maintained due to it being in use until 1934. It served as a Greek Orthodox church until 1834 until King Otto (the first King of Greece) decreed the building should be used as a museum. In 1934 the use of the building as a museum discontinued and archaeological research on the site began. If you are wondering Hephaestus is the patron god of metal work, craftsmanship and fire.

    The other ruins are interesting too, there are a number of houses that are remarkably well preserved. But I really like the idea that I have now walked the same streets as Socrates did thousands of years ago.

    Nearby is Hadrian's Library, the highlight for me in this area was the statue of Nike (goddess if victory) despite losing her wings, arms and head she was beautiful. Also I love that the religious figurehead for winning, victories and competitiveness was female. Girl Power!

    The Roman Agora was again more ruins, I probably found this area the least interesting out if the three. Mostly like being a combination of it felt like it was more of the same and it wasn't particularly well sign posted so I wasn't sure what I was looking at.

    If I was to do this again I'd look at downloading some sort of audio tour to my phone before visiting any of these sites just so I could have some better context at what I was looking at.
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  • Day13

    Big Pillars

    October 4, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Next up we visited the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. Constructed between 470-457BC, which makes it really old. These columns were huge, 17m in fact. It is amazing to think that once upon time there would of been 104 pillars. Even these remains give you idea of how grand this temple would of been. With its roof, this temple would of been of 20m tall, 20m wide and 70m long. Massive.

    Interestingly the main structure of the building was actually made from local limestone and painted with stucco to give it a marble like appearance. The roof of this building would of been something to behold, made from marble tiles so thin they were was translucent. Can you imagine that room when the sun hits the marble?

    Next it was off to Hadrian's Gate. In ancient times this arch spanned the road from centre of Athens to structures including the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. It was built as a devision It was built about 131/132AD in the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Through the arch of the fate you can see the Acropolis. On this side of the gate there is an inscription which reads ΑΙΔ' ΕΙΣΙΝ ΑΘΗΝΑΙ ΘΗΣΕΩΣ Η ΠΡΙΝ ΠΟΛΙΣ (this is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus). On the other side of the arch there is also an inscription which reads ΑΙΔ' ΕΙΣ' ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟΥ ΚΟΥΧΙ ΘΗΣΕΩΣ ΠΟΛΙΣ (this is the city of Hadrian, and not of Theseus).

    Even though this arch was more Roman than ancient Greek I still loved it and the thoughtfulness of where it was placed and the way it framed it's surrounds.
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  • Day13

    Plaka and Accropolis Muesem

    October 4, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Plaka is one of the oldest suburbs in Athens. It is located on the north east slopes of the Acropolis. It is characterised by its narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful old buildings filled with shops and restaurants. You will find some amazing ruins including the Ancient Agora and a number of museums. I loved the buildings, such foreign architecture when compared to Australia, so with the assistance of Dr Google I can now tell you they are in a Neoclassical style (which I gather is a fancy way 18th century elegance). A lot of the shops and restaurants are touristy but you get this small village feeling when you visit these streets.

    We stopped at Lulu's bakery and deli for breakfast. We had some delicious pastries, but I don't remember what they were called.

    Next it was the Acropolis Museum. This stop was something I was excited about and it didn't disappoint. Firstly it's design is amazing. It is supported by pillars built over ruins that were discovered during pre-construction. It's modern building and not overly lavish but has glass windows on all sides allowing for tonnes of natural light. The glass floors not only allow you to see the ruins below but also increase the natural light. The top floor is my favourite. Here you can see a subtle homage to the Parthenon with the concrete pillars mimicking that of the Parthenon with artwork laid in between the pillars. It attempts to show the viewer what the Parthenon would of been. Fabulous.

    The museum is well laid out, with sections for different parts of the Acropolis. It is a mixture of treasures from the Acropolis and reproductions again designed to give the viewer an overall idea of what the Acropolis would of looked like 2500 years ago. We started on the top floor, where there is a great introduction video to the Parthenon and the Acropolis. We viewed the sculptures and artwork and I was continually gobsmacked at the craftsmanship and just how old items were.

    Oh it also had this super cute lego Acropolis... If only it came in a set.
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  • Day13

    Syntagma Square

    October 4, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    Today was Athens Tours a la Tourist. The day started with a metro ride to Syntagma Square, the central square on the steps of parliament house. Parliament house was originally a palace. It was initially built as the residence of King Otto but has been used as the house of parliament since 1934. Historically and socially this square has significant importance to Greeks.

    The name comes from the uprising in 1843 when the military gathered in the square and demanded a constitution from King Otto. Unsurprisingly Syntagma means constitution.

    Within the square you can find the tomb of the unknown solider which is guarded by Evzones. These men are elaborated dressed complete with pompoms on their shoes. Every hour there is a changing of the guard, and they do some crazy marching complete with high kicks.

    We then strolled through the botanical gardens taking in the beautiful Zappieon (yellow building) which is used for meetings, ceremonies and private functions.
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  • Day12

    O Laundromat where 'art thou?

    October 3, 2017 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    We said 'antío' to Paros and set off for Athens. For our ferry ride back we had purchased economy tickets and found that so had every one else. There was no where to sit except black plastic chairs in front of the toilets. It didn't take us long to pay the 5€ for the upgrade to a designated seat. Definitely worth it, would of been a long 5 hours otherwise.

    Athens and Greek public transport is easy to use. We purchased a multi day pass which allowed us to bus and train all round Athens. As we were now the queens of the metro, we quickly navigated to Kerameikos station and walked the breezy 40 metres to our apartment.

    Our apartment is, or was at some stage a shag pad. It had a pallet bed side table, a racy red futon, a tyres stack with a pane of glass on top for a coffee table and an easel. The thing that really gives you the sense that this is a shag pad is that it is directly above a gay nightclub and seems to have matching colour schemes.

    After settling in we packed up a rather large amount of dirty clothes and went to find the nearest laundry. We trekked and trekked.... And found a dry cleaner with an old man that did not speak a word of English. As we speak no more than five words of Greek none of which relate to laundry, it was a very short conversation.

    Finally 2 hours after setting out we found a laundromat it was three metro stations from our apartment so a bit of a hike. We wanted our clothes and partially dried some (we ran out of coins). We packed up our clothes and caught the metro home.

    We needed to dry our clothes so utilised every possible drying surface in our apartment, cupboard doors, TV, coat hangers, chairs and an easel. It looked ridiculous.

    We finished the night off with dinner at Good Wolf, it had a great atmosphere, pleasant staff but the food was mostly forgettable.

    Sleeping was fun too, I found myself waking up singing to very loud club music more than once.
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  • Day11

    Scrumptious

    October 2, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After catching the local bus back to Naousa (a much cheaper option than the morning's cab), we set off in search of a seafood restaurant in the town square. We never found it. Instead we found Yenleni, an amazing wine bar.

    The food was fabulous. We started with delicious bread and dips. Both were clearly made on site. The olive dip in particular was fabulous. Next was entré, we shared a slow cooked chickpea dish. The highlight of the night; the flavours and textures just perfect. Our waiter later told us the chickpeas are slow cooked overnight which is why they are so flavoursome. We had veal pasta for main and the meat was tender and juicy.

    As it was a wine bar it would be lapse of me not to talk about the wine. Their wine list by both the bottle and glass was extensive (and I don't think I saw the entire list). It mostly focused on Greek wines and had wines to suit most budgets. Nicole chose a light refreshing white. I settled on a red from the north which had a similar palate to a Cab Sav after trying a number of Merlots that weren't quite to my liking.

    The service in general was great, but the sommelier's attentiveness was a cut above the rest. He successfully combined our preferences and his knowledge to find us the best matched wine for our food.

    Feeling sated, we were just about to request the bill when our waiter brought us a small slice of chocolate cake. It was so moist. The flavours Delicious. All ready full we made room for it. The sommelier brought us a digestive, which I pretty confident was home brewed port, made by his mother in law. It was delicious and sweet and the perfect way to finish the night.

    If you ever visit Paros this place is a must.
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  • Day11

    Antiparos

    October 2, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today started with a rather expensive cab ride to Pounta as we missed the morning bus and did not wish to wait two hours for the next. Our cab driver, George took advantage of the road (or maybe just ignored the speed limit). Regardless we were flying along at speeds of about 140km/h which paid off when we made the ferry with seconds to spare. My Greek is poor, but I have a suspicion that good old George called the ferry operator and told him we are on route. Either way making the ferry saved us an hour of waiting.

    We took the ferry across to nearby Antiparos. On arrival we attempted to hire a quad bike. No success, unfortunately they would not rent us a quad bike as we had no experience and it was very dangerous. I think this wouldn't of been an issue if we weren't female. A male hired one shortly after us and it was pretty obvious he did not know how to drive a quad. With no other bike hire shops open we were stuck with a bus to the Grotte.

    The Grotte or Cave of Antiparos is located on the south eastern side of the island, roughly 110 metres above sea level. This cave is believed to be one of the oldest caves in Greece. The entrance to cave is an arch, whch at a guess is about 10 metres high and 20 metres wide. The arch is framed by a small church aptly named St John of the Cave. Slightly inside the mouth for the arch you find a mammoth stalagmite, which is believed approximately 45 million years old and the oldest in Europe.

    We then descended into the cave, 411 steps to be exact. The cavern revealed was large and deep, in excess of 100 metres. The cavern had been vandalised with many stalactites being removed and names engraved in the limestone. Overall, despite the damage it was worth a visit just to see the sheer grandness of the cave.

    Next, we headed back into town and treated ourselves to some relax time. The local spa, Flora offered some great spa packages. Nicole went for chocolate and I algae/seaweed. We were lathered in our chosen product and them wrapped in a electronic blanket. Eventually, once we were good and sweaty it was rinse time. The package finished with a full body massage. We left smelling delicious (Nic more so than me), feeling refreshed and with soft supple skin.
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  • Day10

    Paros (we made it)

    October 1, 2017 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    With the winds still howling and choppy seas we made it to Paros at close to 11pm. After spending a huge portion of the day waiting around we were utterly exhausted. Thankfully we had prearranged transport to the hotel because this island is far more difficult to navigate than Mykonos or Santorini.

    A short 20 minute drive and we arrived at our hotel in the town of Naousa, check in was fast and we were in bed quickly. That's when we my stomach started to churn. It felt like I was back on the ferry as my stomach rolled again and again. I really want to sleep instead I am seasick on land. Bugger, not fair.

    Hopefully this passes soon.
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