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    • Day 15

      Travel to Athens

      October 16, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

      We slept in, ate a late breakfast, and then drove to Athens. We took the back roads for some of the way, driving through villages and a big town or two. It’s fun to see how life happens for normal people— saw a lot of little market stands, people navigating chaotic traffic on bikes, and lots of old men sitting outside in cafes. Not much in the way of urban planning or traffic planning that we could see. About 100 km out, we got on the toll road and dropped the car at the airport. You would need nerves of steel or a death wish to drive in Athens.

      Our hotel is a notch above our normal level, but the bar, pool, and restaurant have a view of the Acropolis and the elliptical is the best one of the entire trip by far. Seems like a good splurge so far.
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    • Day 16

      First day in Athens

      October 17, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

      Today we decided to see a few of the “minor” sites and also visit the National Archaeological Museum. Hadrian’s Library, the Roman Agora, and the museum took up most of the day. We ended with a great dinner in a restaurant near the hotel, which we found by just poking around. Tomorrow, the Acropolis!Read more

    • Day 17

      Plan B

      October 18, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Well, I could not get Joe out of bed early enough for a trip to the Acropolis. The cruise ship groups start arriving around 9 or 10, so getting there by 8 is one way to avoid the hoards. So, on to Plan B. Luckily, there is no shortage of things to visit in Athens!

      We went to the Ancient Greek Agora, with one gorgeous temple, supposedly the most perfectly preserved of any Doric temple in Greece. We also saw a “jury selection” machine — the citizens put in a credit-card-size engraved stone, and then with some balls rolling around, the jurors are selected. Wonder if it was more efficient than sending letters out to random voters.

      After lunch, we went to the new Acropolis museum. Opened about ten years ago, the Greeks had hoped it would be the perfect place for displaying the Elgin marbles, if only the Brits would send them back. Ha, fat chance!

      Though I did not retain the details of the many times Athens was destroyed by invaders, it did stay with me that the glory days of Athenian democracy lasted from about 490 BC to at the very latest 146 BC when they finally lost out to the Romans. Some current events lead me to wonder whether Athens will continue in first place or whether the US will hold on long enough to beat the record. As the Washington Post says—democracy dies in darkness.

      And we somehow snagged a table at the oh so trendy Nolan Restaurant, which is a Japanese-Greek fusion place and the best meal we’ve had on this trip!
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    • Day 18

      Acropolis or bust!

      October 19, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

      So once again we changed our plans. Last night at dinner, the manager of the restaurant suggested that we consider a mid-late afternoon Acropolis trip. If we took the “back door” entry, we would walk up past some of the less-visited sites, like the theater of Dionysus, and by the time we got to the top where the Parthenon and other crowd magnets are, most of the tour groups would be gone.

      That meant late breakfast and morning gym workout, to mix things up a bit.

      First stop, back to Hadrian’s arch (dividing Ancient Greek Athens from Ancient Roman Athens) and the remaining 15 Corinthian columns of what must have been a pretty fantastic temple to Zeus. After a light lunch, a slow stroll (so as not to wear out the old guy before he hit the Acropolis hill) and some ice cream. Finally, at about 3:00, we started up the “back side” of the hill so we could see the huge theater. When we got up to the main sights, the crowds were still pretty heavy, so Joe promptly found a bench and took a nap, while I walked around. At about 4:30, we ventured up the steps and enjoyed the temples. The late afternoon sun was just beautiful. There were people there, but no crushing crowds.

      After sunset, we made our way back down, very happy to have visited such an important and beautiful place.
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    • Day 19

      Last Day in Athens

      October 20, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

      For our last day in Athens, Joe had just one thing he wanted to do — walk through the ruins of what is (probably) the site of the Lyceum where Aristotle taught. This is the place where Aristotle supposedly used the “peripatetic” teaching method, walking through th grounds discussing with his students. On our way, we saw some crowds down the street, so we turned in that direction. Lo and behold, it was the weekly ceremonial changing of the guard at the site of the tomb of the unknown soldier, which is right in front of Parliament. We had a great position by some struck of dumb luck, and we were thoroughly impressed with the exaggerated strides of soldiers dressed in traditional military uniforms. Marching, music, all the trappings.

      The ruins of Aristotle’s school leave a lot to the imagination, but there are signs to indicate layout and purpose of buildings. And imagine our surprise to see that right next door was the Medieval and Byzantine museum. Now who could resist that, especially after a quick glance at Michelin saw that it has two stars.

      It is a fabulous place, especially the rooms dedicated to early Christianity up through the fall of Constantinople. We saw shoes from the 5th century! Clothing from the 4th! Lots of beautiful pieces from the early days of Christianity in Greece.

      After a leisurely lunch in the very good museum café, we walked back slowly through the National Gardens, blending in with the many crowds out for their Sunday walk in the sun.

      Tonight we may finally take a stroll through tourist-shop heaven, the narrow pedestrian streets of Plaka, which we have been through only in transit. And then tomorrow, bright and early, off to the airport!
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    • Day 13

      Letzter Stop: Athen 🇬🇷

      June 6 in Greece ⋅ ☁️ 33 °C

      Der letzte Hafen hieß: Piräus. Von da aus ging es mit dem Hop-On-Hop-Off-Bus nach Athen zur Akropolis. Danach sind wir zu Fuß durch das Altstadtviertel Plaka zum Syntagma-Platz gelaufen, wo wir die Wachablösung vor dem Parlament gesehen haben. Ein letztes Mal haben wir lecker griechisch gegessen.Read more

    • Day 3

      Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

      May 24 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 77 °F

      Wandering through the heart of Athens brought us to the doorstep of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, an ancient symbol of celebration dating back to 335/334 BCE. We admired the Corinthian columns as they basked in the Grecian sun, their intricate carvings casting playful shadows around us. The monument's frieze, a lively depiction of Dionysus turning pirates into dolphins, seemed to dance in the light breeze, echoing the festive spirit of the times. Known affectionately as the "Lantern of Demosthenes," this proud structure once stood among a row of monuments, all singing praises of Athens' rich cultural heritage. As we bid farewell to this lone sentinel of artistry and patronage, we felt a shared connection to the countless stories it has silently witnessed, and we left with a piece of history etched in our hearts.Read more

    • Day 52

      Here come the hot steppers

      August 18, 2023 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 35 °C

      The crack squad of the Greek army does what can only be described as a hazing ritual at the changing of the guard. Great entertainment - although Kate I probably committed sacrilege by laughing the whole time.
      Other things we did today:
      - visited Hadrians civic upgrades
      - followed Rick Steves walking tour around the Ancient Agora (very fun time)
      - tried to cook food on a cheap induction stove
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    • Day 27

      Anzac Day in Athens

      April 25, 2023 in Greece ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

      In previous years, the Australian Embassy in Greece had acknowledged Anzac Day and the connection between Greece and the Anzacs in previous wars with a memorial service in Athens. We had hoped they would do similar this year, however my enquiries with the embassy were unsuccessful. Eventually they announced they would hold a ceremony on May 2 on the island on Lemnos, a key site from WWI near the entrance to the Dardanelles of Turkey.

      No matter, we decided it would be an appropriate day to get to the tomb of the unknown soldier, which sits outside the Greek Parliament. Two Greek soldiers guard the space. My understanding is that they are graduates of John Cleese’s Academy of Silly Walks. The boys were really excited to see it. (Refer photo of excited looking boys).

      We all know Sarah loves to chat to strangers, and she found one in the young soldier who was walking around in regular military uniform not the ‘original’ uniform. She quizzed him on what era the unknown soldier was from and also chatted to him about Australia ‘the other Greek country’. This connection than allowed her to get a photo of him next to Tom.

      We had previously missed our stop on the bus and overshot the parliament building. It was a fortunate misadventure as we ended up exiting the bus right in front of the Athens Academy. A beautiful neoclassical building with two large columns topped with Athena and Apollo.

      Guarding the entrance staircase is none other than Socrates and Plato. In fact, while the current building dates to the 1800’s, it is often referred to as Plato’s Academy and believed to be the oldest educational facility in the world, dating back to around 400BC. The text books need a bit of updating since then though…

      It was a small day in sightseeing compared to others. We were all getting a little tourist weary, and could see the end of our journey getting closer. However, Rowan had wanted to enter a small church whilst in Greece to compare it to the large one we had visited in Crete, we found one as we slowly made our way back to our apartment - it was beautiful inside and whilst it was a Greek Orthodox Church now, it had been an Islamic place of worship during the Ottoman period.

      After ‘dragging the kids into a church’ we promised them a drink and chips to give them energy to make it home. It must be pointed out that Jack has turned into a major ‘tea drinker’, he drank it before we left Australia but really fell in love with it whilst travelling, to the point that he would order that over anything else. Sarah liked to call him ‘the 80 year old in an 8 year old's body.

      Tomorrow would be our last day in Europe. Tom’s efforts at having pizza in every location continued at dinner, at a restaurant called Grandpas. I’m sure they were all cooked in a Thermomix with the recipes followed to the letter.
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    • Day 11

      Denkmal des Unbekannten Soldaten

      September 20, 2022 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

      Unterhalb des Parlamentsgebäudes am Syntagma Platz ist der Ort, an dem Griechenland seiner gefallenen Soldaten gedenkt.

      Das Denkmal wird durch eine besondere Formation der Ehrenwache bewacht. Gemeinhin nennt man diese Soldaten Evzonen „Wohlgegürtete“ und ist in dem Sinne zu verstehen, dass es sich um leichtbewaffnete Soldaten handelt. Bei den Evzonen handelt es sich um ein Eliteregiment der griechischen Armee.

      Die Soldaten heben wie im Zeitlupentempo ihre Arme und Beine, ab und an schlürfen sie in ihren Schnabelschuhen mit der großen Bommel über die Platten des Platzes. Das auffälligste Kleidungsstück ist die Fustanelle, ein Rock mit exakt 400 Falten (in Errinnerung an 400 Jahre Türkenherrschaft). Ebenfalls auffällig ist der Fes, eine Filskappe mit dicker Quaste an langer Kordel.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Syntagma, Σύνταγμα

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