Sunday, June 17: Athens, Greece
This morning, Jeannie and I took separate paths again. I was planning to get a “Combo Pass” to several of the city’s monuments. The Rick Steves guide I got from Kathy H. indicated that I should go to one of the lesser monuments to get the pass, since then I could skip the long ticket line at the Acropolis. So after breakfast I went across the street from our hotel to the Temple of Zeus, which was supposed to open at 8am. However, there was a sign saying that it wouldn’t open until 9:30. So I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to wait in line at the Acropolis, and headed that way. However, when I got there, not only was there a long line there, but it was also not open yet. There was a caravan of black vans and limousines, though. Apparently there was some VIP in town (rumor had it that it was the President of India, and the garb worn by his entourage supported that) who was given the run of the place first thing in the morning. Anyway, we waited about a half hour, and finally the entourage left, and we were able to buy our tickets. I suspect that their next stop was the Temple of Zeus that I had tried to get into earlier.
Funny side note: there was a lot of security around, including a pair of snipers who hustled down to their vehicle just before the main body left. Only they weren’t in a sleek black van, but in a beat-up old Pathfinder, which they had a real hard time starting! I wondered if we would have to keep them push it to a decline, but they eventually got it going, and followed the rest of them down the hill.
Anyway, there I was, finally, at the Acropolis, where I could compare the original Parthenon with the full scale replica that we had seen in Nashville TN last November.
I was being guided by a Rick Steves audio tour that I had downloaded, and boy was I impressed! He gave just enough info to be interesting without being boring. The timing was excellent too. He and his co host talked just enough for you to comfortably stroll through the particular area of interest, taking the pictures you wanted, without too much hurry.
So, what can I say about the Acropolis itself? It was awe inspiring. It was breathtaking. It was just cool.
When I was done there, I continued on with a walking tour of the ancient city. Sadly, my iPod battery gave out halfway through the tour, but I was able to complete it with the aid of the printed guide.
Meanwhile, Jeannie was off adventuring on her own. She did some shopping in the morning, and took a (human) guided tour of the ancient city in the afternoon. That tour was included with the purchase of our Hop on Hop off tickets.
In the evening, the whole group of us (9 in all) had dinner on top of the tallest hill in Athens. The view was spectacular, the food was delicious, and the company was great.
When we got back at about 11pm, Jeannie and I were still ready to go, so we thought we’d have a nightcap at the restaurant on the roof garden of our hotel. We met a young couple (Mason & Sasha) of the same inclination, and so we joined them for a drink and pleasant conversation; a very pleasant end to the day.