We began with an early flight from Istanbul to Greece. So early, in fact, that I did not think clearly at 6am and I put on long black pants. Lauren smartly put on a sun-dress, ready for the very hot and dry weather in Athens.
Upon landing, our tour guide met us in the airport and took us directly to the famous ancient ruins. Our tour guide was a very intelligent woman, full of knowledge and meticulous details. As we climbed to the top of the large hill toward the acropolis, our guide explained that the construction of the acropolis began in 6th century BC. It is difficult to describe the feeling of seeing the ancient ruins for the first time--it is a humbling experience, being reminded that humanity has existed long before we were born. The site was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena and she is featured frequently in the temples and monuments.
An old theater
A temple dedicated to Zeus, below the acropolis
What the guide referred to as "the girls," holding up the temple
Feeling the heat :)
The Parthenon, famous temple dedicated to Athena and built between 447 and 432 BC, was incredible to see. Major reconstruction has been in progress for many years as they try to restore the Parthenon to it's state prior to a devastating explosion in the 1600s during turkish rule. Hence, the crane in front.
Views from the acropolis:
Our guide lead us down the hill to the site of the oldest theater in the world.
Look closely--there was assigned seating! This seat is for a goddess' priest.
Next, we proceeded to the Athens new archeological museum, which is amazing! Unfortunately, picture taking is prohibited. But our guide showed us incredible sculpture and the brilliant relief work. It's amazing to me that the artists during the Italian renaissance were looking to these ancient Greek works as models for technique. Another interesting thing we learned from our guide was that in the early 1800s, a british Earl, Thomas Bruce, removed many sculptures and pieces of relief from the acropolis and brought it back to England, later selling it to the British Museum. The guide passionately explained that the Greeks desperately want these ruins back and feel that they have been wrongfully stolen.
After the museum, our guide took us for a ride around town to show us some of the more modern attractions of the city.
The Royal Palace, built for the first Greek king, who was only 16 years old.
Changing of the guard
For dinner, Lauren found a gem of a restaurant with rooftop dining and a gorgeous view of the acropolis. We ate moussaka (a Grecian dish of eggplant, potatoes, and meat), zucchini balls, goat, and pork.
Our hotel bar also had some fabulous views...
The next morning we took a high speed ferry to our first Greek island: Mykonos. But I'll let Lauren take it from here... :)