The Big Trip: Athens

The destination of day four of our trip did not hold too much excitement, when I just looked at the brochure. The port we were about to dock to was called: Piraeus. Little did we know at that point, that this city is actually the main port of Athens, the birthplace of modern republic. Here, we really had to book for a trip, because the actual city of Athens was at a 20-25 minute drive from the port of Piraeus, so if we wanted to see something, we had to go on a trip.
We arrived to this destination a bit early in the morning, so we had quite the warn-out faces as we were sitting in the theater, waiting for our number to get called. Again, we were following the usual process, of disembarking, walking to the bus having our number on it, where our tour-guide was waiting for us. We did not have any delays, so we could head off towards Athens promptly. My impression of the city was quite a surprise. It was absolutely not what I was expecting: it had a very modern look with a lot of new high-rises (without overdoing the height), an internal highway leading into the center of the city and lots of green areas bringing nature right into the city center. Compared to Rome, for instance, it did not give off the ancient feel that I was expecting from this city: it was a modern city, with only small patches of the remains of the ancient culture that once vibed here.

The road to Acropolis mountain was again, through the narrow streets of modern Athens and not much gave away of what was coming up until we were almost there. The main tourist attraction was working like a charm: the place was swarming with tourists and we really had to be careful not to fall on the slippery marble stairs that lead up to the temple-complex. Our tour guide was wise enough to make a short stop before entering the crowds and tell us all the details up front of what was coming up. We just had to walk up the stairs, take some quick shots and get into the complex. Once inside, the air got breathable again, as people spread out to admire the different temples.

I must admit, this part of Athens did not disappoint at all. The temples were indeed magnificent, the view of the entire city was breathtaking 😀 . I was maybe a bit disappointed because of all the scaffolds that were built up around the Parthenon ruining any decent picture I wanted to take of it. It turns out, those have been there since the seventies (talk about efficiency :p ) as part of an ample restoration project to refurbish a bit the temple. In any case, it later turned out, that the scaffolds did not exactly go all the way around, so there were some shots I could make without that ugly (but useful) “decoration”.

After visiting the main attraction of the city, we headed back to the bus to take a quick ride to the ancient stadium (here we had a short pit-stop to make a few pictures, but that did not impress me too much…), then onto the main street of important buildings, that I completely forgot about, just because we did not even stop there. Yes, they were nice as I remember, but I could not see anything. Big disappointment here 🙁 .

The final stop of this trip was Plaka, the old historic center of Athens. This was basically a set of narrow streets filled with gift-shops, bars and restaurants. Even the main square was completely invisible due to all the tables and umbrellas of restaurants. It did not even resemble a real main square: it was too small, too crowded and again, did not give off any vibe at all. It was great to relax a bit and have a drink, but apart from that, nothing… I think I will refer to this place as “the shopping alley” rather that the “city center” of Athens 😉 .

I think the trip to Athens, left a lot of mixed feelings inside me. On one hand there was the awesome Acropolis and on the other hand the city itself, which was not something special. But then again, if someone thinks “Athens”, the next word that comes into our minds is “Acropolis”… so that is where you will get the wow-effect and not in the rest of the city…

I have uploaded some pictures here.


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