Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Snapshots - Mediterranean Cruise: Athens, Greece

After Sicily, we spent a lovely day at sea where you lounge around and listen to a filipino cover-band play Jimmy Buffet and Bon Jovi (they were actually really good), while eating cookies and drinking fruit punch.  

On the next day we arrived in the port city of Piraeus, Greece and took a bus over to see the sites in downtown Athens.  It was really awesome to see so many famous structures from history books in person, but we both felt that one day was enough to meet our quota and move on.  While we weren't able to take pictures of them, we also really liked the unique style of the Greek Orthodox churches - it was kind of a relief after having seen so many other European cathedrals.  If you've never seen one I recommend you take a gander.

Atop the Acropolis - the highest point of ancient Athens

the Acropolis includes four structures, including the most famous "Parthenon".  Unfortunately, most of the interior is gone due to war and thieves, as well as the British who stole an entire room of reliefs and statues of the Parthenon all in the name of preservation - they are currently being "preserved" in the British Museum in London, even though Greece has asked for their return......

Front view of the Parthenon, built from 447-438 B.C. as a temple dedicated to Athena, the Patroness of Athena

Next to the Parthenon lies the Erechtheion, built from 421-406 B.C., which housed sacred relics of ancient Athens and featured a sanctuary to Poseidon and a sanctuary to Athena

The Caryatides or Maidens on the Erechtheion

Another view of the Erechtheion

Athens is incredibly cramped, hosting about 4 million of the Greek population of 11 million!

The Temple of Zeus was also visible from the Acropolis

The changing of the guard ceremony at the Greek "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier".  The traditional military outfits are less than intimidating, featuring skirts, long stalkings, and shoes with fluffy balls on the end - and to think that these guys are the ancestors of the 300 Spartans!

One of our favorite Athens sites - the Olympic stadium, originally built in 1896 to host the first modern Olympic Games on the same site of the ancient Olympic Games (renovated for the 2004 games in Athens).

A nice finishing touch to our day in Athens

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