The last stop on our European holiday was Athens. It was my first visit to Greece and all I expected was ancient-ruins-aplenty. What I didn’t anticipate was how accessible and ‘right there’ the monuments would be – do people who live in Athens grow accustomed to the magnificent structures around them?
I have to start by saying that we stayed in the most amazing apartment. When I was looking for places, all boasted ‘views of the Acropolis’. I figured, sure, there might be a view if you stand on the toilet and press your face to the tiny bathroom window… So I was gobsmacked when I stepped onto the balcony and took in the view (pic above, no zoom). And then I went out onto the other balcony, and there was the Temple of Zeus, just across the road. It was insane to open the curtains to those views for five days.
To the highlights:
The ‘layers’ of the Acropolis Museum are genius and the displays inside, thoughtfully presented – having been to lots of museums and similar during the holiday, it was refreshing to see displays that told the story succinctly (and predominantly visually).
We always like a view – this one from Filopappou Hill.
Evzones action – the pompoms! The sun-ray pleating! The marching!
Snow! Apparently it happens about once every ten years in Athens. We awoke to this view of the Temple of Zeus.
The sun took care of the snow quickly…
The snow made news headlines. I took the opportunity to show family in Australia exactly where our apartment was…
Panathenaic Stadium – why run around a park when you can take the kids to the home of the modern Olympics?! Particularly interesting was the display of Olympic torches – seeing them lined up, I appreciated how the design of each reflected the period and the country hosting the Games.
Temple of Poseidon – we took a trip out of Athens to Sounion, to see the Temple of Poseidon.
Swimming at Lake Vouliagmeni – I can’t resist an international swimming experience and this one will be among my most memorable.
Lake Vouliagmeni is supplied with warm seawater via an underground channel spreading through a network of flooded caves. The mineral-rich water is usually around 21-24 °C – we swam on a day when the water temperature was 19 °C (and the air 11°C). The Lake is very, very deep and has an underwater cave that has never been fully explored (despite many attempts) – you can imagine how alluring this was to my teenage boys with their GoPro in hand.
The Lake is also home to unique species, including a rare sea anemone and Garra Ruffu – small fish that eat dead skin cells (I found the fish way too ticklish and made sure I kept swimming to avoid them descending!).
We ate so well in Athens – souvlaki, spanakopita, lamb cutlets, and an amazing seafood meal at Labros (my husband is still talking about the Kritharoto Shrimps – a dish of orzo with shrimps, ouzo, bisque and kefalotyri cheese). But what I want to know is who do I speak to about making these a thing in Australia?
Hadrian’s Library – there, in the middle of the city market district, is an ancient library, built in AD 132. What was remarkable were the stacks of column fragments – resting places for stray cats – and perhaps a work-in-progress for those restoring the site.
And to finish with a view – taken from Lycabettus Hill, accessed via a funicular railway. The Hill was in a part of Athens (Kolonaki) that we hadn’t explored at all – it’s on the list for next time.