July 30, 2014
Dude. You can’t flush toilet paper in Greece. If you take nothing else from my blog post, try really hard to just remember that part.
I’ve had this post ready to go full of photos now for weeks now. It is always the words I have trouble with.
Athens deserves words. It is so beautiful: rich in its history, distinctive in its architecture, and fascinating in their customs and culture. I’m sure for most people Athens is just a stop over point for them prior to heading to the islands. But it should be so much more than that. Ashley, Emily and I had the opportunity to go over Easter, which meant that yes, a lot of things were closed, but it also meant getting to experience the holiest weeks for the Greeks – pretty incredible to be a part of.
Emily found this happy little apartment on airbnb.com that we stayed at, it was perfection – super close to everything and with incredible rooftop views of the Acropolis. Once we got off the plane, and got on the train to Athens, we followed her exact instructions which were totally accurate to get us to her place…and involved the metro, walking into the center of town, down the street, left at the church and another left on her street. I am not totally sure I could have done it alone so mad props to Ashley who did in fact do it by herself since she was on a different flight than us. Her place was right above these adorable shops that sold the most beautiful scarves so I would just pop on down and buy a scarf for about 5 euro for my outfit for the day – cheaper than scarves here. Here is where I should probably say that this is a mix of iphone 4s photos and a Canon 5D Mark iii.
We rode the happy train, which was a cheap thing to do and dropped you off at a couple cool places. We really just rode it because it seemed fun. We sat on the back and rode backwards which really just meant that we got to stare into the faces of Greeks who hated being trapped behind the happy train, but gladly blew us kisses.
There was delicious dessert.
And really good and rich dinners.
Definitely go to the Acropolis Museum. We took the happy train there and went prior to walking up to the Acropolis. There is a lot of reading to take in but it is a beautiful museum filled with ancient relics just out in the open. Everything was incredibly informative and made the trip up to the Acropolis that much more appreciated.
It was crazy to just be in all of these places I had studied in Art History in College. Made me wish I paid a little more attention then. This was the Theatre of Dionysus which was constructed somewhere around 6th century BC. How is that even possible? Nothing like going to Greece to make you realize that the US is so young.
I feel like we did a lot of hiking on this trip – the Acropolis is only about 500 feet above sea level so I shouldn’t have whined as much as I did but, I will say, I wish I had brought different shoes. Even when we were in Santorini we hiked. Good walking shoes are a must. And not just Sanuks. It gets rocky. This is Ashley demonstrating how hard it is to walk uphill. But with her long legs, it didn’t really effect her. Also, this girl truly never complains! It’s crazy the blisters she had one day and we heard not a peep about it until the blisters were really, really angry looking.
This theatre has been much better preserved, this is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It’s also a lot younger….but it was still built in 161 AD.
HOW DID THEY STACK THESE???? Ahh. I can’t even think about such things.
Wandering around the Parthenon was so cool. I was sorta happy I darted ahead of Ashley and Emily so they didn’t have to know that my inner geek was totally bursting with glee. Although, I could hear Ashley in her Tennessee accent saying things like, Look at Dani, she is so excited, while they stopped to take pictures.
The Parthenon was originally built for the goddess Athena in 438 BC. BC people.
The views were incredible as well.
In the photo on the left you can actually see out little rooftop. pretty much dead center below what looks like a parking lot across from it.
This is the Erechtheion which is what we could actually see from the rooftop of our flat. Have I mentioned that I am in love with the sky in all of these photos. It always looked like it was going to rain in Athens. But a lot of the clouds in Athens have to do with excessive pollution, so while it made for amazing photos and sunsets that glowed yellow with bright blue skies, it wasn’t for good reasons.
We explored a few of the other ancient sites since our ticket at the Acropolis got is in to a bunch more – I think this is the one that used to be considered a “mall” which to them means a lot of offices and public restrooms.
I was pretty obsessed with this building, especially considering how the street was on a 45 degree angle. How was this so straight?
We watched the changing of the guard at Parliament. That was an odd experience. Definitely nothing like in London – except I heard that Sundays it is a bit more dramatic. The uniforms come from different areas and eras in Greek history, with the pleated kilt or fustanella and pom-pom decorated footwear which were the most obviously different items from other uniforms. The kilt may come from four thousand years into ancient Minoan times, when the kilt was the common clothing item of Cretan men, usually enhanced with a large dagger stuck into the waistband. Em obviously thought it looked great. And Ashley picked oranges. No homeless person should ever be calcium deprived in Athens, there are orange trees everywhere.
And also corn stands. We should do this here. It looked delicious.
We wandered around a bunch – found gorgeous light for an Ashley photoshoot and a pickup soccer game in a park.
And then, even though it was freezing, we got wine and snacks and hung out on the rooftop for sunset for the last night in Athens before heading out to be with the Greeks for Holy Friday.
One night we went to this place called Brettos. That was a bad idea. Lots of really random things happened. Like meeting a girl from Potomac, MD. Ashley getting carried baby style down the street, me trying to convince Ashley to marry my brother Brett, this old man who was from Maine but had a Greek accent or at least was trying to, and then us taking the LONGEST possible route back to our home even though we were legit a block away… Also, on the right down there is Ouzo. Definitely try it. It is clear until you put ice in it, then it gets cloudy. That is pretty much the only cool thing about it. It doesn’t make ya feel so great the next day.
During our stay in Athens, we heard these terrible sounding church bells. Really depressing, often monotone, sad, dreary bells. I did not know that bells could sound so dreadful, but they did. And they started at 7am in some cases. These bells didn’t stop until Easter – we were in Santorini when they finally sounded happy and cheerful and jubilant – but that blog post is for another day. Around 9pm on Friday, everyone flooded the streets from their churches, carrying candles for the symbolic funeral of Jesus and following their church’s epitaph. they all converge in town and listen to the Greek pope before going back to their own churches for their final prayers.
The next morning we were off to Santorini after an interesting adventure trying to get to the airport since the train workers were on strike… But we figured that out pretty easily – minor hurdle compared to what happened when we got to the airport. More to come!
Make sure to check out Emily’s blog post about Athens, as well! She is the better storyteller anyway.
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I’m based in Maryland, DC and Northern VA but don’t worry, I LOVE to travel.
I love me a new passport stamp.