We’re doing the whole free tour thing again.
The free tours are great.
I mean, usually you tip anyways, but its still cool that locals would come and give their time so that visitors can have the chance to get a good inside look into a foreign city. Our tour was kicking off around 9am, so we got our stuff together, and make our way to the meeting place.
Naturally, you cant start a good morning without coffee, so our first stop was the coffee shop, literally around the corner.
On the hipster scale, it only ranked a 6/10. Largely because none of the employees were wearing flannos, and only one of the guys had a beard. Obviously, this means that due to the lack of beard donning and checkered shirts, the coffees would be sub-par. To be honest, they weren’t that bad. They certainly weren’t as good as the coffees we had at our favourite cafe on Santorini, but it was still pretty damn good.
We collect our coffees and get our skates on to get to the meeting spot, as we are running a little behind time already. I kinda just follow Bec and zig zag all over the place taking photos of whatever catches my eye while we wander.
We meet up with everyone at a spot called the Arch of Hadrian, which is just outside the Temple of Olympian Zeus. As cool as the arch it, the temple was cooler. This was our first glimpse at the immense history that Athens has to offer. The city is so history rich that it is not even funny. The thought that baffles me the most, is wondering how many other people have walked the very streets and stood at the foot of the same marble pillars I am standing at, throughout the centuries before me?
Like, how many other people have walked on the very ground that I am walking on, on their way work that day?
This is the kinda stuff that gets me really thinking.
We spot a bit of a crowd, and we know that this has to be us. We walk over and we can hear at least 3 different languages being spoken, so we know that this has to be the spot. I am taking photos of this ancient structure behind us, and this very American voice asks Bec and I where we are from. I turn around and see this Indian bloke right there.
Australia has such a big Indian population, that I am so used to hearing Indian accents from Indians, that it kinda took me a while to process what this bloke was talking to me with an American accent. I know, in our day and age, I’d probably be crucified for such things. I’m just being real here.
We get chatting this these guys, who we assume at first are a couple. Turns out that they’re actually siblings on holiday from the States (hence the accent fiasco earlier). We get talking about the travel plans and kinda do the “Oh, so how long you here for?” thing, before asking each other’s names. Vini is the guy’s name. No stress, then his sister tells us that her name is Atisha. This is all well and good, except that I thought she said her name was Latisha.
Not even kidding.
The conversation roughly went like this:
“…Nice to meet you Vini”
*turns to Atisha*
To this very moment, I have no idea whether she was just being really nice and letting it slide, or whether she misheard me, but regardless, I am thinking to myself, “Latisha is one ghetto name, and this chick doesn’t look like she’s all too thug”. She’s got this really summery floral dress going on, and Vini looks like he’s just hopped off his yacht after sailing through the Mediterranean for the past 6 weeks.
Thug levels: 1/10
Thug names: 10/10
I just turn out calling her Latisha for most of the day. I have a feeling as though she’d get it a fair bit, but she’s genuinely a really nice chick, so I would speculate that she wouldn’t be the type to pull someone up on mispronouncing her name. I dunno, I might be wrong… We get talking with these guys for a bit while Ariadne (our tour guide) gathers everyone around and begins giving us the overview of the day and everything that is happening.
Now, I am going to throw in a disclaimer here. There was so much that we did and saw that I don’t think I am going to have the ability to go into as much explanation as I would like, but I’ll kinda just cover the topics throughout Athens that I remember being memorable.
We all kinda huddle around, and it seems as though the group that I thought we were going to be a part of, is actually a lot smaller. There was just a few other punters who just seemed to be lurking in the corners of the meeting grounds where us professional tour-goers hide.
We kick off with finding out about The Temple of Olympian Zeus. I was meant to ask why it isn’t just called the temple of Zeus, instead of Olympian Zeus, but I forgot, so that one is still a mystery to me. Now, there are only a few pillars left of what was once a very big temple. The temple was 104 metres long, by 43 metres wide, and had over 40 pillars made entirely of marble holding it up. How mental is that?
Pretty much everything in ancient times was made with Marble, including pillars for the temples, but being that they didn’t want the segments of the pillars to shift, what they did was pour molten lead into the hollowed out centre of the pillar segments, so that they would all hold together. They held together so well, that in 2017, some of them are still standing, and there is a random Aussie kid blogging about it.
Yet again, I am baffled by the craftsmanship and the quality of work that these people produced centuries before we even thought of producing anything close to that.
She begins to tell us about the Arch of Hadrian, and how this was built in honour of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who was instrumental in creating Athens to be what it is today. He fully changed the face of the city, and did it in the way the he really decided was best. Not like the people were upset by that, I mean they wanted to build a dirty big arch to say thanks. His only contingency with it was that he had to design it. Pretty much he was saying that he didn’t trust that the greeks would do a good enough job haha.
Not ideal, but he ended up compromising.
Half was his design, and half was their design. Hence why it kinda just looks like someone has got two cut outs and stuck them on top of each other.
We head from here, to an old site where archeologists are still unearthing a site where they discovered some Roman baths. The funny thing, is that they discovered the baths the same way that the Bulgarians discovered the ancient city’s foundations beneath Sofia. They were digging the tunnel for the subway system, and where the baths were, there was actually going to be the air vent for the subway.
They ended up having to move everything so that the archeologists could come in and unearth the place. Even while we were standing there, there were a few students who arrived. That’s pretty cool that they are studying and able to actually get involved in a dig. Ariadne points out the different eras thought the baths, and explains that when certain invaders had come through, they would demoralise the people by turning the places that they would meet and places that housed their culture, and turn them into store houses.
So, in this case, instead of the baths being a place where the romans would come and spend a few hours hanging out, catching up on life, and doing business, it became a place that was used to house grain. This happened all over the city. Wherever there was a temple, place of gathering or a church, they would often be reduced to a storehouse. I mean, they didn’t want to have to build store houses and they didn’t want to encourage the previous culture, so this was a happy medium.
We leave the roman baths and walk though this park, on our way to the stadium, which was also originally built entirely with marble (but was only 5 tiers high at the time). This park was the place where all the olympians would come and camp in the lead up to the games. Quite often, anyone who had just bulk loads of money would come across someone who seemed to be of extra ordinary talent, and would sponsor them to compete in the games.
They would come to this park to train and prepare for the games. Now, you can just come have your lunch on the park bench.
SEE WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT?!
Ancient olympic athletes would come and train here from all around Greece, and now it’s a park that you can just come and chill out at. Its actually unreal.
As we are walking past another building, Bec spots all these orange trees, and asks Ariadne whether they are what she suspected. Ariadne explains that, technically, yes, they are, but they don’t taste very great at all. The real purpose for the ratty orange trees was to clean the atmosphere within the city.
Back in the day, the sailors found out that orange trees were good to maintaining a clean atmosphere, so they brought back a heap of these trees, and planted them all around Athens to keep the air clean.
I don’t know if I could have ever worked that out.
You can literally walk around Athens pick oranges off the trees if you want. But just in case you were wondering, you don’t want to do that… They actually taste so bad, but the amount of times people get stitched up isn’t even funny.
We continue toward the stadium, which is where they would have chariot races and the olympics back in the day. To this day, this is where the olympic torch is lit, and then for the next however long it takes to reach the olympics, the torch is passed from one runner to another.
So, that not the cool part though.
Everybody knows the story of Marathon.
…Or at least we think we do. Pretty much the Persians were invading the beach of Marathon, and the Greeks knew they would be hideously outnumbered, so they sent this one bloke, Philippides, to run to Sparta and ask for help. At the time, Sparta & Athens weren’t exactly the best of mates, but given the gravity of the situation, they though that they should reach out to the Spartans. However, the Spartans didn’t have the same sentiment, so when asked to help, they just replied “Nah, the moon isn’t in the right place” (loosely translated).
The run from Marathon to Sparta was only a casual 250km.
You know… A casual afternoon stroll.
Given the news, he then ran all the way back to Marathon to tell the army that they were on their own.
Just a morning stroll, really.
Upon finding out about this, the commander of the army decided that their best bet was to just attack anyway. Long story short, they ended up winning the battle, much to the shock of everyone. At the time, the leaders and dignitaries were where the stadium currently stands, waiting to hear the news from the army.
THE SAME FRICKEN BLOKE who just ran a casual 500km in the space of a few days, ran another 42km to reach the place where all the big wigs were waiting. Upon reaching the group of leaders, the uttered two words, which in English translate to “We won”, to which he fell over, dead.
Fair enough though.
The bloke ran 542km pretty much non-stop. That would be enough to do me in, so I am not surprised that he ended up dying at the end of it.
We couldn’t exactly head over to the stadium, being that we were on a free tour, we can’t enter the archaeological sites, cos the guys who have studied Greek history for years and charge 50 euro/person get pissed off, so we just kinda look at it from the other side of the road.
Just behind us was this statue.
Ariadne begins telling us all about the importance of the statue and all it’s symbolism. You can actually pick up so much more through the symbolism in the statues that you think you usually would be able to. For instance, if the horse in a statue has it’s feet up, then it means that the person died in battle. If one hoof is off the ground, then it means that the person was wounded in the battle and died afterwards, and if both feet are on the ground, then it means that the person died of natural causes. If the tail of the horse is up in the air, then it means that the battle was victorious, and if the tail falls behind the horse, then it means that they’d lost the battle.
Pretty damn cool right?
So, I cant remember exactly who the bloke was, except that he was one of the key people in the rebellion against the turks. There was a whole heap more going on in the statue also, like for instance the kind of sword he was holding, the belt he wore and his military attire. Everything meant something. One of the big things that I remembered, though, was the fact that he had a moustache.
A mo, nowadays, really doesn’t mean anything, but for a Greek man back in this era, it meant war.
So, one thing that you learn really really quickly is how many times Greece has been invaded and decimated. The Turks did a damn good job of this too. During the period of time that the Turks were occupying Greece, it was illegal for any Greek man to have a moustache. This was the case for around 400 years. Can you even imagine that? Australia hasn’t even been discovered by the English for 400 years yet, and these guys weren’t allowed to have facial hair…
At the time it was a sign of rebellion and pride in being Greek. This is why you see statues and paintings of Greek men with massive moustaches.
Going back to the statue of this bloke, he was one of the people who incited the civil war between the Greeks and the Turks. I could now tell you from his horse, that he died in a victorious battle against the Turks.
Ariadne goes on to tell us all the times that Athens had been invaded. We’re talking, the Romans, Byzantines, Turks and Herulians. Each time someone would come and invade, they would plunder the cities and harvest the marble to create their own buildings from it. It’s really pretty average because I could only imagine what it would be like now to be able to see the evolution of all the cultures and the impressions of other civilisations on Athens.
Instead, there is just rubble left and pillars fallen over from times when one invader would come and plunder the temples and important buildings to build their own buildings. Quite often, this would include using the marble to build churches, which is what you see throughout Athens a lot of the time now though Athens.
There are actually so many churches in Athens that there is this entire section of one of the main streets which is purely for priestly fashion. Not taking the piss either. You can go in there and see the latest trends for priests and the like. Never woulda thunk it.
The one thing that throughout the day, I came to realise really quickly was how resilient the Greek people are. I mean, these people have had their culture decimated, buildings destroyed and history lost. I can’t remember who it was, but I want to say it was the Turks. Regardless, by the time one of the invaders had left, Athens only had 4,000-5,000 inhabitants. Athens was a mess, it was like the place had taken a step back a few good decades.
It took a lot of effort and damn hard work from the Greeks to really restore the city, and they have done just that.
It is genuinely surprising that Athens is still what it is today. After so many beat downs and so many losses, I am surprised that the Greek people aren’t more jaded and bitter toward those who have oppressed them. Even now, the people that are in power over Greece really seem to be making decisions that put Greece even further behind the 8-ball.
I was talking with Ariadne, and we got onto the subject of politics and social issues. She was telling me that the situation in Greece is so bad that one of the most forward thinking economists in Greece estimated that if everything works in Greece’s favour, then it would still take them another hundred years to pay off the debt that they have accumulated as a nation.
The really frustrating part about all that, is that there are ways for Greece to be able to make money to pay off it’s debt, but the leaders in the European Union keep making it near impossible for Greece to sustain any industries. For instance, Greece produces some of the best citrus fruits around, but Greeks aren’t allowed to export their citrus. This means that there are tonnes upon tonnes of citrus fruits that go to waste all because of the laws against Greece.
There is literally no sense in it at all.
Now, Ariadne is a little older and has technically left her job because they kept cutting her pay, until it was less than half of what she would usually get paid, so now she just volunteers her time instead. She was telling us that there were so many people in the same position, that people who had been working for decades had to move back in with their parents to be able to survive.
The youth unemployment rate is at 42%.
The really average part about that, is that there are still the bright minds getting around in Greece, but being that nobody is able to hire them, all the people who have the right ideas and the knowhow of how to improve Greece go and find work in other countries, because there are real job opportunities and more promising careers.
So, where it stands at the moment is that Greece is under the leadership of corrupt governments, who are under the control of the EU, who severely limit the ways Greece is able to actually create revenue, which makes it harder for people to get jobs, and all the people with necessary skills leave in pursuit of their own endeavours.
So, Greece really is up the creek.
But, the thing that blows me away is that Greeks are still so nice. I can only imagine that the community bond would be so tight after all the issues both in recent times and years past. A lot of this has certainly made a lot of sense with the whole issue of graffiti being so prominent too. Everywhere you look in Athens, there is graffiti. This is no exaggeration either. I don’t think it is possible to walk more than 15-20m without seeing a tag of some description.
Whoever is in the spray paint business is making a killing.
A little side note about America. I had often believed that Americans had always dabbled with issues not relevant to themselves and picked fights when it wasn’t entirely necessary. Ariadne was telling us about how in 1967 there was a military uprising in Greece. She said that if the Americans hadn’t stepped in and resolved the issue, then Greece would have remained in a really really bad place.
This was interesting for me, as I had long held the belief that America dabbles in too many other nation’s issues. This was an eye opener for me. I know that The States tends to make enemies regularly, but at the same time, without America, Greece would have been completely stuffed.
Its kinda cool to see the other side of the coin.
Ariadne continued the tour by taking us to the changing of the guard. She begins to tell us about how the guards got their clothing designs. Pretty much, it got to the point that Greece was an absolute mess, so following the advice of Russia and England, they decided that they would get a king. But, being that they didn’t want any favouritism among the Greeks, they were encouraged to look abroad.
They took AGES trying to find a king who would actually take ownership of such a messed up place, and finally, they found this dude named King Otto.
The only catch was that King Otto was 16 years old at the time. He didn’t realise that he was inheriting a hole of a place. He thought he was just going to waltz in and be king and everything was all rosey. He got to Athens, realised how bad everything was, and then said that he wanted to go home.
Not ideal at all.
Naturally, he had to stay, so a lot of Athens is influenced by the things that he had set in place. One of them was the guards.
So, this King Otto really liked horses. I mean, REALLY like horses. So much so, that he made his royal guard imitate the way horses move. So, when the guards are walking, all the movements are very stop, start and include a lot of harsh angles to imitate that of dressage horses. Pretty cool. I personally know a few people who would love to see it in motion. To mimic the sound of the hoofs, they also have a whole heap of nails at the bottom of the shoes, so when they walk, it sounds like horses walking.
Its funny because you can actually see where the soldiers have been walking during the changing of the guards, because there is this one section of the footpath that has been worn right down due to the nails under the feet of the guards.
So, Ariadne begins to explain to us that soldiers get swapped out two at a time, and this happens every hour, 24/7. There is a guard who essentially delivers the new guards and brings back the old guards, and then there is also a corporal who keeps an eye on the guards. The Royal Guards aren’t allowed to move for anything, and it is the corporal’s role to ensure that nobody interferes with the guards, as well as make sure their dress standard is on point.
They pretty much do everything for the royal guard.
These guys are so disciplined, that 6 years ago, there was a bloke who threw a molotov into one of the booths behind a guard, and the guard just stood there, and didn’t move until the corporal came and moved him. That is some level of trust.
She begins to tell us all about the different parts of the attire. The pom poms hide a blade that if need be the guards would be able to stab you with a kick. The black strands on the side of the hat represent the tears of Greek mothers for their sons. The skirts that kinda just poof out a bit have 400 layers to them – one for each year of Turkish rule.
We try a couple oranges and get on our way to the next spot that Ariadne has for us. These oranges are really not the nicest thing you ever want to put in your mouth. It would be nice as a juice or something, but not exactly my cup of tea.
We head into this garden, and she tells us that the queen had asked travellers from all over Greece to bring a species of tree from their travels to plant in the garden. There are over 260 different species of plant in the garden. Its pretty damn cool. What, in my books, is even cooler, though was the random ruins scattered throughout the park too. There was pillars all over the place and you would kinda just find yourself walking over the top of some ancient building made of marble that was just left there to rot.
Its actually unreal.
Like, what do you do when you have too much history at your disposal?
Leave it in public parks, of course.
We continue, by heading into the city, where Ariadne shows us the most important and prominent church in Athens. She was saying that King Otto wanted to use the old marble from the other buildings to build the church, but his advisors told him that he should make it out of a combination of sandstone and marble so as to avoid creating a stir, and so that the place wasn’t cursed.
Thats enough of a reason for me.
Like, “Hey. Use these bricks instead, so you’re not cursed”. I mean, that escalated pretty bloody quick, but yeah lets do that.
After checking out the church and the priestly fashion district, we make our way to Hadrian’s Library. Other than the tortoise stealing the show by running around in the grounds below, Ariadne was telling us about how this place was buzzing with life and excitement.
Back in the day (obviously centuries ago), this was a place where people would come and discuss new ideas that they had, and there was this entire hall which was full of scrolls with ideas and inventions written on the scrolls. Its unreal. She was saying how after one of the invasions how the place was decimated and all the scrolls were burnt.
So much knowledge and so many ideas all washed away in one act. Its unreal. Again, it would love to see how things would have turned out if the buildings and all the archeological places weren’t destroyed and we were actually able to see the place for what it was, rather than just the remnants left over.
From here, Ariadne tells us that she is taking us to her favourite place in all of Athens.
This place is called the Tower of Winds, and back in the day, it was a key meeting place for anyone who was travelling through or from Greece. People would come here to get the low down on where were good places to trade, what the weather was doing, and any particular threats to be made aware of.
There was 8 sides to the tower, and each side had a god of the weather. They were also able to tell the time with the tower. This tower is just a cool 2000 years old. Nothing too hectic, you know. It still stands, and you can still go and touch it. Its pretty damn hectic. They even had a weather vane at the top of the tower to tell the direction of the wind and if there were any storms coming. Pretty clever.
We continue to walk up though this little suburb in the back blocks of Athens, and there are just little zig zags the whole way through. The place that we are heading is called the Church of The Holy Tabernacle. It is this tiny little church in the back of some Athenian suburb. Not the big hectic one we saw before, just this little tiny church out the back of some bloke’s place. The significance of this church is that come easter time, they go and pick up the candle from Israel with a fighter jet.
They will fly a fighter jet all the way from Israel with some fancy-ass case which makes sure that it always stays alight. There is then this big proceeding where they walk the streets all the way to the Church of The Holy Tabernacle, and then every other church’s candle in Greece is lit from this one candle. This way, technically every flame in Greece on easter has come from Israel. Not too bad at all.
In the tabernacle, there are also pictures of particular saints. Apparently there are saints for particular issues in life, so if you have an issue going on, you go strike a deal with that saint, and if that saint fixes that problem for you, then you follow through with your end of the deal. Usually these deals are things like “I’ll make you something shiny”. So, there are loads of little shiny emblems on the Saint’s shrines.
Kinda funny though, bribing the saints with shiny objects. Made me laugh anyways.
After checking out the tabernacle, we head up to Analfi, which is the coolest suburb I think I have ever seen. This suburb literally has got no street names, just numbers. The catch is though, there seems to be no apparent order. There should be street names, but isn’t.
What happened was that back when King Otto wanted to build Athens back into the great beauty it once was, he found the best builders in Greece and told them that if they moved to Athens to help build the city, they would be allowed to take a plot of land under the Acropolis, where they could build their homes. These are super hard to sell, so they are almost always kept in the family.
There are zig zags all through the little tiny suburb and you’ll be walking somewhere and then out of nowhere, you’re back among most normal houses again.
You reach the top, and there is this grand sweeping view of the entire city before you. We all stop and take the photos that we want to take before heading back down. Vini is a legend and hangs back, getting photos for us, and consequently, we end up getting lost and meeting back up with the rest of the crew a few mins later.
Right at the bottom of Analfi, Ariadne pulls us all over and shows us this little tiny memorial. It looked like nothing, but it’s significance was huge. At the top of the Acropolis, there is a greek flag. Back in WWII, when Nazi Germany invaded Greece, a group of SS soldiers told the soldier who was guarding the flag pole to put up the Nazi flag. This soldier refused to put up the flag. Again, the SS Soldier told him to put the play up, and again the Greek guard denied. Finally, the SS soldier for the last time told him that if he didn’t, they were going to shoot him.
So, the Greek guard went over to the pole, lowered the Greek flag, wrapped it around himself and jumped from the Acropolis, killing himself on impact at the bottom of the cliff face. Pretty friggin hectic if you ask me. The guy was an absolute hero though, and that one act inspired so many Greeks in a moment when morale was at a low.
We reach the bottom of the Suburban area, and its the time where we all say goodbye to Ariadne. She’s be so amazing. She was like the Greek mum that you didn’t know you needed. Everywhere you went, she was always checking on you making sure that everything was fine. She’d give you her scarf if you were cold and always made sure everyone was on the same page. If you end up on a tour with her, count your blessings, cos she is a champion.
She kinda taught me to stop and just enjoy the moments too.
There were so many times that she would tell us about how she just comes to certain places to relax and take the daylight in. Thats really cool to see. She’s a legend.
We give Ariadne a little thank you in the form of a tip, and make our way up to The Acropolis. We found out that thanks to one of Greece’s more prominent public figures, all the archeological sites are free entry in celebration of her birthday. I can’t remember her name off the top of my head, but she was doing us a solid, so we weren’t complaining at all!
The group from the tour split up into two groups.
One was the Acropolis group, and the other was the Food Group. Not gonna lie, the Food Group was way bigger, and really looked like it was going to be a lot of fun. I kinda fell into my own group too though, which was the “Oh hey… The things that are usually not free, are free today” group, so with that in mind, I took the opportunity and went up the hill with Bec and two of the girls from the tour.
We walk in literally the opposite direction to everyone else. Atisha was a ninja and got everyone in our group onto one big whatsapp chat, so we all could kinda just keep in touch. This was a huge help cos this way we didn’t have to think about the plans until it was time to meet up. Bec and I walk up this paved stone road all the way until we get to the foot of the Acropolis. So many buildings that you pass are made largely of marble. Its unreal.
Its so insane, that even the curbs of the roads are made of marble. Not even exaggerating. Its absurd.
We walk up the olive groves on the mountain side, and the road just weaves through the mountainside until it reaches the top, where you are met with the most unreal structures. Its actually amazing to think that these people built this place thousands of years ago, and whats more is that there are good chunks that are still standing. That is impressive. I don’t know how many of our structures are still going to be standing in 1000 years time.
We begin walking around and you are just a dwarf among giants at the Acropolis. Everywhere you look there are circular portions of pillars carved out of marble, just laid to the side of the building itself. At the moment, they are trying to reconstruct the Parthenon, so they have actually laid out all the stones in the most orderly way possible, and have been reconstructing the place for the last few years.
There are 440 blocks, and they have to try and work out where to put them all. That is a puzzle that I want nothing to do with.
Its kinda odd because there are just random bits of marble and giant chunks of the Parthenon just laying all over the place. They’ve also got these body guards who just wander around all day, dressed like the average guy, keeping an eye on the bit of the Parthenon. I was taking a photo for a couple, when Bec walked right over and just laid her hand right on one of the big bits of a pillar. I mean, I would be doing the same thing. There is really nothing to tell you not to touch it.
Straight away, this bloke was on Bec like a hawk, and she pulled her hand away like she just got an electric shock. Kinda funny to watch.
We wander through and see the rest of the Acropolis. Its another one of those places that you can’t be amazed by. You’ve seen it so many times on the posters and the internet, that being able to see it for yourself really is something else.
We head back down and decide that we should go to one of the museums while we have free entry today. We walk back down the path we come, and there is this wicked little group of buskers jamming away, and filling the atmosphere with life. Its amazing how much influence music can have, and these guys had even the youngest of viewers captivated.
We head to the museum, and yes, there are some amazing artefacts, but nothing really stood out to me, until we got to something that looked kinda familiar. Bec reaches this cabinet, and asks, “Is this off the movie?”
“Nah, I don’t think so babe”
What she was looking at was a cabinet full of old rusted out spear and arrow heads. It looks cool and all, but I’m not convinced. I’m pretty tired at the moment, so I’m only really taking in the bare minimum, then as we are leaving that room, I look and see a map on the wall, and this looks vaguely familiar to the map drawn in the sand by Leonidas, during the movie 300.
Bec was right.
300 is one of my all time favourite movies. Every guy has their mindless action movie, and this is mine.
I know it was based on a true story, but its this kinda stuff that really brings it to life. To think that these arrows were the arrows that finally killed the infamous 300 spartans was truly amazing. We wander through the rest of the museum stopping at various things that catch our attention, and Bec even stops to pose with a statue of Zeus. But that didn’t last all too long because one of the guards promptly came over and told us that you cant pose near a statue.
We tried it again in another section, and they did the same thing. I have no idea why you can’t pose with the statues, but apparently, in Greece, its a big no-no. So, to clarify, you can stand next to them, but you cant do anything else.
We are knackered, so we head home, and as we are leaving, we even get to see Athens in all it’s glory, as someone tries to steal this old bloke’s bag. There are about 5-6 cops who are johnny on the spot and sprint after this guy. Bec and I both think that he is long gone, but a couple minutes pass, and the cops bring this guy back, with the handcuffs on, and arms behind his back. Not too shabby at all.
I genuinely didn’t think that the cops were going to be that onto it, but they showed me up. The old bloke got his bag back, we got our entertainment, and it turns out that the stories of people pinching your stuff is true.
We head back to our place, intend on having a nap, but just end up dicking around, until it was time to head up to this mountain that overlooks Athens. From what we are told, if you wanna see the sunset, this is the place to make it happen.
Its a good 45 minute walk from our place, and majority of it was uphill. It wasn’t nice. We knew that the view would be good, and we weren’t wrong. Even half way up, the sun was already beginning to set, and started throwing this beautiful golden hue across the sky. I know that we get good sunsets in Australia, but I have to say that if you get the chance, you should experience a mediterranean sunset.
We head up the top, and the entire crew from the tour is also there. This is mint. Its always pretty awesome when you accidentally find yourself a little gang to hang out with. This time, however, there is literally ever single tourist with a camera also up the top. Its like one of those behind the scenes shots at the stereotypical locations, where there are a million photographers all set up to capture the same shot a few thousand others before them have too.
We watch the sun go down and the soft pinks and oranges fill the sky. The company is great, the view is great, and the pictures turn out great too. We’re all pretty hungry, so we decide that we should head out for dinner. We head to a rooftop bar first, and get ourselves a clean view of the Acropolis. Its a really amazing sight to see.
Bec and I are a little budget conscious, so we decide that instead of getting a cocktail, which we would down in about 2 seconds, we decide to get a Cab Sav. We’ve always found that a nice heavy wine takes longer to drink. The only issue we had with this was that the wine that came out was a cold & sweet rose, not a cab sav. We checked with the waiter, who assured us it was 100% cab sav.
There is no way.
Bec then goes and checks with the barman, who assures us that it is 100% cab sav.
I’m a bit like “Whatever. I’ll drink it”, but I have learnt that Bec, being a chef, orders what she actually wants to eat, and not what fate decides. I’m happy to let fate decide. Bec is not.
Bec is not happy.
Bec is not happy at all.
Bec sips her wine in angst.
Bec is not happy at all.
We end up all finishing our drinks, and I ask Bec how her regret tasted. “Not like Cab Sav” was her answer. I guess it was a fitting answer.
We all head up to another restaurant and order a whole variety of foods. It ended up taking ages for all the food to come out, so some of us stated eat while others imagined themselves eating. Regardless, it was a great night full of laughs and entertainment.
We were lucky to come across the group that we did. We had an absolute blast with everyone throughout the day, and it was the best way to explore Athens.
That was a very full day, but a day I would do again,
Come back for the next story,