a greek holiday: postcards from athens

August 3, 2009

Our sightseeing tour of Athens started even before we’ve reached our hotel. Opting for a taxi to take us from the Airport to the city center, we landed a friendly and eager taxi driver who pointed us to some attractions and stopped by the roadside for me to be able to take photos – the 2004 Olympic stadium from a distance, the Olympic stadium for the first modern Olympic games in 1896 on street level and the Presidential Palace where I took a snapshot of a Presidential guard. He gave us our first brochures/guides of the city, which made me wonder whether this was a government initiative where the first points-of-contacts for tourists such as taxi drivers are allies in promoting tourism. Very efficient indeed.

It was a thrill seeing the sacred rock of Acropolis and the Parthenon that loom above everything and everyone for the first time. I’ve seen pictures a million times before but you wouldn’t really recognize the immense grandeur of the iconic landmark until you look up from your whizzing taxi. It’s there, eternally casting its glory.

Not too long after, we found ourselves on Syntagma (Parliament) Square where our hotel is centrally located. With an early evening arrival and a rather long flight with connections via Dusseldorf, we decided to just sleep after checking in. Later on that evening, we wandered around Plaka or the city’s old town looking for food. It’s a busy district brimming with tourists, restaurants and shops. Too bad I didn’t get to explore much of it during our short two-night stay in Athens.

On the way to Athens

The President's Guard

1896 Olympics Stadium

Syntagma Building

August 4, 2009

With only one full day in Athens, we decided to prioritize a visit to the Parthenon. Leaving the hotel at around 11 am, quite late actually as per the suggestion of our taxi driver earlier, we got to the slopes of Acropolis on foot by way of Plaka passing through the Roman Agora – a marketplace during Ancient Athens. After paying the admission fees, we slowly climbed and realized why it was advised that we go early in the day. The heat is sweltering and by the time we reached the spot where many people are converged in a queue, we were sweating a lot. We needed to wait for about 45 minutes shoulder-to-shoulder in line before we finally entered the grounds of the Acropolis. Silently, the Parthenon greets us at once in all its glory. Known as the most perfect building built by the world’s most advanced civilization, the Parthenon was the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena which was built in the 2nd half of 5th century B.C. It’s amazing how it has stood the test of time and how it recalls to mind that despite the city’s modernization after the 2004 Olympics, Athens is very much rooted to its ancient past living to the present.

Also on site is the Erechtheion where the famous Caryatids – six figures of maidens – have been in place since 450 B.C. Well, they are actually only replicas as the real deal is located in the New Acropolis Museum where one of the Caryatids is missing. She’s in the British Museum in London.

The hilltop location of the Parthenon is also an awesome vantage point to view the city of Athens, a truly huge metropolis!

Plaka Church Rooftop

Plaka Church Mosaic Art

Plaka on the way to Acropolis

Roman Agora of Athens

At the Roman Agora with a view of the Parthenon

Slopes of AcropolisWith the city in the background

People in line to the Parthenon

Mark at the Parthenon

Mark and Knut at the Parthenon


Parthenon Detail

The Erechtheion

The Caryatids

Leaving the Parthenon

One final look

Afterwards, we cooled down at the newly-opened Acropolis museum with its impressive collection of archaeological finds from the site and slopes of the Acropolis. Rising from excavations of an ancient settlement which was discovered during construction, the modern building is an architectural wonder by itself.

The New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum

Having spent most of the day in the area, we decided to go downtown, walking past the triumphal Hadrian’s Arch and the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus where only 15 Corinthian columns remain.

Hadrian's Arch

Ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus

After this point, Knut went back to the hotel while I headed to the high fashion street of Voukourestiou and bought some nice things from Louis Vuitton. Later that night, we dined at Kolonaki before retiring to our beds for our trip to the Cycladic island of Mykonos the following day.

And that’s another story altogether.


9 Responses to “a greek holiday: postcards from athens”

  1. 1 deluxeduck August 15, 2009 at 1:18 am

    awesome photos!!! the photo of the caryatids is me fave. i can’t wait to see your next installment.

  2. 3 Luis Braga August 15, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Fab pictures…did you get any style shots of locals? btw i LOVE your gucci belt!

  3. 5 Kevin August 15, 2009 at 3:19 am

    Mark, you should be a travel photographer…you always take amazing pics of any place!

    I miss Greece, was there in 2006. Amazing place.:-)

  4. 7 yed August 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    i love your photos of the acropolis. would love to visit athens some time…

  1. 1 Travel selections: The new Acropolis Museum Trackback on August 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm

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