Greece Day 8: Athens

Jay and I enjoy another breakfast at the hotel before meeting the group in the lobby at 8:20am. Today is a hot one at almost 90 degrees and very sunny. 

We load up onto the bus and have the wonderful tour guide, Marilena. She was so chipper that we we couldn’t help feel excited and we made our way around the city.

We unload from the bus and once we got our tickets, we hiked up the marble stairway up to the Parthenon. Marilena told us some wonderful stories about greek words and how the names of the buildings came about. She tells us how the temple is dedicated to the goddess Athena, the goddess of Wisdom, who battled Poseidon for naming rights of the city (winning obviously, with the city named Athens, and the temple being built over where she placed the first olive tree in Greece).

The Acropolis, being the highest point of the city, allowed us to get an incredible view of all the temples and ruins scattered about the grounds, and even being able to see all the way back out to the coast.

After taking many photos, we follow Marilena down the street over to the Acropolis Museum. I was absolutely blown away by this museum! This was not built the last time I was in Athens. A completely modern, open air museum with floor to ceiling windows.

Designed to off the best conditions for its unique exhibits, the Acropolis Museum is a must-see. As a gate to the glorious world of ancient Athens, it hosts priceless artifacts found on the Acropolis, spanning a period from the Mycenaean era up to the Roman and early Christian eras. You can visit the ground floor to view the excavations below, or stroll through the galleries to admire masterpiece sculptures, inscriptions, finds from sanctuaries and objects used in everyday life.

They re-created the entire floor plan (to-size) of the Parthenon inside the museum and you can view all of the reliefs that were moved from the top of the structure to inside the museum. It was the most beautiful exhibit!

We return to the bus to be dropped off at the hotel. Jay and I are now very hungry, so we head down the street to eat some more gyros and baklava for lunch. We enjoy a relaxing lunch and people watch as the day slowly grows hot outside.

We then head across the street and for €10 (€5 with a student ID), we enter the Ancient Agora of Athens.

The Agora’s initial use was for a commercial, assembly, or residential gathering place. I would say that the Agora is something like Central Park. It’s a patch of greenery in the middle of a bustling city. Beautiful statues and temples are sprinkled about the grounds, and we take our time walking from one piece to another, reading the plaques beneath.

We turn to the right and hike up the hill to the The Temple of Hephaestus or Hephaisteion. It is a well-preserved Greek temple dedicated to Hephaestus; it remains standing largely intact today. It is a Doric peripteral temple, and is located at the north-west side of the Agora of Athens, on top of the Agoraios Kolonos hill.

We then make our way over to east side of the Agora, to the Stoa of Attalos. It was a stoa that was lined with shops built in the 2nd century B.C. which has since been reconstructed for use as the Museum of The Ancient Agora. Here we view pottery, swords, shields and other incredible artifacts lining the hallways of this museum included in our tickets. It was absolutely incredible of all the items they have recovered and so well-preserved!

After spending about 3-hours inside the Agora, we exit and walk back to the hotel to freshen up before our last group dinner of the trip.

We meet Nikolaus in the hotel lobby and we walk to Geros Tou Moria Restaurant, a gorgeous greek restaurant for dinner. We sat down in long tables and were served tzatziki dip, greek salad, greek sausage, grape-leaf rice roll and spanakopita. They were absolutely delicious and then the main course was pork or chicken souvlaki with rice and french fries. Dessert was some incredible baklava!

As dinner was being served, two dancers in traditional greek dance costume began parading about the center of the restaurant as two musicians, guitar and bouzouki, play lively tunes! They crossed and weaved in between each other, and the men performed impressive high kicks and spins that we all applauded in laughter and entertainment. They did two outfit changes and in between changes, the musicians would play complex and fast songs, and also had a gorgeous young woman singing sweet greek melodies. We even had a bit of audience participation as they pulled a few people up to do a linked chain type of dance as we all pranced about the restaurant hand in hand, all the while yelling Opa!

Dinner was such a fun time, and after the dancing, we walked back to the hotel in which we went up to the roof’s terrace for an incredible view of the city at night and some late-night drinks.

The city was now quiet, as the now lit-up Acropolis shined about the city, the Parthenon viewable from miles around. The group takes some last photos with each other as we slowly acknowledge the trip coming to an end. It was a bittersweet moment as we all look back and shared our favorite moments. We thank Nikolaus for being our fearless tour guide and say ‘kalinychta’ (goodnight) to and goodbye to our newfound friends. Tomorrow we pack up and fly back home to the states.

I’ve had such and fun and relaxing time on this trip and I feel very blessed to have Jay join me on this trip and and 36 new friends. If you are looking for your next Greek adventure, full of beaches, views, drinks, and beautiful scenery, look no further! This trip was an absolute joy!

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