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Flag of Greece  , Attica,
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Well we've come to the end of some very busy and hot days in Athens. Every day we've been here it's been over 40 degrees! Luckily our hotel is fairly close to pretty much everything so we haven't had to walk too far to see the sights.

Our first day was spent visiting the modern sites: The National Library, the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, Parliament, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the National Gardens and the Panathinaikon Stadium (which is both old and new).

The second day we visited the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Odeum of Herodes Atticus, the Theatre of Dionysis, Hadrian's Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Library of Hadrian.

Our third and final day we headed to the National Archeology Museum of Greece.

The highlight of the first day was definitely the Panathenaic Stadium which is probably best known as the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. A stadium was first constructed on the site in the 4th Centuary BC.

It was incredible to be able to walk down the tunnel the athletes had walked down (which in Roman times had been a cave used for sacred rituals) and out onto the track.

The stadium is a horse shoe shape and can fit up to 68,000 people and has a 2,000 year old drain running between the track and the seating. Special seats were made for the "judges" and for the King and Queen.

At the tomb of the Unknown Warrior (which is outside Parliament - which was shut up tight , much like Greeces banks) we got to see the guards with there silly shoes goose stepping around.

We headed off to the Acropolis nice and early to try and avoid the worst of the heat but it was already 34 degrees by 9.30 am so not sure how successful we were!

The Acropolis itself was smaller in area than I'd expected, I guess because you hear so much about it and see some many pictures it builds on its self in your mind.

The Acropolis is essentially a large rock in the heart of Athens which has been sacred since the Neolithic times. It currently has the remains of several temples including the Parthenon, the Pandroseion and the Erechtheion. The scale of the temples is amazing, it must have been incredible to see them intact. By the sounds we'll get to see a lot of the original decor when we get to the British Museum (the Elgin Marbles).

The Odeum of Herodes Atticus was a theatre which was largely in tact and is still used for performances today.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is largely destroued, only about 15 columns remain but these were of such a scale that it was breathtaking and impossible to imagine what it must have looked like.

The Archeological Museum was smaller than I thought it would be, but was packed with statues, vases, jewellery and sculptures. I get the feeling that much of the remnants of Ancient Greece are scattered throughout the world unfortunately. Chris enjoyed seeing the vases and statues in person that he had studied in books for 7th form Classics.

As we have discussed with other travelers, the city as a whole feels palpable with discontent at the current economic crisis the country and continent is consumed by. The majority of shops, including banks, are closed, rubbish litters the streets and spoils the air and most buildings appear to be in a state of disrepair. We look forward to returning one day when the fortunes have turned and the Greek spirit we know from Milos has returned to this magnificent city, overflowing as it is with culture and history. 
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