First Days in Greece

Trip Start May 22, 2005
Trip End Aug 09, 2005

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Friday, May 27, 2005

May 24
After arriving in Athens at 2:00 a.m. (due to a flight delay) and taking a 45 minute bus ride to downtown we met our first taste of local life. Our bus driver seemed to be in cahoots with the late-night taxi driver that approached us as we stepped off the bus. The driver offered us and another young couple a ride to our accommodations for 15 euros per couple. The other couple's hotel was 5 minutes away and ours was 5 minutes after. So the cabbie made 30 euros in 15 minutes. However it was late, we had been travelling for 30 plus hours, and an easy ride to the hostel seemed like a good idea.
We stayed for 4 nights at the Athens International Youth Hostel, which was sufficient but no palace. It was in a great location for sightseeing, being located between the Acropolis and other ancient sites, and the National Archaeological Museum. After sleeping until almost noon the first day we were off to see the Ancient Agora (city centre) and Roman forum. It was amazing to walk down the ancient streets and some of the buildings were still in good shape (or reconstructed). The Agora is located at the bottom of the hill that the Acropolis complex is on, so the whole day we kept glancing up and looking forward to the next day.

May 25
With an earlier start, it was off to the Acropolis (we were recommended to get up there early, before the crowds and the sun gets too hot). It was a steep climb, but we were more confident about our bearings in Athens so the winding passages between buildings were not so intimidating. The Acropolis was everything we hoped it would be, except that there was scaffolding everywhere due to reconstructions of the buildings. We took many pictures, drank lots of water, and got rained on before we took cover in the Acropolis Museum.
After a busy morning, we grabbed a sandwich and cappuccino (one of our staples in Greece) and headed off to the National Archaeological Museum. Walking in Athens is enjoyable, once you get your bearings and learn the rules of the road (and sidewalks). There seems to be few traffic laws (and fewer that are enforced), and there are as many scooters and motorcycles as cars -- the difference being the scooters and motorcycles choose to ride and park on the sidewalks at their discretion and the cars stay (mostly) on the road.
The Museum houses many great objects and it was fascinating to walk through room after room of statues, vases, and funerary monuments. There was such an amazing quantity of work produced by the ancient artists that we had to wonder how other work was ever accomplished. One of the highlights of the museum was the "Mask of Agamemmnon," which was found at Mycenae and dates to around 3700 years ago (though it did not belong to Agamemmon). The artifacts ranged from 5000 years old to 1700 years old, and it was interesting to see how styles developed over time, usually from basic forms to forms that seemed almost life-like.
We had a fantastic Greek salad for dinner (no lettuce, as is proper), but we were unsure about tipping procedures. We may have seemed like cheapskates, but it sure was a good salad.
May 26
We travelled by bus to Cape Sounion, about two hours away from Athens. The cape is home to the Temple of Poseidon, built in honour of the god of the seas and seafarers and was a landmark for sailors as they headed out or returned from a journey. The Temple had about half of its pillars still standing and Kevin tried to help in the "reconstruction" -- but was foiled by trying to push a column piece that must have weighed a ton.
After returning to Athens in the afternoon, we walked around some of the areas that we had not yet visited. We saw the so-called "Prison of Socrates" (which may also have been a bathing complex -- no one knows for sure) and the Keramikos, which was a part of the ancient city where the potters worked. Unfortunately, the Keramikos was closed to visitors, but we could still see many of the sights from outside.
Next we dropped in to an internet cafe to begin the frustrating procedure of downloading our pictures. We met a very kind Greek who helped us burn what we had so far on CD, which is probably what we are going to do from now on. We will try to get the best on this website, but there will be many more to see.
Next stop, Santorini!
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falks on

Hello-o Brookses
What a great start to your website! Can hardly wait to see more- it'll have to do until we get to see you both again.

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