Day 257 - Acropolis & Athens Tour
Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
221Trip End Jan 08, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Overnight on a Fast Ferry from Athens to Crete
The city is covered in marble: steps, railings, tables, benches even entire walls of buildings new and old. Remarkably the cost of marble today is about 1/3rd that of wood and that abundance has been the case for thousands of years.
Our tour culminated in the stunning Athenian Acropolis rising dramatically above the city below. Given the popularity of the site it was an unexpected treat to be able to walk up into the ruins and under the ancient archways. Obviously we were distracted by the site and we had to be very careful not to slip on the marble steps that had been polished by the shuffling feet of millions of tourists throughout the years.
The main building of the Acropolis is the remarkable Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. Although it looks smaller than expected from afar, up close it towers above testifying to the architectural achievement and the importance of the god to the ancient Athenians.
Marble is a very porous material and the Parthenon and other structures are being slowly deconstructed piece by piece in order to be cleaned of the accumulated pollution. Those areas that had been restored were obvious as the untreated elements were covered in black soot, sometimes completely. A variety of methods are used for the cleaning and amazingly for the most stubborn of stains they literally use a laser and a q-tip to meticulously and painstakingly recover the marble in tiny sections square millimeters at a time.
After descending, we toured the Acropolis museum. Because we were with a tour we jumped the MASSIVE queue which would have been a deal breaker for us. Of course when the museum was constructed they found multiple layers of ancient ruins. The construction serendipitously continued with the live excavation incorporated into the museum design by including glass floors along with the glass windows. In a few years the excavation will be finished and tours will include a walk through the ancient ruins.
The history lesson on the pantheon of Greek gods & goddesses (and the ensuing Roman derivatives) was definitely illuminating and we were glad to have come; though by the end of the lecture we had had enough of Apollo, Zeus and the gang.
As with many nations, a significant number of original relics are still located in foreign museums. UNESCO has decreed that such materials should return to their homeland though if that were the case there would be very little of interest in the western world and a decided lack of variety almost everywhere. Perhaps an ownership of the host nation and a loaning policy is a compromise…
On the short walk back to our hotel we stopped for a late lunch at a crowded café. The Greek salad was impossibly fresh and the service rather fast considering their seemed to be only one silver side-burned man serving the massive patio.
After packing up, we stored our bags with the hotel. We grabbed a snack at happy hour and lounged by the pool before we picked up our bags and cabbed down to the port. Docked and waiting for us was a surprisingly large ship that had a capacity of 1600 passengers (not all of those had beds). After watching the massive ship cast off we settled into our cozy berths for the overnight trip south to the island of Crete.
Despite some thrashing seas visible far below from our porthole, we did not feel the surges and comfortably slept through the night. Mia especially, was one (relieved) happy camper!