Athens, GreeceWow, I have really neglected this blog. There was so much going on that I wasn't ready to share, so I didn't share anything. Now, after being back for over 2 months, I want to tell you a bit about the Mediterranean Cruise my husband and I went on.
I've decided to share our trip by port, going in alphabetical order starting with Athens.
The Acropolis in Athens was amazing; our US history is not so old, so this was quite an experience.
While looking at the detail in the architecture, I wondered if we could create such masterpieces by hand these days. The task seems daunting, now that we are so comfortable with our machines.
A theater before you begin your ascent to the Acropolis.
The Acropolis is on a hill, but surrounded by the city. While walking through the city, you find a lot of pieces of ancient Greece surrounded by modern structure. I love that history is so imbedded in everyday life, not just stuck in a museum.
In Athens itself, the photo above is a common sight. The beauty of the Acropolis is not matched in the city, as I had imagined. The current Greek economy is in duress, and that is reflected on every building of the city. That is not a reflection on the Greek people we met, though. The shop owners we spoke to, and our waiter at the restaurant we ate at, were sweet and helpful.
There are somethings that I think all people should should know when traveling to Athens:
1. Make Athens a one day stop to see the Acropolis. Some friends of ours were planning on staying there while traveling around Greece, but after seeing their hotel options, and the state of the city, they opted to leave sooner then originally planned.
2. Wear a money belt. Never did I feel like someone was about to take my money, but I felt better knowing that my purse couldn't be grabbed off of my shoulder. While at the restaurant, a man, not originally of Greek origin, tried to sell us a cheap piece of plastic that threaded a needle for you. Our waiter warned us to ignore them, because when we pulled our money out for him, he would grab all that he could. The security of the money belt was really nice after that.
3. Visit the Acropolis while you are young. Not only do you walk up slanted steps to get to the acropolis, but once there, you are walking on centuries old, smooth marble, uneven paths and masses of tourists squeezing by trying to keep up with their tour group. Once you get by the "front porch" and Parthenon, the place opens up much more, and you really only deal with slippery marble.
4. We did not have a tour guide, and I was happy that we didn't spend the money on one. I do think my dad (who, with my mom, traveled with us) would have liked one, but he is all about hearing every detail about history. So that is to say that a tour guide is a personal decision.
BUT with the acropolis being about the only thing I really wanted to see in Athens, I was happy to just book a ride on an "On and Off" bus. These buses had set stops that took us from port, to the Acropolis (with stops in between) and from there you could take the bus around Athens. They provide headphones for you to plug into a station (with many language options) that told you about the sites you are driving by. It was enough to satisfy me, and I could stay or go, and wait for the next bus when I was ready to head somewhere else.
It was amazing to be in such an ancient place, and we are so glad to have been able to visit!