Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Athens- Day 2

Hello again!
For the second day of our trip, Hubby and I got up early and had breakfast at the hotel.  It was a pretty standard European breakfast buffet (hard boiled eggs, bread and pastries, a tired Nespresso machine) with the addition of a Greek specialties corner (amazing yogurt, spoon sweets, tomato and feta salad, and filo pastries).
We spent most of the day doing a walking tour.  If you've never done this on a trip, its a great way to get to know a city, find your bearings, get some exercise, and delve into the history of a place.  (The Rick Steve's travel books always have at least one nice one in them.)  Here are the best sights that we saw on Day 2:
Syntagma Square
Syntagma means "constitution" in Greek.  This is where Greeks protested for the right to their modern constitution- and got it!  The Parliament building is behind me in this picture.  With the morning sun, none of my snaps of it turned out, but it's a pretty building.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
In front of Parliament is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Evzone, an elite infantry unit with distinctive uniforms.  We managed to time our visit to watch the changing of the guard, complete with high steps and a band.
Statue of Archbishop Damaskinos
Built by Athens' Jewish community, this statue commemorates the bravery of the Archbishop who defied the Nazi occupation of the 1940's to speak out against the deportation of Greek Jews.  Doing so in his official capacity brought more weight to the protest, and was also very personally dangerous.  Legend goes that when threatened with a firing squad for his words, he requested to be hanged instead in the Orthodox tradition.
 Arch of Hadrian
One of several sites around Athens build by the Roman emperor and Grekophile Hadrian, to mark the entrance to his new "Roman" city just beyond the Temple of Zeus.  It reads, "This is the city of Hadrian, and not of Theseus." We met a lovely older Greek gentleman sitting on  park bench and dispensing advice about places to visit, pickpockets, and how to not over order at a restaurant.  (Avoid the hot buffet items, they're usually days old!  For two people, order a Greek salad and a plate of chicken souvlaki to split or they will charge you too much for food you can't possibly finish.)  He was proud to show off his English and explained he used to work at the old US Army Post before it closed.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus
This ruin was a colossus in its day.  Each pillar is the size of a redwood tree at more than 50 feet!
Acropolis Hill
We walked up the back side of the Acropolis hill to catch the view and couldn't resist a selfie with the city sprawling behind us.
The Roman Forum
The remains of the ancient Roman marketplace is dominated by the Tower of the Winds.  In its time, this weather station was a groundbreaking clock, weather vane, and guide to the planets.
We certainly got our walk in today!  Check back tomorrow for what we did in the afternoon on Day 2 of our Athens Trip.
Yours in learning and travel,

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