Friday, November 14, 2014

Athens, Day 1

Friday, our ship made several attempts to dock at Katakolon, Greece, for our excursion to Olympia, but high winds, thunderstorms and rolling seas prevented us from docking.  We had an unexpected day at sea. 

It was very disappointing, as I wanted to stand on the starting blocks of the ancient Olympic stadium, but it was not to be.  We used the day to rest, watch a movie, walk laps in the hallway while grabbing for the hand rails, and do laundry.

Saturday morning we were supposed to wake up at Mykanos, but again the storm prevented docking and we found ourselves in the port of Piraeus instead, port of call for Athens. 

We walked off the ship and scouted out transportation on our own to Athens for later, and walked along the harbor, finding several lovely orthodox churches.

Back on the ship we watched a video on Athens, ate an early lunch and then set off on our own, via a special shuttle bus, into Athens.

Saturday shoppers crowded the busy shopping street we traversed to get to our first ancient site.
 There were plazas with old churches where the new had grown up around the old.  These are from the 11th century.

 We worked out way to the ancient agora.  
Located at the base of the Acropolis, the agora was the social and commercial center to ancient Athens, while the Acropolis was the religious and ceremonial center. "Agora" means gathering place, and from the sixth century B.C. for 800 years it was the hub of Athens. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle,  and the Apostle Paul all roamed these streets. 

Oedeion of Agrippa, c. 15 B.C.↓
 Temple of Hephaistos ↓

Just one of the many stone storage yards, as archaeological work continues.
 This was the sacred way to the Acropolis. ↓

A museum in a restored stoa, the equivalent of our shopping mall, held treasures claimed from the rubble that was left when barbarians sacked the city in A.D. 267.

Found in pieces, it is still amazing that items of such fragility survived.  Often it was because they were found in tombs.  A millennium before the time of Socrates, about 1400 B.C., this area held the oldest cemetery in Athens. 

1400 to 1300 B.C. ↓


 I feel an ode coming on.
 Portrait bust of the Emperor Antoninus Plus, 138-161 A.D.
 I can't even imagine how they built these huge structures. 

 Outside the agora, we passed this nut vendor.  He offered samples.  They were good, and we bought some.
 We strolled through more shopping areas.
 Next we came to the remains of Hadrian's Library.  That Roman Emperor Hadrian was quite the builder.
 Next was the Roman forum and the Tower of the Winds. After the Romans conquered Athens in 86 B.C., they built their own agora, the forum, here.  

From here we followed Rick Steves's guide book to a place called Anafiotka, clinging to the north face of the Acropolis, where we climbed ramps and steps through white washed cottages to a wonderful overlook of the city.

Coming back down at the base of the Acropolis, we found an outdoor cafe and stopped for a break with cappuccino and baklava. 
 The view from the cafe. ↓

 Yep, it was another Sounders Match day
An Acropolis cat.↓
From up above, we had spied our next destination - Hadrian's Arch and The temple of Olympian Zeus.

This arch marks the entrance to what was the "Hadrianopolis" development in the second century A.D. 

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was started in the 6th century B.C. but never finished.  Hadrian had it completed and it was the largest temple in ancient Greece. 
 The sun was low in the sky by now, giving the temple a golden glow. 
 And looking across the way we could see the Acropolis, where were would be joining a tour the next day.

 We covered a lot in our half day, much more than any tour director could have provided us.  We were quite pleased with ourselves as we boarded a very crowded subway and then a Piraeus bus back to the ship.

Because we had missed two ports of call, we were given $300 in ship credit.  We used some of that to buy more Internet minutes.  That night, as the Sounders played mid-day in Seattle, we went to the on board Internet cafe and followed live updates.  GOAL!  And Win! The Sounders won the Supporters Shield, finishing with the best season record in Major League Soccer!


  1. YOu are right at home on travel it seems. No complaints. I would have been really sea-sick! Great photos and every time I get to one of those "rubble" places I just want to carry any one of those pieces home!

  2. You captured beautiful photos of your first day in Athens. Love the "golden" one. Can't wait to see your next batch of Athens photos.

  3. fascinating history and technology that half a world away you could follow a soccer game in seattle!

  4. The pictures are amazing. I can't imagine actually being there. You two make a great couple!

  5. Wow! This was tiring, just to read about it. I can imagine what you day was like. Great pictures! :-)

  6. I think I would be truly awestruck to see all those ancient buildings. It's so amazing to me that they're still standing. And...was that an Agave in that shot overlooking the buildings?

  7. You don't miss much when you travel. You had to work hard to see all these things.

  8. Oh, my goodness, I'd be so overwhelmed! What gorgeous photos of a most remarkable place.

  9. What a fantastic visit. i am so glad you are sharing this adventure.

  10. I am glad they gave you come compensation for the bad weather. It couldn't be helped but really put a crimp on your sightseeing.
    We are such a young country, it is hard to imagine such ancient building still exist.
    That visit would have given me goosebumps.

  11. I guess no matter whether you sail or fly, bad weather can change one's plans. Nice photos, though.


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