It is one thing to travel about a foreign country in which they use a foreign language, but share the familiar Latin alphabet. It is an entirely different thing to travel in and around a foreign city, on foot or via public transportation, where both the language and runes are alien. It was all Greek to me!
(And “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, though highly educational, offered us little help with the Greek signage.)
TOP TEN, Athens in Two Days:
Orange trees. The first thing that struck me about Athens was the number of orange trees, with bright orange fruit dangling from the branches, lining the streets and filling the parks. Beautiful.
Cats. The second thing that struck me was the number of wild cats freely roaming the city – not mangy or sickly, just free.
The children were interested in little else – free oranges and free cats.
Oh, and churros. Are those Greek? No? But, as we searched the streets for these fried pastries, the children chanted together, “We’re going on a churro hunt! We’re gonna catch a yummy one! What a beautiful day! We’re not tired!” Clever.
The Acropolis, translated, literally means ‘high city’. And, as such, the Acropolis in Athens, is a collection of the remains of several ancient buildings, dotting a hill above the city.
The Parthenon was, for us, the highlight of the Acropolis. But also included was the old temple of Athena, the temple of Athena Nike, the alter of Athena, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (glad they threw another Greek character into the mix).
Philopappos Hill. The same day that we clambered our way to the top of the Acropolis, we thought it worth our time and effort to then climb the adjacent hill. Through Plaka, past Hellenic Parliament, around the open markets, toward the Philpappos Monument, finally atop Philopappos Hill – what a hike! But the view of the Parthenon at dusk was worth the effort.
Visiting the Central Market was a raw experience, blood running down the sidewalks from the animals being butchered in the market, itself. Once through the meat/seafood section, we found fresh produce and incredible olives – any kind and every kind – being sold in the outdoor market.
The Temple of Poseidon is a couple hour’s bus ride south of Athens, located on the Aegean Sea. And we spent the entire second day visiting this ancient edifice – a temple built to the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon.
With only a half a dozen Greek ruins under our belts (and spanakopita to accompany it), we felt we hadn’t covered even a small portion of what the city had to offer, in our two-day’s stay.
But, we left, absolutely convinced, that there were, indeed, “two kinds of people – Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.”