it was hot, hot, hot!
25.06.2007 - 29.06.2007 47 °C
Athens - a city that comes alive at night.
This City is really a mixture of the ancient times and modern civilization. Walk around central Athens and you'll see ruins randomly scattered everywhere -at the ground floor of a building, right next to a bus stop, or even within a flea market itself. City renovations in the past have unveiled more and more ancient ruins, like the Roman bath near Syntagma Square, which has a water system connected all the way to the temple of Zeus! As Jespar said the first day we met him, we gotta use our imagination when visiting Athens. It definitely helped our imagination run wild!
Probably because the few days we stayed here are the hottest days ever here, everything during the day was quiet. Alot of the ruins were closed because of the heat, and there weren't much people on the streets except for wandering sweaty tourists like us. However, when the sun started going down, Athens started to wake up from it's slumber. People begin to flood the streets, and restaurants start to fill with people looking for good food. One night after an exceptionally good dinner at Monastaraki, i looked over to the Acropolis and it was a breathtaking sight. Amist a dark sky, the Parthenon was lit up from the inside, making the Acropolis glow - it was as if the ancient gods were emitting their powers.
After visiting most of the touristy places in Athens, we bused to Epidauros to look at the ancient Epidaurus theatre, which has been preserved so well they still have festivals there every summer. Too bad we left one day before the festival started, or else we would've been able to watch a greek play inside the ancient Epidaurus theatre! After Epidauros, we caught a bus to Nafplio, a small city that used to be the first capital city of Greece. It was already pretty late when we arrived, but we wanted to see the Akronafplia fortress although it already closed. The 888 steps (says so in lonely planet) it took to get up the mountain to the fortress were definitely not wasted. The view up there is stunning - a birds eye view of the entire city, in between two masses of cobalt blue sea.
The Greek people are very friendly and are always happy to help you out when you look lost. They're nice until they get behind wheels. Then they turn into something scary, especially people who drive motorcycles. Motocyclists (if there's such a word) seem not to care about traffic regulations at all. they run through red lights, drive up on pedestrian sidewalks, weave crazily in between other crazy greek drivers. when they're supposed to stop at a red light, they still make a left turn and fight with other pedestrians to see who chickens out at the last second. Transportation in Greece is so cheap! The best example is 35 euros for a 14 hour ferry ride from Piraeus in Athens to Mytillini in Lesvos.
Overall, Athens is mind blowing and a gastronomical delight. I'd love to come again in a few years, when more ruins would be restored. The ancient Greek are very impressive people - pure geniuses! But we all wonder "What happened?"
Special thanks to Jesper (we met on the bus from the airport) who gave us a guided tour of the Acropolis. It was fascinating and definitely much more interesting to walk around with someone who is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the whole area (cuz he's doing his phd on the Acropolis!). Also thanks to Paul at the Pagration Youth hostel in Pangrati, who was so full of wisdom and made my first hostel experience such a wonderful one!