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A great ending to our 3 weeks in Greece...

Our ferry arrived into Athens, Piraeus, quite late so rather than traveling into Athens centre at night we grabbed a basic simple room near the port and hunted out an Indian curry house to settle our travel hunger. It was just an average curry, but it hit the spot and we were raring to get out and explore the next day.

Jason had used some of his hotel points again to get us two free nights in Athens; it turned out to be a really well located Best Western hotel and there was a huge buffet breakfast included in the stay too. We filled our stomachs every morning with cereal, toast, pastries, cake, bacon, sausage, eggs, fruit, yogurt...we have to make the most of good free food!

At the end of our hotel road there was one of those sight seeing bus company stops that do bus tours around European cities. You can hop on and off whenever you like and the ticket covers you for two days. It's not something we would normally go for but we only had two days in Athens and wanted to make sure we didn't miss any of the key tourist sites. I really enjoyed it and thought it was a good way of visiting the city.

Every Sunday there's a huge antique and flea market at Monastiraki. We could have spent a fortune there finding lovely one pieces for our house (if we still owned a house!); we loved an old antique gramophone and I liked all the antique chandelier light fittings. The area was packed with people, loads of shops and stalls, a nice square that's under the eye of the Parthenon and cafes that were perfect for people watching. We had a bite to eat and mint tea whilst watching the mayhem unfold.

We hopped straight onto the bus again after the flea market and headed to the acropolis. The entrance ticket for the acropolis covers you for quite a few historical sites (sorry I can't remember them all as we didn't visit them). I've visited the Parthenon before and found myself a little underwhelmed this time, but jason on the other hand liked it and said it was especially worth the visit to take in the mounted position of it in the middle of a modern city. We went on a bright sunny day and so the views were really good, but the ruins were covered in scaffolding for restoration work. (I soon changed my opinion once we visited the acropolis museum the next day). It's a nice area to walk around and at the bottom there's a busy area of shops and cafes called the Plaka, and it's always nice to have a drinks stop. Here you can also see the temple of Zeus...again good, but I preferred the other temple ruins we saw in Jaresh, Jordan.

Our next bus stop was the Archeological Museum, apparently it has the world's best collection of Roman artefacts and sculptures. It's really quite an impressive museum, it was renovated for their hosting of the Olympic games and is nice and modern. If you really want to see it all and take it all in you need a good 3-4 hours there. We were there for 2 and a half hours and it was tiring and felt we rushed through some of it. The best piece I think they have there is a bronze statue of Zeus...I don't think our photos do it justice.

After a jam packed day sightseeing we thought we deserved a good drink and time to watch the big Athens football derby, Panathenikos V Olympiakos...how wrong we were. We found a really busy bar, after walking for about 45 minutes trying to find somewhere that was showing Greek football rather than Spanish or the Premier League, however were refused a drink there. I was so annoyed! We asked for two beers, but one man refused to speak to us and the other girl said she wasn't gonna get us a beer unless we had a seat. I got two seats by the bar but she said "not those ones" and they were only helping the locals to find a seat. I've never felt so unwelcome. We were both really looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere, but by now were really annoyed. So instead we caught the last 40 minutes of the Manchester derby in a different bar and saw an exciting van Persie equaliser in extra time.

Day two...more bussing around. I don't know what it is about local markets, but I could spend hours wandering around them. There's an area with fresh meat and fish stalls, fruit and veg, bread and olives, and tonnes more. It's nice taking in the local atmosphere. The only thing that we brought was some dried peppermint for Jason to have in his new filter flask. After wandering a little we stumbled across our very own changing of the guard. Most tourists watch it happening every hour outside the parliament, however they also have to change over at other smaller locations too. We were just on time to watch the guard's change routine outside a government building; we were stood on the same pavement as them, so close, I tried not to laugh and put them off but it's this weird leg flinging and balancing on one leg very awkwardly routine...funny. Glad we saw it. Just a short walk down from the guards was the old stadium, Panathenian. We didn't pay to go in, but got an idea of its size and grandeur from standing outside.

The weather was a little cold and damp by the afternoon so we went into the new Acropolis museum, and so glad we did. It's really good, very interesting. There's a good video explanation of the Acropolis's history... did you know it had been a mosque in its past and had been blown up by the Turks?! See, I am learning on this trip too. When it was in its prime, the Parthenon must have been so impressive. The detail of its sculptures were breathtaking. On the top level of the museum there's a viewing gallery to the exact dimensions of the Parthenon where you can walk around it and appreciate what it must have looked liked and what pieces of the structure have been rescued to date. Apparently a lot of the sculptures were damaged or stolen by the numerous invaders they had in Greece over the centuries. I would very much recommend this museum to people, it completely changed my opinion of the acropolis and made me appreciate its rich history.

After another busy day on our final day in Greece it was time to treat ourselves to a Greek feast at a local taverna. We had wine, bread, olives, tatziki, humus, grilled meats and vegetables. A lovely three weeks spent in Greece and now to see the parents... yippee!!!!

Posted by bloorsontour 07:39 Archived in Greece

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Been there,done that and we also laughed at the guards!xx

by the wrinklies

Sounds like you packed a lot into your two days! The photos are brilliant - you could have a career there!? Xxxxx

by Ma and Pa

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