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Friday, June 3, 2011

Athens and Onwards

The past few posts have seemed somewhat out of sync based on where we have been, so here is the story. We decided to end up in Athens, because Athens is a pretty awesome city as seen in another post on Eating in Athens, and there are tons of ruins.

When we decided to head to Athens we knew we wanted to be in Croatia, but we realized we were a bit stuck in the way of overland transit. Due to the Greek debt crisis Greece decided to cancel all international trains, so the only way to exit Greece was either ferry to Italy, bus over the borders in Bulgaria to pick up a train in Sofia, bus through Albania, or take a direct flight out of Athens to somewhere with a train to Zagreb or Split Croatia.

As this point we decided on the flight because Aegean Air is pretty cheap these days, and Nicolette said, take a look at a map and see what cities are close to Zagreb, have a direct flight from Athens, and a direct train to Zagreb. The city that ended up being? Venice. So we flew to Venice from Athens, bused to Villach, Austria and after a nice lunch in the Alps, we picked up a train to Zagreb and another overnight train down to the Dalmatia area of Croatia.

More on Venice later, now we are on Vis island in Croatia, more on that later too. Lets cover Athens quickly.

Athens, wow. It is big, gritty, old, huge, and amazing. We decided to stay in the Metaxourgeio area rather than the more sightly and popular tourist spot Plaka. We stayed at the Athens Lotus Hotel, which was likely a bit more swank than we needed, but it was really nice. Honestly the larger motivation is we were trying to find a hotel at the last minute and would have taken just about anything for a decent price and with a decent bathroom. Alas Metaxourgeio ended up being gritty, edgy, hip, working class, and walking distance to awesome restaurants of the Gazi area and to the Acropolis.

We walked back and forth, ate well, and saw the Acropolis. The Acropolis was interesting from a tourist sight standpoint as there is a specific one way route and flow of people going through the ruins. We noticed many people just blew through trying to snap some shots and get out. We stood off to the side out of people traffic and took in the magnificent sites. Regardless, I feel as if I cannot fit into words the grandeur of the Acropolis, it was simply amazing. Nor will I give an extensive history lesson on the site and the destruction, but here is an abbreviated version:

1. Ancient villagers made settlements around the mountain because the mountain had a natural spring flowing from the top.

2. Sometimes the flow of water from the spring was disrupted, to the ancient Greek villagers this was clearly the work of nasty ole cyclops, so they built a wall around the top of the mountain, the first known structure on the mountain. The likely reason for the flow disruption of water from the spring was drought.

3. Later Greeks invented their gods, Athina beat the giants, Greeks built wooden temples for celebration and worship of this event ~800 BC.

4. These temples were burned during Persian wars, Greeks became depressed, beat the Persians, then built more temples after being depressed for a bit longer.

5. Greeks became better at stone carving and such, and built better cooler temples, thus the parthenon.

6. The temples were decorated with carvings of processions, celebration to the mountain, battles between gods and giants, battles between gods an gods, and statues of Athina.

7.  Rich people made offerings to the gods in the form of statues that decorate the temples describing woman and men of beauty and worship.

8. Eventually the Greek empire fell, Byzantines christians moved in and destroyed many of the carvings because they were pagan, later turned the parthenon into a church.

9. The crusades occurred and Europeans stole more stuff, later turned the parthenon into a church.

10. The Ottomans invaded, later turned the parthenon into a mosque.

11. At this point the parthenon is screwed up pretty badly, then a battle occurred and a canon ball hit the temple in ~1500 AD, resulting in the wreck there is today.

Anyways, for 15 Euros you can see 8 separate ruins, and for 5 Euros you can see the The Acropolis Museum which will explain all of this in more details. Phew, and enjoy the pics!

Looking through Athens towards the Acropolis
Goofing off at the Acropolis
Temple of Nike
View from the gates of the parthenon

Terror at the sight of the dangerous forbidden passage
The parthenon 

Athena's old temple 

Nicolette leaning too far over the edge
Columns of the pathenon

Athens breakfast
Temple of zeus

As I have said, we spent a few days in Venice, which Nicolette will write about, and in a few days we will post some stuff about Croatia. One a final note, Athens graffiti was very vivid and extremely interesting, take a look at some shots of it below.

1 comment:

l. and J. said...

I agree, the Acropolis is just awesome. I like the word "grandeur". Lovely pictures too!
Can't wait for the next installment. Love you!