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Day 6 - Ancient Rocks


Location - Athens

This was the big day! So much important stuff to see before we head out of Athens.

On our way to the Agora, skirting along the base of the Acropolis, we stumbled upon the almost empty Roman Forum. It wasn’t a big draw for us, but it was covered by the Acropolis ticket we had purchased the day before, so what the heck. When in Athens …

We continued on into Agora, and stopped first in the reconstructed stoa / museum. We spent a long time in there and repeatedly lost David who clearly site-sees differently than the rest of us. Kristine was quite moved by the autographed clay ostracism ballots, and the kids were equally so by the coffin of the small child, complete with her bones.

It was so lovely and cool in the stoa that we lingered, which meant we ended up walking the ruins at exactly the wrong time: in the blazing 1 pm sun (Having said that, we shouldn’t complain. It is only the high 20s to low 30s these days. It could be much worse). Beyond the original stoa, the Temple of Hephaestus is by far the highlight of those ruins; apparently, it is the most complete in Greece. And after we exhausted the rest of the Agora, we found Jesus. Literally. We looked up at the roof of the 1000 A.D. Byzantine church (our first church here), and there he was.

At the risk of sounding like vultures, this is a good time to be on Greece; neither the sites nor the restaurants are super busy. While there are certainly tourists here, it does not feel like they dominate the places we go. We hear far more Greek than English, even in the touristy places; we are pleasantly surprised.

On the path back home from the Agora, we bought some delicious dried beets and strange nuts from a man with a cart. It was just the kind of interaction that we imagine happened a lot in the agora back in the day. We also went down a quiet alley to buy David a new hat. The one he brought from home was embarrassing enough before he swam in it and then rolled it up to stick it in a bag, which completely destroyed the brim. Athena and Triumph simply refused to be seen with him in it, and a man without much hair really needs a hat here. His new hat is not exactly unique among the tourist set, but it is much, much better looking.

After lunch and an hour of chilling-at-home-time, it was on to the main event: The Acropolis. We intentionally went late in the day in order to avoid any possible crowds as well as the heat; it worked quite well. It was windy but wonderful. We managed to walk around the whole place several times, and it was more relaxing each time. We remained up on the sacred rock until the light became magnificent.

As chance would have it, we ran into the same Columbia professor we met in Sounion, and after we stopped her just to say hi, she started to give us another quick lecture … until her husband whisked her away. Her group had shrunk considerably. The others must be in Santorini already.

We all left appropriately impressed by Athena’s city penthouse.

We were in no rush on the way home and leisurely wandered down the “Acropolis Loop,” a pedestrian walkway full of buskers and street vendors. We passed some fancy event at a church (we suspect wedding) and wondered for the second night in a row why there are always 6 or 8 motorcycle police guarding this one block near the Acropolis Museum. We have noticed a number of embassies nearby, but this building is oddly unlabelled.

We had another dinner near Mnisikielous, another waiter who wouldn’t let us leave, another stroll through the Plaka, and then off to bed.