February 8, 2012

European Honeymoon Cruise, Part 6: Athens

{Read part one here--The Beginning}
{Read part two here--Rome}
{Read part three here--Pompeii}
{Read part four here--Venice}
{Read part five here--Croatia}

Not only were we able to explore the ancient heart of the Roman Empire during our honeymoon, we were able to see the heart of Ancient Greece, as well--in the city of Athens.

Our day started out with a lot of frustration, to be honest. Our ship docked at the port of Piraeus. Piraeus is essentially a part of Athens itself, but Athens is a vast, sprawling city, and we needed to take a train to get to the center of the city.

Matt and I were going at Athens alone {meaning we didn't book an excursion with the cruise}, and the information the cruise ship had given us was incredibly unhelpful in helping one navigate from the docks to the train station in Piraeus. We had no clue where we were going, so we started walking towards what appeared to be the center of Piraeus, though we couldn't be sure.

After about an hour of walking, we did happen across the train station. Relieved, we bought tickets to the city center and hopped aboard a train.

Our destination was the world-famous Acropolis of Athens. In my state of feeling poorly, I didn't take my camera out until we were actually at the Acropolis itself. We also didn't approach it at an angle that offered a good view of the hill on which the Acropolis sits. So these first two photos, I borrowed from the net in order to give you a better perspective:

Photo retrieved here.

Photo retrieved here.

Our train destination didn't drop us as near to the Acropolis as we had expected. That meant a lot more walking, and uphill at that. Normally I would have enjoyed this, but since it was very hot and I didn't feel well, it was a struggle for me. Still, I couldn't help but to be excited at knowing we would soon experience one of the most renowned historical sites of all time.

The Acropolis sits upon a flat hill and contains the archaeological remains of some of the most important temples in Greek history. Most of the architectural masterpieces were completed during the 5th Century--the "Golden Age" of Pericles. Temples had been erected upon the hill as early as one thousand years prior, but then dismantled, and Pericles built upon the remains. Ever since, the Acropolis has stood as an international symbol of the dominance Athens held over the ancient world.

Once Matt and I finally arrived to the Acropolis, I became giddy and my sickness seemed to fade away, for the time being at least.

The most famous of all the monuments--the Parthenon. I had always dreamt of seeing this marvel in person one day.

No, scaffolding is not prime for viewing {and picture-taking} pleasure. But the archaeologist within me greatly appreciates the work that is being done here. A great restoration project of the acropolis has been ongoing since 1975 and is nearly completed.

The view of Athens from the Acropolis was astounding. Athens literally stretches as far as the eye can see, in every direction!

The other side of the Parthenon:

This photo cracks me up--the looks on our faces! It's the only photo Matt and I took of the two of us at the Acropolis, although I have no idea why we didn't ask someone else to take a nicer one of us.

After we had explored the Acropolis to our little hearts' content, we bought a frozen lemonade and shared it in the shade, mostly to try to soothe my throat.

We then decided to make our way toward an archaeological museum, though it took some time navigating the winding streets, even with our map. But to our dismay, the museum was closed for the day even though it was only about 2:30 in the afternoon; apparently this museum closed at 2 pm.

With no other specific destination in mind, and with my sickliness, we decided to head back to the train station and ultimately back toward our ship, since we knew it would take quite a bit of walking. We took our time, taking in as much of Athens as we could, browsing outdoor booths, observing the locals, and peeking our heads into little shops.

I wish we could have spent more time enjoying the city in Athens, although seeing the great Acropolis was more than enough for me. Our tiny glimpse of this epic city was enough to leave an impression upon us for years, until the day we can hopefully return.

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