Feb. 7 Athens, Greece Part 1
Woke up docked in Athens this morning and the city looked lovely in the sunlight with all the white buildings against the blue sky and green water of the Aegean Sea.
After breakfast we disembarked the ship and terminal at 10:15 a.m. to see if we were close to anything of interest like shopping or a street where a “hop on, hop off” bus might suddenly appear before us. What we found were cabs with persistent non English speaking drivers offering to drive us wherever we wanted and one very well dressed chauffeur with a nice limo offering the same. But the chauffeurs price was so high we couldn’t afford him and the cabbies we had been warned about (they’ve been known to drive people a long way with lots of twists and turns and then when you’re thoroughly lost demand $100. or more to bring you back to the ship)
This was our first encounter with homeless dogs who were hanging around the port and at the time we didn’t know their story. They were mostly big breeds all wearing collars with numbers on them, obviously placed there by the city or an organization of some sort. They appeared friendly and after awhile I was able to pet one which he enjoyed and then he lay down and had a nap on the road right then and there. Eventually we saw stray dogs all over the place and figured out they had been neutered, probably been given shots and then released to live amongst the people. Most appeared to be alone but with other similar sized dogs nearby all living in harmony. They are so placid they lie down anywhere on sidewalk and people walk carefully around them not wanting to awaken them. Some were observed waiting at red lights with the people and they lead the way across when the light turns green.
We were about to go and get back onboard the ship when a group of ship mates came out and offered the info that a tour bus was waiting just around the corner and might have room for us too. So we followed them and were able to join them on a very big, very newish tour bus with a great driver and guide for less than the other tour offers had been. What a stroke of luck that was!
It was a beautiful sunny day and we toured Athens for several hours, stopping at the Parthenon, the monument to the unknown soldier with the guards doing their very unique and strangely beautiful march and then the watchman with his inspection of the guards which made you hold your breath for them but he was satisfied with their march and uniforms and then he allowed photos to be taken.
My pics but the video is from youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QI_nxhf4Ag
The church doesn't look old from the outside but inside it was positively ancient. I felt it would be rude to snap pictures so didn't.
Can you see the birds and little animals hiding in the bushes?
Tomb of the unknown soldier in Syntagma Square
We enjoyed views of the temple of Poseidon and the Temple of Zeus, had a short stop at the Acropolis that had 16 columns the day before but now only 15 remain as one had fallen yesterday and had been sold already and removed. We stopped at the ancient Olympic Stadium, then it was time to shop and have lunch near Syntagma Square in the Plaka district which is an old historical area with a labyrinth of narrow streets that are edged with marble. The feeling of how very old this area is and how many people have gone before you just seeps right into you. The neoclassical architecture is filled with souvenir shops, boutiques, jewellery shops, cafes, art galleries and olive trees literally dripping with olives, many eucalyptus trees and orange trees all over the place that were full of ripe fruit that nobody plucked.
To be continued tomorrow...