Tuesday, 9 May
Today was our first real day of the tour. After breakfast at 7:00, Dolora and I met the group at 7:45 for the short walk to the Acropolis entrance. Ioanna, our tour guide, had told us that our guide for the Acropolis and Acropolis museum would be Mama Faye. Tour guides in Greece are required to have three years of training. Ioanna was trained by Mama Faye. We were introduced to the Acropolis – the Odeon (music theater), Propylaea (entrance gate), Parthenon and the Erechtheion (old temple). After the tour was free time to look around. Original building on the site dates back 3,000 years. The current structures date back to 400 BC. The views and the ruins are incredible. Unfortunately, so are the crowds. We arrived shortly after opening and did not wait in line to get in but by 10:30 the place was packed. Both our guides assured us that in spite of the crowds we saw, this was not a busy day. Today stayed cool, only the mid sixties and we even saw a few rain drops.
It was down the hill to the Acropolis Museum for our next stop. Mama Faye guided us again. She has been a guide for 50 years. At least a half dozen other guides came up to give her hugs. Mama Faye said she has 82 “children”. She is knowledgeable and kept us moving. The Greeks have no love for the British who “stole” many of their relics and display them in the British Museum. They are appreciative of the relics returned by the United States. The quality of the ancient art is stunning. It is interesting to note that all the statues that today are white marble were painted in ancient times along with the buildings. It makes you see things in a different perspective. Dolora and I were on our own for the rest of the day.
After a short stop at the hotel we headed to Syntagma Square where the Greek parliament building is located. In front of this building is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We arrived too late to see the changing of the guard on the hour but stayed to watch the crossing of the guard on the half hour. Since this took about twenty minutes we decided to watch the changing of the guard as well. The walk down Ermou Street, the busy commercial district, took us to the Church of Kapnikarea built around the year 1000, On the way back from there we stopped for loukoumades, Greek donuts with honey,
Before dinner, Dolora and I enjoyed our regular afternoon coffee before walking to To Kati Allo for dinner. The menu is written outside on a chalk board. The owner takes you inside and shows you all the various dishes. It was Mousakas for me and Beef Kokkinisto for Dolora. We shared dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, and a beer. While we were eating several other couples from our group showed up at the same restaurant. Our guide, Ioanna, walked by as well.
Tomorrow we leave Athens to spend the night in Delphi, I look forward to leaving the crowds behind and seeing more of the countryside.