We are back on the continent and really only had one day in Athens before our flight to Biarritz. We're staying in Syntagma, central Athens and are surprised to find it pretty dirty compared to both the islands and the Port district of Piraeus. Strangely the city centre seems to be the place to go for all your ritual paraphernalia. Embroidered priests' robes, censers, chalices, icons. Weirdly, it's all here. We passed about a dozen shops on our search for somewhere to eat.
On that note we had one of the worst Italian meals in history last night. You may ask why we're eating Italian in Greece, but you know, why not? Because it was god awful.
My pasta had tinned champignons and ham instead of mushrooms and bacon. James' pizza had about 500g of cheese on top. There wasn't an onion or a clove of garlic within cooee of this place. The waitresses practically supervised us while we ate, launched at our plates while we were still chewing and then chased me down the street for the 1 euro's worth of bread that I refused to pay for after not ordering or eating it. Bad bad bad.
But! Tonight we ate more international food as neither of us were in the mood for gyros tonight. We took a chance with the noodle bar a few steps up from our hotel, reassuring ourselves that, as there were Asian staff, they would surely know how to cook asian cuisine. Bingo! It was the nicest meal we've had in a long time. Nasi Goreng with satay sauce... Chicken and cashew sweet chilli stir-fry... fresh springrolls. And desert: Chocolate springrolls!!! Amazing!
Our last night in Ios, we had dinner with Luka and Stella at a great little rooftop taverna and we all ate for 60 euros. Tzatziki, fresh bread... octopus, calamari, stuffed chicken breasts AND this 'grapevine' salad. It had grapes, dried figs and this amazing vinaigrette. On top of this, the guy brought out a free desert for us: natural yoghurt and this tasty, but odd sounding, sweet cherry tomatoes in syrup.
Enough about food. Until France.
Acropolis means "high city" and it is a religious sanctuary to Athena and other Greek God/desses. Inhabited since antiquity due to the defensible nature of the location, a huge wall was constructed around 1500BC. The Parthenon, pictured above, was constructed around c.450BC. So much older than I'd thought.
The Parthenon - dedicated to Athena.
Me, noshing on biscuits. Very hard to get postcard type photos here with so many people milling around. There were so many people!!!
The carvings, even from two and a half thousand years ago were intricate.
Restoration and excavation are still taking place on the site.
There is a lot more to this site than just the Parthenon. Theatres, temples, caves and the entry building. This theatre used to be roofed and is still in use.
The Theatre of Dionysus.
Ionic columns with stunning scrollwork.
This is the sanctuary of Aphrodite or Artemis. There's so many!
The same temple. The six statues are stunning. The myth goes that Poseidon and Athena fought over who would protect the people of Athens. Poseidon offered a gift of a spring (accessible by a hole in the floor of the temple seen to James' left in the second photo above.) Athena offered an olive tree (seen in the above photo.) The people chose Athena, hence Athens.
After a visit to the New Acropolis Museum we had a new respect for the splendour of these buildings. So much has been destroyed, pillaged, eroded and stolen for museums. In its day, the extensive carvings would have been impressive indeed.
To escape the heat, we came home to the hotel for a rooftop jacuzzi. How's the view?
See you in Biarritz!