Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Although Greece was not in my plans, the cheapest flight from Sumatra to Spain, stopped here. Good reason, right?

The last time I was in Greece, I was stranded here with a friend over 9/11. We were a little nervous, as we didn’t know what all was happening or when we would get home, but the Greek people were wonderful to us. This time, I spent a week in Athens.

The city is amazing as the Acropolis is perched up high on a hill, in the center of town, so is visible from just about everywhere. It was built in 500AD, over the ruins of previous structures that were damaged by war. A constant reminder of how sophisticated civilization was thousands of years ago.

There was a full moon one night. It was stunning to watch it rise over the Acropolis, which is lit up at night. Sorry for the bad photo…

The Acropolis was closed for president Macron’s visit the day I took this photo, so although normally full of people, it looks empty.

There were also concerts in the open air of the ruins and lots of street music. I stumbled upon a singer in the old Roman Agora.

They have been working on the ruins for many years, and reclamation is still in progress, so the actual ruins have a lot of scaffolding and equipment.

They recently built a new museum here that is fantastic. I found it to be better than walking the ruins themselves. The second floor of the museum has columns, similar in size, layout and space of the Parthenon and has many of the original sculptures/decorations laid out according to position, providing a good sense of what it really looked like. Truly amazing! The museum also has mostly glass walls, so you can see the real Parthenon, as well as much of the city of Athens, as you walk around.

When they built the museum, they found ruins in the foundation (as they do just about anywhere they dig in Athens). Rather than move the museum, they built a glass floor for most of the first level, so you can see the ruins of the old town below the building. The design really gives you a sense of history.

In the future, they plan to open the area under the museum, so you can tour that also. It is easily one of the best museums I have been to.

Greece has been through a lot over the past several years. I do not remember seeing so much graffiti in the town surrounding the Acropolis when I was here before. Many buildings are also showing a lot of wear. It’s sad to see, but I think the graffiti is an expression of the passion of the people here. I hope they find a solution…

Of course, there are still many beautiful and charming streets….

Greece has about a 25% unemployment rate, with the youngest generation being hit the hardest. Tourism is an important part of their economy. There were over 30 million tourists in 2016, making Greece one of the most visited counties in Europe, and contributing about 18% to GDP.

The view of the city and Acropolis from the rooftop of my hostel was amazing. I got up early to do yoga there and had the place to myself. “Early” in Greece means 8 or 9 AM, and there is almost no one out on the streets then.

A friend of a friends cousin here offered to spend a few hours with me, showing me some sites. It was really nice of him, but the language barrier made things a bit awkward. Like me not understanding where he would pick me up at, so he called me frustrated that he was waiting for him somewhere else….but it all worked out. I just think it’s better to get tours from the tour operators there, which I did the next day. I took one of the free tours (tips are highly suggested), and it was great.

I didn’t visit any of the many islands on this trip, so may need to come back again someday….I have a lot more beautiful photos I want to add here, but my wifi connections are just too slow….

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