Friday 22 June 0600 Athens, Greece. Currency: Euro.
I woke up this morning to find myself in Athens. What a beautiful port, it looked a lot like Sydney Harbour but a lot busier and a lot older. The weather was beautiful and like a dry day in Darwin.
My tour was a Princess organised one so I had to wait around until they were ready for us on shore and then we all were herded down to the terminal and put onto busses and proceeded into this old city which had been inhabited since 5000 years BC.
As we were driving through Athens to the Acropolis we unfortunately just missed the ‘Changing of the Guards’ at the old Parliament but we were still able to take pictures of them. The soldiers guard the monument to the Unknown Soldier and they are there day and night, changing every 2 hours. I watched a video of them marching and they march very strangely, they look like they are walking up a very steep hill by raising their legs up an out, very odd and quite difficult to do.
Our first stop was to visit the old Olympic Stadium. The marble stadium was re-built on the foundation of the stadium of Ancient Athens from the 4th century BC to host the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and then more recently used in the 2004 Olympic Games. My gosh, the seat would be really hard on you bottom! It seats over 7,000 people.
We started getting glimpses of the Acropolis as we drove through the city, it sits on top of a hill and just looks huge and totally dominates the skyline. We drove for about a further 10 minutes before we pulled into the bus carpark along with about another 20 busses and we started our voyage back into history.
The first structure you walk past, is Hadrian’s Arch (which was built to honour the Roman Emperor Hadrian) and then you walk up approximately 80 steep steps through a number of ancient buildings to the Olympian Temple of Zeus, which is being restored to its previous glory. Slavery was uncommon during the first centuries of Athenian life, escaped slaves frequently found their way to Athens. The Athenians had a special relationship with both Poseidon, god of the sea, and Athena, goddess of wisdom. Athena’s characteristic owl was a frequent symbol on Athenian coins and her olive tree, signifying peace and harmony, commonly appeared on decorative works.
It was really interesting as we were walking around, the guide told us to look down and look at a small hill just below us and that was the hill that Peter the Apostle spoke to the people after the death of Jesus.