Thursday, February 4, 2016

Last Stop for the Day - Port Visit

Our walk down from Acropolis Hill brought us back to the place we started in the morning - the Acropolis Metro Station. We were slowly getting our bearings with the Acropolis as our landmark guide. Our apartment was pretty close. We could just walk home but we decided to walk in the area to be better familiarized with the city. 

The Acropolis - a building next to the Acropolis Metro Station. It is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis.
Grand entrance to an apartment complex near the Acropolis

In my itinerary the plan was to go to Monastiraki Square; bit of a walk from where we were. However, since we got ourselves the all day Metro ticket, we might as well head to the furthest that we could go on the Metro. 

So we decided to go to Piraeus Port and save Monastiraki for the next day. 

We took the Metro from Akropoli to Omonia and then change to Metro Green Line to Port Piraeus
Tickets are available from the ticket dispense machines or the window counters
Port Piraeus is quite far from Athens - about 15kms away. The Metro cuts through the busy suburbs of Athens. Arrival at Port Piraeus stop the last stop on Green Line.

Piraeus today it is the main port of Athens, the biggest port in Greece, one of the leading ports in the Mediterranean in fact. It is an important centre of the merchant marine, industry and transportation.
  
Ferries to the islands

As it waits for more passengers to embark...


Cruises to the Mediterranean
Piraeus port is the chief exit point from the city by sea for destinations amongst the Aegean Islands and elsewhere in the east Mediterranean. 

Where to Mom?


No taking ferries today. So we dropped by this shop for some fruits
 
And coffee and some snacks from the next door shop...happiness :) :) :)
As it was almost dark, we decided to head back to the apartment. Tired from the whole day adventure, we must have dozed off the moment we got on the Metro. Luckily we didn't miss our stop!

Parting with Bill

The Acropolis was out last walking tour stop. Bill asked us if we wanted to go and do the Acropolis complex after that. I told him that we'll save it for the next day. After the long walk and the uphill climb, we didn't want to push ourselves. 

Climb this we did on another day. The cranking knees couldn't take it no more

Found an empty bench near the Acropolis Hill

Father & dotter bumming as we left the Acropolis Hill


1...2...snap snap


Church of Agia Sophia - an old church near the Acropolis


And at the Acropolis too we parted with Bill our guide. We were grateful that we got him to provide us with interesting information about the places we saw.


Walking with Bill - Part 5 The Off Beaten Track Up The Acropolis

I guess only the locals would be able to negotiate the small streets in Athens and not get lost in the elaborate maze like area. Bill said there are many ways to go up this most popular site in Athens. Tourists by the throngs would take the guided tour routes. He however was going to take us on the off beaten track to the sacred hills. It was a bit exhaustive on the knees the climb was but it was so well worth it.

We walked pass local Athenian houses that were built on the steep hill going up to the Acropolis
 
White washed & blue houses
The climb along the small streets

As we arrived up the hill....and our route down to Plaka

Surprisingly there are many cactus plants in Athens

Greek Orthodox Church at the base of the Acropolis



Greek Orthodox Church at the base of the Acropolis. Many Orthodox churches sport this style of design

Another view of the church

  A beautiful path through some trees before you begin the ascent to the Acropolis.


And finally we were almost at the top

A beautiful site...indeed
 
When you are up there you can see the whole of Athens from every direction.
 
It is really like a concrete jungle as far as the eye can see.
US on the Acropolis Hill

Them...bumming & shooting the Acropolis

Walking with Bill - Part 4 Syntagma Square & Plaka

After the long walk we decided to stop for coffee at one of the cafes near Syntagma Square. Syntagma Square is the hub of public transportation in the city; buses, trolleys, trams, and the metro stops are here. It is the most important square of modern Athens from both a historical and social point of view.

The square also boasts a central fountain


Folks passing time at the square


Live basking

Done with coffee (and a couple of cigarettes for Bill) we were taken to Plaka - a famous neighborhood in the city of Athens.  Bill mentioned that Plaka is called many times in the Greek literature as the neighborhood of the Gods and also because Plaka dominates the sacred rock of the Acropolis. 

Streets in Plaka are mostly closed to automobile traffic. Very pedestrian friendly to visitors


A small school in Plaka. Parents were waiting to pick up their children


Bougainvilleas along the small and winding roads in Plaka

The many neoclassical mansions and houses on such small roads

Bill explaining something about these shops in Plaka


Souvenirs
 
Jewelry store. It is said that these pieces are exact copies of the ones in the museum

Umppp...danger zone here!
 
Ear marking the restaurant for dinner perhaps?


Cafes and more cafes

Lemon trees are everywhere

Modern day graffiti adds colors to the mundane streets

A very narrow street


Where to next....

Friday, January 29, 2016

Walking With Bill - Part 3 : The Changing of Guards

Bill told us that if we wanted to catch the changing of guards ceremony, we'd best hurry. He said the ceremony would be at 11am at the Presidential Mansion and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A bit of walking for us still to get there. I was very exicted and trailed behind Bill as fast as I could.

Guards leaving their barracks for the Presidential Mansion
As the new guards arrive the old ones get ready to leave their post
The ceremony marks the end of the hourly shift of the guards or Evzones as they are called and the beginning of the other. These guards are carefully selected for the honor of participating, and most of them are very tall, averaging over 6'3". We were told that the Evzones are the keepers of the Greek flag.

What was very unique about these guards were their uniforms. They wore kilts and shoes with pom-poms on them representing ancient Minoan times. Bill told us that the uniform has a historical meaning. It also refers to the uniform of the Kleftes and Armatoloi, two groups of Greek warriors during the War of Independence i(1821) against the Ottomans.

Very precise movements

Getting ready to leave
 
Ceremony done and done with very much precision and synchronization.