Thursday, January 13, 2011

Last Day in Athens

Our trip to Athens is winding down now, we've had a great time seeing all the ruins, eating tons of great food, walking everywhere and spending time together as a family.  We've seen most of what we wanted to see but there were a few things left so we headed out in the morning to visit them.

The first place we visited was the Ancient Agora. The Agora was the heart of ancient Athens, the focus of political, commercial, administrative, and social activity, the religious and cultural center and the seat of justice. One of the things that you would notice around Athens was that there are a large amount of dogs that just wander around. They were in Syntagma Square, at the Parthenon and we even saw some sleeping on the side of the road. These dogs would mostly be pretty quiet and just be sleeping but once in a while, one would start barking at something or other. As we walked into the Ancient Agora, there were probably 5 or 6 dogs there and we think that one of them didn't belong because the others just started barking him. This kind of scared the girls a little and we walked quickly away and the lone dog sort of followed right behind us.

Mark snapped a picture of the dogs.

The Stoa of Attalos was the first place that we visited.  It has been reconstructed by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.  Much of the original architecture was used when doing this.  It houses a museum with lots of artifacts found on the site.  The kids enjoyed wandering around all of the columns - I think Lizzie and Rachel counted them and if I remember correctly they counted about 47 in each row (we could be wrong but there were a lot of them).
The Stoa of Attalos in the background.

We wandered around the ruins a little bit and walked up to the Temple of Hephaestus.  This temple is the most well preserved of all of the temples in Athens.  When you are visiting the Acropolis, you can see this temple and it looks so nice among all the trees and green of Athens!

The Temple of Hephaestus is in the background.

There were some very nice views of the Acropolis and the Parthenon from this area also.

Once we were done at the Ancient Agora, we got back on the metro and headed over towards Plaka to see the Tower of the Winds.  We were walking past a lot of the restaurants and again, the owners were all out there welcoming you into their restaurant with some bargain or another.  One man had just hopped off his motorcycle and asked if all the kids were ours, we responded that they were and he came over to chat with us.  He spoke very good English and was nice and friendly with the kids.  He owned the last restaurant on the street of course and invited us back after our sightseeing.  Then he pointed us in the right direction.
We found the Tower of the Winds and outside of the area, there was an old lady selling tablecloths which she claimed were hand stitched.  These street vendors are very savvy and want you to touch their product so they can stay with you and keep selling.  She offered a price, we said we weren't interested and continued walking...there will be more to this story a little later.
The Tower of the Winds is an octogonal clocktower which has sundials, a water clock and a wind vane.  There is also a beautiful old church on the grounds.

Another view of the Acropolis with the old church in the foreground.

We hadn't eaten lunch yet and the kids decided that they wanted to go the restaurant of the nice man that spoke such good English, so we headed back towards Plaka to eat.  On the way out, the old lady with the tableclothes spotted us again and continued to try to sell us one.  They were pretty but, honestly, if you know me at all, you probably know that I couldn't tell the difference between handstitched and one that had been done on machine.  We really didn't want to carry it around with us either.  She though wouldn't take no for an answer (for a long time) and kept lowering her price.  I think she started at 50 EUR and by the time we were half way to the restaurant, she was down to 15 EUR.  We felt pretty bad not buying one but we just really didn't need/want it. 

We had a wonderful lunch at the restaurant that was only marred by the fact that Lizzie lost the necklace from the Barbie doll that she was carrying around.  She and I backtracked a little bit and never found it but we didn't want to go back so far that the lady selling the tableclothes would see us.  After lunch, we hopped back on the metro again to head to the Acropolis Musem.  This museum was huge and we enjoyed it but not quite as much as the museum in Delphi.  Maybe the difference was having a tour guide.  Also, we were not allowed to take any pictures in the museum.  The coolest thing about this museum was that they are still doing active excavations in the area - they have glass in the main floor of the building and outside that when you walk over them you can see the archeological digging going on.  There were people down there working when we were at the museum - so that was pretty cool.

You can see below the floor the archeological dig.

A view from inside the museum of the Acropolis -
we cheated and took this picture.

We were all pretty tired at this point so we headed back to the apartment.  I had promised Megan that I  would take her to do a little shopping so she and I went back out to a street with a lot of shops.  We were looking for some short boots that she could wear here but mostly everything was high and very warm - not the best for Saudi Arabia.  Whe ended up buying a cute sweater that she could wear to school - it gets chilly in the buildings with the air conditioning.  We had decided to pick up some pizza for the family at this place that we had passed a couple times so Megan and I went over and with a little difficulty because no one spoke English, got a couple different kinds of pizza.  We also stopped at the grocery to pick up a couple things and then back home to eat.

Mark really wanted to go back to Mars Hill which is the place that Paul preached to the Athenians in Act 17 regarding their Unknown God and also wanted to get some night shots of the Acropolis.  Most of us were pretty tired so just Mark and Spencer headed out to do that.  I stayed home and started packing :-)

Night view of the Acropolis

Night view of Athens and the Temple of Hephaestus

And so our trip to Athens is almost done.  We truly enjoyed our time in this city so full of history!

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