Monday, April 21, 2014

Out and about on Easter Sunday in Athens

A busy, busy day.

We all woke up quite late having had a really good nights sleep mostly due to sheer exhaustion.  It was interrupted a little bit by very loud bangs during the night which turned out to be fireworks for Easter; Carl actually got up to look whereas I just ignored them altogether.
We keep on hearing what sound like gunshots but they surely have to be something else because there are too many of them and there are never sirens afterwards.  A bit of a mystery as to what they are.

Since it was easter sunday pretty much every tourist attraction was closed so we had to occupy ourselves with doing stuff which didn't require entrance tickets and just generally walking around and getting our bearings.

First up was the tram ride into Syntagma which is right in the middle and the end of the line which makes it really easy to know when to get off.  Getting tickets and understanding which one's to buy was the usual confusion but we're getting the hang of it now.

Getting off we were next to the National Gardens and I thought it would be nice to walk in the gardens on our way up to the Filopappos Hill instead of walking alongside the road.  There was no doubt that walking in the gardens was pleasant but trying to find and exit gate other than the one we came in was a bit of a challenge.  We found it eventually and stumbled on the Presidential Palace complete with formal guards and we had to have a photo of the kids with them.

Once we had witnessed a sort of glutinous changing of the guard; everything is done in extreme slow motion we walked down the road under the shade of orange trees laden with fruit.  We were wondering why the oranges hadn't been plucked clean by passersby and soon found out; they were extremely sour as our fruit thief code named Megan found out.

We marched on, Caron a little irritated that I didn't always believe her map reading abilities and past the temple of Olympian Zeus complete with a marble sliced cucumber and Hadrians hole, I mean arch, and up past the front of the Acropolis.  It wasn't very busy but this is definitely a tourist area and restaurant touts were out in full force even though all the attractions were closed.

An unfortunate side effect of it being a public holiday was that all the public toilets were closed as well which led to the girls and Caron in particular getting a bit desperate but they eventually found a place before we headed up Filopappos hill which has a magnificent view out over the Acropolis.

One would think that after 2500 years of building the parthenon and the acropolis that the greeks would have finished by now but no, they are still at it!

I was particularly keen on going to two attractions neither of which caught anyone else's imagination but they didn't' have any better suggestions so I got to see where Socrates was, as legend has it, imprisoned prior to being executed by drinking hemlock and the Pnyx which was where democracy was effectively born.  Neither of them are particularly impressive as monuments but they have had more of an effect on the world than all the other monuments put together.

By now everyone was getting quite tired and we headed into Plaka going past the Agora and found a small restaurant in a quaint alley way and had some lunch which consisted of 5 plates of roast lamb and one of roast squid.  The lamb looked and, I am assured, tasted great but the squid was a bit of a surprise.  Firstly there was only one on the plate but it was huge and came complete with it's fins; it was a little rubbery but not too much and it tasted great.  We washed everything down with some local beer which wasn't half bad before heading back to the flat somewhat tired.

The view up one of the alleyways with the acropolis in the background.

When we tried to catch the tram the ticket dispenser wouldn't accept our euros, a bit of a surprise in an area whose sole purpose it seems is to relieve tourists of their euros, so we walked to the next station and bought our tickets.  Even at this one the dispense didn't like carls 5euro note but was happy to swallow my 10euro note.

We spent the evening reading, relaxing and having a drink but we had had so much to eat at lunch time that we didn't really have supper.

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