Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Travel Series #1 - Greece Part 2

Welcome to the 2nd part of Travel Series #1 ! If you missed the first one and you'd like to start from there just click here!

Let's start off this post with possibly the highlight of Athens - the Acropolis! It is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating things that exist in the world. I'd recommend giving this gem a whole day's time to explore each and every nook of it with extreme ease and detail. I suggest that you'd travel to this place by metro as there is a stop which gets you exactly at the foot of the hill and it's a perfect starting point.

Acropolis means the highest point of the city. Various ruins were found here dating back to the Neolithic Age. When I arrived there all I could think and imagine was how it was back when the Greek Gods ruled. I'm quite keen on Greek mythology as I'm both a Percy Jackson fan (great book series and films!!) and also I studied philosophy at intermediate level. My imagination did run wild seeing those huge and vast temples now in ruins but still majestic. What awes me the most is how did they build them!? Those high ceilings , massive columns and intricate details in the rocks. I was awestruck the whole time I spent exploring this magical place.

Going up the hill you'll start encountering the ruins of temples and the theatre of Dionysus which is the first theatre in history! The front seats are made out of marble and it had the capacity of 17,000 spectators.

Dionysos' chair.

Going up further you'll find, in my opinion, the second greatest thing that you'll find on this hill. This is the Odeum of Herodus Atticus which is another theatre this time Roman-type. Back in its day it had three stories and was covered by a roof of cedar wood. At present its roofless and two-storied as it was destroyed by time. However its grandeur still stands with its impressive facade and the view which compliments its splendour. This is still used every summer to host performances of ancient drama, concerts, ballet and opera. If you get the chance to attend one of the events there I'm sure that it will be an unforgettable experience - unfortunately there wasn't an event at the time that I was there.

Odeum of Herodus Atticus
Moving on you'll continue your journey on a winding road which will lead you to a breathtaking entrance to the main temples. Flights of steps all made out of marble leading to huge columns and architectural treasures - truly an entrance of Gods.

As you'll climb these steps watch out for the temples and buildings of the sides such as the Temples of Athena Nike and the Pinakotheke.

Its time to talk about one of the miracles of architecture - the Parthenon. I was awestruck and literally lost for words seeing this magnificent building live for the first time in my life. The pictures do it no justice and no matter how many different photos from different angles and what not, they do not measure up to a fraction of its actuality. I felt so small near the huge columns which surround and support the whole temple. Today's buildings are shit near it. No machinery and they still managed to build a huge temple with intricate detail, columns in Doric style - 46 in total - and it survived the age of time. At present there are major restoration works in progress, they are reconstructing the temple from the ruins found on the hill itself. It's no easy job but the dedication and endless work is leaving its mark.

The whole list of temples and other sanctuaries found on the Acropolis is 
  • Erechtheion
  • Parthenon
  • Pinakotheke
  • Chalkotheke
  • Proplyaia
  • Brauroneion
  • Stoa of Eumenes
  • Temple of Athena Nike
  • Odeum of Herodus Atticus
As you can see it is impossible to write about each and every one of them so I discussed what most impressed me. However, I'd recommend that you'd research briefly about each of them before visiting as it would make much more sense once you're there. Knowing their story would place a picture n your mind about how they were used and when seeing them they would not just be a pile of stones. 

Also, I'd recommend visiting the new Acropolis Museum as there are numerous remains which were found on and around the Acropolis such as marble statues and sculptures. Worth a visit for sure! 

Moving on to other places around Athens we'll now go to Plaka which is found under the Acropolis. This is a very small town which is easily and best discovered by foot. There is a settlement known as 'Anaphiotika' which is uniquely built by immigrants back in 1840. Their houses were built without planning permission and everyone did as they liked. This resulted in many houses near each other, many of which have very strange layouts. I remember we went up high in their winding and narrow streets exploring the way ahead. At one point we reached a house built very high which had a stunning view! Some of these houses are still inhabited and very curated.

Plaka is also very popular for its night life. With is many restaurants and bars offering Greek food and music there is no doubt that you'll find somewhere spectacular to eat and enjoy the night. One of the most popular bars is actually Brettos Bar - it dates back to 1909 and it kept the same technique of distillery and style of bottles. The colourful bottles alone invites you in into a unique experience! 

Typical restaurants found in Plaka.

Brettos Bar 

Another attraction which deserves a mention is the Panathenaic Stadium. This is one of the most impressive monuments in Athens. It was constructed initially in the fourth century BC. Here the first athletics competitions were held. Then it was rebuilt in the 2nd century AD by Herodes Atticus much larger and with marble seats, it could accommodate 50,000 spectators . It again fell into ruins and was then restored to its glory in order to host the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. 

The last neighbourhood which we'll be visiting in today's post is Psyrri. The is one of the oldest working-class neighbourhoods of Athens. Until a few years ago, Psyrri was a mosaic of humble houses, numerous churches, small manufacturing businesses, machine shops and workshops. 

Today this picture has changed radically. The neighbourhood is being upgraded continuously and has developed into the place where young people hang out. Bars, clubs, restaurants, theatres and mezes bars with live music create a lively entertainment scene, especially at night. 
For those 'Friends' fans, there is an ice cream shop named for the show😁.
While in Psyrri I'd highly recommend eating at Krasopoulio. The food is delicious, prices are highly affordable and most importantly the service is very good! Find their Facebook page here!

That's it for this post, hope that you found it useful and enjoyable! In 2 weeks time it will be the last Greek post that we'll post so stay tuned for the last Greek blast😉. Thank you all for reading our posts and for leaving feedback. 😘

With love, 

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