Out and about in Athens

The plan for this day was to get out and about, see more of Athens and take advantage of the last day on the 4 day ticket we had bought at the Acropolis on Sunday.

We set out reasonably early, bought 24 h tickets at Monastiraki metro and headed over to Syntagma where we had breakfast at McDonalds. From there we headed to the top of the square where we saw the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Greek Parliament building.

Next stop was the National Gardens beside the Parliament. Emily’s favourite there was the pond with turtles and we spent quite a while watching them and taking photos. There was at least one that seemed to have some Houdini tendencies, climbing up the rock wall and, at one time, falling loudly on its back. Fortunately it was able to right itself and continued on apparently unaffected by its fall. We were amused by the group of turtles jostling for space on a flatter section close to the water edge. Their grip was precarious and each attempt by another turtle to join them resulted in one or more being pushed back into the water.

We walked down to the bottom of the gardens, emerging by the Zappeion, another area of gardens around a conference centre. From there we continued across the gardens area and crossed a busy road to the Panathinaiko stadium, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. The stadium was used for some ceremonies and the finals of the marathons in the 2004 Olympics. One end of the stadium is open to a square and, while we were not able to enter the stadium, we were able to see the interior from the square.

Our next stop was across the road and back towards Syntagma at the  temple of Olympian Zeus. Although mostly in ruins, it is still an impressive structure. When completed it was over 100 metres long with two rows of columns down each side and three rows at each end. From there we walked back to Plateia Syntagma where Majella boarded a train to catch some conference sessions and Emily and I rode in the opposite direction back to the hotel for a short rest.

When Majella returned from her conference we caught the metro one station down to Thiseio where we visited the Kerameikos, another inclusion on our 4 day ticket. The area of the Kerameikos has been used for burials for 3000 years or more and has been a rich source for archeologists. We viewed the museum collection of tomb statuary and ceramics that had been buried with the dead. Afterwards we took a brief walk around the grounds before heading back to the metro station.

We rode the metro down to Filiro, near the port of Piraeus and site of some of the 2004 Olympic facilities. Our plan was to catch the tram there, ride it all the way along the coast to the far terminus and then catch another tram back into Syntagma. We stopped off at Edem, which is about one-third of the way along the coastal tram route and where the route from Syntagma joins in, so that Majella and Emily could walk on the beach and in the water. That seemed to satisfy their urge for travel and, rather than continue on, we took the tram back to Syntagma from where we caught the metro back to Monastiraki and our hotel.

After a short rest we ventured back out and found a restaurant on one of the local squares where we ate dinner. Majella had moussaka. Emily and I had pork souvlaki. We finished the evening by having drinks with Tony and Josh at the Attalos Roof Garden bar.