22.03.2015 - 26.03.2015
In Athens we stayed outside the downtown area in a small hotel, close the the business school of the University. However it was a short subway ride away from Monasteraki and the old city. The modern city has been built around the Acropolis hill and the Agora, the center of the city during Greek and Roman tImes. With the economic crisis of the past several years Athens has clearly come upon hard times. There is graffiti everywhere and many buildings in disrepair. Some students at the University told us the unemployment rate for young people is more than 60%. All of this makes Athens rather a depressing place, especially in some locations. The only major site worth seeing is the Acropolis and the area immediately around it. We had heard this from friends who had been there a few years earlier, but it was our feeling as well. On the other hand, the food was decent and the baked goods excellent. One bakery near our hotel had a round thing made with fila dough and something like Romano cheese. It looked suspiciously like a bagel, only it tasted better. I had one nearly every day we were were in town. What will happen now with Greece and the euro seems to be anyone's guess. The few people we have talked to seem to be all over the map as to what should happen. Whatever it is, I fear Greece and especially Athens will remain in the economic doldrums for quite some time.
Our first stop was Syntagma Square to see the government buildings and the changing of the guard.
The National Archeological Museum was well worth a visit.
Death mask of Agamemnon
But not surprisingly, it was the Parthenon, now under reconstruction, that we found most interesting. What I didn't know was that the city was sacked by the Persians in 480AD and the Acropolis destroyed. So this is clearly not the first time it is being reconstructed.
View from the top of Parthenon hill
Outdoor theater on Parthenon hill
The Agora, the area around the base of the Parthenon, which has several old buildings and ruins, also provides a look into ancient Greek culture.
Looking up at Parthenon Hill from the Agora
After walking around the extensive grounds of the Agora, we had built up a powerful thirst, and stopped to sample the ouzo at this factory in the old city.