Athens

acropolis: our first unesco heritage site

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Reaching the Acropolis involved walking up an unsealed ramp with rather steep inclines. We had just come off a 30-odd hour flight from Sydney and we were exhausted but the adrenaline kicked in as we caught glimpses of the Acropolis. The intention was not to visit it straight away but seeing it there, high in the sky, we were compelled to visit. Thus became the first UNESCO Heritage Site we have ever visited together. And it just took our breath away. Getting to the top did not disappoint except maybe the throngs of other travelers there. What we saw was so surreal – walking amongst so much history – so much Greek history that we had learnt about in high school.

The Acropolis of Athens is situated on a flat-topped rock approximately 156 metres above Athens and covers about 3 hectares. It was around the 5th century BCE that the most important buildings were built such as the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion.

The Parthenon is probably the most well-known piece of architecture within the Acropolis. It was the main temple dedicated to the goddess, Athena. Over the thousands year of its existence, it has acted as a Roman Catholic church, a Greek Orthodox Christian church and an Islamic mosque. In the 19th century, the Parthenon lost some of its marble sections, which is now housed in the British Museum.

We look back on our photos from 2006 and with our really small memory card, we couldn’t take many photos but of the ones we took, these are worth sharing 🙂 We are SO inspired to visit Greece again and see even more of this country’s beauty and history!

Acropolis, Athens was listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 1987.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, visit our unofficial bucket list

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does slice bread exist?

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We made it to Athens earlier than scheduled, it was not long after dawn. With barely a good flight sleep, we were clearly running on adrenaline and made a bee-line for the train station after clearing immigration.

We knew we had to get to the centre of Athens but really had no idea where we were going so hopped on the train and hoped for the best. Arriving in the city, we walked aimlessly trying to find someone who knew where our hotel was: Parthenon Hotel. There were a few offers to help but we had to pay them first…. so we thought we could push on and luckily met a bus driver who pointed it out to us. Fortunately we were able to check in and freshen up.  Because it was still very early, we headed out to seek breakfast!

Looking up at Acropolis
Looking up at Acropolis

After turning a corner, we looked up and there it was – Acropolis. We had barely been in Europe for a day and our jaw had already dropped. What a simply spectacular and surreal moment. Our curiosity to explore overtook our desire to eat and our grumbling tummies. It was the best time to visit because there were no crowds at that time of the morning. By the time, we finished exploring it was time to eat. We enjoyed an Acropolis Salad (which was a touristy name for a greek salad) for lunch on the rooftop of the restaurant. The sun was out, the sky was blue and it was HOT. We had escaped winter so this was bliss!

Then what followed was something quite extraordinary. We went searching for a supermarket to pick up some sliced bread. Now, remember we are relatively new to travelling so we weren’t expecting to be thrown curve balls so early on! As we walked, we kept our eyes peeled for something resembling a supermarket or a bakery or anything that might sell bread – with no luck. So we asked a shop owner who paused and thought long and hard before pointing towards his left. Eagerly, we thought we hit the jackpot until we walked for about 5 minutes and saw nothing useful. So we stopped and thought we would ask another shop owner and he then pointed around the corner. And before long, the process repeated itself with another 3 people.

We were beginning to feel like we were on the “case-of-the-non-existent-bread” WHEN we located two police officers in their patrol car. Police officers – they would have the answers! So we approached them gingerly and asked politely where we could buy bread or where we could find a supermarket. Well…. let’s just say the response we received was NOT what we expected. They both got out of their cars, holding their semi automatic weapons and began conversing in Greek, looking mighty serious. They were looking around as if in search of an assassin before pointing us in the direction we came from. By this stage, we had given up that slice bread existed in Greece! But the experience itself was worth remembering forever.

The rest of our time in Athens was incredible seeing the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Poseidon (out at Cape Sounion)! The city is simply soaked in history!!

View more photos of our trips at Photo Gallery.

Temple of Poseidon
Temple of Poseidon

economy all the way

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We had lunch with both our families to say good-bye. We would only be away for 4 months but it was the first time either of us would be away from home for longer than a week. The Football World Cup Final was being played and we would be missing it because we would be in the air somewhere.

Getting dropped of the airport was a mixture of excitement and sadness. More excitement of course but sad as we were not seeing familiar faces for another 120 odd days!

First stop was Singapore then Athens. And on the flight, we scored exit row seats which were right beside the toilets. Great having the leg room but not quite ideal having people queueing up for the toilet throughout the flight.

We were seated next to an older Greek lady who was ever so lovely but clearly a nervous flyer. As we were taxiing down the runway, she was repeatedly doing the sign of the cross and muttering prayers under her breath. This made us a wee bit nervous because flying isn’t really our cup of tea either. The stuffy-recycled air of aeroplanes is enough to make any head woozy!

Upon arriving at Singapore, she asked us if we could help her with exchanging some money so she could buy her son an iPod. So we trooped around with her to the money exchange counter before then guiding her to a sales assistant in a duty free shop to help with the iPod side of things (we did learn on the flight to Athens that the purchase was successful). And as we waited for our onward flight, we thought what the heck – we might as well ask for an upgrade to Business Class – sadly they didn’t have any available so looked like we were flying economy all the way! Despite being disappointed, we didn’t black list Singapore Airlines as an airline because in all honesty – they are superb in EVERY way imaginable.