Today we are on a tour with Cruise Critics. We are a group of 20 persons and are off the visit the wonderful sites of Athens. Gerrit and I were here in 2011 with the World Cruise and it’s exciting to be back and have a little more time to visit these sites. Our tour guide is George, he spent many years in South Africa and his English is flawless.
Piraeus is now Greece’s third most populous city. In the beginning however it was an island and people had to cross to the mainland by ferry. The protective Long Walls which guarded the route between the port and Athens were begun in 478 BC and the harbour expanded considerably as Athens funded a powerful navy. The Megas Liman or Great Harbour is one of the Mediterranean’s largest ports and overshadows the ancient harbours of Sea and Munichia. In recent years and more especially for the Olympic Games this area received a huge influx of money and the Peace and Friendship Stadium and the Karaiskaki Stadium were built. The former having a seating capacity for 11,000 and was the site for the 2004 volleyball tournaments. The latter has a 33,000 seating capacity and is used primarily for the Greek soccer team, which of course is the country’s most favourite pastime.
We visit the Parthenon and discover to our delight that the site has undergone further extensive renovation since the last time we were here. As we arrive at the Parathion early we are amongst the first visitors of the day and are blessed with room to move around freely. Photos taken from our 2011 voyage and now our 2013 voyage will attest to the incredibly amount of work being done. Unfortunately with it being Monday we are again unable to visit the new Museum, perhaps next time.
George then takes us to the temple of Zeus with a remaining 14 columns in place. This area is approximately 125 x 25 metres. Our next stop is the temple of Athena’s and it’s amazing that most of the temple is completely intact, including the roof. Again restoration work is being done on the site to preserve the history of Ancient Greece.
We then went on to the old part of Athens where the Agora is located. This large area is an open air museum. A Byzantine Church and a temple are in great condition. There area is covered with foundations of many buildings.
Our final stop was to see the change of the guard at the parliament building. This is truly a spectacle to see. The dance of the guards is truly amazing and many young men vie for a position on this guard. Gerrit took a video and some photos which I hope he will put up on the blog.
The history in Athens is long and one could spend a full week in any one of the sites mentioned. The view from the Acropolis allows a bird’s eye view of the city and its inhabitants. The history can be felt every place – one can only close ones eyes and imagine Acropolis, Zeus, Plato, Aristotle, Aphrodite, Socrates, Dionysus and the Corinthian columns. A visit to Greece is a must for every traveller. It was a great trip planned by cc Sue.