So I decided to spend a little money on a walking tour while in Athens, and I was not disappointed.
Travel hack: do not take a bus tour as you’ll have to get out and walk to see the good stuff. It’s all within easy walking distance anyway. Also, don’t pay the ridiculous fees by local tour guides. I payed 7 euro for an Ausie, and he was amazing!
We started off on in front of the Acropolis Museum where there are still some train tracks in the road. Fun fact: the streets all around the Acropolis are cobblestone and the sidewalks are marble.
After that we saw Hadrian’s (the same Hadrian who built the wall in the British Isles) Arch, and the Temple of Zeus. Fun fact: the similarity between Zeus (Greek) and Jupiter (Roman) is believed to have caused the Romans to let the Temple of Zeus stand. These pillars are massive.
We then wandered over to the National Gardens where our guide told us about Queen Amalia, and how she’s responsible for arguably the most picturesque place in all of Athens. It seems that because of this and a few other factors we learned about, she was one of Greece’s most beloved popular figures.
In the middle of our park wandering, we came across the Ζάππειο Μέγαρο (Zappeion) building. The outside was ‘meh’ by Greek standards, but the inside was pretty cool.
After a tiny bit more park wandering, we came to Παωαθηωαικό Στάδιο (Panatheniac Stadium); the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896 (well, one of the sites). It seems crazy today for this 80,000 capacity stadium to host 4 Olympic events. Apparently, there wasn’t nearly enough seating.
Then we went to the Presidential Palace just in time to watch the changing of the guard. A lot of people do this at Σύνταγμα (Syntagma: constitution) Square. Pro tip: watch it at the palace; it’s far less crowded. Though you do have to contend with a few cars obstructing your view.
We walked past Σύνταγμα Square, and into the Αγορά (Agora: marketplace) area. This area is huge, and there are vendors all around the Ακρόπολη (Acropolis) though most of the ‘flea market’ like shops are on the north end. After some treking, we came to the ruins of the Ancient Agora.
We wandered around a bit more, and found some graffiti among the narrow alleyways of the buildings just north of the Acropolis. Some of it is pretty good. If you like quiet, Greek-island looking streets, this is the place for you.
To end the trip we ate lunch/dinner at a restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis. We all had various local dishes: mousaka, goat with potatoes, pita with tzatziki. And all in the Greek winter (it was 15C/60F) which is really nice.
Our tour guide was Andrew Kelleher. All through the tour, he peppered us with history lessons. There was a fair bit on World War I, and how events that took place right were we were walking effected Greece’s involvement. If you love history as much as I, definitely get in touch with him if you’re in Athens.
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