Athens, Greece – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[The parliament guards in their uniforms]
Athens Greece is a place with a long history and many stories to tell. From all the Greek mythology, it holds to the ancient buildings still standing up right, Athens is a must see of Europe. When my travel companions and I arrived and Greece we were so excited for some warmer weather, especially since Minnesota has been having warmer weather than us over here in Ireland. We were in for disappointment though. Out of our four days that we were able to spending in Greece, three of them saw heavy rainfall. It was clear that this weather was not something that occurred a lot in Greece because the water seemed to flood the streets with nowhere to go. Even with the heavy rainfall, we forged ahead with on our venture through Athens and saw some of the most iconic sights in Greece.
The first stop on our journey was the Acropolis. Many people don’t realize that the Acropolis isn’t just one sight, it is actually several all clumped together. The Parthenon, the old Temple of Athena Nike, the new Temple of Athena Nike, the Odeon of Herod the Atticus, the Theater of Dionysus, the Propylaea and the Erechtheion all make up the Acropolis. Most of these ruins sit on a hill and from the street below the only building one can see clearly is the Parthenon. The view of the Parthenon from that angle has become a staple of Athens.
[A photograph of the museum floor showing the area below it]
Walking through the Acropolis itself, you could feel the history surrounding you. Enveloping you into a bubble that takes you back to a very different time. A time when the people of Greece worshiped the many gods found in Greek mythology. You could see how badly they wanted the gods to like the temples they built for worshiping them through the many detailed works of art within them. Today many of the structures are no longer sound so you are not able to actually walk through them, however, the contents that used to be housed within these temples are now safely housed in the nearby Acropolis museum. After walking through the Acropolis in the pouring rain we were happy to finally reach shelter within the museum.
Not only was the museum itself filled with amazing sculptures and pottery but it also happened to be built on an archaeological site. Many of the floors throughout the ground floor of the museum actually allow you to look below at what it was like to live in ancient Greece. All of the statutes in the museum come from the many different temples in the Acropolis, they also have old pans, plates, bowls and other daily living items that were found near and inside the Acropolis. The museum allowed us a look into the reality of the lives of those who lived long ago.
[A view of the Acropolis from the street]
After the Acropolis museum, we strolled through the National Gardens on our way to see the Parliament building. When walking through the gardens we found an odd zoo like area. There weren’t any exotic animals, but there were several different types of birds, a few long-horned goats, bunnies and even some ducks. We were quite confused by this find. The animals seemed very out of place. But instead of pondering it for too long, we decided to continue on our way. The national gardens were beautiful, even though many of the flowers had yet to bloom. There were many palm trees and orange trees scattered throughout the park. I had never seen an orange tree before so that was pretty exciting to me.
Once we made it all the way through the garden we stepped out on the side walk and were met with an odd view. There was a group of men that were dressed up in some kind of uniform. It wasn’t until later that I would realize that they are the guards of Parliament. They seemed very out of place, marching down a side walk that wasn’t even in view of the parliament building. Walking a little further down the side walk we realized that we really weren’t that far away from it. The parliament building didn’t look like anything special except for the fact that it was so heavily guarded.
[The parliament building]
It was getting late in the day and we knew there was one more thing we wanted to do before heading back to our Airbnb in residential Athens. We wanted to hike to the top of Filopappou Hill. From the ground the task looked daunting but we needed to pack in as many sights as we could because we knew the next two days would be spent mostly on looking for a beach and shopping in the many markets. There was one other thing driving us up that hill too: curiosity. From the Acropolis, we could see something on the top of the hill but we were too far away to see what it was so we decided to find out ourselves.
There were many paths up the hill. One that involved stairs and one that didn’t. At the time, I didn’t know that the path with the stairs was actually a much shorter path and that fact alone lead me to choose to go up the stair-less path. The path that I chose turned out to be the scenic path, so none of us were complaining. There were several parts of the path that looked out over the city in its entirety and as cliché as it sounds, it truly was breath taking. When we finally made it up to the top, we were greeted by a touring monument dedicated Greek poets. It was well worth the hike to the top.
[The Filopappos Monument on top of the hill]
As I looked out from the hill top across the city, I was struck with how lucky I was to be seeing this view. Athens has so much history and it is impossible to see everything in three days. But I did know one thing for sure: I was going to see as much as I possibly could in the short amount of time that I had been given in that city.
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