I flew to Athens with my gentleman friend for a few days over my birthday to soak up some culture in the form of ancient Greek architecture and Greek food. First point of call was to get our bearings and then see the first of many ancient Greek buildings…
Pretty much the first thing we did after arriving at our hotel was to go in search of some food. We ended up at a nearby restaurant called Masina (or Μασινα) with a feast of Greek salad, various appetisers and dips, pita bread and wine.
The Athens Atrium Hotel was our base for the duration of our stay. It is located in an area south west of the centre and away from the craziness that is the main part of the city; a little dated but nice enough. This was the view from our balcony:
We noticed quite a few dogs wandering around by themselves in Athens. This dog was just chilling in the middle of a crossroad by our hotel and barking at cars when they dared to try and get by!
Ancient Agora of Athens
Our first proper full day in Athens was my birthday! I wanted to go check out the Temple of Hephaestus, and then proceed to the Acropolis in one day. This didn’t quite happen as we will find out…
We arrived at the area where the temple is and discovered that it was part of a larger whole, the ‘Ancient Agora‘. This was a public space filled with all sorts of buildings back in its heyday. Nowadays a train track runs alongside it, which provides an interesting contrast between the fallen columns of the past and more modern technology (trains) and artforms (graffiti!).
These statues – apparently of giants and tritons – line the path toward some of the ruins within the Agora; they are part of what was the Odeion of Agrippa; an auditorium.
This pretty little restored church is called the ‘Church of the Holy Apostles‘, and was apparently first built in around the 10th century.
The Temple of Hephaestus seen in the distance behind some more ruins within the Agora (I’m afraid I can’t remember what these were).
Temple of Hephaestus
The temple is sat on a hill overlooking the Agora. It was apparently initially built for Hephaestus; the patron god of metal working, craftsmanship, and fire, and has had a few uses since (including being a Christian church).
It was exciting to see my first ancient columned building within Athens 🙂
You obviously can’t go through it, but you can walk all the way around the perimeter.
Detail of columns and frieze showing centaurs battling, I think.
The Acropolis of Athens can be seen in all its glory from the hill the temple is sat upon.
Outside the Agora
Just down the road from the Ancient Agora are a few other buildings dotted around, including Hadrian’s Library, which you do have to pay separately to go and explore, but we could see it fine without going in.
We also walked past the Gate of Athena Archegetis (originally a gateway to the Agora), where I had to grab a quick snap on my camera and run as we felt like we were going to be robbed by people preying on tourists (hands down my least favourite aspect of being in Athens).
Then it rained…
It started to rain, and we were pretty tired anyway so instead of going to see the Acropolis as planned, we went to the Acropolis Museum for an hour or so. It was really interesting actually; containing artifacts and pieces of the buildings to preserve them further.
Just as the sun was making a reappearance, we headed to Syntagma Square briefly, which was super busy (strangely doesn’t look it in this photo)…
…and found somewhere to stop for cheesecake! Alec got them to put tealights on mine as a faux birthday cake, which was very sweet.
We checked out the bookstore called Public off the square and I was fascinated by the Greek language books and games. The Greek written language is crazy; unless I knew roughly what these said, I wouldn’t even be able to guess how to pronounce the words. Greek language Harry Potter book…
…and Greek language versions of Catan and other well-known board games…
We walked into Plaka to get some dinner – there are a lot of cute restaurants with outside seating which would be so lovely in the summer. Unfortunately, it was a little cold in March! We found somewhere cute and cosy for some yummy Greek food right at the top of these steps 🙂
There will be more Athens posts; I took a lot of photos!