The home of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates and the city whose architecture has graced the pages of history books throughout the decades. I was finally in Athens! My Arts History class came to life right before my eyes! All kinds of historic terms came back to my mind as I saw the structures that once only laid on the pages of my history book in college. It was an awesome experience to see with my own eyes the architectural remains of a once very great nation that impacted the world in ways that most of us don’t even know! If you ever go to Athens I suggest that you take one of the many tours available but specifically one that gives you historical insight on the impact of Ancient Greece on the world..
My colleagues and I started off on a small local path towards our first stop which was the Acropolis where the Parthenon, Theater of Dionysus and other historical structures are found. The trail we were on took us between local houses on the side of the hill on which Acropolis is perched. There were home-made signs that directed us to the top and we were able to catch beautiful views of Athens between the houses. Greece has Euro Mediterranean flair very similar to southern Italy which is in close proximity.
We started quite early with our sightseeing by foot but as soon as we got to the top of the Acropolis we found that many tourist had the same idea. There were many tourists making their way up and down the Acropolis when we were ascending to the top. By the time we started to descend, the place was flooded with tourists!
After descending the Acropolis we walked to surrounding areas to see other sites. Our journey took us through many smaller streets of Athens. I was quite surprised at how much graffiti there was all over the city! Some looked like vandalism sprawled all over buildings and even trains, but others were very amazingly artistic exhibiting the talent of the Athenians.
We saw all we could within Acropolis area before midday and now we were hungry. One of my colleagues was dying to have traditional Grecian food. She suggested that we go to Plaka for great local food. Plaka is the historical neighborhood of Athens. This area has a neoclassical feel with little streets and alley ways and here you will find a plethora of eateries, stores and hotels. Of course the food in Plaka was absolutely delicious! The best gyro (pronounced “heero”) I have ever tasted! Food is so much more fresh and flavorful than back home.
When we finished lunch, my colleagues decided to retreat back to our hotel but I was not finished sightseeing. There were a couple more sights I wanted to see so I headed back down into the center of Athens by myself to see the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Panathenaic Stadium which was the home of the first modern Olympics.
Something I found quite odd but notable was that at three distinctive historical structures my colleagues and I visited within the day there was a big dog lying in front of them. They were all different but big enough to catch my attention and raise my caution. They seemed to be strays and didn’t threaten any of the tourists but for all of them to be laying in front of these sites in the same way peaked my interest. So my mental wheels started to turn and I wondered if they could have any connection to the spirituality within ancient Greek culture. Could they have been guardians of those grounds? Did they represent spirits from that time? So I decided to do some research and I came across this Ancient History Encyclopedia article “Dogs in The Ancient World” which was very informative and included what dogs represented within ancient Greece.
Athens is a beautiful city to explore and holds so much history! In addition, it is cheaper to travel to than other popular European cities but I would recommend, reader, if you travel to Athens, go when the weather is a bit cooler because it was a high of 76 degrees when I went and it was still very hot so I could only imagine what the summer is like! Even though it may be much colder when you go off-peak season you won’t have to deal with the excessive amounts of tourist that fill the streets of Athens.