Though they had been warned to not spend much time in Athens because it would be disappointing, Rick and Wendy actually liked it much better than anticipated. The Acropolis and the many ruins throughout the neighborhoods provided very interesting contrasts to the modern city’s architecture which seemed to have been built mostly during Greece’s Socialist Era. Their 36 hours in Athens was well spent.
Viewing the Acropolis from a distance it was hard to tell how crowded it was until arriving at the entrance. Then it was clear that hiring a private guide would be beneficial to navigating through the crowds. A colorful-speaking, older gentleman named Stavros told the Walleighs that he’d been an Acropolis guide for 35 years and knew all we’d need, so he was hired! Their
tour started at the Parthenon and continued wherever he led. It was enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable.
From the Acropolis it was easy to view many of Athens’ ruins. One impressive sight was the Agora marketplace. Later Rick and Wendy wandered through the “stoa” hallway of columns inside the Agora and appreciated the beautiful architecture and statues lining the inner building. From there, signs directed them to tour the rubble of other shops and buildings nearby.
Also among Athen’s “standard” streets surrounding the Acropolis were ruins from the last 2,500 years, such as the Temple of Athena; Hadrian’s Library, originally built in 132 C.E.; another library under restoration; a Temple of Zeus; and an amphitheater.
Athens has many hills rising from the modern and ancient neighborhoods. The modern Parliament’s classical style echoes ancient Athens. Some streets are merely sets of staircases between blocks of modern buildings. A famous Athens street called La Plaka is filled with shops and cafes to relax in once wallets are empty. Many street vendors sell fresh fruit and other foods. Along their walking tour, they viewed a statue of a Greek Orthodox Archbishop who fought to prevent the Nazis from rounding up Athens’ Jewish population. Sometimes street signs were hard to read and pronounce even in English. But a couple of signs were funny, like the one in the museum warning us not to fondle the statues–just in case we had the urge…
Corfu, last island on a nearly four-week tour
After their journey back and forth across the Pelopennese Penisula the Walleighs drove back to Athens in order to fly to their last stop, the island of Corfu,which is the northernmost Island off Greece’s west coast. Mainly a resort with lovely beaches and just a little shopping and few tourist sites, its streets seemed to wind around and around, somehow connecting everything. There was a typical shop-lined promenade along the harbor and another old Venetian-style fort to guard Corfu’s port. There was a famous “mall” called “The Liston” which is a large pastel-colored with a covered, outdoor, arching hallway on all four sides, housing many cafes and shops.
One interesting stop was Corfu’s still-active Jewish synagogue. Its stained glass windows were part of the restoration of the sanctuary paid for by donations raised by a Los Angeles lawyer (placard dedicated to him on a wall) who was descended from a Corfu Jewish family. His family had successfully fled the Nazis unlike those memorialized on another sign who did not escape.
Mostly Rick and Wendy relaxed on the beaches of Corfu, for a lovely final stop on nearly 4-weeks in Turkey and Greece.