After a 1 mile walk in the already stifling heat, we found ourselves at the entry gates to the Acropolis. Surrounded by hundreds of other people we showed the park employees our tickets and made our way through the gates and up the hill. The first sight was of the theater, down the steep hill on our right. It’s being used for music festivals throughout the summer, and I enjoyed seeing the way the production equipment was utilized in the literally-ancient space. Continuing up the stone pathway, slippery from hundreds or even thousands of years of people walking on them, we passed through the Propyla, the west-facing stone entrance to the upper portion of the Acropolis. Straight ahead of us were Athena’s temple and the Parthenon. Having seen the latter for years in both media and throughout my public school education, it was nothing shy of spectacular to stand next to and admire this 2,300 year old structure. The myriad of tourists and selfie sticks make it a little harder to truly enjoy the experience, but I felt as if I had a better relationship with the Parthenon than others around me thanks to the 30 minute drone flight I did overtop of it the night before. Dani and I snapped some photos and read all of the surrounding signage, the majority of which talked about the reconstructive and restorative efforts for the buildings. They detailed the removal process of old stone pieces, then lab-based laser scanning for 3D imagery, new piece machining, and ultimately the replacement of new stone into the structures. The grout and filling work the crews do to original pieces is 100% removable and reversible if future technology proves to be superior. All of this was information I found absolutely fascinating and undeniably impressive, though Dani and I had hoped for a little more information on how the Parthenon itself was originally built.
We descended from high atop the city as temperatures grew higher, stopping for milkshakes at a shaded street-side restaurant. Moving on to visit the Stoa of Attalos and Temple of Hephaestus, we saw hundreds of stone pieces including transcribed laws, statues of political figures, and busts of Gods and Goddesses dating back to between 200 and 500 BC. I questioned aloud who must’ve first drawn these Gods, so that for centuries others could carve and draw them identically, comparing it to Coca-Cola’s 1931 print advertisement drawings of Santa Claus; an influence that lasts throughout global culture to this day. After an We spent the mid afternoon continuing walking through the city streets of Athens, deciding to visit the Hard Rock Cafe for a drink and ultimately staying for a more ‘American’ meal. While the local/regional food here has been delicious, the menus are very monotonous, and I jumped at the opportunity for a BBQ pulled pork sandwich.
The walk back to our car took an hour or so, and we closed in on a total of 6 miles of walking city exploration for the day. We dropped the Suzuki off at Enterprise with enough time to get a relaxing drink at a wine bar before taking a cab to Athens’ Port Piraeus where we met our cruise ship/ferry. For the price of $60 euro each we reserved a private cabin on the Blue Star Line “Blue Galaxy”, a 650’ ship that would carry both passenger, cars, and freight trucks between Athens and the southern island of Crete. For the geographically inclined, Crete is the dividing piece of Greek territory between the country’s mainland and Africa, located just 200 miles north of both Egypt and Libya’s coastlines. We stood on the deck watching the sunset and listening to the muster drill instructions over the ship’s loudspeaker, slowly watching Athens disappear behind us. Engines came to full as we cleared the end of the channel, and we headed back to our berth to sleep quickly, with alarms set early in hopes of being the first off the ship at our arrival port shortly before 06h00.