Thursday, January 31, 2008

Walking Athens and Liking It

Last night when we arrived in Athens we were wondering what was going on in the street near our hotel (the Cathedral on Mitropoleos Street). There were crowds trying to get into a church and the police were controlling the number of people who could go in. It continued well past midnight and we stopped paying attention and went to bed. The next morning we got up and walked to the Acropolis, but there was nobody there! Then we found out that all of Athens was shut down in mourning because the archbishop of Greece had passed away. We were cranky and selfish for a few minutes but then realized the significance of the event for Greeks and snapped out of it. We decided that we could still have a good time just walking around. So that’s what we did.
View from Filopappas Hill
Athens is a big city, but at the heart of it there are a surprising number of green spaces. First we started on Areopagus at the foot of the Acropolis. Then we headed to Filopappos Hill, west of the Acropolis, getting great views of the Acropolis and sampling the wild arugula. Then we walked around the Pynx, a little bit north. We grabbed a few souvlakis (see this post) and then hung out around the National Gardens, east of the Acropolis. In the National Gardens we dropped into a café for about an hour for some sipping and talking. Finally, we headed over to Lycabettus Hill and after a sweaty little climb were rewarded with a sunset view of the whole city. On whole, quite a bit of walking that was enjoyable for getting a sense of the city.

Don’t miss walking pass the Royal Palace or the Parliament Building to catch sight of the ceremonial guards with their huge tasseled-shoes. End around twilight in the busy Syntagma Square as people hustle to get home, meet friends, or stop at a café.
Syntagma Square
By the way, the “Tax Free” map (that a part of is shown below) was one of those maps they hand you at the hotel, but it was easy to carry around and unfold – adequate for exploring. Nothing cramps my touring-style like an unwieldy map.
Tax Free Map

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