Athens: Ancient Agora, Parliament, Churches

It’s time for seeing the sights of Athens! Or some of them. To start at least. I think we’ll start with this one. There were red poppies growing all over, but not usually together. Just one or a few in a spot, then a a little ways further you’d see a few more. Spring all around us!Beautiful blooming trees along almost every street, often fragrant. Happy bird sounds and frequent honey bees. With abundant sunshine. Filling my soul with happiness!

Through the park again today, but this time we were going around the backside of the Acropolis to the ancient Agora, the “gathering place” of old Athens. Ancient ruins mix with new construction and new demolition throughout the city. You turn a corner and find hidden treasure! These statues are the remnants of a theater called the Odeon of Agrippa.Still impressive, even without the building they used to support! This whole area has collections like this:Remnants of an old building gathered in one place, leaving you wondering about the form they once took. There are also many stones or markers like this one. Some of them are easily readable (if you can read Greek) and some are so weathered that you can barely tell they once had text.

Just past the theater we found a photo op spot. Not that there is a shortage of great spots. Anyway, we liked this one. In that group photo, the Acropolis is in the middle and Mars Hill/the Areopagus is the hill on the right.

Moving on towards that building in the distance, the Temple of Hephaistos.Past the statue of Hadrian: Roman Emperor, benefactor of Athens. What you can’t see is that most of this open ground once held buildings and there are signs everywhere to denote what those buildings were. Patches of grass that were once a armory, or a temple, or an altar site. This one was my favorite sign though:Can you see the question mark?

Somewhere in this area is where I ran into problems. I wore Chaco’s, because it was warm and they were comfortable. But the ground is rocky and uneven and I wasn’t paying attention to it, there was way too much to look at around me. So I kicked a rock, apparently a pretty pointy rock, and thought I just stubbed my toe. And kept taking pictures, kept heading towards the temple. Towards the top of the steps to the temple, I realized that the end of my sandal was bloody. We reached the top and I made an unintentional anointing of the ground in front of the temple. That rock had gotten me pretty good. And of course our first aid kit was back at the apartment. But Jennifer was prepared and between my tissues and her super tape and a good amount of water from our bottles, we improvised a solution!It looked dopey, but did the job!

Once the first aid was taken care of, we could explore the temple site. This hill was also a great viewpoint. As in so many other places, every turn, every angle, is different and lovely.

Wandering through the rest of the Agora. Below is the Church of St. Marina in Thissio and the National Observatory of Athens. Which we passed multiple times, but never explored. Limited time, too many places to see everything in this trip!

Back to the Agora.See, every angle is beautiful! Also, the building in the last picture is the Stoa of Attalos, ancient shopping mall, now housing the Agora Museum. More on that later.

The Church of the Holy Apostles was built long after most of the buildings in this site, around 1000 A.D.

Here was an ancient water wheel. You can still see its faint outline. This brings us around to the Stoa. One of the statues many statues and markers along the outside caught Jared’s interest, “That guy’s face fell off!”

The Agora Museum has an interesting collection of artifacts from around the Agora site. And Fred found maybe Herodotus!

Or maybe not, who knows?

So many pictures! I might have a problem. Nah!

This church is across the street from the Agora entrance. It is the Church of the Apostle Phillip. Another spot I wished we had more time to explore.

Down the street we almost ran into the Library of Hadrian. (Are you noticing a theme? He build a lot!)

It abuts the Tziddarakis Mosque, now holding a souvenir shop and Museum of Greek Folk Art.

There are little Byzantine churches scattered all over the city. The Church of the Virgin in Monastiraki Square, in front of a busy metro station.

The Church of Agios Eleftherios (St. Eleutherius), almost hidden beside the Cathedral. The Church of Kapnikarea, in the middle of an intersection.

And this Church of Agia Dynami, which they just build around.

A couple of blocks beyond the last church is Syntagma Square, where we ate lunch. And beyond the square, we found Parliament.The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is directly in front of it,

guarded by evzone, a Greek infantry unit.

Who are, in turn, guarded by regular soldiers. We walked a few blocks further, hoping to visit the Byzantine and Christian Museum, but it was closed that day. Lesson learned (maybe?), check open dates before walking to out of the way sights! Our walk did take us past more cool buildings though.

And several policemen, some in riot gear. We’re still not sure why. Retracing our steps, back through the square.

Back through Monastiraki Square.

Finding another Byzantine church treasure, the Church of Agii Asomati ke Agios Georgios.

We walked along the Filoppapos Park for a little while, getting more Acropolis views.

Then entered the park and took a detour to see the prison where Socrates was held. Or may have been held. It’s a tradition, it may or may not be right!

Such a beautiful day, I could hardly stand it!

First Day in Athens

Moving from Agios Panteleimon to Athens was less stressful than we anticipated, thanks to our host calling a cab for us. We couldn’t get Uber to work and weren’t excited about navigating public transit for several hours, when a cab could deliver us to the door in an hour. The host made the call, we got the ride, and soon were resting at a little park until check in time. Which wasn’t very long. Long enough to start to fathom that we had just seen the Parthenon and the Panethenaic Stadium as we drove into town! And to enjoy the warmth and springness all around us!Settling into the apartment was pretty quick, and soon we were ready to pick up our city passes. Google said the pickup site was about a 25 minute walk away. No problem.

Within a few blocks we found ourselves in the middle of history. This is Filopappos Park. This road was the main connection between the city of Athens and the port of Piraeus. Until the city walls were built, leaving this community on the outside, it was thriving community. Ruins are scattered through the park, which we walked through every day of our stay. I also enjoyed the abundant flowers, even though “we have weeds at home,” as Jared reminded me!The path passes the Church of Ayios Demetrios Loubardiaris. This park hugs the corner of the more famous parks in the city center. We crossed a cobbled street and were suddenly walking past the Acropolis!Better pictures will come later! Past the Acropolis Museum, many street vendors and musicians, a small commercial area, to a busy street. And the Arch of Hadrian. No big deal! It is next to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, or what’s left of it. This is also where we could pick up our passes, so was the end of our walk. We went back by a different route, finding a yummy little souvlaki restaurant on our way. Just a hole in the wall spot with tables on the sidewalk, by a bus stop, under a flowering tree. Our new path took us through less touristy streets, past a grocery store so that we could stock up for the next few days. And back through the park. So far Greece was feeling pretty good! Three days of sightseeing still to come!

S-eagles?

Growing up on the Olympic Peninsula you see a lot of seagulls. They are everywhere: hanging out on roofs, wheeling overhead, wandering around your backyard. One of my favorite views in Port Angeles is a seagull-lined building on the waterfront. Usually there are several on a given day.

We would see bald eagles too, but not nearly as often. Or more than two at a time. Not so in Kodiak! One of our favorite parts of the year is the eagle swarm, usually starting in mid-February. Hundreds of bald eagles come back into town as the canneries get busy again, ready to eat any fish scraps they can find. You see them soaring overhead, perched in trees (sometimes several dozen in a single tree), sitting on light posts, and lining rooftops. Here are a few shots from this year’s eagle return. The eagles without a white head are immature bald eagles, juveniles.