Today is a very bittersweet day – the final day of the tour. We woke up and had a three hour walking tour of Athens – our tour guide to lead us up to the Acropolis, the place that saw the foundation of Western Civilization.
We started out walking to the same area we walked to yesterday – the bazaar where we all went shopping. Our tour guide pointed out a mosque and the first library in history. Then, we walked up a few hills and passed an area called the Agora which is where the people used to shop 2,500 years ago! We continued walking up steps and ramps until we were told that we were halfway there. The whole time we were walking, I was waiting for the Rocky theme song to start playing in the background!
Beautiful view during the walk to the Acropolis
Then, we walked about a kilometer up a hill where our tour guide bought our tickets for the Acropolis. We then entered the gates and walked up the final ascent which was a mix of slippery marble ramps and stairs. It was quite a workout, but I think I must be in pretty good shape because I wasn’t huffing and puffing!
We passed an amphitheater on the way
All the walking was worth it when we climbed the final flight of stairs and saw the Parthenon standing right in front of us. A huge, imposing structure. The climb up makes you appreciate all the hard work that must have gone into building it! Our tour guide told us that the Greeks built the Parthenon a bit crooked because they knew that nothing created by man is ever perfect. To build something perfect back then was like slapping the Gods in the face!
Even with scaffolding around it, the Parthenon is still impressive
Me in front of the Parthenon
A wider angle of me in front of the Parthenon
Overall, the Acropolis was pretty small. I thought it was going to be a huge piece of land on a mountain, but it was very easy to walk around the perimeter in less than 20 minutes!
After a few photos, I decided to take the easy way down and take the elevator since I saw everything that I needed to see on the way up!
We met at the bottom and went out to lunch. I had a very good dish – Maksala (I definitely butchered the spelling)! It was basically Greek lasagna – potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and ground meat. It was very salty, but all the food I’ve had in Greece so far was too salty for my liking.
After, we went back to the bazaar we went to yesterday to finish up souvenir shopping. Then, we went back to the hotel for a bit. I left after a half hour to go mail a postcard and go to the supermarket with a few friends. That was our adventure for the day!
Then, we met up for our final group dinner at the same place we had lunch two days ago. I ordered Chicken Souvlaki which was amazing, then we headed back to our hotel for our farewell party on the rooftop terrace. It was a lot of fun and had a great view of the Acropolis lit up at night.
Acropolis at NIght
Tomorrow morning, I have to catch a 3:30 AM taxi to the airport with a few people. I have a short layover in Rome before catching my flight to Reggio di Calabria where I will meet up with a few people I know from Penn State. Two of my teachers are hosting a study abroad program there and I know one girl that graduated with me who is visiting as well. It will be a lot of fun!
I think I am in Athens at a very unique time. It is in the process of modernizing itself. I would love to come back here in 20 years and see how different it is. I think that this is what every major, modern city had to go through at one point or another. Another comment I have is that the Greek people are so nice. They are probably the nicest people I’ve met in Europe outside of Amsterdam and Italy (I’m biased on the latter, I know). The Greeks are so appreciative of our tourism. I think they are happy that some people are not discouraged by the media reports. I can’t wait to get back to Italy where there is nowhere near the language barrier I had in Greece! Greece didn’t even have the same alphabet!
Note: This post was originally published on May 30, 2012 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe…Again” which chronicled my post-graduation trip across Europe.