Saturday, November 19, 2016

Athens Tour. Monday June 31, 2016

This will have a lot of photos. Way long post.

We got off the boat really early (close to 7 am), were picked up by a taxi and taken to the travel office so we could try to check in for our flight that afternoon. It was complicated, but we got it done.  They kept our suitcases for us so we could join a tour of Athens with their tour company.  We were dropped off at a nice hotel to wait in that lobby. We watched more than one group meet there (from the hotel) and leave, but ours eventually came.  The tour guide and tour people were French, but she translated what was said in French to English for us. So we heard everything twice.  Sadly, I understood about three words ONLY that she said.  Sheesh. So much for having a minor in French, eh?

We drove around and viewed governmental sites, had a library pointed out to us, the first modern Olympic stadium. Very big.  Mike slept on the bus. He didn't even want to move, he was SO tired and sore and just plum worn out. I jumped out and took pictures a few times.

Then we went to the Acropolis Museum of Athens. It's big and new and gorgeous and modern. So I got Mike a wheel chair and pushed him around. I'm sure it saved him many steps and lots of standing time. But it also made him fall asleep while our guide was narrating our way throughout many parts of the museum. The museum of glass floors. I was wearing a skirt.  Interesting.  Thankfully, the floors are spaced apart quite a lot.  Very tall building. And people are generally so busy looking at exhibits that they don't look up. Much.

We got to walk to the top of the Acropolis after that. She (the tour guide) led us up there. Mike stayed behind and waiting while we wandered for a set amount of time and then headed back down to the bus.  It was very interesting.  The acropolis is visible all over HUGE Athens because no buildings are allowed to be more than 4 or 5 stores tall. So, no matter where in Athens you are, you can see the Acropolis.  And the Parthenon is not the only building up there. There are many. And those buildings also went through the same changes and styles and adaptions that most religious buildings went through, depending on who the "Conqueror of the day" was.  It is mostly a crumbling pile of rocks.  Well, marble rocks.  The whole hill is made of marble. Who knew?  They are trying desperately to restore all.  And to reclaim all.  Great Britain has a lot of it in their museums.
 Modern Olympic Stadium, from the first time they were held in modern days in Athens. It's all marble.  ALL Marble.

 If you turn around in that plaza and zoom in, you get a sneak peek of the Acropolis in the excititng!!

 A government building with guardhouses and frozen guards out front.

 I think this is a library I was trying desperately to snap a photo of while we were passing by.

 The museum approach is interesting. There are glass floors outside under the "porch" area. Under the glass (and sometimes open to the air), there are current digs going on!

 These are the "Porch" ladies, in my mind anyway!  There were six, they stand out on a porch as the pillars. It was on the top of the hill and below is the model that was in the museum. When you see them on the hill outside (I photographed them there, too) you will be seeing replicas. The REAL authentic ones are the ones in the museum.  Nice hair, huh? Very fancy.

 Our guide is explaining and identifying all the characters on the end friezes of the Parthenon. Most of which is no longer there.
 The view of the Parthenon and hill of Acropolis from the top of the museum.

 The photo above is zoomed in from the shot below.  I don't know what they are doing, but it looks like mining. I'm sure it is more archeological research and digging going on. Again, the hill is ALL marble.

 Note the pillars in the photo below? They are placed just as precisely as the actual pillars up on the hill. They have replicated the size and shape of Parthenon within the new museum.

 See the guy in the chair? That's Mike. 

 This is an amphitheater on the side of the hill we passed on our way up to the top.  It's still used for concerts.  The black things on the seats are sound equipment boxes, I think.
 Bottom: Zoomed in to the tallest building in Athens. It is at Piraeus Port.

 As we come up the hill, there are steps and marble stuff and more buildings we have to pass through (with OUT touching, please!!) before we are truly on top of the hill and able to see the Parthenon.

 Looking off the side of the hill is another temple of some kind.  Yes, it's ATHENS. There are ruins everywhere.

 Polished marble on the ground. Polished just from foot traffic.
 My favorite Porch Ladies. Above.

 I should really find out who they are...

 The old museum was up here on the hill with the Parthenon.  The new one is so much different, modern and nice!

 Tracks are in place, along with many out-buildings to continue the work of restoration and research. These chunks of marble (which are EVERYwhere!) are very heavy to lug around.

 I took photos of lots of signs in order to take time and read them later.  They are quite interesting. But I was in a bit of a hurry so as to not leave Mike alone too long.

 It looks as though if you just walked along that path above that it would be just gravelly dirt. Not so. See below? I was walking on polished pretty red marble.

Our flight left Athens in the late afternoon, so after hour half-day tour was over, we had a driver from the tour company take us to the airport. It was a good thing, as we were never able to print our boarding passes. He helped us through that in the International Airport. He was very helpful and stayed with us until after we made it though security and were on our way to the gate. 

We did not have a very direct route back to our return flight in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  I had purchased our Round Trip tickets to and from Cluj well before making the other travel arrangements we were doing in Rome and Greece.  So our first flight was to Bucharest, Romania.  There was a short layover, but we had to go through customs and stuff.  Not being local, it was a challenge, but we made it.  It was challenging to find the gate we needed and some people were not very friendly. Plus there was a huge thunder and lightening storm. The airports are smaller and don't have "jetways" but buses to take you to the plane. And we really had to be on our toes to find the right gate and the right time and the right plane. Names didn't quite match up. We got a little wet during that trip, getting to and from airplanes, buildings and buses.

Eventually, we made it to Cluj, but it was late at night.  We knew we did not want to try to get a cab at 11 pm, get into to town, spend money on a hotel room to sleep for 2 or three hours, call another cab and go back to the airport in order to get to our early morning return flight.  So we slept in the empty, cold, noisy airport for a few hours. Or didn't sleep, as the case may be.  Mike didn't sleep. I put in ear plugs to drown out the very loud music that was blaring all night long through loudspeakers. We let the custodial people mop up under our feet (their mopping machines were loud, too--motorized riding floor cleaners). 

We lined up early to go through security in the early morning, then waited more in another area. We found some food here and there, but mostly just pastries. I like Romanian Pastries!

We went through customs again when we got to Munich, but this time we were NOT in a huge rush.  It's  a large, modern airport. I was catching a cold and we needed to get some cold meds, so I went on the hunt to see what I could find.  It's very different, but I found things to help the drippy nose and beginning chest tightening and cough portion. I'm so grateful that I waited until the very end before getting sick!! And we needed more pain killers for Mike's poor hurting feet. I think we had flights from Athens to Bucharest to Cluj to Munich to Denver to Las Vegas.  Yeah. Long days of travel.

I'm posting this blog way after our summer trip, so I can't remember all the details, but I know we got home safe and sound, and then it was time to visit with family that was coming and going throughout all the summer!! Oh, and work, too. :-)

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