My dream had been to spend the afternoon in the National Archaeological Museum, especially to see the Mycenean antiquities since we were going to Ancient Mycenea the next day. But after a much-needed cool shower and a much, MUCH needed nap, it was starting to get a little late for that, so instead we decided to go back out and just wander. During our bus tour earlier that day we'd seen a couple of structures that it would be nice to walk closer to, and we hadn't been able to visit the Presidential Palace at all, on account of there'd been a protest there by the garbage workers, who were on strike--and that explains why there were huge piles of garbage all over the streets!
Also note that my guidebook warned that the National Garden, which we'd be walking through to get to the Presidential Palace, hosted a large feral cat colony, and that was the last of us sold on the hike.
We'd visited the Plaka earlier but hadn't crossed the busy street to see the Arch of Hadrian, but on this trip, we stayed on that side of the street and so got to see it up close:
|For those of you playing the at-home game of orienting yourself in Athens, please note that you can see the southeast corner of the Parthenon through the Arch of Hadrian. I'm pretty proud of this shot.|
|Yes, this is the same Hadrian who had the wall built in Great Britain, and that's something else that I want to take the kids to see someday.|
|The Arch is filthy because of pollution. Poor Matt is just filthy because he's all sweaty and it's 100 degrees outside!|
|Remember that the columns that are reconstructed are there to show you how high the ceiling was--in other words, HIGH!|
|I really liked this seating that was made to look like archaeological ruins. At least, I *hope* it was seating that was just made to look like ruins...|
|Syd was super into taking photos for a couple of days, but then just stopped. Will brought her camera, but didn't snap a single photo. Matt didn't bring a camera. Good thing I'm so reliable about photographing ALL THE THINGS!!!|
|We'll get into some different landscapes later, but Athens actually looks a LOT like the San Jose area in California; everyone noted it, even the kids.|
|Look, everyone! A trireme!!! Also, the best way to get Will to smile for photos, apparently, is to get her punch-drunk.|
|These are the Εύζωνες, or Evzones if you Anglicize it. They were first mentioned in the Iliad, although it didn't refer to these exact soldiers, who are now the Presidential Guard.|
On Sundays, the changing of the guard is even fancier, and I heard that there's even a military band.
One of the things that our tour guide emphasized was that in Greece, if you dig, you will find something. You'll find the remains of Byzantine civilizations, and if you dig deeper, you'll find Roman ones. Dig deeper, and you'll find Classical Greek civilizations. Deeper, and you'll find evidence of the Bronze age. It was fun, then, to see, as we walked back to our hotel a slightly different way, the excavation of these Roman baths, found when the city wanted to dig a tunnel:
The find was so important that the city moved the location of the tunnel, and covered and preserved this excavation.
And one last look at the Arch of Hadrian--
--before we headed back to the hotel. We took more cool showers, Matt got us fish and chips, and we ate sitting on our beds and watching Greek game shows on TV, with the air turned down to 20 degrees Celsius. It was heaven.