Crete Pilgrimage 2016 - Day 26

Greece - The Acropolis and a day in Athens


Today we had a free day, so we headed up the hill early to visit the Acropolis. It was a warm morning and felt likely to get very hot. We started to climb the path and soon met our first group of tourists, mostly American, sitting all over the steep steps in the shade. They seemed most disgruntled that somebody would want to walk past them and continue to climb. It never sunk in that there were completely blocking the path. So up we went, and eventually stood facing the Parthenon. I should not have been surprised at all the scaffolding. Everywhere else we had been in Europe was wrapped in scaffolding, so why would Athens be different?

For me, the Parthenon lived up to its reputation as an amazing piece of architecture, especially considering its age. It was completed in 438BC. It was partially destroyed in 1687 when an Ottoman amunition dump inside the building exploded. Restoration was undertaken and in 1801-1803 Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures, now known as the "Elgin Marbles" and sold them to the British Museum.

Looking up to the Acropolis from the side entrance
Greek theatre
Armchairs for the wealthhy from the Greek theatre
Alcoves for deities?
Seed pods in abundance
Part way up the hill and the view of Athens appears.
Crowds of American school students blocking the steps upwards
Nearing the top
Part of the Parthenon in scaffolding
There is always one tourist who ignores the barriers
Signs of modern repairs
Coming down the stairs and the American students are still there, in the shade
"It is forbidden to sing or make loud noises"
More tourists
And back to our hotel for lunch

Bus Tour around Athens

We had some spare time before lunch so we took a bus tour around central Athens.

A lot of apartments had trees on their balconies
A lot of orange trees in the streets
Typical crowded street
Modern trams
Syntagma Square and the Palace
Trolley buses
Grafitti was everywhere
Street market near the main entrance to the Acropolis
Taxis galore
And random pieces of ancient Greek architecture were everywhere.

Changing the Guard at Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square is in central Athens. It is the Palace and also the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, where an honour guard stands. Each hour the guard is changed and crowds watch this spectacle.

The pigeons are part of the history of the Square
Guards in ceremonial uniform
Here comes the new guard
And the old quard prepares to march out
Passing the crowds
And off they go...

The Phaleron War Cemetery at Athens

Our first stop on our way to the port at Piraeus was at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Phaleron. Here, all the casualties from the Greece campaign in 1941 are interred, along with some of those from Crete. There is a large section of memorial columns, the Athens Memorial, commemorating nearly 3,000 members of the land forces of the Commonwealth who lost their lives during the campaigns in Greece and Crete in 1941 and 1944-1945, in the Dodecanese Islands in 1943-1945 and in Yugoslavia in 1943-1945, and who have no known grave. An unusual aspect is a small plot in the north-east corner that contains the graves of servicemen who served in the Crimean War, but died later in Greece.

The entrance to Phaleron Cemetery
View of the Athens Memorial with the lists of names
Our tour group arriving at the Cemetery
Mark explaining the history of the cemetery
Laying a wreath
View from the Memorial Stone to the Cross of Sacrifice
Entrance to the Franco-British part of the cemetery with the Crimean War casualties
Headtones in the Crimean section
Looking down on the entrance
General view across Phaleron Cemetery
Some of the Athens Memorial
Lines of headstones and flowers

Dinner by the harbour and onto the ferry to Crete

Our final function in Greece was to drive to Piraeus Harbour and have dinner looking out onto the sea. It was then on to the wharf and the overnight ferry to Crete. The harbour was still crowded with refugees who had flooded Greece and other parts of Europe from North Africa.

Heading towards the harbour
Our bus did fit down this street
Part of our restaurant
The view from the restaurant
View of Athens in the late afternoon sun
At the port, that ferry looks a bit low at the stern
Some of the refugees still camping at the port
Looking towards the Acropolis during breakfast
Cruise ships - big and small
Sunset over Athens

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Last updated: 12/06/2017