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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Two Days In Athens

While working on an article for d-Infinity Online magazine ("Monsters Among Us"), I tracked down the pictures I had taken during the trip my wife Diane and I took to the Mediterranean in 2006. Our first stop ahead of boarding a cruise ship for 12 nights was Athens, where we spent a couple of days, September 26-27, exploring the historic heart of the city. 

One thing that struck me about this trip was how relatively few photos I took, and I probably take anywhere from five to even 10 times as many a day when I travel these days. (I also shot them at a much smaller size than would be the norm for me now, which limits what they can be used for and their viability for print). It is easier, after all, to delete or ignore them later, but it is truly said that one never knows if they will pass the same way again and once you have left a place you might never have a chance to take pictures of it again. 

A highlight for us was a visit to the Acropolis of Athens, site of the Parthenon and other temple structures, which Diane had never before visited and which I had not been to since 1981. 

  Above are three views of the Parthenon, dedicated to goddess Athena Patheneos, patroness and namesake of the city. From the left are a view of the main entryway, Diane in front of renovations that were ongoing while we were there, and one from the base of the rocky hill.  Above are a closeup of the main entrance during a rare and fortuitous break in the crowds and a very touristy one of me in the foreground taken from the ruins of the nearby Roman-era temple.  While the Parthenon and the Acropolis are so associated with each other that people often mistakenly use those terms synonymously, another impressive religious structure on the site is the Erecthyon, above. Its most characteristic feature is a ceremonial porch that has a roof supported by six Caryatid columns, pillars carved in the forms of robed women.   Many of the artifacts excavated on the Acropolis are on display at a small museum there, which bears visiting by anyone wanting a deeper understanding of the site. Shown here is lord Hermes, god of communication among other things. Above left is a view of the Parthenon from the rooftop bar of our hotel. One site I have seen from a distance and wanted to visit every time I have visited Athens but, for a variety of reasons, been unable to is this beautiful 5th century B.C. temple of Hephaestus, god of craftsmen. This is a view of it from the mount of the Acropolis.  Good views of many other interesting things can be viewed from the centrally-located Acropolis. Above left are the ruins of the massive and beautiful Roman-era temple that we explored while in the city. Above right are the remains of the theatre-temple of Dionysus, god of wine, drama, and madness.  A sense for the titanic size of the Roman temple can be seen here, with Diane standing in front of it. Some the inhabitants of the temple ruins sleeping in front of an overturned column capital are a further indicator of the site's monumental scale.  We also spent some time walking around the Syntagma Square area of Athens and visited Greece's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, above left. Above right is one of the Evzone ceremonial soldiers who stands guard in the area.  On the afternoon of our second day in Athens we took a cab to the port of Piraeus and boarded the Norwegian Jewel. A few hours after this picture was taken we sailed westward, to the Peloppenese and Olympia!