Recently I posted a blog about going to Slovakia during a two week winter holiday in Poland. During the first week, I went to Slovakia with the school I teach at. If you haven’t already, check out my blog on Slovakia here. As soon as I returned to Poland from my ski trip, I immediately left for Greece early the next morning. I almost didn’t go to Greece because I had more than one friend tell me that Athens wasn’t worth visiting for more than one day. The ruins were pathetic and there wasn’t anything worth seeing.
I’m here to prove otherwise with several pictures I took throughout the week. I loved Greece and I would love to someday go back. February isn’t the best month to visit. It was cold for several days, and the museums closed earlier in the day. Still, every moment was worth it.
Sunday, February 8
Every Sunday at 11:00 am sharp, there is a “Changing of the Guards” ceremony in front of the Parliament building in Athens. Soldiers wear their finest uniforms, which includes white kilts and black clogs with what seems to be giant pompoms on the front. Still, the parade that proceeded the guard change was interesting to watch and gave me an insight into Greek culture. I never pictured modern Greek soldiers to look like this, especially since my mind reels back to images of mostly naked Gerard Butler in the film 300.
After watching the ceremony, I took a hike up a nearby mountain which provided a beautiful view of Athens, the Acropolis, and the sea. On the view top was a tiny church and a priest selling rosaries. The view was spectacular and well worth the muscle-building hike.
Monday, February 9
On this day, I visited three different museums since it was a cold, rainy, foggy day. A friend I met at the hostel came with me and we learned more about ancient Greek culture and Greek mythology. Unfortunately cameras weren’t allowed in the museums, but outside of the Acropolis museums were dig sites that were well worth seeing.
One of the sites I visited was the ancient Greek baths. Next to the site was a sign with a drawing of what the baths might have looked like back in the day. I can’t help but wonder if I would have liked to bathe with a bunch of other naked people if I had lived back then. I’d like to think not.
Tuesday, February 10
This was the day when I visited most of the ancient ruins that can be found in Athens, which include the infamous Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, and Hadrian’s Arch. It was still a cold and rainy day, but I had an agenda so I braved the cold. In fact, as I climbed to the top of the Acropolis, it started to snow big fluffy flakes. Watching the fat snowflakes fall around the Acropolis and other ancient ruins was actually a beautiful, and unique site. However it was harder to take a good picture of the snow and the pictures I captured were before and after the brief snowfall.
An interesting fun fact about Athens and the Acropolis is the mythological story of the showdown between the goddess Athena and the god Poseidon. There was a competition to see who would be the patron god or goddess. Poseidon tried to prove his might be creating powerful horses. Athena countered this by creating an olive tree to symbolize peace. As you can guess, Athena won and the city was named Athens.
Around the Acropolis, there were various statues and the Theatre of Dionysus (god of wine).
On this day, I also visited Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeus. The ruins were also neat to see and explore.
Wednesday, February 11
At six in the morning, I woke up and hiked to the bus station on the other side of Athens took a three hour bus ride to the tiny mountain village of Delphi. Reflecting back on this trip, I would have to say that this was my favorite archaeological site. There was so much to see in Delphi and the view of the mountains against the ruins were gorgeous. It was another cold, windy day. And there weren’t a lot of tourists, but that just meant more artistic pictures for me to create.
The picture below is of the Temple of Apollo, the god of music and prophecies. One would have to make the hard hike up the mountain to seek guidance from Apollo and hear a prophecy from one of the oracles.
This is the Rock of Sibyl. According to local traditions (and the sign I read near this site), the first prophetess of Delphi stood here to utter her prophecies. Near the rock stands the Treasury of the Athenians.
Not far from the treasury and the Sibyl Rock, there was an interesting site called “Circular Open Area of Halos.” Every 8 years the Septerion (a ritual featuring the reenactment of the god Apollo slaying the serpent Pytho) took place here.
Overall, I really enjoyed Delphi and there was a lot of cool ruins to see and look at .
But what I especially enjoyed about my trip to Delphi was the gorgeous view of the mountains.
If you ever visit Greece – do not skip out on Delphi, even if it’s a cold day.
Thursday, February 12
On this day, I took a day trip to the ancient port at Cape Sounion. There I saw a beautiful view of the sea and the Temple of Poseidon.
This day was the windiest day of the entire week, and I had a hard time taking a good selfie.
The sea was stunningly beautiful, which made me glad that I braved the intense wind.
Friday, February 13
This was my last full day in Greece and I took a day trip to the city of Corinth. I was interested in visiting this city because of my Christian background and special interest in the Apostle Paul’s travels. To be honest, Corinth was a disappointment. There was little ancient evidence and the city felt rundown with very few interesting things to see. The view of the sea, however, was beautiful with its blue waters.
When I returned, I made up for this trip by having one last fun night with the hostel friends I made throughout the week. We went out to eat at a restaurant that sold amazing gyros and then hiked around Athens. The weather finally warmed up and we explored the night life of Athens. The best part of the evening was climbing the rocks near the Acropolis and looking out at Athens lit up at night. Unfortunately my camera battery died so I don’t have photographic evidence of this, but I still remember view of the Acropolis lit up and the white building below us shine. It was a beautiful week to end out the trip.
Saturday, February 14
This was the day I packed up and flew back to Krakow. It was a long trip back with a seven hour layover in Munich. During my flights, I reflected on this trip and I couldn’t help but disagree with the people who say that Athens is uninteresting. There was a lot to see in Athens and I didn’t get to everything. There is amazing food, olives, gyros, and Greek pastries. There were olive trees, orange trees, and cats everywhere. There were museums filled with ancient artifacts that preserved Greek history and myth. I would highly recommend visiting Athens to anyone interested in Ancient Greek culture, and if you find that February is the only time you can make the trip, don’t be disappointed. There are still many cool things to do and see.