It was two weeks into our holiday and I was exhausted. Our busy trip kept moving forward, with or without us. This morning, we had to meet in one of the lounges (the Shall We Dance Lounge) at eight for our next guided tour. Today we would see the sights of the ancient Greek city of Athens.
Our bus first drove around Piraeus, the port city near Athens, as our tour guide told us facts about the ports and town. There were many smaller ports in the valley. I noticed as we drove around that the old city was not so old; all of the buildings were grungy-looking and built in the 1970s – 1990s. This apparently was so because of the common reoccurrence of earthquakes in the area, and the poor infrastructure.
Arriving at the Acropolis, our guide led us up the steep and slippery hill to the Parthenon, passing all of the restoration construction. We took our time here, staring up at the ancient Greek buildings, and looked upon the ruble as well. It began to rain. This was a rare occurrence; there are usually only 30 days of rain a year in this sunny city. We crawled carefully down the marble steps to meet the bus, this time huddling under the umbrella we remembered to bring.
The driver then took us on an audio tour of Athens with all of its parliament, Olympic, and art buildings. The tour guide dropped us off at the Plaka, the oldest part of the ancient city, each with our own map. I was not overly impressed with the Plaka, there were better old streets in almost every place I have traveled. We decided to walk across the street to the temple of Zeus passed Hadrian’s Arch. The temple of Zeus was not near its former glory, most of its pillars lay on the ground in ruin. There was a tortoise wandering around the site, and we found him far more interesting. There were more archaeological sites near here, including Roman baths. Once again though, these sights were mostly just rocks on the ground.
Hadrian’s Arch stood out on the street corner, near all the other buildings which were from the 1980’s. It was interesting, but didn’t take us long. The rain still fell and we were cold. The Acropolis Museum was not too far, and we knew it would give us shelter. It was a modern building with glass floors overlooking excavation sites, where they had stumbled across ancient finds when they decided to build a new museum.
The museum itself was full of catalogued pieces of stone, mostly all unidentifiable rocks. I found myself thinking, “Wow, look at this junk from a couple thousand years ago!” sarcastically. They tried sometimes to fill in the blanks. I mean, I won’t judge you if you’re into that sort of thing, because I definitely thought I was. I feel like Athens is so hyped up, but there far are better ruins elsewhere in the world.
After three stories of beige and broken artifacts, we were ready to go. We waited for the bus to take us back to the ship where we ate supper, napped, and watched an old jazz band, the Big Band, perform in the Centrum.