On our last day in Greece we had a morning flight to Athens and then took a “Tours by Locals” to see the highlights of the city. In Greece and probably the EU, you have to have a tour guide license to lead tours within a tourist site. Our guide had only a taxi license, so he did all his guiding while driving. He was able to drive, talk, and work a dash mounted iPad simultaneously. We covered a lot of territory in a short time. The Theater of Dionysus is located at the base of the Acropolis. It is believed to be the world’s first theater and is dedicated to the Greek god of plays and wine. The theater on the site today is a restored Roman version of the theater. The site has been used as a theater since the sixth century BCE.The walk up to the Acropolis is on a marble walkway. Even when dry, the stones are quite slick. We saw three people fall, but we all made it safely. The above picture is the entrance; and while it looks crowded, it was much less crowded than the last time we were there.The Erechtheum is a temple on the Acropolis built in the early 400’s BCE and dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. It is best known for the “Porch of the Maidens”.
The best known building on the Acropolis is the Parthenon, a symbol of Ancient Greece and one of the best known cultural monuments in the world. There was a lot of scaffolding when we visited it over five years ago and there was a lot of scaffolding and a crane this time. There is a marble mine in Greece that supplied the original marble, and that same mine is being used exclusively for supplying replacement marble. The replacement pieces are a brighter white.I don’t know what building this is, but it was one of many visible from the top of the Acropolis.Our next stop was Hadrian’s Arch and it’s nearby temple complex. The temple had Corinthian columns.We drove by several other buildings in the vicinity of the Acropolis. These classic Greek buildings seem to be scattered amongst many more contemporary buildings.We watched the changing of the guard ceremony in front of the parliament building. This ceremony occurs every hour on the hour. The guards do what seems to be a ritualistic ballet to show off the pompoms on the toes of their shoes. The old Olympic stadium was built for the first modern Olympic Games. It is made entirely of marble and seats 65,000 people. It is still used for events today.This is a view of the Acropolis from another hill on the outskirts of the city. You can’t see it in the picture, but there were numerous spots of bright reflected light all over the city. We were told that these were solar panels mounted on the roof to provide hot water.From left, Bruce, Susan, Linda, and Jack on the overlook.
On Tuesday we flew from Athens to Washington, Dulles via London, Heathrow. Once again it proved to be an adventure. As we were boarding in Athens, it was announced that we had a limited takeoff window so it was important for everyone to get seated promptly. If we missed the window, the delay would likely be thirty minutes or more. Despite the warning, there were people changing seats after everyone else was seated. We did miss the window, had a lengthy delay and arrived in Heathrow with about twenty minutes to reach our scheduled flight. Fortunately, our flight was delayed so we got to the gate with time to spare. Unfortunately, we were delayed because the 747 at the gate had a mechanical problem; so we had to walk down stairs to the tarmac and into the drizzle, board a bus, ride all over the airport to another 747, and climb the stairs to enter the aircraft. The plane from Athens to Heathrow had the leg room of Spirit Airlines and no free drinks or snacks just like Spirit. Have I ever mentioned that I hate flying?
And now the answer to the question none of you have been asking: “Which island did we like best?” We both have the same answer: Rhodes. We found the old town one of the most interesting in Europe. For best scenery we pick Santorini, but it is way overcrowded. For best beaches, we pick Mykonos; and for best food we pick Crete. My overall second pick would be Santorini despite the crowds. Susan would have a three way tie for second and I would have a two way tie for third.
We are now home in Wilmington. Thanks for traveling with us and a special thanks to everyone who took the time to comment. Our next trip will be this fall with an OAT trip to Sicily with a short extension to Malta. I hope you can join us!