Thursday, August 21, 2014

Athens, Greece: Panathenaic Stadium

Actual date of this event: 8 June

This really doesn't need to be its own separate post, but it was my favorite thing in Athens, so I felt it deserved its own space!
Many people who visit Athens, don't feel the need to go into the Panathenaic Stadium. If you're pressed for time, then it is a good choice to just view it from behind the fence. From the outside of the stadium, it looks a little bit like this:

As we had some extra time and the admission was only €3, we decided to go in. We did not get the free audio guide that was available (so all info I list is from the very very trusty wikipedia - hah!) - we had a bad bad experience with audio guides at Stonehenge last summer, but that's a whole other story. Visitors to the stadium are free to roam wherever they please, and we took full advantage of that! We headed right on up the stairs. It isn't so obvious from the picture, but the bottom few steps were actually really deep. 
Once we got to the top, we all kinda went in a few different directions to snap some pictures and take a look around. This is about the time when I got that "wow" moment that occurs each time we travel. From the top, we had a great view back toward the Acropolis that we visited the day before.

The Panathenaic Stadium was originally built in 566 B.C. Who knew there were games that far back in time?!? Over the years, the stadium went through a few refurbishments, including being rebuilt in marble. The games event was originally called the Panathenaic Games until 1870 when they started being called the Olympic Games. In 1896, the first Summer Olympics were held in the stadium which then started what we know the Olympics to be today... sorta. The track on the stadium is very skinny and different that the tracks we are used to. I can't imagine sprinting around the curve of that skinny track - it seems practically impossible!
We moved our way around the top of the seating area until we got to middle section. The stadium is not fully enclosed - it seems most stadiums we see today are steering away from this style.

Behind where Luke and I are standing, but toward the bottom of the seats, are the seats where the Emperor sat. We couldn't NOT sit in them and pretend we reigned all! Of course, Luke felt the need to get a little too comfortable.

Next we went down to the stadium floor. It was pretty neat to be standing on the grounds where the first Olympians stood!

What's a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium without a few challenges? First I challenged Becca to a race on the track.

But our sandals weren't the best sprinting shoes and we didn't want to pull a muscle, so then I decided we should compete in the best Olympic sport EVAR - gymnastics!

Clearly, Becca beat me on this one! But we both got a round of applause from some viewers in the stands :-) In the end, all four of us were winners although Luke said he was the only first place winner because there can't be a four-way tie... but I think we can all agree on who the loser was hehe.

Fun fun times!! We spent more time here than we expected, but it was fun, and I very glad that we chose to go into the stadium. Go Team Greeciversary!

Other posts from Greece: IntroCorfuThe Acropolis in AthensPanathenaic Stadium in AthensGeneral AthensIsland of Milos (Day 1)Sarakino in MilosIsland of Milos (Day 2)Santorini SailingSantorini Wine TourTHE Santorini SunsetGeneral SantoriniWrap-Up

The stadium currently holds 45,000 spectators. In 2044, when the Summer Olympics were held in Athens, the Panathenaic Stadium was used for archery and the finish for the marathon.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Athens, Greece: The Acropolis

Actual date of this event: 7 June

After our flight from Corfu, we landed in Athens around 15:30. We decided to take a taxi from the airport as it was cheaper for four of us rather than public transport. I am always hesitant on taxis because they can scam you, but Athens taxis are a flat rate of 35 euro from the airport to the city center. After dropping our bags at our hotel, located just a few blocks from Monastiraki Square, we immediately went to tour the Acropolis. Every piece of information I read on the googlenets said to do the Acropolis in the early morning or the evening - we decided on the latter.
Just like Rome, Athens has ruins right in the middle of the city. It is amazing how long some of the pieces have been sitting in their exact location. How natural disasters haven't destroyed it all. Obviously, the city does not look exactly as it used to, but information signs paint you a pretty good picture of what it used to be. Along the way to the Acropolis, we passed by several other ruin sites - Hadrian's Library and the Ancient Forum. We chose not to go into these at this time, as we were keeping our eye on the prize!

One of the most amazing aspects about Athens is how flat the city is, and then all of a sudden there is a massive hill just out of nowhere. It reminded Luke and I of Edinburgh and Salzburg. To get to the Acropolis, one must go up a hill. The streets that surround the hill are a maze with many restaurants and shops.
We chose to enter the Acropolis by walking along Dionysiou Street (on the south side of the hill), past the Dionysus Theater entrance, past the Acropolis Museum, past the Herodhion Theater, then up and around where we finally reached the ticket booth. We bought the all inclusive ticket, so we could access other sites as well. When we entered, we were still going uphill, and we saw the Herodhion Theater from above. 

Still going uphill, we climbed steps which brought us to the entrance to the city. I have failed to mention that we were thankful to have purchased some bottled water on our walk earlier because it was so hot up top! We saw one man who looked like he was on the verge of having a heat stroke. This was early June, so I can't even imagine what August is like!

After getting to the top and walking through the "entrance", we immediately saw giant pillars, ruined buildings, and marble stones lying everywhere. It is quite amazing how a whole city can be built on top of a hill like this.

I had heard that it is very windy at the top of the hill, but during our visit, there was nothing, which did not help with the heat.
The views of the rest of Athens were pretty spectacular. We could see just how flat the city is, and then bam, another hill in the distance just like the one we were standing on. I would have loved to visit the other hill, but we didn't have enough time (the other hill has a funicular, though).

{Hadrian's Arch and Temple of Olympian Zeus}
{Theatre of Dionysus}
The most popular of the buildings on the Acropolis is the Parthenon, the symbol of Athens. Although it is said to be built in 438 B.C., it is believed another temple stood in its spot previously.

We took a walk around on the hill looking at everything possible - the sculptures, the views, the unstable but somehow still standing pillars - and then we began eyeing rooftops where we could have dinner.

On our way up, we had seen a bride and groom on a big rock next to the Acropolis. I was stunned at this as I was so hot from the sun and lack of wind and imagining myself in a wedding dress - wow, brutal! On our way down, we decided to go check out the rock as it seemed to be a popular spot. Although the Parthenon was not visible from the rock, the rest of the view was really great, so I can see why the newlyweds chose it for wedding photos.

From there, we headed all the way down the hill to begin our first evening in Athens.

Other posts from Greece: IntroCorfuThe Acropolis in AthensPanathenaic Stadium in AthensGeneral AthensIsland of Milos (Day 1)Sarakino in MilosIsland of Milos (Day 2)Santorini SailingSantorini Wine TourTHE Santorini SunsetGeneral SantoriniWrap-Up

It is important to wear appropriate shoes when visiting the Acropolis ruins. Apparently, this girl did not know that. How she did not break her ankle(s), I will never know!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...