After Kusadasi, our travels took us back to Greece to visit Athens, where they know a thing or two about temples and pleasing tempermental gods. Temples, and parts of temples, are all over the city, so in our short given time we had to pick just a few to visit. Our first choice was the Temple of Poseidon, high atop a hill well outside of Athens, giving us a chance to explore the Greek coastline as we traveled by bus to our destination. This spot was a favorite of Lord Byron, who carved his name onto a section of one of the columns, and it is, indeed, a lovely sight. There is a wonderful breeze that flows through the area, almost making you think you are at sea instead of on land. Best of all, because of the location, there are far fewer tourists than you will find in the city, giving a little extra time to drink in all this beauty at your own pace. This is how we began our day.
Next stop was the Acropolis. This one takes some effort to reach; the bus can only take you so far, and then you must climb to the top of the hill on your own. Another hot day, another path paved with slippery slabs of marble that someone thought was a good idea back in the day. Not the best surface to walk on; many people spent most of the hike up cursing their shoes and other wardrobe choices for this adventure. I have to put in a shameless plug here: I did this climb, and every other walk in the Mediterranean I've written about, in a pair of flip flops. Happy feet every day.
Once at the top, a huge surprise .... how can this be? The Parthenon has been here for thousands of years and it is still under construction! Scaffolding around the structure, piles of broken pieces of statues and columns, and no landscaping to speak of. The view of Athens from here, however, is spectacular, and well worth the hike. Although we did not visit the adjoining museum, we were told that most of the actual structure is now housed there to protect it from the elements.
Back down the hill again, we made our way to a small tavern where I had the best Greek lunch ever, with all the classics: spanokopita, moussaka, salad with tiny tomatoes that were as bright red inside as their outside skins, spicy beef, and many other dishes. Waiters would rush by and, seeing a vacant space on your plate, immediately toss on more of yet another yummy dish. The entrees ended with a round of Greek spaghetti, and for a brief moment I was back at Skyline chili in Cincinnati again.
After lunch, we strolled over the the Plaka to see what the shops had to offer. Alas, no paper to be found. Enroute we passed this colorful street art and, as I don't know any Greek, I apologize in advance if it says something naughty. We were delighted to find a shop that sold beautiful decorative glass trays, plates and bowls that we have purchased in Chicago -- the artist is Greek, and we had by accident found the source of her beautiful work.
Our trip is drawing to a close; we have only one more city to visit in the next post!