(Click on the pics for bigger view)
I got to spend one more night in Athens before returning home. I was kind of sad that the whole Greek vacation was almost over. Greece is a wonderful country, full of history and life and such friendly people. I was definitely going to miss the incredible landscape, fantastic sites, and the scrumptious food. It's fascinating to see the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern. Athens is an ancient city and a modern city, full of life. Since I had a day left, I figured it was probably time to buy a ticket to get up close to the Parthenon.
I could see the Parthenon from my hotel balcony. I had been all over the Acropolis and nearby sites the week before. But I had not gone into the area of the Parthenon. I was having more fun exploring all the other sites, including most of the Acropolis, for free. Plus, the Parthenon area always seemed full of tourists and those crowds were unappealing to me. But since I was here, I figured, eh, why not get up close to the Parthenon? I've come all this way to Athens, and it'd be such a shame not to go inside and see the Parthenon up close.
Now, there is an admission fee to get up close to the Parthenon, but that ticket gets you into all the other nearby historical sites in Athens. It's a pretty good deal if want to spend your whole day exploring the ancient ruins all over the Acropolis and nearby. Luckily, it was a cloudy day, and the tourist crowd was smaller than I had seen the week before.
There are tour guides at the entrance, and you can pay them if you want a guided tour. But I hate being stuck in a tour group. Besides the tourists, you'll also see a lot of dogs, just sleeping all over Athens, like it's the most normal thing in the world.
Let sleeping dogs lie.
I waited in between tour groups to get some really nice shots from the Parthenon area.
You can see Philopappou Hill in the background, a green oasis in the middle of the urban jungle.
On the other side, you can see the National Garden and the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, Panathinaikon Olympic Stadium in the back. It's incredible to see the ancient buildings among the green trees encircled by the roads and city structures.
And of course, I luved the Erechtheum Porch of the Maidens.
There are several parks by the Acropolis. They're a great place to escape the hustle and chaos of the city. It's nice to just sit and unwind or maybe make out--there were a bunch of couples making out in little secret spots. But it's a sweet spot for a picnic or just to enjoy nature.
The ticket into the Parthenon allowed me to explore other gated sites nearby, like the ancient Agora. There were a lot of ruins and temples and structures in the huge area of the Agora.
I thought I'd have some fun and play Samson, break down the columns! Arrghhh!!!
And after a great day exploring the sites, I stopped at the ancient gymnasium and sit by the statues of Heremes, patron god of travelers, and Eros, god of love. I thought it was the perfect place to sit for a bit and think about all the great things I had seen and experienced in Greece. I am amazed at the history and culture, so many ancient sites and ruins, so many modern structures. The Greeks are a friendly, wonderful people, and I have enjoyed eating their delicious cuisine. It has been a spectacular vacation, and I'm really glad that I took a lot of pictures to capture the experience. Which brings me to my last Greece Travel Tip:
Greece Travel Tip #17
Take lots of pictures everyday, and just have fun! Because sometimes, pictures really are worth a thousand words. And they could be the most precious thing you bring back from your trip. They are your memories of your good time, the great experiences you had, and you can laugh and smile and remember those good times whenever you look at those pictures.