Today was cold, windy and rainy here and there. It was our last day in the city and so visiting the Acropolis had to be done (€12 ticket lasts 4 days and gets you access to several other ancient sites and museums – keep your ticket once you’ve gone in as you will need it to access different areas. Keith failed to do so and we had to pay for another ticket. He went without food for the remainder of the day in order for us to stick to our budget). We never pay for anything cultural, we just look from the outside, so this was a rare event. Even on a freezing and wet day like today there were plenty of people braving the elements to get in the way of every other person’s photo opportunity. Sometimes, its nice to just enjoy stuff without having to take a photo of yourself stood next to it (although we did that a couple of times too). Some people seem to do nothing else but record their present to look at some time in the future. How about just living it now? Must be hellish up there in the summer. All those selfies vying for space.
Renovation and re-assembling of the buildings has been happening for decades, but more recent technological developments are allowing the buildings to be re-built using identical materials – although they are whiter due to less weathering. We were not sure whether they should be left as they are or turned into perfect replicas, which seems to be the plan. Either way, the sheer skill and scale of the structures in such an imposing setting cannot fail to impress. The views across the city to the port at Piraeus show the size of the place. Shame about all the people though. We should have got up earlier in order to see it on our own. Notice how we skillfully manage to take photographs of buildings which almost always have no other people in them at all, apart from each other.
It’s mind-blowing to think that these were all carved by hand over 2000 years ago.
It was very windy on top of the Acropolis. I almost lost my hat. Such an event could be described as a Greek Tragedy. I only have one hat, unlike one man with Asperger Syndrome I met who would wear three hats at the same time. He would have no such concerns on a windy day; always prepared.
Our other wanderings were round the most visceral meat market I have ever been to. It was full of more dead meat than I have ever seen, presented in the most gruesome fashion. I felt quite anxious and overwhelmed by the place, which was not helped by the loud, shouting butchers approaching every passer-by to insist that their whole skinned sheep complete with head including eyeballs was the best. It felt like being in a horror film surrounded by carcasses.
Plenty of other stuff on offer, including a huge range of fish – look at that pile of squid – and vast stacks of smoked sausages of all sizes. I didn’t know that Greek cuisine involved such things, but judging by the multiple stalls and multiple sausages, this is very much the case.
Why don’t we have markets like this in the UK anymore as a daily event? All we get are poncy over-priced ‘Farmer’s Markets’ rather than the real thing in most towns. This place was busy, noisy and very much a part of everyday life here.
But we didn’t eat any of this stuff. We went for cooked feta with chillis and oil, which is far better than cold feta in my humble opinion. Easy to cook at home – just wrap a block of feta in foil with dash if olive oil and chillis and cook in oven or under grill for 15 mins or so. Mop up with pita bread. You’re welcome.
Later, we had spit roast chicken and chips for €4.90 for two. Now, this place had the kind of ambience we love: empty and us sat in a corner all on our tod. Lovely. Keith is actually happy. Honest. He did have two Greek coffees in a row earlier so may have been still away with the caffeine fairies at this point. He was just happy that he was allowed to eat anything after losing his Acropolis ticket.
We’ve very much enjoyed Athens but I’ve had enough now. I’ve realised that about 36 hours in a city is about my capacity and it’s time to leave. It’s nothing personal, Athens; it’s not you, it’s me. It is a more laid-back and easy-going place than I expected; more modern; more friendly. The Acropolis is worth the trip alone, but the rest of the city is certainly an easy place to spend some time with a load of interesting junk shops, art galleries and a billion fridge magnets in the shape of a Greek God. And if you come at the right time of year, you might just be lucky enough to see Santa outside a ‘Love Shop’. So that’s what he does for the rest of the year…