Athens – Day 0 and Day 1
Travel Days – Saturday and Sunday
We had an uneventful airplane journey – Swiss Air to Zurich overnight and Zurich to Athens during the day. We took the x95 Airport bus to a stop near the Holiday Suites Hotel, a nice boutique hotel on a pedestrian (except for motorcycles) cobbled street, associated with the larger Crowne Plaza a couple of blocks away. The hotel is in the Kolonaki (somewhat upscale diplomatic quarter) a little over a mile east of Syntagma Square, convenient to metro and bus.
When we checked in, the concierge took about 10 minutes to point out places on the map that we should try to see. Then he suggested a Skalakia Tavern nearby for dinner and said we should have the lamb, which we both did. We also had tomato and cucumber salad, with incredibly flavorful tomatoes.
Day 1 – Monday
Larry went off to his MEF meeting at 8:30 at the Athens Hilton, about a 5-minute walk away. Eileen slept until 10 am, and then walked about 10 minutes to the AB supermarket and the Veneti Bakery for a bread. After a quick lunch in the room, Eileen walked to the Hilton to get a Vodaphone SIM card that Larry had picked up on his break.
“The Runner" with the Hilton in the background.
Eileen then headed off for the Rick Steves Athens Self-Guided Audio tour in the well-known Plaka neighborhood, walking to Syntagma Square from the hotel to start the tour.
The tour is Syntagma Square (2 pm) → Parliament (across from the Square) and the Guards → pedestrian Ermou Street → Church of Kapnikarea → Cathedral Square (Cathedral and Church of Agios Eleftherios) → Agia Filothesis Street and Church → Arch of Hadrian with good view to the Temple of Olympian Zeus →Lysicrates Monument and Square → uphill by steps to Anafiotika (small settlement of white-washed cottages built by the Cycladic island people who arrived after the overthrow of Ottoman rule → downhill by steps to the overlook for the Roman Forum and Tower of the Winds → Agora Square and the side of the Library of Hadrian → Monastiraki Square (4:00 pm).
Here’s the map, courtesy of Rick Steves:
Changing of the Guard
Ermou Street (pedestrianized in 2000)
Kapnikarea Church (11th century Byzantine) in the middle of Ermou Street
Arch of Hadrian, built in 131 CE by Roman Emperor Hadrian to delineate the ancient city and “Hadrianopolis", with a view of the Acropolis through the Arch.
Temple of Olympian Zeus. The temple was started in 6th century BCE but not completed until Hadrian in 131 CE — 360 feet by 145 feet.
Lysicrates Monument and Square. The monument is the sole survivor of many monuments that lined this ancient street, “ancient Oscars" awarded to winners of choral and theatrical competitions staged at the Theatre of Dionysus on the southern side of the Acropolis. This monument was erected in 334 BCE by Lysicrates of Kykyna, sponsor of the winning choral team that year.
Epimenidou Street. Steps up to the road around the Acropolis.
View of Lykavittos Hill from the steps.
Anafiotika. These lanes and white-washed homes were built by people from the tiny Cycladic (a circular set of islands) island of Anafi, who came looking for work after Greece gained its independence from the Ottomans.
Down Klepsidras Street to the overlook and walk along of the Roman Forum and Tower of the Winds. The Tower of the Winds was built in the 1st century BCE and was a combination of a clock, weathervane, and guide to the planets. Time was told by either a sundial or a water clock, powered by water piped in from the Acropolis.
Tower of the Winds, with a view of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis.
Monastaraki (Little Monastery) Square
In Monastaraki, a former Mosque, now the Museum of Greek Folk Art, with a view of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in the background.
Areos Street looking south, standing by the west side of the Hadrian’s Library.
Eileen then took the Metro (purchasing a 5-day ticket for 9 euro) to the Hilton to crash the MEF reception on the rooftop. Here is a view (of Likavittos Hill) from the rooftop of the Hilton.
Dionisiou Eginitou 32
— Eileen Samberg