This morning we awoke to the most delicious breakfast buffet at our hotel—so much Greek yogurt with nuts, homemade jams and all kinds of fresh and dried fruits.
Our word of the day was “let’s go!” which is pronounced like “pahmay.” And go we did! We got on the bus with the group to head back to the Acropolis. As you can see from the photo above, Jenna pulled out her sketchbook along the way. Our local guide, Andy, told us more about the city of Athens en route. She told us that all of the temples have both Roman and Greek names due to the two empires’ tumultuous pasts. Something that surprised us was that the temples used to be painted all different colors—red, blue, gold—quite unlike the sun-bleached stone you see today.
Our first stop was the Athens Stadium, the only marble stadium in the world. The structure that stands today was built in 1896, but it sits atop a 5th-century Greek foundation. We drove through the city center, down the elegant University Street, which is lined with coffee shops and designer boutiques, and by Constitution Square (called Syntagma Square in Greek).
Andy told us about a lot of the architectural features on the buildings, like the differences between Doric, Corinthian and Ionian columns. The first place we stopped on our way up the Acropolis was the Odeon of Herodes, a concert hall that is still in use today.
Further up the hill, we stopped at the Temple of Athena Nike, which is currently being restored. The goddess statues that support the roof structure are the third versions of each that have been made over the centuries. Next to the Temple of Athena Nike is the Parthenon, which has been under restoration since the 1980s. It was the first of the classical monuments on the hill, which were built in the 5th century B.C. after the Persians burned the original structures.
After seeing the Parthenon, we had some free time to explore the Acropolis on our own. We took our time back down the hill, grabbing a delicious frozen lemonade and a seat under an olive tree to take in the views of the temples above. Back at the hotel, we revisited the rooftop bar and cafe for some Greek salads for lunch, then it was off to Cape Sounion.
The drive to Cape Sounion was by Poseidon’s Avenue, along the Apollo Coast. We passed sunny beaches and marinas full of beautiful yachts and sailboats. The coastline was breathtaking, but the road itself was pleasant too, lined with poplars, bougainvillea, oleanders and other trees. The view from the top of Cape Sounion was simply stunning. You can see for miles and miles around—the surrounding beaches, sailboats in the Aegean, even the Greek Isles in the distance.
The temple was erected as a consolation prize to honor Poseidon, the god that lost the competition to be the namesake of the capital city. (Athena won by giving the citizens an olive tree, a gift that provided them with shade, wood, oil and food.)
Later, we had free time for dinner, so we walked down the street from the hotel to a restaurant recommended by Gloria. The large patio area was seemingly full of local people from the surrounding neighborhood. We were supposed to order by marking our order on a notepad, but everything was in Greek! We ended up ordering a large Greek salad, some spinach pies and a mixed grill plate, with some house wine, of course.
There was so much food and everything was absolutely delicious. When we thought we were done, the waiter brought out huge slices of juicy watermelon and another half pitcher of wine. Then, a huge plate of loukoumades, which are chewy doughnuts soaked in a honey syrup and drizzled with chocolate sauce. They were incredible.
Jessie and Jenna are making their way through Greece, from Athens to the islands of the Aegean. Follow along as they blog on tour!