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Honeymoon, Day 12

May 2nd, 2009

Our first full day in Greece belied some of the opinions we had formed the previous night. While we still concluded that this was a Shanghai-type city, we did very much enjoy our walk south of the hotel to the area just north of the Acropolis.

From the hotel, we headed to Omonia Station, from which a street called Athinas runs south to Monastiraki Station. On Athinas midway between the two stations is a heavy market area. Here we discovered a pattern in Athens: shops of a certain type clump together. If you see one pet shop, you are bound to see several others nearby. Same with meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, spices, jewelry, nuts, plants, electronics, shirts, bags, and so forth. The central market area has nut-sellers on the street; we tried some cashews from one, but they were not very tasty. Go down one lane, there are meat sellers; another lane featured fish; across the street, produce; down the street, spice sellers.

Fish Market01

Fish Market03

Nut Market01

Produce Market01

Produce Market02

Market Meat

Spice Market01

We enjoyed the walk, but didn’t buy much. It was more for sights & sounds. An interesting side note: every once in a while you will see something titled a “sex shop”; it’s not what you may think, it’s just a DVD shop selling porn, unless they had extra rooms in the back selling more (we didn’t check). But we did notice that street kiosks often featured R- and even X-rated material out in plain view. (We also saw a few prostitutes here and there later in the evening.)



We got to Monastiraki Station, at the center of a large shop district, just north of the Acropolis.

Monastiraki Square01

We were hungry for lunch, but doubted the cleanliness of many of the eateries we passed, so we opted for some McDonald’s. Again, there was the pushiness. Surprisingly, one of the counter people told me to wait because others had come before me, despite my being ready to order when they were not–and just a few seconds later, the other counter person tool the order of people who had just walked in and pushed by me. Go figure.

The kitchen was upstairs, and a dumb waiter carried finished orders down. We went upstairs to eat the lunch, and were not too impressed with the room, frankly. Despite no-smoking signs throughout, people smoked freely (apparently the norm here, as well as many places in Europe). Beggars walked through the dining room; we were approached three times. When not soliciting free change, they took leftover food and drink from the tables. One of them was a small boy with a pink backpack selling lighters and tissues. His mother (or whomever the woman with him was) sat idly in the square, collecting what he got.



We also noticed another thing about Athens: stray dogs. They are everywhere. Most of them are larger dogs, ranging from Labrador Retriever-size and upwards. They could even be seen at the Acropolis and in many of the ancient sites.



We then went down some of the shopping streets, which abound in the area around Monastiraki. There’s a lot of everything, including the inevitable tourist-oriented shops, but thee were surprisingly many jewelry shops. It was here that we spied the Hermion/Epmeion restaurant, taking note of it so we could return later.

Shop Street 01

At the end of one of the streets, we found the entrance to the Ancient Agora, and bought our tickets there. You can buy tickets separately, but the best bet is the €12 strip of all-attractions tickets, which gets you in to the Acropolis but also has several miscellaneous tickets which can be used to enter all of the smaller sites spotting the area. I’d recommend that.

The Ancient Agora (agora: a public open space used for assemblies and markets) was very nice, and this is where Sachi and I really began to relax and enjoy. It is essentially a park, but is spotted with all manner of ruins and ancient statues.

Walk up a hill and you are at the Temple of Hephaestus (Vulcan), a beautiful Greek temple which is well-preserved.

Hephaestus Overview





On one side of the agora is the Stoa of Attalos, a reconstructed building which houses a museum of artifacts ranging from a 6,000 piece of sculpture, to more modern but still ancient pottery, statues, coins–even a child’s tomb and an infant’s potty trainer from a few thousand years ago.



Nearby were other sites, such as Hadrian’s Library and the Roman Agora. These sites are all over the northern Acropolis area, and are interesting to walk around. Just loads of ruins you just happen to note date back 2,500 or so. Jacketed sentinels shout at anyone touching or sitting on anything they aren’t supposed to. And there were always the wonderful views, with the Acropolis dominating it all.

Acrop View02

Acrop View01

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel, and in the evening, returned to that restaurant we found; it was excellent (see review here).

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