Athens – Day 2

Monday 9th September

The first cat of the day was spotted on the way to Kerameikos, near some hobos sleeping in a park. It didn’t want to say hello. Kerameikos is an ancient cemetery that was bigged up in my guide book and also one of the big six that our tourist tickets got us into. It is amazing to know that this architecture is from the 12th century BC, but then again, you’ve seen one pile of rubble, you’ve seen them all really…. But there were remnants of pillars and rooms.

We came across one tortoise head-butting another tortoise, he really was quite persistent. I didn’t know tortoises could move so quickly and he was pushing the other one around a lot. I thought the other one was dead at first, but it eventually looked out of it’s shell in annoyance. It looked like the first tortoise was trying to get jiggy but the other one had decided it was too hot for that kind of business. Before this, I’ve never heard tortoises make a noise, but there was a lot of high pitched squeaking and the head-butting sounded pretty hard and urgent. Yes, I did whip out my iphone and there’s a couple of short videos at the bottom of this blog now.

After the tortoise sideshow, we came across the Street of Tombs and this was more like it. Lots of old statues and you could tell what it was. At this point the museum was opened and we were grateful to get out of the sun for a while. It was a small museum, but wonderfully cool and interesting enough. Loads of old statues, pottery and stuff.

All the old ruins are quite close together in Athens. And no matter where you are, the Acropolis is staring down back at you. We walked along a road called Ermou and were soon back in Monastiraki, where the flea market was yesterday. Being a Monday it was quieter and we nipped back to the square to get frozen yoghurt for me and a Greek coffee for Glyn.

I wandered across the road past an intimidating gang of motorcyclists, all in black peering over their sunglasses at me. I then realised it was the local police, just hanging around. I tried to get a sneaky photo of them, not sure if it came out as I was sure if they caught me that I would be in trouble! They were scary looking.

Glyn and I then walked down to the Ancient Agora. This is old ruins of what was once the political heart of Athens. Socrates and St Paul used to hang out there, so that’s how old it is.

Parts of it are reconstructed (eg Stoa of Attalos) so you can really get a feel of what it must have been like back in the day. We walked around in the blistering heat, working out what the various piles of stones were and I came upon my second cat. Now Glyn thinks I’m the only person who goes abroad visiting historic monuments, only to be side tracked by cats, but there was another lady all over this cat, with her back turned to the Acropolis, one cool lady!

We meandered along to the Hephaisteion which is a temple that is the best-preserved building on the site. Most of it is still there and you can tell what it originally looked like without having to see a model in a glass case or drawing next to it! At this point, despite it only being 3pm, the site was closed and they wouldn’t even let me use the loo before I left.

So we nipped across the street to a cafe, only meaning to buy a drink so I could use the toilet. But the guy brought bread and the menu looked enticing and not over priced, so we ordered lunch. My hubby hates olives!! So I had a whole great dish of them to myself for €3 and then baked aubergine for €7. Glyn had the oddest looking moussaka I have ever seen and a greek salad. It was all going well until I paid the bill, I gave the cash to the waiter from my purse, yet when bringing back the change, he gave it on a dish to Glyn saying, “Here you go Sir”. I was a bit taken aback to come across such blatant sexism in a tourist area of a fairly modern city.

We walked back to Monastiraki tube, the plan being to go to Syntagma and walk down to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. At Syntagma, is the Parliament building and we arrived just in time to catch the changing of the guard. This is quite an odd spectacle, there’s just two old guards being replaced by two more and they have massive pom poms on their shoes. But what is really weird is the way they walked – it was straight out of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks, a comedy goose step if you like. It’s amazing how they keep straight faces whilst kicking those pom poms in the air. There was another army guy there, dressed in modern gear who spoke to the small crowd of tourists who told us that we could all have our photos taken next to the guards if we so chose, and yes, I did.

Walking down Leoforos Vasilissis Amalias, Glyn and I decided it would be nicer to walk through the National Gardens. We came across a pond filled with large terrapins, some sitting on each other. Graffiti on a nearby park bench demanded that they be set free. If the creator of this graffiti was that bothered, it would be easy enough to stretch over and liberate all the terrapins.

One thing we have learned in Greece is not to trust our guide books about opening times. The Temple of Olympian Zeus should be open until 7pm, but when we arrived at 5pm, it was closing. Never mind ,we can go tomorrow. We got some photos of Hadrian’s Arch as fortunately, Hadrian built it in a public area. We popped back to our hotel to get washed up and ready to pop out to see Athen’s alternative scene, probably Monday isn’t the best night for this, but whatever.

So…. Monday is not the best night out. We’d had recommended to us a few alternative bars and clubs, but all were listed for weekends. But we we told that Da Da bar would be open and it was walking distance, so we headed for it.

It was an unusual area, that seemed to be back streets but all of a sudden there was a lit up bar, cafe or shop. We found Da Da Bar and Death Disco but sadly all were very closed. So we went to a bar called Boo! which had interesting decor and an indoor swing. We were the only customers for a while and we soon realised why… €5 for a beer and €3.50 for a coke! Glyn did not know this until after he’d ordered his second coke and some food. I was surprised because it was a lot more than the bars near the Acropolis, where you’d expect it to be expensive, I think the beer prices around there were about €2.50.Had the prices been more reasonable, we would have stayed, but we decided to get drinks from the shop next to our hotel and sit on our balcony with the backstreet view. At least we got to see an interesting part of Athens plus more cats!!

Share The Story

About the author

Having only one cat, Claire is currently failing at being a mad cat lady, but she does have a mad cat, Bod. When Claire isn’t chasing cats and other animals with her camera, she works as a Graphic Design Manager.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *