Athens Day/Night 3 – Back to Ancient Times

Today would be my main exploration of the various ruins except for the Acropolis, which I was saving for its own day. First though I needed some fuel so I walked up my street and onto a large avenue that also acted as a flea market.

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I wasn’t there though to shop but rather to have one of my favorite Greek foods, the gyro. I had asked Alex for his favorite spot and he said Savvas was the way to go. When I arrived I was taken aback a bit how it clearly seemed aimed at tourists but Alex hadn’t steered me wrong yet so I ordered a classic lambo gyro sandwich.

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It was a good thing I trusted my instincts as the gyro was simply the best I’ve ever had. Stuffed with fries, fresh tomatoes and onions along with juicy, tender shaved lamb and wrapped in a superb pita, it was perfect.

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Now energized, I continued my walk up the hill and over to the massive Ancient Agora where several of the more famous ruins and buildings resided. I first ascended a small hilltop to the Temple of Haphaestus, basically the little cousin of the Parthenon, which also had great views of the entire site.

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I then walked down the stone path to the center of the Agora, where remnants of statutes, homes and even a prison had been uncovered.

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Finally I walked over to the main attraction of the Agora, the Library of Hadrian, which now served as a museum for the artifacts unearthed from the site.  I usually don’t pictures of exhibits but this shield and this great Pan statue were too good to pass up.

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After a bit more cruising around the Agora, I walked over to the nearby Roman Agora, which was about to close so I quickly ran in to get some snaps, which was fine as there wasn’t a ton to the site anyway.

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I continued up the hill until I reached the very touristy Plaka area, which was filled with chintzy souvenir stores and aggressive cafe owners trying to corral people into their place.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

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On the other end of Plaka led the path up to the Acropolis.  However, my destination was a bit more earth bound, the New Acropolis Museum.  Opening in 2009, the museum was the new home to all of the Acropolis artifacts as well as sitting on top of a current excavation site, which could be viewed below via a transparent floor.

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The museum wasn’t covered by my combo ticket but at only 5 Euros, I still wanted to check it out.  The first floor was filled with pottery and smaller items.  The second floor was home to some magnificent Greek and Roman statues, none of which will appear here as no photographing was allowed.  I did get a quick picture though to show how large a gallery it was.

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At the top floor, there was a very well done video presentation of the history of the Acropolis, including animated sequences of how it ended up in its current state, from the original Persian invasion to Napoleonic thieves to more modern adjustments.  I was glad I took the time to watch it.  This floor also housed what was left of the friezes that used to decorate the top of the Parthenon as well as some nice views of it out in the distance.

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Having gotten my fill of culture for the day, I headed back to the apartment, taking the Metro for the first time, which was cheap, fast and convenient.  On the way back, I stopped off a cool beer bar for a much deserved cold glass of Greek microbrew along with a free appetizer of spicy Greek cheese and shrimps.

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A couple of hours later I made the very short walk to a restaurant that multiple people had recommended to me.  The Seychelles Restaurant was on the edge of the rougher part of town but looked like something one would find in the Greek Isles.  Clearly a place for locals, it was filling up quickly so I was lucky to snag a table.  As I had become accustomed to, service was almost comically slow, although I got the impression as an outsider, I wasn’t exactly top priority.  That was fine though as I was enjoying the atmosphere.

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I decided to get 2 of the starters as my meal.  First up was potato salad with smoked trout.  It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting as there was no binding agent for the salad but it was fantastic.  The smoked trout was nicely balanced with the vinegary sauce on the potatoes.  The only problem was that there wasn’t quite enough smoked trout but I was able to convince my server to give me a bit more to even things out.

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Next up was the grilled mushrooms with baked Greek cheese and smoked pork.  This was another winner.  The huge, meaty mushrooms worked great with the smoked pork and the salty baked cheese.  Man, Athenians sure as Hell know how to eat right.  I also decided to try the oddly named “vanilla dessert in cold water”, which turned out to be a vanilla taffy-like glob wrapped around a spoon.  It was definitely different but probably won’t be ordering that one again.

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Since it was going to be my last big night in Athens, I walked over to a nearby bar called Boo! and asked the bartender to make me something Greek.  This 10 ingredient cocktail was the result – very tasty and as promised, not too sweet thanks to the Aperol.

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I sat and enjoyed my cocktail as well the very cool interior of the bar.  I heard faint Greek music in the background and from time to time the ceiling seemed to be shaking.  The bartender explained there was a ballroom dance class going on upstairs.  I finished the rest of my cocktail and wandered back to my place.  Tomorrow would be the big day of finally scaling the Acropolis as well as perhaps a walk on the beach.

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