With a wake-up call at 4:00am, I hopped (or rather dragged) myself into a taxi to head to the airport for what would be a great feat of traveling for some one who has never traveled alone. A forty minute cab ride took me to the airport where I had difficulty trying to print my boarding pass until a nice woman helped me out. After a a quick last French croissant, I boarded the first leg of my flight which would take me to Germany. There, I disembarked my plane and shuffled my way through the crowd to find my connecting flight to Athens that was boarding as I arrived at the terminal (phew). This time I got a window seat which was a great grab as flying out of Germany was absolutely stunning.
I then ventured to baggage claim, onto an hour bus ride, then a struggled my luggage onto a trolleybus that arrived a block from my hostel. I was welcomed by a friendly Greek who showed me to my room that I would be staying in for the night. After thanking God for getting me through a crazy morning of travel safely, I lightened my load and set out to explore the city. The rest of my classmates were arriving the next day but there was no way I was waiting a day to see the acropolis.
First I walked past the Panathenaic Stadium. This site was were the athletic events in the Panathenaic Games were hosted in antiquity. Later rebuilt in marble in 329 BC, then renovated again in 140 AD, and finally excavated and refurbished for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1870.
Next was the Temple of Olympian Zeus and its neighbor, Hadrian’s Arch.
This temple was commissioned in the 6th century BC but wasn’t completed until the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s rule in 2nd century AD Why did it take so long? Well, differing opinions of rulers during the Athenian democracy, stolen pieces, changing the building material, etc. prolonged the process by quite a bit (obviously). It’s roughly 60 foot tall columns are made of local limestone at first, then changed to Pentelic marble and are topped with the Corinthian order. You can just imagine how massive the completed temple was in the Classical period!
Hadrian’s Arch was constructed in about 131AD as a gateway from the “old” city of Athens to the “new”. The inscription on the on the side facing the acropolis reads “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus” while the opposite side says “This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus”. Theseus was seen as the original founder of Athens and Hadrian saw his rule as a rediscovery of the city.
Next was the hike up the side of the Acropolis. I had to restrain myself from spending money on the actual tour and going to the acropolis because I knew we would go as a class. So seeing it from a distance had to do for the day. First “discovery” was the Theatre of Dionysus. This site belongs to about the 4th century BC where festivals in honor of the Olympian god of revelry, wine, and a sense of duality, Dionysus.
And here we come to the pictures of the Acropolis. Since I am sure to make a post dedicated to our trip to the actual site, I will spare you the history lesson for now.
I have craved to see these monuments in real life since I first opened my textbooks years ago and nothing but Mass could pull me away. And so I trekked down the side of the hill to weave my way through the city of crazy drivers to find the Cathedral of Saint Dionysus for an evening Mass. Dionysus was an follower of Saint Paul and was the first bishop of Athens. I was lucky enough to find myself at an English Mass in a surprisingly stunning church.
I got a little lost on my way home, but thanks to friendly locals and a map I found myself safe and joyful in my hostel skyping a friendly face. I may have gotten lost once, but considering how many times I could have messed up by missing a flight, getting on the wrong bus, or missing the appropriate stop; I’d call that a success. All in all, I cannot think of a better way to say “γεια σας Αθήνα!”
“For the Lord God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9