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Where it All Started; Athens

ACROPOLIS Athens, Greece091720130001

Acropolis; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

If you have been following my blog for the past few weeks, it would be easy to conclude that we spent our entire Mediterranean stay in Venice. But our actual destination was a 2 week Mediterranean Cruise. As noted in the first post in this series, “Andy’s Excellent Mediterranean Adventure,” all did not go as planned, but on balance, we saw a lot of the Mediterranean, including two continents (Europe and a very brief time in Asia). Our first 4 1/2 days were all Venice and by the time we boarded the ship at the Venice docks, we were physically exhausted.

Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Columns; Parthenon; Athens, Greece Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Columns; Parthenon; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Our day in Athens was perhaps the longest day of our entire adventure

The cruise started with 2 “at sea” days. The cruise line “euphemistically” called the first day a day in port in Venice. We boarded the ship in the afternoon and had an overnight. I guess you could have stayed out all night on the island, but the ship left the port early the next morning and was at sea that entire day and the next. By my count , that is two days “at sea.” 🙂 . At first, I was disappointed to read that. I wanted stops – the more the merrier. By the time we boarded the ship I was delighted to have 2 full recovery days to get my “legs” back. We must have walked 300 miles during the days in Venice (o.k., maybe I exaggerated 🙂 ).

Temple of Olympian Zeuss; Athens, Greece Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Temple of Olympian Zeuss; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

 

We needed the rest. Our first port day was Athens. It was one of the longest, fullest days on the cruise. Our tour guide, Konstantinos, met the 4 of us at the cruise port early in the morning with a very ambitious agenda for us. Konstantinos could not have been nicer, nor more enthusiastic, about his job and his country! As we drove to the first destination of the day, The Temple of Zeuss, he gave us a brief overview of Athens history and our itinerary for the day.  It is said that all of modern European civilization began here, with the Greeks (as we learned later, it is possible the both the Turks and the Italians disagree with this notion 🙂 ).  We drove by the Athens Parliament Building and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and he promised to bring us back in time to see the changing of the guard there. He was good for his promise and we saw the very interesting ceremony. Having seen the changing of the guard in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, it was an indeed interesting contrast, in terms of uniform and presentation.

Changing of The Guard; Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Athens, Greece Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Changing of The Guard; Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Athens, more than anything else, was to me, about awe-inspiring architecture

But our morning started by driving by Hadrian’s Gate, to the parking lot for the Temple of Zeuss. There, we walked around the ancient grounds, saw and photographed the Temple and other architecture. As impressive as it was, I was to learn that it was only a taste of many even more imposing architecture.

Odeon Of Herodes Attica; Acropolis; Athens, Greece Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Odeon Of Herodes Attica; Acropolis; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

We next headed for the Acropolis, where Konstantinos handed us off to a special tour guide whose job it was to marshal us through the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum, before delivering us back to Konstantinos for the balance our the Athens day. She ably guided us through the Acropolis, where we saw many famous ancient architectural wonders, including Propylaea (the entrance to the Acropolis), which features the Temple of Athena Nike (widely credited with the origination of the now commercially famous Nike “swoosh,” the Erechtheion (Tomb of Poseidon, featuring the Caryatides statues of six Greek maidens), and of course the main feature: The Parthenon.

Temple Erechtheion; Acropolis; Athens, Greece Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Temple Erechtheion; Acropolis; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Another impressive feature of the Acropolis is The Odeon of Herodes Atticus (an impressive amphitheater which, according to historical accounts, was once covered by a wooden roof). This outdoor theater is still used today for concerts. I saw photographs of it lit and full. It would be a pretty amazing thing to participate in some day. The Acropolis is undergoing major renovation and restoration efforts currently, and the construction equipment was everywhere, and occasionally, presented an obstacle to photography. But in the long run, preservation and restoration of these very important landmarks are worth doing!

Parthenon; Acropolis; Athens, Greece Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Parthenon; Acropolis; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The New Acropolis Museum houses some pretty amazing artifacts. Photography in the museum was limited to certain areas, but there were a lot of artifacts which show just how sophisticated the civilization was in terms of tools for living; and substantial portions of the artistic sculptures of the day.

New Acropolis Museum; Athens, Greece Copyright 2103  Andy Richards

New Acropolis Museum; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2103 Andy Richards

New Acropolis Museum; Athens, Greece Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

New Acropolis Museum; Athens, Greece
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

(Next Week: The rest of Athens)

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One Response

  1. […] that was locally owned and authentic.  There was enough to see that I covered it in two posts, “Where it all Started: Athens,” and “Athens; The Rest of the Story,” in 2013.  The old city has narrow streets and […]

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