Saturday, June 28, 2008

Athens City tour, Greece

I thought we'll have a leisurely breakfast in the hotel this morning after a restful sleep but no, the tour operator came to collect us for the morning Athens tour at 7.30am, right in the midst of our breakfast. You see, for the previous night's tour, they came late so I thought it will be like back home where we have "rubber" time, i.e. always late. But this time they were early since our hotel is the first pick-up point. After picking up other tourists from some other hotels, we started the proper tour of Athens around town.

The fist stop was the original Olympic stadium that hosted the first modern Olympic in 1896. This is supposedly the only stadium in the world completely built with marble.

Next was the Temple of Zeus, the most colossal temple of ancient Greece.

The next and final stop is the must-see of Athens, the Acropolis. Atop this hill are the various remains of many majestic buildings. There were already many groups of other tourist there and our guide had to fight for her 'air-space' when she gave us her commentary of the whole area. Because part of the path were marble slabs, well polished by the throngs of tourist, there were many who slipped and fell so good gripping shoes are recommended.

Alas for us (especially those photographers, many of the buildings, including the Parthenon, were under renovation and were surrounded by scaffolding and cranes that restricted the photo opportunities.)

From atop the Acropolis, you have a good view of Athens and right across you can see the Filopappos Hill and just make out the Filopappos Monument. That's where the 18x zoom of my Lumix FZ18 come in handy. Just look at the full zoom shot to appreciate its usefulness.

Lunch was on our own, I had a kebab in pita bread at a 'grill house' near the hotel that cost only 1.8 euro. After a short rest in the hotel, we were off to an afternoon trip to Cape Sounion, the southernmost point of the Attica district where Athens is in. This was a scenic drive alone the coastal road passing many small beaches and had a view of the Saronic Gulf and islands that dotted it. The tour guide informed that on one of the hills along the way is one of the bungalows given by tycoon Onasis to Jacqueline as a present. On top of the cliff at Cape Sounion is the remains of the Temple of Poseidon.

After taking in the view from the cliff, we all relaxed in the cafe sipping ice lemonade before making our way back to the hotel. It has been a long hot day in Athens.

For dinner, my wife and I headed for Athinaikon, a mezedopoleia that is supposed to be popular with the locals. (This is also near the hotel.) But since we were rather early for dinner (by Greek standard), there was no crowd. I had fried codfish with garlic potato and my wife had octopus in wine. Together with some steam vegetables and soft drinks, the bill came to about 25 euro. I found the codfish too salty on its own and the veg too soft (better to stick to salad) but OK otherwise. So it was early to bed since we'll be going on the 3-day cruise the next morning.

Ronald Kwok

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