Friday, July 18, 2008

Agora, Kerameikos, Athens

Today we did Athens on our own and at our own pace. We took the Metro for the first time and since we were told a few days earlier by an American lady that her handbag was picked in a metro station, we were apprehensive while riding the metro. We opted to buy a 24hr ticket that can be used on all the trams, buses and metro for 3 euros.

Our first stop was the Kerameikos, classical Athens cemetery of ancient tombs with many fine decorations.

From here we walked to the Agora, or the ancient marketplace where Socrates argued and St.Paul preached.

Next stop was the Roman Forum where the famous Tower of the Winds is. This area is much smaller and was less crowded than the Agora as you can see most of the structures from outside for free.

From here we walked to Plaka to look for lunch. We were looking for the famous tavern Bakaliarakia and had great difficulty finding it since it was at a basement. Alas, when we finally found it, it was closed and would open only in the evening. So we had lunch in the restaurant just opposite Bakaliarakia.
We then made our way to Hard Rock Cafe,near Syntagma. Remember to get the map of Athens from the airport where you can use the Hard Rock ad to get a 10% discount. While on the way there, we met one very nice Greek gentleman who offered his table and chairs for us to enjoy our ice-cream and ice-blended drink. He owns a souvenir shop and was enjoying his own ice coffee when he saw us. (Athens was in a heat wave of 40 degrees C.) He was very warm and genuine and did not ask us to look at his shop and try to sell us his stuff.

After getting some T-shirts as souvenir from Hard Rock Cafe, we took the metro back to our hotel for a rest. We ventured out again in the early evening, this time to the flea market near Monastraki. From here we walked along the shopping street of Ermou. While my wife did her window shopping from shop to shop, I did the rounds of churches nearby. This included the Mitropoli (unfortunately under scaffolding for renovation), the Panagia Gorgoepikoos and the Kapnikarea.

We then took a stroll along one of the pedestrian-only streets back to our hotel and joined many of the Athenians in enjoying an ice-cream cone at Kpinos on the way. Dinner was at Athinaikon and since this was our last night in Athens, we had a glass of wine each that cost 1.5 euros, the same as a glass of coke. This time the place was packed as it was dinner time for the Greeks. After dinner, it was time to pack for our trip home.

Ronald Kwok

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