Saturday, December 27, 2014

Athens, Greece; Port of Piraeus, NCL Jade Cruise (Acropolis, Aeropagus)

This was Day 4 of our 10N cruise, out of Rome, to ports in Greece and Turkey. Today, we call at the port of Piraeus, for Athens,Greece.

This is a 2 minute snippet movie of what we did in Athens.

Detailed Review
Athens has such a long, rich history and so much has been written about it. Athens is one of the world's oldest cities, having been inhabited for thousands of years. Her recorded history spans 3,400 years - that is just mind-boggling.

I shall not even try to pretend that I know very much but let's just say that reading the history of Athens and walking through her streets gives one a great perspective of time and space. It is humbling, to say the least. Even more humbling would be to visit some of the places whereby apostle Paul would have preached.

When we prepared for this visit, my wife did the work of researching and we ended up booking a driver for the day from pktravel ( Our driver was Dimitris. The service was excellent & I would recommend them if you are considering a private tour.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Change of Guard Ceremony video - Check out their slick moves with bon-bon shoes 

Our next stop, was a viewpoint on the way up to Mt Lycabettus. This was our ride for the day and the driver, Dimitris, a real fun guy to talk to.  Dimitris shared with us that he was formerly a navy diver with the Greek navy.  He was a military man. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

A closer look at the side of the van. We love guiding, we love Greece! Nice tag-line. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The weather today was good and it would get better. We were blessed, this is winter. It could easily have rained. The views from this lookout were breathtaking. See the Acropolis in the distance. We would be headed there later.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

After taking in the views, Dimitris drove us up the hill a bit more, till we reached a place where the vehicle could no longer ascend. He then said that we could walk the rest of the way up to the top of Mt Lycabettus, but make sure to take the exact same path back to the van. If we took the wrong path, we would end up on the other side of the Mountain and won't be able to meet him!

So we took a leisurely walk up. Some of the steps were fairly steep and it would have been rather slippery, had it been wet. So be careful if you want to do this climb.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The climb was definitely worth it. Check out the views from the top. There was a church up there as well as a restaurant. Both weren't opened yet when we were there. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Even though the restaurant wasn't opened, the toilets were! So we all took a toilet break here, before heading back to the van. On the way back, we saw the funicular train. I think it started at 9AM and departed every half-hour. So it wasn't very frequent. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Temple of Zeus
Our next stop was the ancient Temple of Zeus. It didn't take long to get there, at most 15 minutes. Dimitris advised us to buy the 12 Euro combined ticket for the Acropolis at the entrance ticket booth and that would also give us entry to this temple. Great idea. We spent about 20 minutes looking at the temple ruins, which were the remaining columns. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Our next stop was the first stadium of the modern Olympic games. This place was just a 3 minute van ride from the Temple of Zeus. The stadium was made completely of marble. We didn't enter, just took photos from the outside. This was like the gift shop. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

After this, we would be headed to the Acropolis - definitely the highlight of the day. Before we go there, check out the video I made of the trip so far.

This was the cover of the report of the 1896 Summer Games, officially known as Games of the I Olympiad. Only 241 atheletes from 14 nations participated, but already it was considered a great success. Today, the Olympic legacy lives on, with about 10,500 competitors from 204 nations competing in the 2012 Summer Games.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Panathenaic stadium sign, from the outside. The stadium was reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek stadium and the only one in the world built entirely by marble from Mount Penteli. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Our next stop would be the highlight of our day in Athens, the famous Acropolis! We saw the Acropolis from Mt Lycabetttus earlier that morning and we had bought our combined tickets for the Acropolis (12 Euro adult) from the ticket station outside the Temple of Zeus. All this created great anticipation. Buying the tickets at the Temple of Zeus where there were no lines for tickets also saved us some time. Good suggestion by Dimitris!

The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a flat-top rock, 150M above sea level, with a surface area of about 3 hecares or 7.5acres. Earlier, we were at Mt Lycabettus, 277M above level, however the top surface area was not very big.

The site contains several ancient buildings of great historical and cultural significance. The most famous was the Parthenon - a former temple dedicated to the godess Athena. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and even western civilisation.

The Elgin Marbels (or Parthenon Marbles, a collection of ancient Greek classical scriptures) were controversially removed by the 7th Earl of Elgin in 1806 and sold to the British Museum in 1816.

Check out the video I made of our visit to the Acropolis. Thank God for the beautiful weather on that day.

This was the entrance to the Acropolis, where we would have to walk up. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The views as we walk up. Gorgeous day Image and video hosting by TinyPic

There was a lot of restoration work going on, which is inevitable given how old these structures are. We couldn't go into the Parthenon, so we had to admire the structure from the outside. Hopefully tourists can enter the Parthenon in the future. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

There was a good crowd here, even though it was winter. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This was the view point where tourists congregated to take photos. It is a raised platform and the space on that platform was not very big. You could get excellent views of Athens from there, as well as views of the Parthenon. However, please be very careful with your belongings especially when you are in crowded places. Congestion of tourists is the best place for pickpockets to operate and there are very sophisticated pickpockets in Athens. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Another view of the Parthenon columns. You can literally see the restoration work going on. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We spent about an hour taking in the sights from Acropolis. Then we head down and found our way to the Areopagus. Here she is. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The Areopagus is the site of the famous Areopagus sermon by Apostle Paul, as recorded in Acts 17:16-34 of the Bible.

Acts 17:16 - "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatory."

Having now visited the Acropolis, I can start to appreciate the meaning of "the city wholly given to idolatory". Imagine the splendour of the grand Acropolis back then!

Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel of Jesus and the resurrection. Paul went to the synagogue and had a dispute with the Jew, and with other devout persons, philosophers and pagan worshippers.

Acts 17:19 - "And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?"

At Areopagus, who did Paul address in his famous sermon?

Acts 17:22-23 - "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."

A most remarkable observation. Mankind would rather worship unknown Gods than the true God and saviour. Paul goes on to explain,

Acts 17:24-25 - "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;"

Eventually, Paul called on the people to repent,

Acts 17:30-31 - "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent; Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."

Jesus had died on the cross for all of mankind's sins. Repent!

Imagine Paul standing at this point, preaching to the pagans. I stood there too, but I didn't do any preaching. The weather was great and I was certainly brought back almost 2,000 years in time.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Who was Paul addressing when he gave the famous sermon? This picture is a reproduction of a painting by Raphael 1515, depicting Paul delivering his sermon on the Aeropagus. From the Bible, we know that Paul was preaching to Judges as well as senior religious people. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Well, we had to move on with our tour. By now, it was about noon, and we were feeling hungry. It was time for lunch!

This video shows you our lunch and the New Acropolis museum.

We met up again with our driver. He dropped us off at one end of Adrianou Street (37.975731, 23.724949), it was like a small bus interchange. Dimitris advised us to walk along Adrianou street as there were many restaurants and cafes where we would get some food. It was by chance that we ate at the restaurant Kotoli.

We walked along the street, for about 400M, and we came to Kotoli.(37.975731, 23.724949 - type these co-ordinates in Google maps to get the exact location)

The restaurant - Kotoli. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We ordered 2 platters from the menu (large platter and seafood variety, 26 Euros each), a Greek salad and some drinks (including 2 Greek beers, diet coke and a cafe latte). Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Greek beer tasted really good after walking the entire morning. Cheers! Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This is what the seafood platter (26 Euros) looked like. All the items were fresh of the grill and tasted lovely. There was so much to eat! Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We had a fabulous meal and they even gave us complimentary dessert (a scoop of strawberry ice-cream) as well as a shot of some very flavourful and sweet Greek spirit. The bill came up to 82.90Euros.

After the meal, we met up with our driver again and went to the last stop of the day, the New Acropolis museum. The museum was fascinating because they built it on top of Byzantine ruins. Apparently, when they were excavating the foundations for the museum, they found a large Byzantine complex, including beautiful mosaics. In order to preserve the archaeological site, they erected columns to build the new Acropolis museum, while creating enough space below so that excavation works could continue. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We spent about an hour at the museum, before heading back to the ship. We got back to the ship at about 3pm. Overall, it was an excellent day in port.

We bade farewell to Dimitris, our driver. He impressed us with his passion for his country. It was fortuitous that I managed to record down his spontaneous response to our question. Watch this video again, to get what I mean.

Back on the ship, I did a video while on the sun deck, watching passengers enjoying the pool. There was also three vessels from the Greek Navy (Hellenic Navy) docked beside the Norwegian Jade. (One frigate, one fast attack craft and one submarine). Here is the video.

Thanks for reading and visiting my blog!

No comments :

Post a Comment