Getting to Athens
This was another DIY tour and we started very early. We left port Pireus around 8am and took a free shuttle to Port Terminal Main building. Then we walked to the metro station. Took metro green line to Omonia station, transfer to Red line towards Dimitrio, 3 stops to Acropolis. We got there before 9am and we arrived sooner than the rest of the cruise guests. So we got a little head start on taking photos before the crowd arrived.
After we got out of the subway, we walked up a trail towards the Acropolis. First, we walked by Dionysis Theater. This is a large semi-circular theater built along the hill. Further up is the Parthenon. This is likely the highest point in the city. From here I looked down over the city of Athens below us. The temple was mostly broken and defaced. The actual pieces were moved to the museum. Most of what can be seen here are replicas. One side was under maintenance with scaffolding around it. It was a very nice day with clear blue sky. We walked around the Acropolis once to admire it in all angles. It is really big. Standing under the columns gave me a sense of scale of how big this temple really is.
A short distance away is the Erechtheion. One side of the roof was supported by 6 maiden statues, called Caryatids, as columns. Again the statues were removed to the Museum and replaced with replica here. They are simply lovely. I could imagine how gorgeous they once were.
Acropolis Archaeological Museum
Next to the Acropolis is the Museum. Admission was only 1 Euro. Near the entrance there was an area with glass floors. Through the glass floor I could see archeological sites underneath it. Inside they do not allow photography. We saw a lot of the artifacts from the Acropolis displayed here. We also saw a film about the history of the Acropolis on how it was built, destroyed by war, and earthquake. We also saw the maiden statues I mentioned before. For information about the museum and exhibit http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en
After leaving the Acropolis we went back down hill into the city. Following the map we walked to Symtagma Square to watch the change of guards. The change of guards is at noon. When we got there, there were already a small crowd of tourists. The change had just started a little. The change of guard did not take long and was over soon. The Tombs of Unknown Soldiers is also here.
Plaka shopping district
A short walk from the Symtagma Square is the Plaka shopping district. This area is just some small narrow cobbled stone streets with lots of souvenir shops. May be we were there early and the crowd hasn't arrived yet. The streets were rather quiet. We browsed around for souvenir and bought a little mini vase with Greek painting on it.
Arch of Hadrian and the Temple of Zeus
Leaving the Plaka district we went to the Temple of Zeus. We could see it as soon as we moved out to the open away from the buildings. This site was entered through the Arch of Hadrian. There are inscriptions on the arch. The arch marked the separation of the old and new ancient city. From a distance I was already amazed by the size of those columns in the middle of the site. But when I got closer to the temple of Zeus I realized how giant those columns really were. They are even bigger than those at Parthenon. I could imagine how grand it once was before it collapsed. There were still a bunch of columns standing. A fallen columns broke off in segments like a stack of fallen cookies. I wished there were more structures or artifacts left behind. But only the few columns remained for us to imagine what it might have looked like back in ancient times.
Return to Acropolis metro station and return to port at Pireus.
We returned the same way we came. Took the subway from Acropolis metro station and returned to port. Then took a bus #843 to the Terminal entrance instead of walking the 20 min. It was still early but I already finished my itinerary so we return to the ship for dinner.
Get the subway train day pass for 3 Euro and Museum cost 1 Euro. Great value.