Thursday, 18 March 2010

Ancient Athens, new Athens

Athens has been one of  my dream locations since long long time ago. I expect a place which is really well taken care, developed as it is one of the places where civilization begins. Peeping out from the plane already amazed us. The city is sooo huge, dispersed, dense and it goes till the seaside. All are white due to the stone colors they used to erect the building. Excited? Of course!

When we landed, we actually landed at the new modern area of Greece. Hi-tech airport is connected with metro right to the heart of Athens. I read from travelpod that Athens is first in civilization but they only have their metro after 2000 years. I tell you why later.

The first place that we went is the legendary Acropolis. The sun shone brightly but the wind forced us to put our jackets on. Since we do not have wind breaker, we had to make use of our winter jackets. What the hell is wrong with that as long as our student card is valid here. Entry fees? Nada! We are students, ok.

Acropolis consists of many temples, Temple of Nike (Goddess of Triumph -  if I am not mistaken), Phanteon, and many more that I could not remember. Most of the temples are actually ruins, so we still could not imagine how it were during the glorious day. However the best way to enjoy the view of Acropolis is from far. 

Most of the ruins or structure erections are either in restoration or rebuilding state. Only few can be found free from cranes or any building machine.

This is the main temple, Pantheon. Actually this is made from real lime stone. In fact all structures are made from lime stone. We could see many quarries being dig for this purpose. And as usual, my darling significant half is complaining about the extent of such excavation, how it may affect the earth structure, bla bla bla. (Is this one of the traits of geologist?)

Taking pictures at Acropolis was really difficult. As the subject, I had to tolerate the wind and the quick toddling little Zara Humaira. For the photographer was mainly," How am I going to set the tripod on the uneven, stony ground...". Time required? - Enough to cook rice using rice cooker before every setting, and sometimes even more.

Acropolis really tested our strength and patience. First, no stroller is allowed, so we needed to either hold our daughter or walked slowly in every directions with her. Two, the location is extremely uneven, we have to climb, walk down and climb again. Three, the is only one place where we can leave our stroller. So, instead of making a cross through path, we have to create a big round circle. Pfff! Since I am easily losing weight, I have to eat more than double portion on that day or risking myself for not having energy for the next day.

The next attraction is Ancient Agora. This is also the title of latest movie of Rachel Weisz. Even tough the movie was not filmed here (they did it in Egypt), it supposed to portray this part of city.  

Agora was actually a town with temples, habitual area, commercial center complete with sewerage and water system. 

At the middle of the town, was (and still exist till now) a water clock. This water clock only functioning for 17 hours instead of 24. In the early days, the water well  was emptied every morning. The level of risen water showed the time. So, if we were living there, at that particular time, we have to go out to the middle of the town, just to check the time. I could not imagine what if I want to bake...hmmmm

This is another side of the main temple in Agora

One remarkable thing that I learned from my husband was the building were actually carved stones put on top of each other in such an accurate manner where it can stay for years. He added that it must be some application of "tanggam". Do not know what is it, but as long it is beautiful, I am not a person to argue. 

This building is the newest original member of all structures in Agora, dated 1000 B.C - a church. When I sat on the stone, suddenly I heard somebody was screaming something in Greek. I immediately stood up. Owh...actually visitors are not allowed to touch ANYthing. The scream was meant at me. Hahaha. (But it is just a big stone, duh!)

The commercial center has been rebuilt and turned into a museum. There are many things put on display from statues (some with uncertain figure), coins, accessories (big and small), information board describing this and that especially on ritual practices during the era. Also on show is this tomb/grave of little peasant girl. The archeologists said that it was determined by the 2 pins and bracelets which acted as accessories. The age was determined by the water jugs which were buried with her as memoir.

Then, we walked out of the ancient city. Started from Parliament (but we did not capture any photos there as the whole city was preparing for the next strike - I will write on that later), we found this old church right at the middle of a square. 

Straight ahead of the church was an old National Mosque but now it is no longer being used. Instead, it placed some arts and functioned as a museum. Beside the mosque is a metro station of Monastiriki. 

Athens is first in civilization but they only had their metro after 2000 years- remember? This is one of the reasons. Athens today is built on top of the old Athens. Development is really difficult. Everytime they dig a place they found an archeology sites. One of the examples is this, situated exactly in Monastiriki metro station. So besides a metro station, it is actually a small museum, proving that since the early civilization, water system had been developed systematically together with sewerage system. So, they have to both developed the country and preserve the archeological value. Maintenance cost? Don´t ask me. I think this is one of the reasons why the financial condition of Greece today is worsening.

Besides Monastiriki also located the best place in town, Athens Flea Market. Technically it is far from flea market. It is actually a place where souvenirs are easily found (and cheap) along with other items such as clothes, accessories, leather bags and shoes. 

There is also a branch of street at Athens Flea Market where posh restaurants are located, serving typical greek cuisines, like these.Beside good food (with quite expensive price) we can enjoy a beautiful view of both Acropolis and Agora. Yet, I am a person who enjoying my food so I did care less. Oooo I still can savour the taste of aubergine, baked with tomatoes, spices and herbs. Unfortunately, we could not try mousaka as it is cooked with meat. I should try to find the recipe and make it on my own.

At the other side of the town, near the Central Station situated another church. The dome can be seen from our hotel, in green. We went there at the first place cause we thought it is a mosque. It really looks like a mosque if the cross is not there, right?

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