Moby Obie Memorial Mediterranean Cruise, Day 4

ATHENS

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After two days at sea, we were ready to get our land legs again.  We are arriving in Athens, home of Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates, and the Georgia Bulldogs.  Actually, we are arriving in Piraeus, the port city for Athens.  But since Athens contains 5 of the 11 million Greeks, Piraeus is now actually considered part of Athens.  In other words, Greece is Athens.

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[One of the advertising ploys of the new ship was that it has a see-through skywalk, where you can look down thousands of feet below you.  The supervisor caught me doing the death defying act of trying to maintain my balance as I crossed over the dangerous chasm!]

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[And this was my view.]

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[Yeah, I thought I was brave!]

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[Land-ho!]

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[Piraeus port.]

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[The supervisor said, “I’m ready!  Let’s do it!”]

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[Our first guided land excursion – our guide was Christiana and our driver was Demetrius (“Jim” if that was too complicated).  In Christiana’s first encounter with the group of 17, who just happened to be Chinese-Americans, she defused it nicely by saying that while the whole world describes something incomprehensible as It’s all Greek to me, she said Greeks say It’s all Chinese to me.]

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[A touch of home?]

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[Our first sighting of the Acropolis.  Not an attractive photo but just wanted to show the difficulty of shooting from a moving vehicle.  So many of the places we visited, the antiquity involved looking through modernity, which meant power and communications lines.  😦 ]

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[You hope for a good shot you can clean up by cropping.  We would shortly climb up there in 95-degree heat!  🙂 ]

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[But first, the Panathenaic Stadium . . .]

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[Built for the Olympics in 1896, the only stadium in the world built entirely of white marble.  The supervisor hies to check it out – or look for a WC, whichever occurs first.]

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[The WC was off to the right.  It required money.  We were running around trying to get change for the coin slot!  I believe this was the only time we paid to pee.]

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[The crowds arrive to simultaneously shoot into the stadium.  I’m glad we were among the first to arrive.]

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[Do we really have to pay?]

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[The Parthenon from the stadium.  Tourists already gathered on the far right, under the flag.  Don’t get too close to the edge!]

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[The Parthenon is undergoing a restoration that appears likely to take decades.]

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[A city park.]

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[“The Runner,” 1988, a 30-foot high statue made of stacked panes of green glass.  Christiana mentioned how many tons the thing weighs, but do you think I could find it on the internet?]

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The Parliament building.  Christiana made some remark about the capabilities of the members therein that sounded strangely familiar to what we hear back here.  😉 ]

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[As we were watching the Presidential Guards in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (an international recognition?), a police presence swooped in and started moving all the tourists off to the side.]

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[It turns out we were there, by pure dumb luck, for the changing of the guard, which on Sundays only is preceded by a parade!  🙂  ]

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[Let’s just watch the parade go by . . .]

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[Bill snaps stills; the supervisor shoots a video.]

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[Go get ’em, Soupie!]

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[The crowd raise their arms . . .]

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[The supervisor shoots the changing.]

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[Shooting blindly over the top.]

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[Kick boxing?]

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[What now?  Souvlaki?]

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[The park across the street from the Parliament plaza.]

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[The crowd disperses as the ceremony concludes.]

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[Voted No. 1 fan at the parade.  I had the only vote.  I wonder if she plays hockey?]

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[The parade reverses and goes home.  The guard changes every hour which is nice since it was 95 degrees on this day.]

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[Christiana leads her flock in search of the bus, which was detoured because of the parade.  The Ravi Shankars help me bring up the rear.]

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[I think it’s this way?]

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[A parting glance at the Parliament.]

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[How can one not take a photo of the Athens Happy Train?  😉 ]

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[Hadrian’s Arch, 131 AD.  Roman Emperor Hadrian was noted for his peaceful reign.  He did not destroy the civilizations under Rome’s control.  In fact, he helped enhance beauty and architecture of such places.  Thus, it seems one finds monuments to Hadrian all over this part of the world.]

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[Christiana rounds us up for an assault on the Acropolis.  It’s billed as 80 steps up – that excludes the 100’s of feet of sloping walkways!  Maybe if it was about 40 degrees cooler!]

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[To the summit, team!]

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[The thoughtful tour guide tries to find shade – for a rest and more tutoring.]

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[Our goal!]

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[The view the other direction.]

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[It’s not unlike a safari.]

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[An amphitheater half way up.]

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[A good place to check out what’s new in backpacks!  😉 ]

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[Time for an oxygen hit.  Looking back down into the city.]

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[CSI, Athens?]

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[Climbers assemble for the final approach.  Oh, the humanity!]

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[With Bill and Christriana, HELLLLLOOOOOOO, ATHENS!]

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[The Leaning Column of the Acropolis?]

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[You can see all of Greece from here!  😉 ]

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[An amazing place.  And don’t let the crowds dissuade you – they are part of the excitement.]

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[And we’re still not to the top?]

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[Love the “layers” in this shot, if I do say so myself.  Wasn’t planned, every once in a while you get lucky.]

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[At long last, at the entry arch.]

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[Temple of Athena, in front of the Erechtheum.]

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[Unique columns therein.]

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[Parthenon reconstruction.]

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[The supervisor and Athena.]

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[I removed my hat, for The Nanner, and my head immediately blistered!]

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[A room with a view.]

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[The Erechtheum.]

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[The Parthenon . . . and some fans.]

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[The backside of the Erechtheum.]

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[Shooting the Parthenon down its length.]

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[Greek flag.  Q:  What’s a Grecian urn?  A:  About 200 drachmas per hour.  Oh, you heard that one already?]

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[I forgot.  But SE of the Acropolis.]

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[I forgot, from farther away.]

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[Looking NE from the Acropolis.]

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[It’s time for photo ops with the Parthenon!]

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[Like African herd animals on the Serengeti.  Hey, it was really hot!]

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[The Parthenon’s rear.]

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[Young love, true love . . .]

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[A theatre.  Good acoustics.]

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[The pieces to the jigsaw puzzle of antiquity.]

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[Somewhere around 9:00, I used to be able to see the arena that was built for basketball and volleyball for the 2004 Olympics.]

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[I believe the Salty Dogs open here in October.]

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[We’re heading back down.]

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[The Plaka District.]

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[To my knowledge, not Amish.]

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[Following Christiana in search of food.]

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[Acropolis Museum – we were too time starved.]

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[Still searching . . .]

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[Aha, a genuine back alley Greek restaurant, so we had to try Mythos beer.]

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[Remember this?  Hadrian’s Arch.  Where we met up after dining to “go home.”]

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[A fine looking building on the drive back to the ship.]

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[Back on the ship, checking the adult pool area . . .]

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[Once again, no skinny dippers?]

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[Well, we found our way back on this night.]

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[Rita, we missed you!]

Up next:  Kusadasi.

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