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First-Time Visitors to Athens: International Monuments Day in Greece

April 18 is International Monuments Day in Greece which, luckily for us, means free admission to all ancient sites, including the Acropolis. Now, we could claim that we had planned this in advance as a cost saving measure, but that would be lying. We were in fact quite baffled when the lady at the ticket counter handed us a pair of tickets before we had reached for our wallets. Only much later in the day did we realize the reason for our incredible luck.

Getting to the Acropolis from our hotel took only about five minutes by foot. However, reaching Parthenon atop the Acropolis took an additional 15 minutes because of the massive crowds which had gathered on this special day.

The Acropolis is generally considered the most important ancient site in the Western world. So once we finally arrived at the top and were able to appreciate its crown jewel, the mighty Parthenon, it was well worth the wait. What a sight.

From Acropolis, we walked along small streets to Plaka – Athens Old Town – lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. At a random spot we stopped to sample some local food which turned out to be a mistake. The sea bass was so-so, at best, and the veggies were over-cooked and tasteless. Certainly, this place didn’t do the renowned Mediterranean cuisine justice.

After our not-so-successful lunch break in Plaka we continued our tour of historic Athens. We first went to the Roman Forum and then the Ancient Agora. At the Roman Forum there was a very interesting photo exhibition depicting the time during Nazi occupation of Greece.

I personally preferred the relaxed, park-like atmosphere of the Ancient Agora over the bustling Acropolis. From the Ancient Agora we could over-look the Acropolis.

Plaka connects to many historical sites and shopping streets. And of course we eventually stopped for ice-cream which, conversely, was a delightful experience, finishing the day on a culinary high-note.

To be continued…

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