Before the total eclipse, Carol and I toured Athens on our own, then took a short tour to Delphi.
The first and most important stop on any visit to Athens is the Acropolis overlooking the city. The crowds were pretty light at this time in late March, so we got lots of good pictures. The Parthenon was undergoing extensive reconstruction, so I tried to hide the scaffolding and cranes wherever I could.
Just as impressive as the Parthenon (maybe because the scaffolding detracted from it) was the Erechtheion, on the other side of the Acropolis. The spring rains made the ground cover nice and green, with lots of wildflowers.
The other side of the Erechtheion was practically deserted, so it was hard to find someone to take our picture.
Down the hill from the Acropolis is the Agora, where Socrates, Aristotle, and St. Paul hung around to talk and to shop. Note again how empty the place is, in the off-season.
The Temple of Hephaestus is well-preserved (seen in the previous picture in the Agora).
In the Stoa of Attalos, the Agora Museum houses lots of artifacts found in the excavations. The tile with the letters "SOKRATES" spells out "SOCRATES". This is a voting chip used to vote out nominated citizens for a limited time.
Back near the Acropolis, overlooking the Agora, is Mars Hill, a possible site where St. Paul preached to the crowds.
Saturday was Independence Day in Greece, so most businesses and attractions closed for the day. A full military parade passed right in front of our hotel. The young girl is looking at some military aircraft that was flying over the parade route. There must have been 100 groups of 75 military personnel, of every branch, in every conceivable uniform, including scuba gear. Click on the picture for a short video of one marching unit. I don't know how long the parade route was, but they must have been pretty sore the next day, after marching like that! Lots of tanks and armored personnel carriers and other military vehicles, but no horses or floats.
After the parade, we walked back to the Acropolis area to visit Filopappos Hill. This is the site of Socrates' prison and some great views of Athens and the Acropolis.
Carol compared Athens to a giant step-exercise machine! The walks were actually pretty gently sloping, but there were many miles of opportunity to do steps. This view is on Filopappos Hill.
Hadrian's Arch is at the base of the Acropolis, erected for the Emperor.
After so much walking, we decided to learn how to navigate the subway. It was simple and inexpensive, so we used it extensively for our little remaining time in Athens. The stations were clean and not crowded, at least on this weekend.
The tour group offered a night at a taverna in the Plaka district, a typical tourist thing to do. Click on the image to bring up another short video of the dancing and music (with Carol doing a line dance on stage).
The next day, we started a tour to Delphi, a few hours away by bus. We stopped for a snack at a roadside cafe, where Don tried this delicious pastry, made with a honey glaze with sesame seeds.
Our tour guide at the Delphi museum pointed out many of the significant artifacts.
This block from one of the temples has lines of Greek text, with symbols at regular intervals over the words. These are instructions for the musicians - its a hymnal!
The Temple of Venus at Delphi.
Greeks are heavy smokers, but we avoided most of the problem by eating in the non-smoking areas of restaurants. This billboard appeared about every mile all through Athens and Greece.
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