17 Feb Athens – Athena’s Legacy
The birthplace of civilisation and democracy; the capital of Greece is a ‘must see’ stop and well worth a few days stay in anyone’s gap year.
There is so much more to see here. Whether you are backpacking on a tight budget or feeling flush with some spare cash in your pocket you will not be disappointed.
Amongst other things, Athens is an archaeological Mecca, being home to a host of globally renowned museums and research centres. But it is the monuments themselves and vast array of architectural styles that really draws me in. Who hasn’t heard of the Acropolis? Standing majestically on its rocky hill, Athena’s legacy looks out over the modern city below like a mother watching her children. The Parthenon temple has been on my ‘to see’ list since I was a small child and saw the Elgin marbles in the British Museum. I shade my eyes from the glaring sun and stare in awe at one of the greatest architectural achievements of the ancient world. Only the Pyramids at Giza and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome have reduced me to silence in the same way. I try to picture it as it would have been only 400 years ago, before an explosion blew part of it away. But none of the damage has made it any less of a wonder.
A couple of hours later I bid the ancient world farewell and head back down to modernity. The streets hum with the sound of traffic and chattering people. Not satisfied yet I head over to Exarcheia district to the National Archaeology Museum for a wander around. As a student, entry was absolutely free but otherwise – the pleasure would only set you back 6 €. This area has a mixed reputation, but I’m endeared to it immediately with its many cafe’s, bars and bookstores. I take a relaxing lunch in a student quarter and watch the world rush by.
So many greats have called this city home, philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, artisans, not to mention the sports with the Olympic Games. Theatre here is deeply engrained in the way of life and there are some 148 theatrical stages to choose from, both old and new. But my final stop today is the planetarium, reputedly one of the best in the world and costs, you guessed it – 6€!
Author Bio: Liah S Thorley is a travel writer and novelist. She loves to travel and having lived in the USA, returns there whenever she can.