Checking out Athens, Greece

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Checking out Athens, Greece

Oh hi there!  How’s your week?  I have to say that with just seven weeks until Baby B gets here, I’m getting a little anxious (and very big) so I’m trying to stay focused on the positive day-to-day stuff to keep my mind off things.  Like for instance, remembering the amazing babymoon the Hubs and I took earlier this month!  Last week I told you all about the gloriousness of Crete.  It was seriously one of the best places I’ve ever been.  We spent about 95% of our vacation there but we couldn’t go to Greece without at least stopping in Athens for a day.  I’m so glad we did!  Athens is truly a remarkable city.

welcome to athens

What We Saw

Because it was about 90 degrees in Athens and I’m hugely pregnant, the Hubs and I decided to have a driver take us around to the various sites in Athens.  He was incredibly knowledgeable and had some great suggestions for things to see.


The Acropolis

acropolis 2

We started, of course, with the Acropolis—a wise decision since the day was only going to get hotter and the site would get more crowded.  It’s quite the climb but the view is pretty amazing.  It absolutely floors me to think that the famous Pantheon was built in the fifth century!  One thing that struck me about the ancient buildings at the Acropolis and elsewhere is the fact that almost all of the buildings were purposefully destroyed at some point through war or pillaging.  It’s sad to think that humans can build something so remarkable and then purposefully tear it down. The ongoing restoration project is so important! 

pantheon 2

Besides the Pantheon, a few other notable buildings include: 

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a theater that is still in use today, especially during the Athens Festival in the summer. 


The Caryatides

caryatides 1

caryatides 2

The Temple of Zeus

Although the Acropolis is definitely the highlight in Athens, there are so many other remarkable monuments including the Temple of Zeus.  This temple actually used to have 108 of the columns pictured.  There are now only 16.  The Temple also used to house the Statute of Zeus, which was ordered destroyed by the Roman Emperor Caligula.

temple of zeus 1

temple of zeus 2

Panathenaic Olympic Stadium

Ok this is really cool.  The Ancient Olympics were can be traced as far back as 776 B.C. and were held for 12 centuries before Emperor Theodosius in 393 A.D. banned the games as part of pagan cults. The modern Olympics were not held again until 1896 and they were held in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens!

olympics 1

olympics 2And this one is for all your runners out there.  The 1896 Olympics were also the first Olympics to introduce the marathon as an event. It was introduced in honor of the Greek soldier Pheidippides. You see, the Greek army went to battle with the Persians in Marathon, Greece in 490 B.C. and the Greek army was completely outnumbered by the Persians. However, the Greeks implemented war tactics for the first time and were able to defeat the Persians despite being completely outnumbered. Pheidippides then ran all the way from Marathon to Athens to inform the leaders of the victory. After running the distance, he collapsed and died.  Luckily, that doesn’t seem to happen these days when people run marathons! 🙂


plaka 3

We ended our day in Plaka for lunch.  This is the historical neighborhood of Athens and it is so darling. We ate a fabulous lunch at a local cafe perched on a hill and then wandered among the old buildings.  It was exactly what I think of when I picture Greece!

plaka Collage

athens 4

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the King George Hotel, another Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel.  It was so European and so cool!  It was ornately decorated and located right in the heart of Constitution Square next to the Parliament.  I felt like one of the royals staying there!

king george Collage

We debated between the King George Hotel and the Hotel Grand Bretagne (which means Brittany!) but ended up at the King George.  It was a little quieter there and had some spectacular views of the Acropolis from their outdoor dining patio so I was glad we made that decision.  We did head over to use the spa facilities at the Hotel Grand Bretagne, which were amazing.  I may have fallen asleep on a lounge chair by the pool… 

What We Ate

We decided to eat dinner at our hotel because we had to get up extremely early to catch our flight to London the next morning. The hotel did not disappoint!  Like I said, the views of the Acropolis were stunning and the food was impeccable!

dinner 1

dinner Collage

dinner 6

Readers, what is the oldest monument you’ve ever seen?  Do you enjoy learning the history of places you visit or are you more of a just-take-it-in type person?  Did you know the story of the first marathon?

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