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The Big O.E An epic adventure across the world, backpacker style :)


GREECE | Tuesday, 8 July 2008 | Views [1182]

The Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus

What a view to arrive to. The streets buzzing with people dining al fresco and the Acropolis lit up under floodlights overhead. Now to find somewhere cheap to stay... yeah right. At 10pm after a day of travel we didn't really have a lot of choice or energy. Our options were the youth hostel's smelly basement dungeon dorm or the twin private room that hadn't been cleaned since the last Olympics were in town. The private room had a window so it won and we broke out our sleep sacks and tried to get some sleep before our big day exploring Athens.

We tried to get up early to beat the swarm of tourist coaches to the Acropolis, but it was already seething with people by the time we arrived. To make matters worse, every single structure on the Acropolis hill was covered in scaffold. Not a single block remained of the temple of Nike, the museum was closed as everything was being transferred to the new one in the town and to top it off, England still has the Elgin marbles. Yes, the Parthenon is pretty cool but once again we reflected on how lucky we were at Palmyra.

Like the Roman forum in Rome, the old Greek and Roman forums at the base of the Acropolis hill took a fair amount of imagination to bring to life. The huge exception being the Stoa of Attalos which has been completely rebuilt and houses an air conditioned museum inside. As it was over 40 degrees outside we spent much longer lingering over shattered pots and plates so we could enjoy a reprieve from the heat.

It was way too hot to do much exploring after lunch so we siestaed in our scabby filth room, our tummies full of yummy dolmades and chicken salad. It took until 4pm until it was safe to venture outside to explore again.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was pretty cool. Firstly there were no tourists. Secondly its massive columns are very impressive. But the coolest thing about it was the column that had toppled over and separated into bits. It was like a giant row of massive fluted Lifesaver mints leaning against each other in a row (see photo).

So up close we weren't impressed by the Acropolis. However from a distance, it was a different story. We climbed the neighbouring Hill of Nymphs (didn't see any nymphs though) at sunset and the view across the city to the Acropolis was much more impressive.

The next day we were up bright and early and, the clean, efficient Athenian metro network had us at the airport in perfect time for our flight. However this didn't matter as our plane was still sitting on the tarmac on the other side of the continent. So we had nine hours stuck in Athens airport, listening to whining kids, eating nasty airport food, cursing temperamental internet booths and reading boring airport magazines before we finally got off the ground. When we started travelling 18 months ago, we might have been annoyed or even angry at this kind of delay. Call us cynical, but these days we almost half expect it. Anyway, how could we let such a trivial matter ruin the end to what has been an amazing trip around the countries of the eastern Mediterranean?

Andio, Gule gule and M'a Ssalama!


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