Around and about Athens

Athens late Saturday night:  Jeff led a hike up one of Athens' hills for a night view of the Acropolis -- nice!

Athens late Saturday night: Jeff led a hike up one of Athens’ hills for a night view of the Acropolis — nice!

Sunday in Athens — I’m pretty sure that while I was growing up on the farm in ND, I ever imagined being able to say that phrase, or more remarkably, actually LIVE it.  Very cool …

We began our day with a stroll through Athens’ agora, especially enjoying the fully restored stoa (a covered walkway which was the Greek version of an outdoor shopping mall).  We’ve encountered stoas in some state or another in each ancient city we’ve visited, but Athens’ two-story stoa, beautifully restored by the Rockefeller family, is truly awe-inspiring.  Even though we did not need cover from the hot sun, it was pleasantly cool and ooh-and-ahh inspiring:  1 Athens double stoa in the agora
Also in the agora is a temple England’s Lord Elgin did NOT loot, so original marble columns and carved friezes are still intact.  The temple was dedicated to Hephaestus, the Greek god of metallurgy; it seemed fitting for Gerry to have his picture taken in front of it.Temple to Hephaestus         Joining brothers and sisters at the Second Greek Evangelical Church for worship was a highlight of the day.  We heard Pastor George Adams’ encouraging sermon translated from Greek to English through headsets, and were blessed in joining the congregational singing of familiar hymns and songs (We sang in English while others sang in Greek, a very moving experience.).  After the service, we hob-nobbed a bit

Paul and Carol outside the church; some of the congregation's many children hanging out after the service (notice the one literally hanging out in the tree)

Paul and Carol outside the church; some of the congregation’s many children hanging out after the service (notice the one literally hanging out in the tree)

before heading off to the Plaka (Athens’ historic neighborhood, which on Sunday a.m., is one huge flea market.) where we had lunch.  Some of us chose a giro place and encountered about a dozen of the folks we’d met at church shortly before — that was fun.

The rest of our day was spent in Greece’s National Archaeology Museum.  There was so much great stuff to see (The museum has the best collection of antiquities in the country.) that we were there until they closed the doors.

Clockwise from upper left:  a marble statue recovered from the sea (note how the parts exposed to sea-water are eaten away), a bronze horse/jockey sculpture (also recovered from the sea), marble Aphrodite, marble headstone

Clockwise from upper left: a marble statue of a runner in the starting blocks (recovered from the sea — note how the parts exposed to sea-water are eaten away), a bronze horse/jockey sculpture (also recovered from the sea), marble Aphrodite, marble headstone

Gerry’s favorite exhibit by far was the treasure discovered and saved by Heinrich Schliemann; because it was never looted, there are loads of actual gold artifacts that make your jaw drop — amazing!

Clockwise from upper left:  diadem parts, jewelry, genuine golden drinking cups, rings

Clockwise from upper left: diadem parts, jewelry, genuine golden drinking cups, rings

It’s obvious our day was full; after returning to the hotel and sharing dinner together, we happily retired for restful sleep.

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