our first full day in athens, we stuck to the well-traveled roads of thousands before us, and after consuming 2 extremely delicious and fatty pastries for breakfast (and scattering the crumbs to the pigeons), we struck out for the gleaming acropolis. we spent lots of time on the windy plateau, trying unsuccessfully to avoid a korean tour group that was snapping photos in our wake. we took in the beule gate, the last bits of the temple of athena nike, the monumental parthenon, and the erechtheion with the famous caryatid ladies. it was windy but exciting to be above the bustling city below. we soaked it up as long as we could.
for lunch, we lucked out at a small, cheap gyro shop, and paid very little money for two delicious gyros wrapped in pita bread. then, we decided to do a walking tour of the city. we started in syntagma square, where we stumbled upon a pretty intense protest. we watched the young crowd chant for awhile, before decided to steer clear of the potentially unstable scene (the riot police putting on gas masks tipped us off), so after getting a quick glance at the parliament building, we were off to the national gardens. we then walked over to zappeio palace (used as the olympic village in the 2nd modern olympics in athens) and saw panathenaic stadium, where the first olympic games were held in 1896.
next up was the temple of olympian zeus, the remains of the largest temple ever built, next to hadrian’s arch. we then entered into a maze of small, narrow, one-way streets that really showed off the character of old athens. we saw the church of agia ekaterini, the street of tripods, and really enjoyed the anafiotika quarter, a quaint neighborhood full of stacked-up, whitewashed houses and dozens of cats. we continued on our way over to roman agora and to monastiraki square, a lively place full of street vendors and entertainment. we walked through an old turkish bazaar, and then settled on a place for dinner – the small, unassuming paradosiako restaurant. here, we had some delicious greek fare (the usual, tzatziki, greek salad, and a mousaka). we walked home in the warm night air, feeling our first day was a success, and knowing there is still so much more to see.