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Greek Holiday – Part 2

If you missed part 1 of the Greek Holiday series (oh yes, it is going to be a series), just click here. Now, onto part 2!

Athens (Day 2)

On our second day in Athens, we continued our Greek God quest by kicking off the day at the Temple of Zeus.

Temple of Zeus

The building was commissioned by the tyrant ruler of Athens, Peisistratos in 515 BC, but after his fall, the people refused to continue building. It was picked up again for 9 years between 174 BS and 163 BC, and finally completed in AD 131 by Emperor Hadrian.

Originally there were 104 columns, but only 16 remain standing now.

Mom, Me and Dad at the Temple of Zeus

A number of smaller temples also stood on those grounds throughout history, however very little remains now. At the far end of the grounds, there is a beautiful arch named after Hadrian. Is there a major city in Europe that doesn’t have an arch? Feels like most of them do.

Hadrian's Arch

After the Temple of Zeus, we made are way back to the foot of the Acropolis where the Dionysus Theatre is located.

Dionysus Theatre

The theatre is named after the god of wine and patron of drama, and seated around 15,000 people. Built in 325 BC, tragedies and comedies by playwrights like Sophocles and Euripides were performed at the theatre.

The theatre was located near the temple of Dionysus, and the seats in the front row were reserved for the priests of Dionysus. The seats in the front row still contain engravings, perhaps indicating who the seat was reserved for.

Engraved seats in the front row

 The theatre eventually fell into disuse, but was went under some restoration in 61 AD by the Roman emperor Nero.

Engraved marble seats

After visiting the theatre, we moved on to the Roman Forum and Tower of Winds. Between the 1st and 19th century, the Roman Forum was a commercial and administrative centre. Not much remains there now, and therefore I failed to take photos. Sorry 😦

That evening we went to a quaint, family run restaurant near our hotel. Tucked away at the bottom of Lykavittos Hill, To Ouzadiko offers traditional Greek food at reasonable prices. I ordered a delicious lamb and eggplant dish.

Dinner at To Ouzadiko

When we finished dinner, we headed back to the hotel, the Hilton, where we had access to the executive lounge. The lounge is only available to guests staying on the top three floors, and every day they offered breakfast, afternoon tea/coffee and cakes, and evening cocktails and appetizers. All of this can be enjoyed on the fantastic balcony, which happens to have a view of the Acropolis. This also meant we had a fantastic view of the sunset every night.

Athens Sunset

The city lights come on

The Acropolis at Night

And that sums up the Athens portion of my Greek Holiday!

In part 3 of the Greek Holiday series we head to Santorini! Check back soon, or just sign up for the mailing list to stay up to date on blog posts.

Ciao,

Sheila

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Greek Holiday – Part 1

After years of failed attempts, and then months of planning, the Greek holiday I had been wanting to go on finally became a reality in May 2011. The parents and I embarked on our 10 day adventure on May 5th as we met at Heathrow airport, and headed to our first stop…

Athens

By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was early evening so we decided to just go for a walk, and get to bed early so we would be ready to start early the next day. Also, Mom and Dad had  been traveling for about 21 hours at that point so they were exhausted!

The Acropolis

On our first full day, we decided to visit the big sight to see: the Acropolis. Most of you probably don’t know this, but I have been fascinated with Greek mythology for years. I was very excited to see not only the Parthenon, but also the lesser known sights like the Temple of Zeus.

I love cities that recognize what tourists want to see, and create one ticket that gives them access to most of those places. I saw this in Verona, and then again in Athens. For 12 euros, tourists can gain access to the Acropolis, the Roman Forum, Temple of Zeus, Dionysus Theatre, The Agora, and Kerameikos. The ticket is valid for 4 days. An added bonus for students: those studying in the EU get into all these attractions for free, and outside the EU get 50% off the regular ticket (need a valid student ID, or even better, an international student ID card).

Anyway, back to the Acropolis…

On the walk up, we passed by the Herodes Atticus Theatre (below). Built in 161, this theatre is still used for the Athens Festival in the summer.

Mom and I at the Acropolis

From there, we continued up the mountain towards the Temple of Nike (“Victory”) and then the Parthenon.

Temple of Nike

Completed in 438 BC, the Parthenon was a temple for the greek goddess Athena. As with many old monuments, the Parthenon was under construction, hence the scaffolding around the front of the building.

The Parthenon (the front)

At the new Acropolis Museum, there was a fantastic video that described how the Parthenon looked when it was completed and how it has been attacked many times (it was even set on fire at one point). I think it is amazing that so much of the structure is still standing!

The Parthenon (the back)

Also on the Acropolis mountain is the Erechtheion, where according to myth, Athena and Poseidon battled for patronage of Athens. The building design brings together separate temples for the two gods. In case you didn’t figure it out, Athena won the battle, hence the name for the city, Athens.

The Erechtheion

The statue pillars below are actually replicas. The originals have been taken inside the new Acropolis Museum for protection.

Closer look at the temple

Okay, now a few more pictures before we move on to the new Acropolis Museum.

Dad and I in front of the Parthenon

In front of the Temple of Nike

After the Acropolis, we made our way to the new Acropolis Museum. The new museum, which opened in 2009, is 10 times larger than the old museum and filled with around 4,000 artifacts. Many of the artifacts from the Acropolis were removed in 1799 by an Earl and taken to England. They were later sold to the British Museum, which now showcases them and refuses to return them. The Greek government hopes that with this new, much larger museum, they can force the British Museum to return the artifacts.

The new Acropolis Museum

The museum is not included in the 12 euro ticket. It costs 5 euros for adults, and again, entrance is free for students.

As mentioned before, at the museum you can watch a great video depicting the history of the Parthenon. There are sculptures from the temples, the original statued pillars from the Erechtheion and a life-size recreation of the frieze around the top of the Parthenon is located on the top floor.

Outside the museum, excavations are still taking place, as more artifacts are uncovered. Visitors can watch the workers from above as they enter and exit the museum.

Outside the museum

We decided to walk back to the hotel, and on the way, stop by some of the other sights. Unfortunately, when we got to the Temple of Zeus we found out that it, and most of the other sights to see, closed at 3pm. So, we kept walking and found ourselves in front of Kallimarmaro Stadium.

Kallimarmaro Stadium

This stadium was built in the 4th century BC for the Panathenaic Games. It was later restored for the first modern Olympics in 1896, and used again during the 2004 games.

Me at the Olympic stadium

As it turned out, the stadium was not included in the ticket my parents bought at the Acropolis, nor was it free for students, so we skipped this particular sight. Clearly, you do not need to purchase a ticket to see the stadium from the outside.

And that was day 1 in Athens! Yes, it was a LONG day.

Next time, day 2 in Athens, including the Temple of Zeus, Dionysus Theatre, and Athens at night.

Ciao,

Sheila

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School’s Out Forever

Confession: I’ve been suffering from a major case of writers block.

I blame school.

The entire month of March was spent researching and writing four papers: two individual papers, two group papers. In total I wrote about 9,000 words. So not only did I have nothing left to say here, but there was also nothing exciting to report.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I have exciting stuff to report now, I just have the time and energy to write 🙂

Luckily, classes are officially over! Yes, we started at the end of September, and ended the first week of April. This was the perfect masters program: the short kind!

Of course, there is a huge mountain of work still ahead, but the majority of the masters program is behind us. So now what?

Now my life will be consumed with mind-maps, books with multi-colored sticky tabs, and pages of notes. Now I dive into writing my dissertation. The 12,000-word paper is due in July and can be on any music related topic we choose. I have decided to write about the different factors that lead to the self-destruction of young pop stars. There has been very little written on this topic so I’m getting creative with my resources. Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details now because I have until July to do that.

Onto more exciting stuff:

Okay, I guess I did one fun thing in March. I went to see In A Forest, Dark and Deep at the Vaudeville Theatre, staring Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams. It was an incredible play. I can best describe it as very serious but with comedic moments sprinkled throughout. After years of playing Dr. Jack Sheppard on Lost, was interesting to see Matthew Fox play a character who was unapologetically honest, evil, and flawed.

Fox & Williams taking a bow

The two stars play brother and sister, and Fox’s character has come to help William’s character move out of her home deep in the forest. It turns out that the sister house full of secrets that she’s been keeping from her brother. The play runs until early June and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to see a show in London.

I have also been working on my “27 before 27” list. I have definitely failed to complete many of them that required constant attention, but perhaps attempting this and a master’s degree was a bit too much. I am still working through it however, and I recently finished knitting a scarf!

I have also been working through the movies I have never seen, finding the best Mexican food in London (more on that soon), and planning trips to countries in Europe that I’ve never been to before.

More than anything I am now looking ahead to the next couple months. I will have lots of visitors coming between now and the end of May, including my parents. We are taking a trip to Greece for ten days, and then they will spend four days in London before heading back to the US.

Looking forward to Greece!

There is also tons of excitement surrounding the Royal Wedding on April 29th. I still have not decided where I’ll be watching it, since my invite was clearly lost in the mail. Considering the world-wide excitement surrounding this event, it is hard not to resist going down to the route to catch a glimpse of the couple.

Of course, the job search is also on. I am hoping to find something here in London in the next couple months so that I can stay for at least another year. In the mean time, I’ve got plenty of writing to do!

Ciao,

Sheila

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