Athenian Monuments, Heat, and Shopping

Our final day of the tour involved a bus tour and a trip to the Acropolis, as well as free time in the city center. We started at the Parliament building, and got there just in time to see the changing of the guard.

The paparazzi in full effect.

Amazingly, the Greeks allow people to take pictures with the guards, but we were not supposed to “pose” with them. That didn't stop several travelers who are genetically programmed to pose at every opportunity.

Posing will always find a way.

The next stop was the stadium for the first modern Olympics, held in Athens in1896.

Posing will always find a way.

Since this was the last day of the tour, people were absolutely exhausted, and we wanted a picture to commemorate the dire need some travelers had for a nappy nap.
Around 11, we reached the Acropolis, which we would climb on a very hot and sunny day. The entire city can be seen from the Acropolis, and the views stretch to the port at Piraeus.
Our guide, who had been pretty good for the bus tour, became increasingly long-winded as we approached the top of the Acropolis, as if the Parthenon was the source of her talking power. Plus, she hogged all of the best shady spots, leading to scenes like this:

Maybe if we tip that marble wall over there will be more shade.

The top of the Acropolis was incredible, and we were to make up for the prohibition against posing with the Greek guards earlier in the day by kicking our posing into high gear

The temple of Nike Athena seems incomplete without a group of Americans posing in front of it.

Unfortunately, the heat hit one student pretty hard, and she was suffering from heat exhaustion by the time we descended. This apparently happens a lot, as every Greek that we had encountered had advice on how to treat the symptoms. So while our tour director Max took the rest of the group to Syntagmo Square, the traveler and I took a time out in a shop at the bottom of the Acropolis. After drinking a lot of water and juice and spending time out of the sun, she felt much better and we were able to meet most of the rest of the group at Plaka for lunch.

No, not there...

Lunch was followed by a shopping extravaganza, as members of the group scambled to do one of the following:
  • Purchase one more pair of Greek shoes.
  • Buy the souvenirs that we had avoided shopping for for eight days.
  • Get yet another pair of shoes because THIS pairs is perfect. Last ones for sure.
  • Spend every single euro to avoid converting them to dollars.
  • Buy ONE MORE pair of awesome shoes which will go better with an outfit I have at home than the other three pairs of shoes purchased in Greece.

Plaka is full of shops, which made it heaven for many travelers.

During the shopping expedition, a pickpocket grabbed a female student's iPhone while she was making a purchase; her family was able to quickly wipe the phone and shut it down, which was the only good news to come out of that situation. When the phone was taken, we got together at the Plaka Starbucks to figure out what to do, and we decided to have the girl file a police report. Since there were dozens of police in Plaka, and since Plaka is the main shopping area in Athens, filing a police report should have been easy, right? As it turns out, finding a place to file a police report at ground zero for pick-pocketing in Athens is incredibly difficult. You are much more likely to find an officer who could answer questions about designer shoes than to find a station that is…
  • Actually open at 6pm (the Plaka station was closed. Because no one shops or is pickpocketed after 5pm)
  • Willing to admit that Plaka is in its jurisdiction when it is located 20 feet from Plaka (the first police we found said no)

So we are ready for the police in Athens and in Rome to have a competition to see which force is more useless. It will be a clash of the titans.

After all of the shopping was done and we resigned ourselves to not finding a useful police force in Athens, we returned to the hotel to eat dinner, pack, and, for some, have one more fun evening in Athens.

The next day, the Fourth of July, we began our trip back to the United States. At the airport, we navigated the check in, security check, and second security check successfully and were ready to go when we were delayed for mechanical problems with the plane. After we sat on the runway for about two hours, the pilot made the less-than-reassuring announcement that we were clear to return home but had to take a longer path home to stay near the coast of Iceland and Greenland as we crossed the Atlantic.

Arriving in Philly, we found that we had missed our connecting flight, and that US Air had split up the group for the trip to Richmond. Most of the group was able to get home on the 9:30 flight, but four of us ended up staying in luxury at the airport Hilton.

The Hilton's bathroom was awesome compared to this bathroom in the hotel in Athens, which had a shower so small that I always got water all over the floor like some kind of savage.

The Philly group made it to the airport early on July 5th in time to use our meal vouchers for a healthy breakfast.

Everything ended positively when we were able to use our meal vouchers to have a giant burger for breakfast at Smashburger. Because 'Merica.

In spite of broken planes and extra hotel stays, the trip was fantastic. I'm glad, though, to be back in the Land of the Free Restrooms.

 

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