A trip to the Archeological Museum in Athens. 9/27/21

The weather continues to be beautiful with temperatures in the morning in the upper 70s. I feel like we picked a really good time to take this trip.

Picture from our balcony of the harbor at Piraeus. Piraeus is the port for Athens and has three natural harbors which they use for pleasure crafts, cruise ships, and cargo

We go down to The Restaurant for breakfast today since our tour does not leave until 9:30.  We order bagels and lox with capers and red onions. It is like Christmas breakfast without the beer! We sit next to a couple from Alaska. Apropos of nothing they start talking to us. John insists to me that he is not wearing his “talk to me” sign. I think he must be since random people talk to us twice today. Oh, and in my flurry of eating excitement I forget to take a picture of breakfast.

Today we are fortunate to have a very knowledgeable guide in the Archeological Museum. She starts out by explaining the three phases of early Greek civilization, the Cycladic, Minoan, and Mycenaean. This covers about 2000 years from 3200 BC to 1100 BC.

Much of the remains from this era were found by Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman, who decided that Homer’s depiction of the Trojan War was fact and set off to find Troy and other sites mentioned in the Iliad and the Odyssey. He found many artifacts and ascribed death masks to Agamemnon and the other heroes of the story. Our guide says that the spectacular things he found were probably from someone very important but not Agamemnon.

Art pieces from the early Cycladic Age
Schliemann found 5 death masks which are at the museum
He ascribed the central death mask to Agamemnon

It is amazing to see these exhibits and we marvel at the workmanship of these very early Greek civilizations. There is gold galore made into hilts for bronze swords, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

Gold jewlery
Bronze swords with gold hilts
Funerary gold coverings for infants

Fragment of a fresco depicting a woman wearing some of the jewelry
Artifacts from the 15th to the 12th century BC include things we can recognize like safety pins. Women’s clothing was held together with pins.

Next we are introduced to the next eras of Greek civilization: The Archaic Period (750 – 500 BC), the Classical Period (500 – 336 BC), and the Hellenistic Period (336 – 146 BC). Decorative pots are mostly geometric during the Archaic period.

Funerary jar with static figures around the dead figure and mostly geometric designs

During the classical period monumental sculpture arises heavily influenced by Egyptian sculptures.

A stiffly styled Kouros, a young Greek naked  man in a traditional pose, hairstyle, and smile

While the males were always naked the females were always clothed.

The female figure is always clothed and is called a kore
A bas-relief of boys playing field hockey

The statues evolved over time into free-standing dynamic pieces.

Bronze javelin thrower ~ 460 BC
The jockey of Artemsion ~ 140 BC

We were given some free time to wander around on our own and saw many other astonishing pieces. While at the Palace of Nestor we were told about the tablets found in the palace which contained an early Greek written language. This syllabic writing from around 1450 BC was deciphered in the early 1950s and is called Linear B. The tablets are in the Archeological Museum in Athens. It was like seeing a small Rosetta Stone!

Linear B tablets

Finally we see frescoes from a house that was buried under volcanic ash when the volcano that left the huge caldera on Santorini erupted in the 16th century BC.  Amazing!

Boxing boys
Room with floral decoration

After our time at the museum we ride around Athens for a bit seeing much of the same stuff as we saw the day before. We get back to the ship for a late lunch. (The fish curry was really good!)

We take a walk around the ship and play mini-golf again where I avenge my loss of the other day by winning over John by two holes. Yay!


Although John takes a nap, I try to power through the rest of the afternoon in hopes that I will sleep better. We go to the Explorer Lounge for what has become our new tradition of listening to the guitarist and having Negroni sbagliatos. The bar team does  a pretty good job with them tonight.

We have dinner at The Restaurant for the first time and have a pretty tasty meal starting with foie gras then perfectly cooked pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta on top of lentils and butternut squash. We finish up with a fruit plate. (I have not been good about taking food pictures today!)







The Full Acropolis Experience. 9/26/21

Today our ticket reads “The Full Acropolis Experience” and that is exactly what it was. We climbed up the hill, saw and heard about the ancient structures, visited the Acropolis Museum, and toured the city to see how the ancient and modern coexist in Athens. It was a lovely day for doing all this, not too hot and although the sites were fairly crowded we felt we got a good look at everything.

As we begin our ascent up to the Acropolis one of the first ancient structures we see is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a stone Roman theater structure, completed in 161 AD.  The venue holds about 5000 people. It is still used for musical events.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

I guess I thought the Acropolis was just about the Parthenon but there are many devotional buildings up here dedicated to different gods and goddesses.

To enter the site you go through a enormous gateway called the Propylaea that was constructed during the Pericles era from 437-432 BC. The gateway controlled who could get into the Acropolis site and gave the visitors a place to prepare for their devotion.

Side view of the Propylaea
View of the Propylaea from inside the Acropolis

Near the Propylaea is the petite temple dedicated to Athena Nike.

Temple of Athena Nike
This photo from 1893 shows where the small temple is situated

The main event on the Acropolis is the Parthenon dedicated to the Goddess Athena.

“Construction started in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, democracy and Western civilization, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. To the Athenians who built it, the Parthenon, and other Periclean monuments of the Acropolis, were seen fundamentally as a celebration of Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders and as a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory.” Wikipedia

View of the back of the Parthenon with scaffolding
Side of Parthenon (we belong to group 7)
Front of Parthenon. Most of the decorative elements are in either the Acropolis Museum or the British museum. The Greeks want their stuff back.
Mary in front of the Parthenon

Another important temple at the Acropolis is the Erectheum dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Its structure includes the Porch of the Maidens, Ionic columns in the shape of women.

The temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon
Porch of the Maidens

We walk along the side and return to the main gate where we will start the climb back down.

On the way back John snaps a picture of the Theater of Dionysus which could hold 17,000 people. It is much older than the Odeon which was built during the Roman period.

Our next stop is at the Museum of the Acropolis. Here we have to show proof of vaccination and ID to get in as well as having ourselves and our stuff scanned. The museum holds the artistic treasures of the Acropolis.

I loved looking at the vases with their depictions of battles and everyday life.

A woman and her attendant
A chariot driver
A man meeting his fully veiled wife for the first time
These small jars were only about 6 inches tall but were full of decoration

Then we entered a sculpture section where we were mostly not allowed to take pictures.

Dionysius holding a mask on the shoulders of his elderly tutor
Original Maidens from the Temple of Athena and Poseidon
Mock up of what the frieze above the Parthenon would have looked like
A view of the Acropolis from the third floor of the museum. The third floor is canted to be at the correct angle to the actual Pantheon and shows the friezes and decorations in the proper orientation

After this we rode around the city for a while with our guide pointing out various stuff. We and our group were pretty tired out by this point. We were looking forward to a late lunch.

Sea bass, green beans, butternut squash, roasted tomatand some chicken curry were available for lunch today

After lunch we had a little lie down. John went to sleep but I am trying to power through the jet lag. We go up stairs to the Explorer Lounge for some drinks and to listen to the guitarist until it is time for dinner. We have refined the Negroni Sbagliato recipe and our drink comes out better but not perfect yet. I think the orange slice needs to be muddled. We will try that tomorrow.

Dinner is at Manfredi’s, the Italian restaurant. We order the branzino  carpaccio again and this time it is available. Yay! John has a problem with his swordfish being under cooked and sends it back and decides on the fish special of the day, grilled Mediterrean sea bass with farro risotto. I am having that as well. It is very good.

Branzino carpaccio
Grilled Mediterrean sea bass with farro risotto

We have our usual dessert of bread, honey, and parmesan cheese. The waitstaff thinks it is strange but know not to hassle us about it and not to try to take away our bread and parmesan cheese! Amarone grappa (golden grappa) makes a good pairing with our dessert.