map-week-1

Friday, March 27

Sites Visited: Heathrow Airport, Lykavittos Hill in Athens

Where did we stay tonight?: Athens

Leaders:  Chris Johnson and Dallis Fox

At 4:15am our first alarms went off and nobody was very happy about it. At 5:00am sharp, our bus for Heathrow airport arrived and amazingly everybody was ready to go. We got to the new terminal, which has been constructed for the 2012 Olympics at great expense ($7 billion according to Prof. Christesen), and got checked in without any issues. Everyone slept soundly on the plane, save for Prof. Christesen and Kait Barber, who exchanged banter for the entire trip. We lost two hours from London to Athens, so our four-hour flight landed us in Greece a little past 1pm local time. The subway system from the airport was down for the day for whatever reason, so we took a bus to our stop at Syntagma Square near our hotel. This gave us an idea of the geography of Attica and the craziness of the motorists that fly about its streets. It became apparent on the bus ride that we are definitely in a foreign country, as many of us were guessing at what the street signs and billboards said in the modern Greek that very few of us understand.

We arrived at Syntagma Square at about 3:30pm and finally fully realized that we were in Athens. The Acropolis (or as the locals call it, “The Rock”) can be seen from most points in the city, and the bustling of people was a drastic change from the relative quiet of London’s Museum district. The Astor Hotel we checked into was decidedly not the same Astor we stayed in in London (The “s” in hostel apparently makes a big difference). It’s a an A-quality hotel (the highest in the Greek rating system), so parents should know their money is not going waste while we are here in Athens. The rooms are spacious, have bathrooms, and unlike in London we won’t be fighting over each other for power outlets. The most important feature is the incredible view of the Acropolis most of us have from our rooms. People were literally jumping in the air when they drew their curtains to reveal an uninhibited view of Athens signature sight.

We got our bearings for a little while and then regrouped to journey up Lykavitos Hill. As we soon found out, Greece is rather hilly, and after a breathless twenty-minute hike we were at the highest point in the city at about 300 meters (1000 ft). As soon as we caught our breath, we noticed that we had a panoramic view of the entire city and most of Attica. Prof. Christesen gave us a short lecture on the history of Greece and pointed out the topographical features and important sights of the city, all while the sun set in dramatic fashion behind our great master. We shouldn’t have been surprised that it got very cold as soon as the sun set since, as Charles noted, we were on top of a giant rock in the middle of the sky.

Some us had dinner at the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, which is appropriately named the Bella Vista. The Astor is easily taller than any building between it and the Acropolis, and we were delighted to enjoy our first tastes of Greek food and wine while gawking at the Parthenon and Erectheion. Others ventured into the city for an authentic Greek restaurant experience. Live music filled the room with energy and the waiters, cigarettes in hand and manly chest hair on display, bustled about with trays of pork gyros and lamb skewers. Finally, others went to bed to get a head start on the much-needed day off we have tomorrow. All in all, everyone was excited to be in Athens and ready to get started with our adventures in Greece.

Intro to Day 7 featuring far-famed fearless leaders:

Athens Accomodations – a new day, a new Astor:

Sunset on Lykavittos:

Day 7 Photo Gallery:

Acropolis view from the balcony of Hotel Astor

Acropolis view from the balcony of Hotel Astor

Kate ascends the many steps of Kolonaki

Kate ascends the many steps of Kolonaki

Kathryn, Alex, KT, Jason, Ally, and Dallis on top of Lykavittos hill in Athens

Kathryn, Alex, KT, Jason, Ally, and Dallis on top of Lykavittos hill in Athens

Panoramic view of Athens from atop Lykavittos

Panoramic view of Athens from atop Lykavittos

The group learns about Athenian topography as the sun sets over Eleusis.

The group learns about Athenian topography as the sun sets over Eleusis.

The little church on top of Lykavittos

The little church on top of Lykavittos

The sun sets over our first day in Greece.

The sun sets over our first day in Greece.

Acropolis from Lykavittos by night.

Acropolis from Lykavittos by night.

Dinner out at a Greek taverna.  Yeia mas (to our health)!

Dinner out at a Greek taverna. Yeia mas (to our health)!

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