Having spent a few summers in Athens as a young child I have returned to it for the first time after 44 years. The flight was rather uneventful, the way I like it anyway. The airport was modern, clean and convenient, although we had to walk quite a bit from the gate where the flight arrived to the exit. The long walk was sped with the help of people movers — you know the horizontal escalators –, and with watching very short video clips of people from all over the world saying nice things about Greece on vertical monitor along the path.
We checked ahead how to get in town and figured that for the four us getting a taxi would not be much more expensive than taking public transport. We were wrong. First of all the fixed price we found online (35 euro) was out of date as by now (2019 April) it has risen to 38. Second, this price is only good for the very strict downtown area, right around the Syntagma square. Our lodging was a a km or two off, and we ended up paying 50 euros. Nevertheless we conveniently got to our place.
Once we freshened up a bit we headed out. My wife checked when our museums less expensive or free and found that we arrived on one of the days when every museum is free: International Monument Day, April 18. (For other/all free day check this list out. ) We were staying south of the park around Filopappou Hill, so all we had to do to get to the Acropolis is to cut cross the park. After a 15 minute walk we reached the ancient High City. We managed to get in for fast, although it was slightly confusing that even on free day we had to get (0 euro) tickets. I assume they needed it for statistical and/or tax purposes, but it sure was free, thus we saved almost a 100 euros.
We were prepared that there would be crowds at the Acropolis. It was indeed full of people, but not as tightly packed as I feared. As you can see on the photos below we still managed to capture parts of it without people edging in our frames. For me visiting this site was an emotional experience. It brought up the memories, when a 4-5 year old I was sitting there on the ground and playing with the stones. Back then, as I recall, almost the whole site was open to the public, unlike now when most of the major buildings were cordoned off to protect them. I felt happy/nostalgic to revel in the sweet childhood memories and being present again there.
The ever present whistleblowers, I mean guards, were quite busy whistling away the tourists from touching the marble. One of us made a photo of construction materials and trash in a temporary building through its window. The guard appeared right away next to us out of nowhere and insisted that we delete that photo from the machine. She also tried to impose on us the favorite “don’t touch the marble” phrase, but we were nowhere near the marble. I don’t even recall whether we ended up deleting the picture or not. We sure gave her the satisfaction of acknowledging her power and authority over us.
Our original plan was to stay for the sunset, but having spent a few hours up there we decided to skip it and rather see what’s on the south slope while there was still some light. On the way out we enjoyed viewing not just the Theatre of Dionysus but also the Acropolis from below and a nice collection of statues under a protecting roof. We had a splendid time, it was all Greek to us. My purpose with this short note was to share our personal experience and not to embark on the task of introducing or covering in any depth this magnificent site, its architecture art or history. For those I recommended these resources.