Tag Archives: athens

Eat for Greece! – Part 1

I’m starting a series on Greek food, which I will add to as we travel around the country. I hadn’t eaten a lot of authentic Greek food prior to the trip. What I had eaten was very meat heavy, so I was very surprised when I got there to find that vegetables was a major part of their diet, and what we thought as ‘Greek’ (lamb on a spit, moussaka etc etc) was actually reserved more for special occasions. We were staying with a colleague of my husband’s, so luckily we had a local to show us how to eat Greek-style.

The appetiser is very important to Greeks, perhaps even more than the main course! It’s when the dips, cheeses, simply prepared veges, and other assorted nimbles came out.

Eggplant dip.

Athens Food

Meatballs.

Athens Food

Boiled greens with olive oil and lemon. The greens were apparently a kind of dandelion! Well, they were as good as any spinach or silverbeet, so why not.

Athens Food

Coleslaw, Macedonian style.

Athens Food

Hubby’s favourite – grilled banana chillies!

Athens Food

Our overall favourite – sesame and honey glazed grilled feta.

Athens Food

Served with some bread, it’s actually a meal in itself. The mains were mostly charcoal grilled meats, again prepared quite simply, and served with assorted carbs.

Chicken souvlaki with fried potatoes and rice.

Athens Food

Pork chop with chips and rice.

Athens Food

Sometimes we found something different. Lamb, tomato and risoni casserole was particularly good.

Athens Food

Athina – Part 5

Athens is certainly very rich in museums. You can find a museum dedicated to every age in Greek history. Given that I had seen a lot of Ancient Greece, I decided toward the end of my stay to see something more modern, although ‘modern’ is relative here. I’m talking about the Byzantine period, from 500AD onward. It was when Christianity first became the religion of the state, and when glorious pieces of art were first created in support of it. Many of these can be seen at the Byzantine Museum.

Byzantine Museum

As you can see, it has galleries full of beautiful Christian icons from the last 1500 years.

Byzantine Museum

Most have been taken from abandoned churches and monasteries – a good thing since works like this should be preserved, and seen. Unlike in Western Europe, where churches and cathedrals are tourist attractions, Greek Orthodox churches are rarely open to the public outside of worshipping hours, so places like this museum were the only chance I had of seeing these icons while in Greece.

Byzantine Museum

As you can see, the style of these works is, I think, much more intimate than those in the large Cathedrals of the UK. Perhaps it reflects the kind of worship and prayer of the East, where one’s relationship with God throughout history has and always will be a personal thing.

Athina – Part 4

I know I’ve overloaded you all with museums, but you can’t deny that one of the joys of travelling in Europe is the abundance of great museums. Athens certainly has its share, and thank goodness for that, considering its contribution to civilisation.

Today I am taking you to the National Archaeological Museum, which houses the major archaeological finds in Greece. Given Greece’s long history, it has everything from neolithic hand tools to classical sculptures and mountains of gold jewellery. This statue is an archaic depiction of the god Athina (which Athens has been named after), from the archaic period 2700 years ago. As you can see, the style is a bit more simplistic than those found on the Parthenon – not surprising given that Athina was created perhaps 500 years before.

National Archaeological Museum

Similarly, the men were also of the same style. One could picture the artisans honing their skills over the centuries to recreate the human image.

National Archaeological Museum

By the classical age, they were experts. Look at this bronze sculpture of the god Poseidon – exquisite. It almost could have been created yesterday – except that much of the skill to sculpt in such a way has been lost to technology.

National Archaeological Museum

There were room after room of really beautiful sculptures. It’s certainly a treat since Grecian sculptures are rare in Australian museums.

National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum

Classic sculpture

Then there were the jewellery from the Mycenaean tombs from 3500 years ago. These were excavated from the supposed tomb of Agamemnon (written about extensively by Homer).

National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum

Whether it was his or not, one thing for sure is that they loved their bling back then, as they do now.

Athina – Part 3

Even though the height of the Classical Greek period was some 2500 years ago, it seems like the world, and Greece, is forever in love with it. One particular aspect is its elegant architecture. Walking down central Athens, I came upon the old buildings of University of Athens.

Old Athens University

If you think it’s all a bit too well-kempt compared to the buildings on the Acropolis, it’s because it was built in the 19th Century, designed by a Dane!

Old Athens University

Still, it is all pretty well-done. It was once the main university building, but is now only used for ceremonial purposes.

Old Athens University

Athina – Part 2

The Acropolis isn’t just about the Parthenon – there are other temples there as well. We entered the complex through the Propylaea, the main gates.

On the Acropolis

Through it, you can see the city and the mountains.

On the Acropolis

Athens does seem to go on forever nowadays, but not long before, it occupied only the immediate valleys.

On the Acropolis

The Erechteion is the most well-preserved, and I think most beautiful, of all the existing temples.

On the Acropolis

However, the Ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones to build here. Down below are the remains of two Roman amphitheaters. This one, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, is still used for concerts in the summer.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Acropolis however isn’t the only thing to see in Athens. I’ll show you some more sights in my next post.

Athina – Part 1

Welcome to Greece, and to Athens! It certainly was a change, coming to almost sultry Athens from cold London. The light, the people, the atmosphere, the history, the food, the traffic; yes, it was all different from the UK.

On the Acropolis

We’ll start off at the top – on top of the most famous landmark in the city, the Acropolis. As you can see from the view above, the Acropolis is a hill on which the ancient temples stood. The most (in)famous of them being the Parthenon.

On the Acropolis

Given that the building is some 2500 years old, it needed a bit of maintenance and restoration.

On the Acropolis

The temple is being pulled apart piece by piece, and then joined back together using laser technology – a costly business considering how many pieces there were left to be joined back together.

On the Acropolis

This is also the scene of some daylight robbery by the British. The Greeks, as you can see, want the stolen friezes back, but as I explained before, the British are having none of it.

On the Acropolis

Consequently, all the friezes still in Athens are now housed in a special museum just down the hill. The New Acropolis Museum has been built so that its dimensions and alignment match the original.

On the Acropolis

From the museum, you can clearly see the Parthenon above.

New Acropolis Museum

And inside are the tablets, all in its original configuration. There were even casts of the British Museum ones – better than nothing.

New Acropolis Museum

The details on the marble were fantastic, considering how old they were. The Roman Empire was some 300 years away, and Britain was just a collection of tribes. Since then it’s housed a mosque and a church, and was almost destroyed in the war between the Ottomans and the Venetians. It must cost billions to restore, but Greece ploughs on. Considering that Plato and Aristotle, foundations of Western Civilisation, walked there, it is not just Greek history they are preserving, but the world’s.