March 30th, 2011

Greece - Day Seven

Gorgeous morning to visit the National Archaeological Museum.  So amazing to see statues, pottery and mosaics from my college archaeology text and the various books we’ve all been reading on the trip.   Since I have a special fondness for Minoan culture (my senior thesis for my archaeology undergrad degree was on how the eruption on Thera contributed to the decline of Minoan civilization) I was particularly taken with the pottery and frescoes from Akrotiri and Knossos.

Our only disappointment was that some rooms (the Egyptian section and much of the pottery collection) were closed to trip costs during the winter season.  Less volume equals fewer guards and less electricity.  I didn’t compare the price we paid with what admission would be during the high season, but I suspect they didn’t reduce the price of the tickets along with the length of our visit.

The afternoon held a trip to the Temple of Hephaestus, which we’d previously seen from a distance, in the area of the Roman agora.  It’s mostly still standing, one of the best preserved, because instead of being pulled down, it was made over, with very few modifications, into a church in the seventh century.  Previous to that, the Romance had made changes to the area, even moving stone by stone a temple to Ares, which they felt would be better off in the center of the agora.  The foundation was the only thing left behind to mark the original site.

We had a nice lunch.  Apropos of nothing, I recommend the Mythos beer over the Alfa—and not just because it comes in a honkin’ huge bottle or has a unicorn gracing the label.  (Yes, I’m a horsy girl, I admit it.  I’ve always had a thing for unicorns, though strangely never for pegasi.)

Then it was back to our hotel to meet up for our tour of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.  It was a beautiful ride along the coast, but I wasn’t thrilled to be back on a bus, especially when I’d though the travel agent had signed us on for a cruise.  The site itself was small, but strategically placed.  Cape Sounion is not only the southern-most part of mainland Greece, but of the whole European continent, according to our guide.  The temple’s columns rise higher than normal, because it was meant not only for worship, but as a kind of lighthouse/orientation point for ships.  The hill was heavily fortified so that the cape could be held and the path to Athens and deeper into Greece could be defended.  Enemy ships could quickly be spotted and warnings sent.

The evening held shopping and a final drink (for the adults, of course) to say good-bye.  We were sorry to see the adventure end, but have vowed (separately or together) to come back for some island-hopping.  Crete, Thera and Delos at the bare minimum.