Thursday, September 3

Paula: The morning required a few errands-packing, a trip to the post office and one last shopping trip in search of a Greek sheep for Katie (she's collecting a sheep from every country we visit). We had success at the post office but it required lots of paperwork, stickers and stamps. After 30 minutes and an unbelievable amount of paperwork, our small box was finally accepted. Sending things back has been an expensive and frustrating ordeal from each location. The rules in each country are slightly different and difficult to understand. For example, we have learned some countries want the box unsealed so they can examine contents. It is often difficult to find boxes and packing materials. Some countries will only accept international packages at the main post office. Here in Athens, we had to laugh as we watched the mail clerk endlessly fill out form after form. Unfortunately, she kept having to ask us to do the same… eventually, the job was done.

We also were fortunate to find a small black sheep to add to Katie's collection. After adding an Athenian Olympic 2004 pin to his collar, he was officially Greek! Katie is going to name him after the mascots that have been created for the Olympic games - either Athena or Phevos.

Errands accomplished, we headed out to explore a few more sites before heading to the airport. We began at The Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple in Greece. It was started in the 6th century B.C. but was not completed until 131 A.D. Only 15 of the original 104 columns remain but they are quite impressive. The columns are in the Corinthian style (we can now all tell the difference between Corinthian, Dorian and Ionic columns). We also visited the Roman Agora built in the 1st Century B.C. and financed by Julius Caesar. The most impressive site here is the Tower of the Winds, an octagonal structure that functioned as a sundial, weathervane, water clock and compass.

Our walk this morning (over 3 miles) was a great way to end our visit in Greece. The walk through the oldest part of the city was a striking reminder of the country's extensive history. We literally ran into ancient ruins every few blocks. Some sites were well explored and known while others were just being excavated-all with the Acropolis in view high above! For lunch we enjoyed our favorite Greek food, Gyros (thin shaved meat rolled in a pita). Finally, we asked our taxi to stop at both the old and new Olympic stadiums on our way to the airport. The older stadium is being updated in preparation for the 2004 games, and is where the torch gets officially lit for all games (it's lit here and then taken to the city where the actual games are played). The new stadium is a hub of activity as they hurry to complete it by next summer.

The airport in Athens was easy to get through - very different from what we remembered 20 years ago in the original airport. Our Olympic Airways flight was fine, and we arrived in Rome without difficulty. We were relieved to find the temperature cooler by a full 20 degrees Celsius (22 degrees vs. the 42 in Athens - that's a difference of 72 vs 108 Fahrenheit).

After checking into our hotel, we quickly headed out for our first Italian meal-something we have all been looking forward to for weeks. We were not disappointed. We literally stuffed ourselves with a great meal of bruschetta, spaghetti AND pizza! The sauces and crusts here are just unlike anything we ever taste at home. Katie and David kept asking "How do they do this?" The wine here is also wonderful - you simply order the house wine, and it's always great (David and Katie have become our official red wine tasters, and they loved the wine so much that we had to keep taking the glasses from them).

For dessert, we of course had to indulge in gelati. Again, it's hard to go wrong in Italy with gelati, and we simply stopped in the first gelateria that we saw (there are at least one or two on every block). It was great!

Finally we arrived back at the hotel at 11:00 PM, tired but very excited about exploring (and eating) in Rome. Tomorrow, we have a full day planned with a tour of St. Peters and the Vatican. Unfortunately, we locked our camera into the safe in our hotel room, and the safe isn't working properly. So... we couldn't take any pictures of Rome tonight. We've been promised by the hotel that they'll fix it tomorrow morning. Another lesson learned - never put something in the safe before testing it!

Distance Walked: 5.85 miles












Next Day
Prior Day