3 PICTURE ALBUM
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