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A Little Shopping & Our First Meal in Greece 

Two of the several vases purchased

We checked into the Royal Hotel, in the heart of the city, about 11:00. We took a taxi to the Air Force Base Exchange to see what souvenirs we might find there, but they had no Greek goods at all. Just across the street, though, we bought several Greek vases at a small stand. (I love Greek vases.) We dropped our packages off at the hotel, then walked around Syntagma (Constitution) Square and the modern shopping area nearby.

 Athens policeman
We stopped at a restaurant and had souvlaki for lunch. We made the mistake of ordering feta, a goat cheese soaked in brine, for dessert. I had read about it, but neither of us had ever tasted it. We were used to having cheese for dessert in Italy, but this was nothing like the Italian cheeses. We ate about half of it, just for the sake of appearances.  (Years later we learned to love it in salads.)

I had an even worse experience with the Greek coffee. It tasted a lot like the espresso we were used to until I swirled the dregs around to pick up the sugar that settles to the bottom of the cup. When I threw it in my mouth, I discovered too late that Greek coffee is boiled with the grounds. It was like sticking my tongue in a dirty ashtray. When I finally finished scraping off my tongue with a napkin, we went back to the hotel and rested for an hour, waiting for the Athens city tour we had booked through the hotel.

Bus Tour of Athens

Changing of the Evzone guard

 Parliament Building
The bus tour started at 3:30. We drove by the Parliament (Vouli) Building. It was built as the Royal Palace (1836) and what is now Constitution Square was its front lawn. The Monument of the Unknown Soldier in front of it is guarded by evzones, elite Greek soldiers in short skirts and with pom-poms on their boots. The bus got us there in time for the hourly changing of the guard.

Acropolis from Temple of Olympian Zeus
We then drove down the hill to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, once the largest of all the ancient Greek temples, but with only a few columns standing now. There was a great view from the Temple back up to the Acropolis.

Back on the bus, we drove by the west side of the Acropolis where we saw the ancient Theater of Dionysius on the side of the hill. From there we drove up the Philopappus Hill where there was a wonderful view across to the Acropolis. St. Paul preached on this hill when he visited Athens, but now it was swarming with souvenir peddlers. 

Theater of Dionysius

Decorations in Theater of Dionysius

Acropolis from Philopappus Hill
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