A Few Hours on Our Own: The Agora & Monastiraki
Wednesday, 3 April. We had breakfast at the hotel and were just about to
go sightseeing when it began pouring, a rare thing in Athens, we hear. It was not even 8:30, but
we had very little time and couldn't afford to waste it. We took a chance and caught a taxi to the Agora. Luckily it was open. We wanted to see the Stoa of Attalus close up, and we would be out of the rain.
By the time we left the Agora, it had stopped raining, so we walked toward our hotel. This brought us through an old section of the city (Monastiraki) that was one big flea market. It seemed that every shop and stall sold used goods: stoves, furniture, bicycles, clothes, all in a worn and battered condition. Yet, a couple of blocks further on there were only the most modern stores, such as those found in the best sections of any modern city.
We looked in several shops and bought a couple more vases. Unfortunately, we had to limit ourselves to fairly small items because we were uncertain about our flight back to Pisa. We also looked at a couple of tiny Byzantine churches dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. Each was built on the site of an ancient temple using many pieces of marble scrounged from the ruins of the Agora. One was the Panaghia Kapnikarea, situated in the middle of busy Ermou Street. The other was the Little Cathedral (Mikri Metropoli), also known as the Panagia Gorgoepikoos or the Church of Saint Eleutherios. It's located on Mitropoleos Square next to the large "new" (1842) Cathedral, which we also visited. For lunch we bought some of the sesame-covered bread rings that were sold on nearly every street corner.
We finally went back to our hotel, packed, and left at noon for the airport in a USAF sedan. The RCAF North Star came in from El Arish about 12:20. We were happy to learn that, thanks to a little fudging of the manifest, we would be able to
fly back to Pisa.. (“These planes always can carry a little more weight than they’re rated for.”) We took off at 2:15 and landed at Pisa at 5:45. We stayed at Blandina’s that night.