Day 71 – Athens


    We grabbed some breakfast and met with our excursion group. We arrived in Athens around 7:45 am. It was a pretty gloomy day- windy and raining. Our tour bus drove us around the city as our guide  pointed out some buildings and gave us some history. Our first stop was the stadium for the first Olympic games in 1932. Our guide said that it isn’t really used anymore; it is just for show. Our next stop was the Acropolis museum. We again ditched our guide after a short while because we wanted to explore the museum at our own pace. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures at the museum. The museum was great though. There were many sculptures, artifacts, and bits of the ruins found in the area. It was amazing how well these things have survived. Jon really enjoyed the section with ancient Roman coins (from the later Roman occupation – most of the objects in the collection were older, from Hellenistic Greece.. Our final site for the day was The Acropolis (with the Parthenon mostly covered with scaffolding). It was really neat! But again, we were a little disappointed by the presence of cranes and scaffolding everywhere. It was interesting to read about the past restoration work that had been done. Basically it had been done very poorly and now the current restoration is trying to fix those mistakes. In addition the previous restorers just used whatever stone they found lying around to rebuild walls whereas the modern restorations attempt to place every stone, however tiny, in the place it originally was. In addition iron bolts and such that were installed before are eroding and exposing the stone to reactive chemical substances that are wearing away at the original stone. (An interesting aside – the Vasa in Stockholm is suffering from the same fate.) Current restorers are replacing the bolts with a titanium alloy to prevent further decay. (In the case of the Vasa in its climate controlled enclosure, its bolts are only being replaced with high quality stainless steel.) We observed dogs everywhere within the Acropolis area and wondered if they were all strays. We arrived back at the ship in time for another great sunset. The show was really awesome tonight. There were Asians standing on each others heads and and girl and a guy doing acrobatics on a high bar. Dinner was great, as always.

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