Daily Archives: June 29, 2013

Changing of the Evzone Guards

Sunday June 23rd was our last day in Athens. We started our day by visiting Syntagma Square, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Greek Parliament. We wanted to see the famous changing of the Evzone Guards that stand outside the Tomb and the Parliament.

The uniforms of the elite Evzone Guards may look a little silly to us, but they are steeped in history, tradition, and symbolism. For example, the “pom-pons” date all the way back to the ancient Mycenaeans. And the skirts of the guards have 400 pleats – one for each year of the Ottoman Empire’s occupation.

We arrived in time to see the crossing of the guards at 10:30am and then took our place on the side of the square to witness the more elaborate pomp and circumstance of the 11am changing of the guards (complete with a marching band). Then we got a photo opportunity with the guards who, like their British counterparts, aren’t allowed to move or show emotion while standing guard and must remain completely serious.

The ceremonies start precisely 5 minutes before the bottom of the hour (cross of the guards) or top of the hour (changing of the guards) and based around a high stepping slow motion march that keeps very precise time. Each ceremony miraculously completed exactly at the bottom and top of the hour. It was good that the ceremony was only 5 minutes long because it was a smoldering day (97 degrees in Athens). After the changing of the guard we headed to the Acropolis Museum to spend our afternoon with air conditioned relics indoors.

Evzone Guard

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Acropolis and The Plaka

Before and after our trip to the Sporades we spent our time in Athens on and around the Acropolis and The Plaka. Athens is remarkably easy and walkable if you can handle the heat (it was 97 degrees there the day we left).

From the rooftop deck of the Hotel Attalos in the Monastiraki area of Athens we had a stellar view of the Acropolis and easy walking access to The Plaka (a collection of small, mostly touristy) shops, boutiques, and restaurants. To beat the crowds we rose early and walked up to the top of the Acropolis to beat the throng of humanity from the tour groups and cruise ships that arrive shortly thereafter.

We saw the Parthenon, the Temple of Athenia Nike, Erechtheion, and the amphitheaters Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Theater of Dionysus before a stumbling into the beautiful neighborhood of Anafiotika before returning to the Plaka for some ice cold Mythos and more great Greek food in the tavernas tucked into the hills around the Acropolis.

Acropolis & Parthenon from Garden Bar on roof of Hotel Attalos

Acropolis & Parthenon from Garden Bar on roof of Hotel Attalos

Acropolis & Parthenon at night from Garden Bar on roof of Hotel Attalos

Acropolis & Parthenon at night from Garden Bar on roof of Hotel Attalos

Be warned...you may be getting this as your Xmas card this year

Be warned…you may be getting this as your Xmas card this year

The caryatids of the Erechtheion supporting function as columns supporting the roof structure

The caryatids of the Erechtheion function as columns supporting the roof structure

View of Athens from Acropolis

View of Athens from Acropolis

Parthenon

Parthenon

Clara & Erechtheion

Clara & Erechtheion

Theater of Dionysus from Acropolis

Theater of Dionysus from Acropolis

Theater of Dionysus

Theater of Dionysus

Theater of Dionysus

Theater of Dionysus

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Neighborhood of Anafiotika

Sign to Acropolis for wayward tourists walking the neighborhood of Anafiotika

Sign to Acropolis for wayward tourists walking the neighborhood of Anafiotika

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