22nd June 2006
I got up the next morning and went downstairs to meet up with my next tour, a tour to ancient Corinth. Our first stop was the Corinth Canal, which I had already seen, so again I stood on the bridge over the incredible feat of engineering once more and just sank into daydreams for about half an hour, before getting back on the bus for the short ride to the ancient city. I never thought I would say this, but at this point when I looked upon the city, I thought the infallible Mr Wright was wrong, the ruins of ancient Corinth were quite impressive. The temple of Aphrodite still stood and was more impressive to me than the ruins of Olympia. I walked through the Agora and stood in front of the speaker’s platform, where Saint Paul stood and preached Christianity to the pagan Greeks.
We went in the small museum and viewed much Corinthian style pottery, many of the pieces I had seen and studied at university. We also saw a large courtyard filled with headless Roman statues. At which point our guide asked us if any of us knew why most Roman statues were headless, something I had no idea about. Turns out the sensible Romans carved a statue of a politician and then when he died cut the head off the statues and replaced it with that of the replacement politician.
We then went outside and while we waited, I spotted something sticking out of the ground, I dug it out and it turned out to be a shell, which I decided to keep, again very naughty.
Our tour guide then pointed out the ruins of the Corinthian Acropolis high on a hill behind us and said that we would not be going up there as it was too hard a climb. I was disappointed, I wanted to go up there and thought the view must have been fantastic from such a high vantage point. On the way out of the site I viewed the city’s ancient theatre and Roman Odeon. We then boarded the bus and were taken to a rather expensive pottery shop where I bought a copy of a terracotta Mycenaean rooster, a traditional ancient Greek animal.
Upon return to Athens, I was dropped at Syntagma Square, where I again picked up my food of choice, McDonalds, which I was getting increasingly sick of and went back to my hotel. I contemplated going to the beach as it was a hot day but decided to save swimming for the islands instead. I resolved to visit the ancient Agora (marketplace), on the way I visited the Roman Agora, which was made of bright white marble and had an observatory in the middle of it and also an old Turkish bath house from the Ottoman era. I climbed the slopes of the Acropolis once again to visit the ancient Athenian Agora. The climb up to the Agora was reasonably steep and a pretty long way. I didn’t know where I was going and that really didn’t help much. I found a tour group and decided to follow them. They wound in and out of the small, paved streets and past the little tavernas, which smelt so much better than McDonalds. The tour seemed to lead off in another direction once we got to the Agora and I was left alone there. As I walked through the ancient Marketplace it was amazing to think that men such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Pericles had walked through these streets and stood on their soap boxes here and spouted out the foundation of modern thought in this very area. I also saw the Monument of the Eponymous Heroes, which my high school history teacher had told us about all those years ago, I couldn’t believe I was here now standing in front of it.
I also climbed up to the Temple of Hephaestus also called the Theasion the most intact Greek temple, still with its roof. It was beautiful, although it looked like it had been burned in antiquity. I then went back to the hotel via the reconstructed stoa of Attulus, which has now been turned into a museum.
I managed to discover a shorter way back to the hotel, via Monestiraki and the Flea market, which I had not previously known about. When I got back to my hotel, I had a bit of a rest I decided to go back to the flea market and attempt to buy a Greek Kylix cup a replica of an ancient wine glass, which I did not find at a reasonable price. I went back to the hotel once more and decided to again watch a movie before going to bed.