You are currently viewing In and Around Athens, Greece

In and Around Athens, Greece

December 14th, 2022

After viewing the canal, we then took the non-toll roads and made it into Athens about 10:30 am with not too much traffic.  Doug dropped Fran at a laundromat (parking is only on the street around the place and there was no room but we had anticipated this, so that’s whey he dropped her off) and then drove to the Caravan Expert place about two kilometres away that he’d been in touch with.  Fran had the place to herself and got two washing machines going before anyone else showed up.  The place is open from 7am to midnight and is not manned by any staff there is however, a change machine.

Doug messaged her that they had the part that was needed to repair our cassette and he was able to install it himself so no labour charges were involved.  He found parking within a klick of the laundromat and walked over.  They dried quicker than we expected and we folded and walked back to Minou to put things away, make up our beds and have brekkie.

We are bit ahead of our schedule and pickings, as usual, are slim here in the capital city for motorhomes so we decided to go the extra 35 km / 22 miles today to Marathon where our batteries etc. were delivered to the friend of a friend’s mother’s place there.  We called ahead but got no answer.  We decided that we’d chance it and see if she was home; worse case, she wasn’t and we’d have to call again.

Well, Tina was home and spoke very good English and we picked up our packages and went on our way.  We had a parking lot in mind in the town of Marathon where others had stayed previously.  Tomorrow we will visit the Marathon Run Museum and Doug wants to do his Thursday run on part of the classic marathon route.

Today was cloudy all day and a little on the cool side but we managed to stay dry.  Temperatures are supposed to rise to around 20C / 70F over the next few days.  We parked in the lot near the Tumulus Tomb of Marathon but did not visit the site as we could see when driving around it, it’s all just a grassy field with a grassy hill in the middle.  Fran went for a walk to check out the beach about 1 km away:

And we had a quiet night.

After Doug had a terrible run trying to do some of the Classic Athens Marathon route, he set out to install our new batteries.  Fran emptied the required closet and cupboard and Doug removed the cupboard door after disconnecting the power and the existing batteries as well as covering up the solar panels up on the roof.

With a few swear words and some brute strength the old ones came out and then the new ones went in only to discover one of the negative cables wouldn’t reach!  Doug then saw he could pull the cable some if the shelf above the batteries wasn’t pressed against the wall so tight (we couldn’t remove that shelf but we could angle it up and it was pressing at the back wall against the cables).  Voila – it all hooked up and we had power again.  We have upgraded from 120 amp hours to 140’s so we hope that will help us keep powered up better during these shorter days of less sunlight.

After cleaning up we drove in the city of Marathon to see:

The trophy of Marathon

Then on to the Marathon Run Museum.  He were learned about the marathon’s history and a lot about Greece (including its terrible times during WWII and the Civil War afterwards) and its famous runner:

Stylianos “Stelios” Kyriakides born 15 January 1910 was a Greek Cypriot marathon runner who came first at the Boston Marathon in 1946, with the aim of raising money to provide food and shelter to the Greeks, who were experiencing severe poverty after the Second World War and Greek Civil War.

The youngest of five children, born prematurely, he left home to find work and help his poor farming family. Following a variety of jobs he ended up as a ‘house-boy’ for Dr Reginald Cheverton, a British medical officer. (Cyprus was still under British rule at the time.) An athlete himself, Cheverton encouraged the 22-year-old Kyriakides to start running, coached him, gave him his first running gear, and taught him to speak English.

At his first Pan-Cyprian games in 1932, Kyriakides won both the 1,500 and 10,000 metres on Friday, followed by both the 5,000 and 20,000 metres on Sunday. Hailed as a great talent, he was asked to run in the national championships in Greece, where he came first in the Marathon. Kyriakides competed for Greece in the 1936 Summer Olympics, placing eleventh. He was invited by his friend and fellow Berlin marathoner, Johnny Kelley, to participate in the Boston Marathon in the late 1930s. On the day of the marathon, he wore new shoes, which injured his feet and caused him to drop out of the race. He took a taxi to the finish line, but told The Boston Globe, “Someday, I’m going to come back and win this race.”

With the Greek Civil War raging, he returned to win the 1946 Boston Marathon. In order to get there, he had to sell his furniture, enabling him to buy a single ticket. According to a newspaper report, he was running with Johnny Kelley near the end, when an old man shouted from the crowd, ‘For Greece, for your children!’, inspiring him to pull away and win the race in 2:29:27, the fastest marathon time of 1946, and 14 minutes faster than his previous best time. According to Life magazine, he shouted ‘For Greece’ as he crossed the finish line. He begged America for its help—and Americans responded. When he returned to Greece, he arrived with 25,000 tons of supplies in American aid, including $250,000 in cash. Over one million Greeks from all over the country lined the streets of Athens to greet him. Johnny Kelley purchased the shoes that Stelios Kyriakides used in his victory.

In 1948, Kyriakides finished eighteenth in the Olympic marathon at the London Games. He died in Athens in 1987.

Fascinating stuff.  The museum has a room most about Greece’s Olympic history and then there are three rooms with info about the Olympic Marathon and other non Olympic ones over the years with mementos of each.

It was in Berlin 1936 that the first torch run was held and here’s that torch:

We found a board about Montreal’s 1976 Summer Games:

And in the section about International Marathons, we found Toronto:

There are not many places to wild camp on this side of Athens so we opted to head south to spend one more night on the sea before flying home next week.  As we left Marathon, we saw the statue of Nike:

We drove some of the Athens Classic Marathon route today.

And then went about 60 km / 40 mi to Lavrio where we found a dirt patch just past some condos with its own little private rocky beach:

This turned out to be a great spot: quiet, there were no other RV’s, town was close but not too close and it was lovely to boot!

Next morning we awoke to fog and after tea time, we made our way to the Temple of Poseidon by 8:45 only to discover it didn’t open until 9:30.  Most places in Greece open at 8:30 so we didn’t think to check.  We could see the temple and there was a good amount of it still standing so we did want to see this:

We returned to Minou until opening time.

The Temple of Poseidon is an ancient Greek temple on Cape Sounion, Greece, dedicated to the god Poseidon. There is evidence of the establishment of sanctuaries on the cape from as early as the 11th century BC Sounion’s most prominent temples, the Temple of Athena and the Temple of Poseidon, are however not believed to have been built until about 700 BC, and their kouroi (freestanding Greek statues of young men) date from about one hundred years later. The material and size of the offerings at the Temple of Poseidon indicate that it was likely frequented by members of the elite and the aristocratic class.

The Greeks considered Poseidon to be the “master of the sea”. Given the importance to Athens of trade by sea and the significance of its navy in its creation and survival during the fifth century, Poseidon was of a particular relevance and value to the Athenians.

We were the first ones in and the only ones here for most of our short visit.  We only really visited the Temple itself as the other sites were really just going to be ruins/rubble.

Upon returning to Minou we could make out the Sanctuary of Athena on a lower hill across the road but it too must mostly in ruin so we didn’t walk over.

Fran had found a free large parking lot in Athens where others had stayed and we thought we’d do a night or two there to see some of the city.  On our way to our overnight spot we drove some more of the Athens Classic Marathon route. The lot was pretty full but we managed to squeeze in hoping to get a better spot when most people leave at the end of the work day.  We caught an Uber into the city to begin seeing the sights.

NOTE:  November to March is a great time to come to Athens for reduced prices on entry fees and less tourists.  Most sites were half price!

First stop:  Aristotle’s Lyceum

The Lyceum was a temple dedicated to Apollo Lyceus (“Apollo the wolf-god”).  It was best known for the Peripatetic school of philosophy founded there by Aristotle in 334 BC. Aristotle fled Athens in 323 BC, and the university continued to function after his lifetime under a series of leaders until the Roman general Sulla destroyed it during his assault on Athens in 86 BC.

The remains of the Lyceum were discovered in modern Athens in 1996 in a park behind the Hellenic Parliament.

Next stop was the Temple of Zeus which was under renovation:

and right next to it was Hadrian’s Arch built in 131 BC and stands 18 m high and 13 m wide.  In 1778 it was converted into a gate and was called “Princess Gate”.

Then we got some lunch on our way to the Acropolis – definitely a highlight of Greece!

You purchase a ticket for the site and the slopes and wander as long as  you want.

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historical significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The word acropolis is from the Greek words akron meaning “highest point, extremity” and polis, “city”. The term acropolis is generic and there are many other acropoleis in Greece. During ancient times the Acropolis of Athens was known also more properly as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the supposed first Athenian king.

While there is evidence that the hill was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles (c. 495–429 BC) in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the buildings whose present remains are the site’s most important ones, including the Parthenon,the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians during the Morean War when gunpowder being stored by the then Turkish rulers in the Parthenon was hit by a Venetian bombardment and exploded.

You pass the Dionysos Theatre on the way to the top with is VIP seats:

We saw the remains of the Stoa (a walkway with a roof over it)

The spectacular entrance way at the top:

Of course, the Parthenon (always with a part under restoration!)  – so surreal to actually be there:

Here are shots and selfies from various angles:

Views of Athens from the far end of the site:

The elegant building called the Erechtheion – with six caryatids (sculpted figures of females serving as architectural supports taking the place of columns):

After this we walked over to see Hadrian’s library without entering:

and then went for an early happy hour people watching in Monastiraki  Square before catching an Uber back.  What a memorable day this was – to actually BE where Aristotle walked and on top of the Acropolis!

Upon returning to the parking lot, there were still a good number of cars but we did manage to move away from the tree we were under so tomorrow we could get more sun.  In reality the parking lot got fuller as the evening went as there seemed to be some sort of event at the gallery near by.  Luckily it didn’t last much after 10pm but for the first part of the evening it was pretty loud.

Fran has arranged with the storage place that we are going to leave Minou at while we fly back to the North America that we can stay Saturday and Sunday nights before our flight on Monday morning.  They have bathrooms and Wi-Fi, water and power to offer.

That night Doug decided that he wanted to walk the Athens Classic Marathon route so Saturday morning he was up early and out the door.  Fran spent the day readying things for packing and cleaning up Minou as well as going for a walk and editing photos.  It was another beautiful sunny day.

Doug was back around 3:30 and was very pleased with his walk. Fran reached out to CamperStop Greece and advised Tsaso that we were on our way.  We arrived when 3 other motorhomes also arrived so it was a bit chaotic.  The place is not that large but it was nearly full of RV’s.  As we wanted power and were going to sleep here, Tsaso suggested we parked close to the office the first night and move the next day because the vehicle we were going to be parked in front of, needed out Monday morning.  We got settled and paid for the first month.

The place is near the airport and on a pretty busy road so it’s not all that quiet.  There is a bathroom with a toilet but no shower and he offers power, water and Wi-Fi.  Once every month you are parked with him, Tsaso connects your coach batteries to power up for 48 hours.  In theory our new batteries shouldn’t need this, but it can’t hurt either.

Sunday, Doug did not do his usual long run since he walked more than the marathon yesterday.  It was mostly overcast this morning and we spent a good part of the morning packing.  After we  showered and had our brunch, we took Minou out to the vacant lot next door to dump the grey water and then parked in her permanent spot but still had access to the power and water.

Fran saw today that both our flight in March and the one in May had some changes on them so we had to deal with that.  The American flights in May have now been changed 3 times!  The Delta one in March for when we return to Athens had an acceptable change so we did not have to reach out on that one.

We pretty much just hung around in Minou the rest of the day going to bed a little earlier then usual in order to be able to get up at 4AM tomorrow.  We did stream the FIFA World Cup final which, as you know by now, Argentina won!

Monday morning, we left the storage parking lot at 4:30 AM via an Uber to the airport.  The line to drop off bags (we’d already checked in online but of course, being international travel, review of your passport is required) was long but we noticed it was even longer once we got through.  We checked one bag and found our gate and it wasn’t long before we boarded only to discover that due to a storm in central Europe, our departure was going to be delayed as our arrival time was not going to be able to happen due to delays of departures in Frankfort.

We sat at the gate for awhile and then they had tow us backwards in order for another plane to use the gate.  We were served water and a later a chocolate and in the end we left about two hours late.  The only good thing about that was that all flights out of Frankfort were delayed so there was little chance we’d miss our connection.

We were supposed to have had a nearly 3 hour layover but that was all eaten upon by the delay in Athens.  However, due to a shortage of loading crew, we sat for over an hour on the second plane so  the bags could be loaded and then the plane needed de-icing.  We left nearly 3 hours late and missed our connection out of Denver!  The airline seemed to actually be aware of this and had rebooked us on a later flight (which was weird).

We went through Immigration quickly using our NEXUS cards and proceeded to baggage claim (when you first enter the US you must get your bags and pass through customs before rechecking them for your domestic flight connection).

The bad news was that our ONE checked bad did not make it to Denver!  While waiting in Denver for our bags, Doug spoke to an agent who was chatting with other passengers, that ours was not the only one that had not been loaded.  The United App showed it was checked in but it appears not to have made it onto the plane out of Frankfort.  We were told we could not file a claim for a missing bag until we reached our destination either.

So instead of being on the 4pm flight out we were on the 7:20 pm flight (later we learned that that flight had been cancelled anyway so really not so impressive as we thought) and we made it to Vegas by 8:30.

Our newly scheduled flight out of Denver left on time and upon landing, we texted Josh (he had flown in from Toronto the same day and picked up a rental car) that we had arrived and went to baggage claim to file a report of the  missing bag.  The agent there said “No your bag is sitting in Denver!”.  WTH?  Anyway, he filed a report and made a notation that instead of forwarding the bag to Vegas, it should go to Reno and be delivered to Serena’s place.

We then walked to the arrivals levels and Josh was out there waiting for us.  Doug had booked a points room at a hotel south of the airport and we drove directly there.

We will be returning to Greece to continue our overlanding adventure in March of 2023.  Minou  is safely tucked away and the storage place offers a service of charging up the coach batteries once a month for 48 hours (although we aren’t really too worried because the solar panels and the new batteries should be fine – all the power is off, the water tanks are empty and she sits patiently awaiting us.